1. Silfra Fissure ~ Iceland
Have you ever slipped underwater and between two continents? That’s exactly what you can do at the Silfra Fissure in Iceland’s Thingvellier National Park. While you’re squeezing between the American and Eurasian continental plates, you’ll be treated to water so clear and pure that you’ll likely never experience it anywhere else. The unique landscape is caused by continental drift separating the two continents by a couple centimeters a year, and the crystal clear water is the result of freezing glacier water filtering through lava fields for years before ending up in the lake. Many divers experience vertigo due to the maximum clarity of this one-in-a-lifetime dive site.
2. Yonaguni ~ Japan
Aliens? Ancients? Naturally occurring? No one knows for certain how the strange Yonaguni monument in Japan was formed. There are many who think it’s a lost city and others who think it’s completely natural and only appears to be man made. Regardless, there’s no debate that the ruins are between 5,000 and 8,000 years old and intriguing to look at. The stepped, smooth platforms certainly appear to be carved, but it’s up to you decide for yourself how they came to be that way. Keep in mind that this unique and mysterious dive site is for experienced divers only due to waves and currents.
3. Banua Wuhu ~ Indonesia
Indonesia has plenty of wonderful places to dive, but none so exciting and unusual as Banua Wuhu, an active, undersea (submarine) volcano emitting constant sulfur filled, scalding bubbles. Located north of Sulawesi, this volcano was once over 90 meters out of the water, but after a series of eruptions and earthquakes, the crater currently sits about 5 meters below the surface, and its walls extend down 400 meters. Alongside barracuda, parrotfish, and clownfish, divers are treated to healthy coral reefs, tunnels, and bathwater temperatures alongside the alarmingly alien looking landscape. While the volcano last erupted in 1968, the rumbling in the background and painfully warm bubbles will let every diver know that this volcano isn’t done yet.
4. Underwater Museum ~ Cancun, Mexico
Over 400, life-sized human figures rest in an underwater museum created by Jason deCaire Taylor in Cancun, Mexico. This monument can be accessed by both snorkelers and divers and was placed specifically to form an artificial reef. Each sculpture is made from marine-grade cement, and materials designed to promote the growth of coral. While extremely lifelike, detailed and beautiful, the museum is a conservation initiative to draw tourists from more fragile environments while at the same time creating a new reef ecosystem of its own. The entire museum is between 13 and 26 feet deep and consists of several individual exhibits all of which can be viewed and explained on the artist’s website.
5. The Neptune Memorial Reef ~ Miami, Florida
If the underwater museum didn’t strike your fancy, maybe the underwater cemetery will. The Neptune Memorial Reef in Miami, Florida is an underwater cemetery that doubles as an artificial reef. Families can have the remains of loved ones interred there through a simple process of mixing the ashes with the marine-grade cement, poured into a mold chosen by the family, marked with a bronze plaque, and then placed by divers in the cemetery reef. This afterlife sanctuary has become a real life coral reef habitat and studies have shown the marine life is thriving where just a few short years ago there was little to none.
6. Bonne Terre Mine, Missouri
In Missouri, an abandoned mine is now a premier location for an eerie dive to the center of the Earth. In 1961, nearly 100 years of mining ceased in the Bonne Terre Mine, and everything was pretty much dropped on the spot and left that way even as a 100 billion gallon underground lake formed the world’s largest freshwater dive resort. Divers are not allowed to take lights, but there are permanent ones located all around the mine. The year round 100ft visibility combined with the just barely illuminated mine interior littered with tipples, locomotives, and mining picks makes for a haunting yet somehow relaxing tour through a portrait of history frozen in time.
7. Subway Car ~ Atlantic City, NJ
Among the 17 vessels, including tanks, tugboats, trawlers, and other items sunk to liven up the barren waters off the Atlantic City coast, the Atlantic City Reef also has a few more interesting and unusual ‘wrecks’: Subway cars. Since such things are so rarely seen underwater, they make for a somewhat chilly and strange view for a dive. So if you think New Jersey isn’t for diving, think again. Hop in the waters and see for yourself what the local fishermen are fighting over.
8. Homestead Crater ~ Midway, Utah
How about scuba diving in a hot tub for a unique experience? Homestead Crater in Utah offers divers the opportunity to do just that. Inside of a 55 ft dome of limestone is a clear, thermal spring that averages temperatures just above 90 F. The water depth is 65 feet, but due to heavy layers of silt, divers are asked to keep their dives to 55 ft. There isn’t any marine life to speak of in this natural, mineral spring, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving the one of a kind, hot tub dive a try.
9. Ice Diving ~ Antarctica
Would you like to break through more than six feet of ice and then jump in the water to go scuba diving underneath it? Then head on down to McMurdo Sound in Antarctica to get some ice in your veins, just leave the claustrophobia at home. Divers set up permanent and temporary diving stations over holes cut through 6 – 10 feet of ice and plunge into the freezing waters to experience a most unusual overhead environment shared with urchins, sea stars, corals, and penguins. With a visibility of 1000 ft (let’s just call that unlimited), you won’t miss one inch of the shelf of ice overhead.
10. Nuclear Missile Silo ~ Midland, Texas
Decommissioned during the Cold War, Dive Valhalla used to house an actual nuclear missile at one point. Groundwater has since filled the silo and the 60ft wide, 130ft deep, clear water pool is now open for scuba divers to enter a missile silo as few people ever have or ever will. The temperatures are little chilly at 60 F, so be sure to bring your 7mm along with a couple flashlights so you can get a good look at what the inside of a nuclear missile silo is like.