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Taking the Plunge

DESTINATION: CARIBBEAN

Diving in the morning, then sailing in novice-friendly British Virgin Islands

January 17, 1999|JON K. TILLINGHAST | Tillinghast is a lawyer who also writes about the outdoors. He lives in Juneau, Alaska

Sure, there are more stunning dives on this planet. There are more fish in Palau, better wrecks at Truk, bigger sharks in the Solomon Sea. Since the B.V.I. gave me my wings 16 years ago, it has been my blessing to experience each of those places. But I've never been back to any of them. By contrast, the trip with Jeff was my third return to the B.V.I. At this rate I'll never see that 70% of Earth's surface that now beckons to my son.

These underwater photos were taken with a Nikonos IV camera and a 15 mm. Nikor lens. Author used an external light meter to shoot at natural light, and an Ikelite 150 strobe at one-fourth power to splash color on the immediate foreground.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GUIDEBOOK

Divers' Delight

Getting there: American Airlines flies from LAX to Tortola with two connections; round-trip fares start at $786. Boat taxis from airport to island hotels can run as high as $65 per person, round-trip.

The U.S. dollar is the currency of the British Virgin Islands.

Hotel tax is 12%.

Where to stay: The Bitter End Yacht Club, telephone (800) 872-2392, has 95 units clustered on a hillside, free use of boats. Rates, which include three meals a day: for two people in winter (Jan. 7-April 10), $700 daily, $4,550 weekly; off-season (April 11-Dec.1), $600 daily, $3,850 weekly.

Little Dix Bay Hotel, tel. (800) 928-3000, is as fashionable as lodgings get here. Daily winter rates for two, room only, $550 to $1,300; after May 1, $250 to $700.

Prospect Reef Resort, tel. (800) 356-8937, is in Road Town. Rooms start at $150.

Diving lessons: The following are among licensed instruction outfits. Rates run about $100 for a half-day class; full open-water certification starts at $350, depending on size of class:

Sunchaser Scuba, tel. (800) 932-4286.

Dive BVI Ltd., tel. (800) 848-7078.

For more information: BVI Tourist Board, P.O. Box 134, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; tel. (800) 835-8530.

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