Getting to this lake, only accessible at low tide, was a matter of precise timing. Even with the tide out, we had to lie back in our kayaks to squeeze through a dark, narrow limestone tunnel, grabbing onto the low ceiling like horizontal rock climbers and crawling along to propel our boats forward. As we emerged, we entered what looked like a large tropical bathtub ringed with dense foliage, and right away Ron spotted the sweetlips. I haven't even gotten into the water yet, and I'm already convinced I've been missing a lot while looking for the big stuff. Now we're out of our boats, the jade water trembling around our masked faces. Under this lake's surface is a riot of color. Coral is to this lake -- dubbed Disney Lake by Ron, but otherwise it has no offi cial name -- what neon is to the Vegas Strip: almost overpowering and nearly as bright. There are psychedelic brain coral in Day-Glo reds and pinks, phosphorescent-green lettuce coral, tangerine-colored fungus coral that look like anemones, scarlet sea whips and sea fans lazily waving. We soak it all in as we gently kick our feet on the surface, fi nless to keep our disturbance of this old-growth coral forest to a bare minimum. The water is 15 to 20 feet deep, but with coral piled so high, there's actually not much room to swim. I can't imagine bringing a scuba tank into such tight quarters. At several points I suck in my breath and make snow-angel-type strokes in the water to avoid disturbing massive, bright-purple swirling baskets, which are waferthin and can grow here to 4 feet across. I could float around here like a human lily pad for hours -- days, even. The limestone walls give this place the quiet majesty of a Florentine cathedral, and aside from some fluttering of fruit bats, it's just me and my even, snorkeled breathing. "After years of sneaking guests through the tunnel," Ron whispers, his low voice echoing, "I noticed everyone said, 'This is better than Disneyland!'" But these aren't manufactured thrills; this is all real.