Aquariums

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The ocean has always held a powerful grip on travelers, perhaps because you're never quite sure what's lurking beneath the surface. There's no better place to catch a glimpse of the ocean's most magnificent creatures in action than an aquarium.

A couple of the finest are Boston's New England Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, south of San Francisco. Both are home to giant octopi--a species whose tentacles can stretch up to 30 feet.

But one of the best spots to see huge sea creatures is in a surprising, land-locked location. 

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the nation's newest and largest aquarium. It's the only place in the U.S. to see watch whale sharks: spotted fish that can grow up to 50 feet long. Two young whale sharks named Ralph and Norton are the most famous residents of the aquarium, which opened in the fall of 2005.

If merely watching whale sharks isn't enough of a thrill, you might want to take a trip to Isla Holbox (pronounced eee-sla whole-bosh), a sleepy island off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Every summer whale sharks feed near the Yucatan Peninsula, and they don't mind divers swimming alongside them. Dozens of outfitters in the area will set you up with equipment and guide you on this amazing adventure.

And don't worry: the 20-ton creatures aren't man-eaters. They feed primarily on plankton.

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