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This month's reader photos have it all—inspiring locales, great composition, and travel tips to take you there.
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Patagonia's Cerro Torre
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See photos of Patagonia's otherworldly Cerro Torre from the climb that bagged one of alpine climbing's greatest prizes.
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The Caribbean's Wild Side: Honduras
The sports you love, set in the destinations you crave. Here are nine tropical escapes that scream action.  Text by Tom Clynes 

THE BAHAMAS  | PANAMA  |  DOMINICA  |  HONDURAS  |  ST. LUCIA  
ST. VINCENT  |  SABA  |  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  |  GRENADA

HONDURAS
Swim With the Big Boys

Utila Island, the farthest west and most laid-back of Honduras's Bay Islands chain, is one of the few places in the world where you can see the mysterious whale shark—the biggest fish on Earth—year-round. Scientists believe that rising currents from the deep Cayman Trench, just northeast of the island, supply nutrients that attract the plankton and other small creatures upon which whale sharks feed. "Even if you're not religious," says D'Arcy Kelly, an instructor at the Bay Islands College of Diving, "there's something spiritual about swimming with a shark the size of a small bus."

Utila is one cheap place to learn how to dive, with at least ten dive academies competing on the tiny, three-by-eight-mile (5-by-13-kilometer) island. But when you arrive on the town's dock, push past the dive wranglers tempting you with free accommodations and head to Utila Lodge. You'll wake up the next day to a hearty breakfast buffet, then walk directly to a private dock for a boat ride to the promised land of these gentle giants, which grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) long. The seas are also rich in other rare marine life, such as lizardfish, dog snappers, and octopuses.

Utila Lodge is home to the Caribbean field station for the Shark Research Institute. Each year from February to May, the institute offers private week-long shark research trips. You'll help marine biologists photograph, identify, and tag the sharks in order to study their migratory paths.
 
WHAT TO DO
Scuba Diving
The Bay Islands College of Diving provides day trips to whale shark territory, as well as all levels of PADI scuba training ($209; www.dive-utila.com). The Shark Research Institute offers week-long whale shark field studies ($1,350; www.sharks.org).

Ecotouring
See the endangered "swamper" iguana on the four-hour Iguana Research and Breeding Station tours ($8; www.utila-iguana.de).
 
WHERE TO STAY
Utila Lodge ($825 a week, including three daily dives; www.utilalodge.com) is secluded yet has easy access to town. Dive boats depart regularly from a private dock. 
 
GETTING AROUND
Fly into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, then connect to Atlantic Airlines (www.atlanticairlines.com.ni) for the hop to Utila ($100 round-trip). The best way to get around the three-mile-wide (five-kilometer-wide) island is to walk.

THE BAHAMAS  | PANAMA  |  DOMINICA  |  HONDURAS  |  ST. LUCIA  
ST. VINCENT  |  SABA  |  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  |  GRENADA


Photo: March Cover


Pick up the March 2006 issue for more secrets of the Southwest, nine Caribbean adventures, the best gear for runners, and our World Class outfitter trips.

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