Bob in the ocean while blue tang and parrotfish flit beneath you. Earthwatch Institute calls this research; we call it fun. Its Bahamian Reef Survey teams marine scientists with (paying) volunteers to monitor the coral by San Salvador, a 5-by-12-mile island where Columbus made his first landfall in the New World. Spend the eight-day trip snorkeling to determine the robustness of corals and sea fans; attending scientist-led lectures on the biology of reefs; and visiting historical sites like late-18th-century Loyalist ruins and monuments to Columbus. Stay at the Gerace Research Centre, a former 1950s U.S. naval base on the north coast. The center is just off the beach, providing easy access to some of the very reefs you'll be "working" to protect. earthwatch.org
Haven't been to the Out Island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas yet? Go now. Before everyone else does. Trust us. You'll have miles of pristine beaches to yourself, enjoy some of the best conch salad and meet some of the friendliest people around.
It's just 2 1/2 hours by ferry to Grand Bahama from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but you'll know you've left the States when you see the Atlantic Ocean turn that perfect shade of turquoise. Make the Grand Lucayan your home base for the weekend.
Fly from Nassau Credit