Under water, light behaves differently; colors sparkle, then fade. Sounds magnify and distort. Liquid cradles a body accustomed to mere air. Down and up become abstractions. Swimming equals flying. Water replaces atmosphere, and the sea floor or lake bottom might resemble a barren moon or the most riotous field of flora imaginable.
I often hike for hours on land without glimpsing a wild animal, but in water, life surrounds me—schools of small fish, solitary giant ones, scuttling crustaceans, and strange floating creatures amid waving grasses and jagged coral. I have experienced some of my most memorable and thrilling sights—a sea turtle with an animated face, tiny fish in a rainbow of colors, a spaceship-like manta ray moving in slow motion—under water.
Almost everyone can enjoy this alternate universe through scuba diving or the sport’s less challenging counterpart, snorkeling. Texas offers a diverse selection of sites. Here are four of the best.