A big-city trip can offer culture, shopping, unique cuisine and history, but for divers, these pros often don’t outweigh the cons of not being able to dive while on vacation. A few destinations offer the best of both worlds, and while diving here may not compare to the best tropical spots, these sites will make for unique entries in your logbook.
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Barcelona offers great cuisine (try the tapas pretty much anywhere), world-class architecture (Gaudi’s works are unsurpassed) and plenty of romantic streets and charming cafés. Barcelona is also a beach city, with ocean access right from the city center. And with the Mediterranean right on the doorstep, there’s plenty of diving nearby. Plenty of Barcelona dive centers can arrange trips to the Costa Brava, which offers the area’s best diving. Some of the area’s best sites are in Mataro and Tossa de Mar, which can be reached in about 30 minutes and 90 minutes from Barcelona respectively. Water temperatures vary with the season, but can reach the high 70s in the summer, with visibility of up to 80 feet.
While it can’t compare to the Great Barrier Reef in terms of corals and sea life, the more temperate waters around Sydney do still lend themselves quite well to diving. Manly, in the northern part of the city, is particularly prime diving territory. Shelly Beach, which is only a few minutes’ drive from downtown Manly, is sheltered and has easy access, but still offers the opportunity to dive with Port Jackson and wobbegong sharks. A bit away from the beach itself you’ll even find a penguin colony, with penguins sometimes zooming close by divers.
New York City
A visit to the Big Apple probably doesn’t conjure up images of diving for most people, but just south of Manhattan, there’s an artificial reef made up of old Redbird subway cars. The water is not warm, usually around 40 degrees, and the visibility can be down to about 20 feet (though 75 feet can happen), so this may not be for the novice diver, but more experienced divers can be in the water one moment and strolling along Fifth Avenue only hours later.
Hungary’s capital is completely landlocked — in fact, it’s hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. So where do you dive? The answer: below the city. Budapest is famous for its hot springs and thermal baths, and these crisscross the city in large, underwater tunnels and caves, offering a unique experience for cave divers. These are definitely advanced dives, and should only be undertaken with a guide and proper training. But if you’re qualified, don’t miss this chance to not only cave dive beneath a city, but also to do so in pleasantly warm water straight from the hot springs.
The diving here, in another landlocked city, isn’t in a natural body of water, but it still deserves honorable mention if for nothing else than novelty. In the heart of the city, on Alexanderplatz, sits the Radisson Blu Hotel. In the atrium is the AquaDom, supposedly the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium. And while you won’t find this option on the list of hotel activities in your room, from time to time, the hotel opens the aquarium to experienced divers, allowing them to swim around the huge, cylindrical structure filled with tropical fish. One can only imagine the reaction of inebriated hotel guests returning from a night out to find divers happily bubbling around in