Water covers seventy one percent of the Earth’s surface and more than 80% of it is yet to be explored. But in the roughly 20% of it humankind has gotten to know lurk some of the most extraordinary natural and man-made wonders anywhere in the world, many of which are surprisingly accessible for anyone with a sense of aquatic adventure.
To get the most subaquatic bang for your buck, you should be heading for the Caribbean Sea. From the eastern coast of Mexico down to Belize is one long hotspot of treasures. The natural sites in particular are impressive thanks to
the far-reaching limestone peninsula that has created a vast range of spectacular sites – from sinkholes that have developed into cenotes, to massive marine holes and complex tunnel systems.
Perhaps best known of all these thanks to Jacques Cousteau’s explorations in the 1970s is the Great Blue Hole, just 60 miles off the Belize coast in the UNESCO Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. At around 410 feet deep and 984 feet across it’s one of the world’s deepest and largest underwater holes – and one most prestigious dive sites known in particular for the geological formations of its coral reefs.
Not far away in a bay west of Clarence Town on the Bahamas’ Long Island and not to be outdone, Dean’s Blue Hole is even deeper at 650 feet and up to 155 feet across.
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Elsewhere, the Cenote Angelita close to the tourism hotspot of Tulum offers something incredibly unusual – an underwater river. Created by a layer of hydrogen sulfate separating salt water flowing at the bottom from freshwater flowing at the top, it comes to life as a bizarre floating cotton cloud drifting in the ocean, eerily lit in green when viewed from below.
It’s not just natural attractions available. Hit by an earthquake in 1692 and a tsunami not long after, some 33 acres of Jamaica’s Port Royal pirate city (once known as the “wickedest city in the world”) was dragged into the sea where it now resides 40 feet underwater, creating one of the most extensive, extraordinary and accessible dive sites anywhere. Located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour in southeastern Jamaica, you can dive it year round thanks to temperate waters but visibility is best in the summer months.
For something man made and on purpose, head to Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park at Molinere Point. Particularly popular as you can snorkel it without the need for scuba gear, this underwater park features individual sculptures that act as an artificial reef on which marine life can develop. Highlights include the Vicissitudes, a circle of 26 children holding hands, and The Lost Correspondent, also known as ‘the newspaper man’. Back in Nassau, Ocean Atlas is the largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater, reaching some 16 feet up from the seafloor to the surface and weighing more than sixty tons.
It’s not just in the oceans you’ll find underwater wonders worth exploring. Head inland over Europe towards Asia and into the Tian Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan and you’ll find the absolutely bonkers Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy formed from a post-earthquake landslide that flooded a forest and created a natural dam preserving it perfectly in ice cold waters. With trees emerging like toothpicks from the water, it’s spectacular even from land but dive in and you’ll encounter a ghostly blue-green world where perfectly preserved trees have been taken over underwater plants and algae to create a bizarre new world.
Russia’s Lake Baikal in Siberia contains just over 20% of the world's fresh water and is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume. With this, it hosts freshwater flora and fauna that flourish alongside more than 2,500 species of animals, many of which are unique to the region – which is why it’s known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’. Talking of cold water, there are fewer places chillier and nowhere clearer than the completely unique Silfra Fissure. A rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park, its glacial waters offer around 100 meters of 330 foot visibility and the only place you can dive between continents – cool!
Of course we couldn’t talk about underwater attractions without mentioning the biggest of them all – Australia’s unsurpassable Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea. The most searched for and most famed of all underwater attractions its 1,430 miles of diving offers nearly 3,000 reefs and 900 islands, not to mention individual treasures such as the SS Yongala shipwreck, one of the biggest, best preserved and most mysterious dive sites off the Australian coast – and one that’s most alive with marine life.
If you love the ocean but aren’t so interested in immersing yourself in it wholeheartedly, there are plenty of other options to get your aquatic fix – especially if you have pockets deep enough. Should you find yourself bound for the Maldives, you could dine 16 feet down in the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or take it a step further and sleep deeply in every sense of the word in your own underwater Muraka residence.
But for the ultimate subaquatic experience (with a price tag to match), a stay in the world’s most expensive ‘hotel’ room will immerse you in a whole new way. Lovers Deep is a specially adapted, ultra luxe submarine anchored off St Lucia in the Caribbean that can take you on bespoke underwater journeys curated by a staff of three – your own captain, chef and butler – for the princely sum of £175,000 (or $235,000) a night.
To discover more and plan your own aquatic itinerary, check out this interactive map of the world’s best and most searched for underwater attractions from SportsCover Direct.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/duncanmadden/2021/11/23/dive-into-the-best-underwater-attractions-in-the-world/1654