Humans have vacationed in some of the world’s most breathtaking places, whether it was on remote islands or atop jaw-dropping mountain cliffs. But what about underwater? The planet is made up of at least 90% water, and the demand for the next big vacation adventure is always high. This is why the new wave of underwater excursions is attracting visitors far and wide, to appease that urge for adventure, mystery, and the search for the beautifully unknown.
From Aruba’s Atlantis Submarine and Underwater Helmet Walk to China’s lost ancient city of Shi Cheng and Bahamas’ Cave Diving, underwater has become the new destination spot if you’re looking for a twist in your traveling style. If lounging by the pool or hiking and rock climbing are simply not getting your adrenaline juices flowing, perhaps these underwater activities will be your next adventure step. Feel free to bring the kids, as some of these are family oriented, while others are best left to thrill seekers and the not-so-easily frightened.
5. BOSS Underwater Adventure — St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands
If it feels like you’re a character from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” you’re probably right, only without all the giant octopus stuff, and this excursion is much safer. This all-ages adventure is available via the Carnival Cruise that stops in beautiful St. Thomas and allows you to explore the underwater world in a Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter, or B.O.S.S., in a much more animated and interactive way, more so than regular scuba diving.
The B.O.S.S. machine allows you to take your scuba diving to the next level with added safety and security, which every novice diver can appreciate. With your own underwater motor scooter, you’re able to swim through the depths and take in the sea life at your own pace. This is great for advanced divers who are looking for some added relaxation, but also for families who are looking for their next adventure. The minimum age for this excursion is 10. The price comes up to a comfortable $109 per person, giving you a once-in-a-lifetime adventure without breaking your wallet. Each dive is overseen by professional and experienced staff who organize the entire event down to the snacks in-between dives. Enjoy their stories and humor, and let them take you on an unforgettable experience under the sea. If you’re done for the day or just waiting for your turn in the B.O.S.S., join the rest of the group for some snorkeling nearby. With B.O.S.S., you’ll enjoy every minute spent in the water, guaranteed.
4. Atlantis Submarines Expedition — Oranjestad, Aruba
For approximately 2 hours, you can sit back and enjoy the spectacular views of the sea with your family as the Atlantis Submarine dives deeper into the water. It looks like something out of a movie, but it is very real, exhilarating and affordable. If you’ve ever wanted to witness the beauty of the sea without getting wet or getting into the water, this is the excursion for you.
From Oranjestad, you will be shuttled via the SubSeeker to the submarine where the descent to approximately 130 feet begins at 11:00 am. Once below, you will be amazed at the close-up of sea life like you’ve never seen before — tropical fish, coral fields and sponge gardens, not to mention 2 sunken shipwrecks to really get you in the diving spirit, all from the comfort of the submarine. The entire excursion is narrated by a professional and licensed crew who are educated in every facet of the diving and sea life experience. The submarine is always comfortable, safe, and air conditioned. You won’t even feel like you’re actually underwater. To top this all off, the price for this underwater adventure runs at $104 for adults and $59 for children, making this a trip your family will never forget and one that you will keep coming back to for years to come.
3. Guided Cave Diving in the Crystal Caves — Abaco Island, Bahamas
We’ve all seen cave diving in movies and then proceeded to jot it down on our bucket lists, but here is your chance to actually do it, all within every parameter of safety and utter precaution (and of course, fun!). Immerse yourself in the other-worldliness that is cave diving, all with an experienced and safety-first scuba guide. There is nothing like this in the world, and the entire experience will leave even the most advanced divers in blissful shock. Observe the full crystal formations as you glide among them, take in their pure beauty and existence, during your personal cave tour. That’s right: you won’t get lost in the shuffle and the guide will be able to personally teach you the ropes of proper cave diving. This adventure will take you beyond your comfort zone to some of Abaco Island’s most beautiful caves.
You won’t believe you’re actually swimming among 30-foot columns and rooms filled with crystals, until you actually do! The tour includes pick up and drop off at your lodging location, transportation to and from the dive site, cooler with ice and bottled water, and equipment storage for the duration of the tour. To keep in line with safety, especially in underwater caves, this tour only accommodates up to 2 people, maximum. This way, the guide can give you proper training and instruction as you swim and explore. You have the option to dive once or twice in 1 day. The price for 1 dive/half day is $225 and the price for 2 dives/full day is $350. You also have the option for underwater photo services from your guide, to ensure that your cave diving experience is captured for all to see. The adventure awaits!
2. James Bond-Style Underwater Plane — Laucala Island, Fiji
In case you were wondering, this sci-fi underwater plane is absolutely real, and it is called DeepFlight Super Falcon. Even the name is nothing short of adventurous. It looks like something out of a James Bond film, and it actually is, or at least very close to it. As you buckle in and prepare to dive down, the underwater machine is capable of taking you on a 2-hour trip to the depths of the South Pacific Ocean as you take in the sights, watch school of fish swim by and coral reefs dance in the water, all without getting wet and certainly feeling like Bond himself.
The private Fiji resort that offers this extravagant activity is the first to do so, on Laucala Island, owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, the CEO of Red Bull. Anyone can see how this excursion is a right-off-the-bat hit, and who wouldn’t want to try it out? The modern design was invented by the British inventor, Graham Hawkes, who made this underwater beauty for Hawkes Ocean Technologies, which also developed the same machine used in the James Bond movie. If that doesn’t make you fly out to Fiji right this instant, nothing will. This excursion is certainly not on the budget-friendly side. For a 2-hour trip, this adventure will cost you roughly $1,700, but we can safely assume that there is plenty of interest and the line for the underwater Bond plane is fairly long.
1. China’s Ancient Underwater Lion City — Qiandao Lake, China
Approximately 1,300 years ago, the city of Shi Cheng, also known as Lion City for the 5 lion heads on 5 gates, was founded. Roughly 290,000 people lived there. More than half a century ago, the city flooded and sank to accommodate the Xin’an River Dam project, which consisted of a new hydroelectric power station and a man-made lake. In 2001, a group of archaeologists found the city resting peacefully at 131 feet, undisturbed and remarkably intact for over 50 years. Today, and thanks to Qui Feng, a local official in charge of tourism, the city has been opened to scuba divers from all over the world, who flock to this mysterious Atlantis-like site in hopes of capturing photographs and videos of the pristine structures.
The city, now in parts, still holds well with its wooden beams and stairs still intact. It has 5 gates and 5 towers, and is roughly the size of 62 football fields. It had 6 streets covered in pebbles and flagstone, but those details are no longer visible underwater. The mystery of it and the fact that it is real and accessible by all is what makes this underwater excursion our number one spot on this list. While clamoring for Atlantis has become a fool’s quest of sorts, this ancient city is a massive remnant of the past and deserves a place in history. If you’re brave enough to dive into the depths of Qiandao Lake, you will surely not be disappointed by what you find beneath.