Tired of diving the same coral reefs? Looking for a new and exciting dive site to take your next plunge? Well, we’ve got a treat for you!
We’re going to take you on journey away from the popular scuba diving destinations that you’re used to, with their tropical islands, sandy beaches, coral reefs and colorful fish, to those places you wouldn’t have even thought of. From diving in aircraft wrecks and subway cars to an underwater cemetery; an underwater volcano to diving under 4 feet of solid ice and from diving lost cities to underwater museums, we’ve got our picks for the coolest and most bizarre scuba diving sites the world over. Take you pick for your next dive trip!
10. An Underwater Cemetery- The Neptune Memorial Reef (Maimi, Florida)
The term ‘Burials at Sea’ have taken on a brand new meaning in Miami, Florida. The Neptune Memorial Reef is not your average cemetery, but the first of it’s kind underwater cemetery. Situated about 45 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, the cemetery – complete with gates, pathways, plaques and even benches – is not only a great final resting spot for those who loved the sea but also the world’s largest man-made reef (covering over 600,000 sq feet), an unique and unusual site for scuba diving.
Located 3-1/2 miles east of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida (GPS coordinates N25º 42.036′, W80º 05.409′), the memorial site is free for any certified scuba divers to visit. What some may find strange and bizarre, scuba divers actually see in another light and are flocking to the unusual dive site. The reef sits in 50 feet of water. With the interesting structures that are slowly growing coral life to soon become a thriving artificial reef, there’s no shortage of things to keep the interest of divers. In less than a year, large numbers of schooling fish such as grunts and snappers have begun to congregate around the site. Spotted eagle rays cruise through regularly while smaller tropical fish like damsels, tangs, triggers and puffers seek refuge and forage around the statues. Sponges and a few soft coral species have already begun their colonization so hard corals certainly won’t be far behind. While most of the structures adorning the site are 90 percent cement, some are in bronze and steel. What’s more are the interesting plaques that bear sweet sayings such as ‘we committed grandma to the dolphins and the angels.’
9. A Nuclear Missile Silo – Dive Valhalla (Midland, Texas)
Dive Valhalla as the missile silo is known, gets its name from Norse mythology and is the largest indoor deep-diving training facility in the world. Decommissioned after just two years of completion in the early 1960′s during the Cold War, the silo formerly housed a 82-foot- (25-m-) long nuclear-tipped Atlas missile. When abandoned, it was left to fill up with groundwater . The 1,288 ton (1,159 m tons) concrete and steel cylindrical “pool” is 60-foot (18 m) wide and drops to a depth of 127 feet (38 m) with nearly 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters) of clear dive-able water in it.
While there’s not much to see when you dive in this missile silo except some debris that crisscrosses the shaft at around 110ft, diving here is more for the thrill factor and the fact that it’s a bit of an oddity more than anything else. Besides, how many people can say they got to go diving in a nuclear missile silo?
8. An Underwater Volcano – Mahengetang (Indonesia)
If diving one of the best coral reefs in the world in Indonesia isn’t exciting enough for you, here’s a dive site that takes things to a new level. Mahengetang, located between Siau and Sangihe Islands, is one of the only active underwater volcano’s you can dive!
This underwater volcano called the Banua Wuhu (also known as the Mahengetang volcano) rises more than 400 m from the sea floor to form a shoal less than 5 m below sea level and is located just off the island of Mahengetang. Mahengetang’s two cones reach to within a few feet of the surface, 4-5 meters in low tide and 8-10 meters in high tide in a couple of places, and one pinnacle actually breaks through the surface and then drops off on all sides to beyond recreational diving depths. Although you would not expect it, the submarine volcano exhibits an exorbitant flourishing pristine marine habitat. Some marine biologists who have formerly surveyed and explored the site are convinced that there are more fish and coral species here within one square kilometer of sea than in the entire Caribbean Sea. There’s no distinct crater, however there are huge sulfur covered rocks, resembling a crater type formation with small intermittent outbursts of volcanic gasses that can be seen everywhere making their ascent to the surface as bubbles. With the average water temperature ranging between 37-38 degrees Celsius around the bubbling holes where the hot water comes out, it’s crucial to wear the right kind of exposure suit and feels much like swimming in a huge glass of champagne, not chilled.
7. An Underwater Museum – Cancun’s National Park (Cancun, Mexico)
Cancun’s Marine National Park has faced the increased pressure of the 750,000 tourist that flock to its coasts each year combined with the devastating effects of climate change, causing its dying and declining coral reefs. In an effort to lure away some of the tourist from the reef, the Mexican government commissioned the creation of the world’s largest underwater museum at a cost of 350,000 US dollars. It features sculptures created by renowned British underwater sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor. In April 2010 it had over 250 sculptures ready and installed with the target of 400 to be standing by 2011.
The Marine Park Museum is a stunning place to dive and a unique experience to move around from sculpture to sculpture. Both scuba divers and snorkelers can visit the museum and experience the eerie human almost lifelike forms submerged in the blue. With age, these sculptures will constantly change in appearance drawing people back to them just to see how they’ve progressed with time.
6. Boeing 727 Aircraft Wreck – Spirit of Miami, Key Biscayne Artificial Reef (Maimi, Florida)
Located off the coast of Miami, Florida is a Boeing 727 jet that was sunk as part of the Key Biscayne Artificial Reef Site in 1993. The jet was meticulously cleaned, disassemble for transportation over land and reassembled for placement on a barge by its owner, Steve O’Neal. It was then lowered to the bottom of the ocean floor and anchored at depth of 82 ft. Unfortunately, the plane was hit during Hurricane Gordon in the summer of 1995 and now lies in two sections with the main body of the jet in 82 feet of water and the tail section in 110 feet of water.
Called the Spirit of Miami, the pieces of the wreck are now covered with soft corals and dotted with spiny oysters that snap their shells closed when divers approach, making this dive site a favorite of Miami area divers. Another interesting story surrounding this wreck is that it’s rumored to have a time capsule hidden somewhere in the wreckage, due to be opened in 2043 or when a diver finds it – whichever happens first!