You’re awestruck. Your team dives 20 feet into the ravine, through a cragged arch nearly 10 feet high, and you’re in another world.
On deck the divemaster called this site “Madison Avenue.” Now you understand why. You’re swimming down a rocky thoroughfare evoking those wide, glamorous Manhattan streets. Sandy chutes intersect the corals and run into the distance like alleyways to neighborhoods beyond.
It’s an almost picture-perfect match for New York City, and then you remember this natural wonder — not its landlocked cousin — has existed for hundreds of years, maybe more. You ponder who’s actually copying whom.
The similarities don’t end with the architecture. The reef is a melting pot of sea life. Creatures crisscross the ravine, making the daily commute. A mellow blacktip reef shark glides by. Some yellow- and blue-striped grunt school beneath jutting sea shelves.
A lone, massive crab catches your eye. It scuttles across the nearest rock ledge, appearing to drink in the ocean vista. You aren’t the only tourist on Madison Avenue today.
Your team exits the ravine and comes to rest beside some sun-soaked pillar coral. But you have one more stop on the Avenue: a narrow sea cave, its mouth 35 feet below on the ocean floor.
Your pulse quickens as you descend to the cavern — you’re almost prone now, your fins kicking up little eddies from the ground. The cave’s too tight to enter, but it’s wide enough to stick your head and dive light inside. It’s like peering into a New York City storefront: fish glimmering in your headlamp’s beam, a veritable smorgasbord of the Caribbean’s ocean life. You finally kick away and swim toward the surface, a tankful of new memories in tow.
That’s what they say about Madison Avenue: If you can make it there, you’ll take it with you everywhere.