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Have Snorkel, Will Travel

Winter is coming, so break out the scuba gear and head south.

Almost one in 10 North Americans planning a vacation want to include diving and snorkeling, according to a TripAdvisor.com survey released earlier this year. But the decision to swap a board meeting for a reef dive is the easy part of the vacation. The hard part is deciding where to go.

Hurricanes, coral disease and too much tourism have turned many Caribbean reefs into algae-covered aquarium rubble. As an island becomes known for diving, it attracts more tourists and development, which can hurt coral reefs. Toss in warmer water, which plays havoc on reef ecosystems, and a few big hurricanes, and you end up with a coral reef that doesn't live up to promises in guide books.

But you can still find gorgeous places to dive. Here are a few spots to consider:

Dominica

Located in the middle of the arc of the Lesser Antilles, Dominica is consistently ranked as one of the top dive destinations in the Caribbean, if not the world. The island provides an incredible variety of diving terrain that can challenge both beginners and experts. Sites feature wall diving, pinnacles and open reefs, all in excellent condition. The downside: There aren't any luxury accommodations on the island, so you'll have to settle for standard, but comfortable, digs during your stay. And Dominica is not the easiest of Caribbean islands to get to. Only flights from San Juan, Jamaica and a few smaller islands connect to Dominica.

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