You breathe in the tropical air and plunge beneath the surface of the clear blue water. Down below, a constellation of blue starfish comes into focus as you navigate coral reefs off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
While the earth’s surface is about 70 percent water, when we travel we tend to stick to terra firma like the land lovers we are. A look through these beautiful underwater photos—submitted by Travel + Leisure community members—will inspire you to get off solid ground and explore lakes, rivers, and oceans. You’re in for all kinds of discoveries.
There’s so much to see under the surface: nearly 250,000 different species live in the world’s oceans, according to the Census of Marine Life, and scientists believe there could be more than three times as many yet to be discovered.
If saltwater isn’t your thing, you don’t have to plumb the depths of the Pacific Ocean to appreciate the beauty of life underwater. From a safe and dry distance, one T+L community member took a vivid shot of schools of jellyfish floating through their tanks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, just a short drive from San Francisco.
Another community member dared to dive with lemon and tiger sharks in the waters off the coast of the Bahamas. She not only lived to tell the tale, but also captured up-close images to share with the rest of us.
See for yourself by diving into these beautiful underwater photos.