Ancient Mayans gave cenotes their name and thought the formations worthy of praise and sacrifice. Filled with ground-filtered rain water, the naturally formed pools of cenotes are super clean and clear, but also scrotum scrunchingly cold.
The pearls of praise for the place called Cancún often sheen to dizzying effect. There is no refuting that this stretch of soft sand caressing the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean is the acreage of paradise, a dazzling tropical necklace that evokes powerful, even passionate imagery.
I'd headed to Dominica for its annual DiveFest: the country's festival of all things scuba, held each July. As you might expect on such a secluded island, its terrestrial and marine wildlife thrives in relatively untouched jungles and along sparingly fished, quiet coastlines.
The mainland disappears as a sliver sliding off the airplane window. Ahead: a dark blue abyss striped turquoise from the Eastern Australian Current. Lady Elliot Island appears like a freckle on the map of Oceania, 46 nautical miles offshore Australia's mainland.
To dive or snorkel in them is to experience an otherworldly sensation, a weightless flight through an underwater garden shaped by water clear as a lens, gnome-like rock formations, darting fish and billowing aquatic plants.