Over 95 percent of the Earth’s ocean remains unexplored, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With oceans covering over 71 percent of the planet’s surface and containing 99 percent of its living space, there is a lot that you haven’t seen. Put your diving gear to good use the next time you fly private. One of the best things about plunging into water to do your sightseeing is the ability to get away from the crowds for an experience that many can’t boast about enjoying. From ancient cities to artistic displays to post offices, there are a vast number of manmade attractions waiting for you to explore.
BREEF Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden | New Providence, Nassau, Bahamas
With the world’s largest underwater sculpture, the nonprofit Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF) opened the Caribbean country’s first underwater living art gallery in 2014 for a unique SCUBA and snorkeling experience. Artist Jason deCaires Taylor created the gallery’s centerpiece, “Ocean Atlas,” and the project includes artwork by locals Andret John and Willicey Tynes. The material used for the sculptures is high-density, pH-neutral marine cement that will last hundreds of years. In addition to being a large underwater art gallery, the sculptures serve as an artificial reef habitat for coral, fish and other marine life.
Parco Archeologico Sommerso di Baia | Pozzuoli, Italy
There’s more to Pompeii than ancient ruins. Positive bradyseism, the gradual uplifting of the Earth’s surface caused by the filling of underground magma chambers, raised parts of the ancient Baia area 5 to 15 feet above water. The archaeological park in the Gulf of Pozzuoli has guided tours of eight underwater sites where you’ll find submerged mosaic floors, frescoes and statues.
Yonaguni Monument | Yonaguni, Ryukyu Islands, Japan
Discovered by accident in 1987 by a diver tracking hammerhead sharks, the Yonaguni Monument is like a Japanese lost city of Atlantis. The ancient city sunk 82 feet below the East China Sea 2,000 to 3,000 years ago after an earthquake. The ruins include a megalithic temple that forms a step pyramid. Professor Masaaki Kimura with the University of Ryūkyūs believes that the site also contains a castle, stadium and roads. He speculates that the Yonaguni Monument might have ties to the mythical lost continent of Mu. Some, however, believe that the formations are natural, merely the result of erosion and fracturing.
Underwater Post Office | Hideaway Island, Vanuatu
A visit to the Hideaway, or Mele, Island marine sanctuary will lead you to the only underwater post office in the world. The yellow mailbox is 150 feet out and 9 feet deep, and there’s never a line during the holidays. The sanctuary sells special waterproof postcards that postal workers emboss to postmark rather than use ink. If you do not wish to duck-dive to the post office, island staff will deliver the letter for you.
Alexandria Museum Project | Abū Qīr Bay, Alexandria, Egypt
After plans to display Egyptian artifacts in an underwater museum seemingly sunk, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty announced in September 2015 that the country was ready to once again move forward with the ambitious endeavor. The Alexandria Museum Project in the area’s East Harbor is 15 to 20 feet deep. It will display artifacts discovered in Egypt’s waters, including blocks presumed to be from the Pharos Lighthouse, remains of Cleopatra’s palace, sphinxes, statues, canopic jars and treasures from royal courts. The bay is also home to the archaeological sites of sunken cities Canopus, Heracleion and Menouthis, which date back to the pre-Hellenistic, Hellenistic and Roman periods. While the underwater museum isn’t open yet, the bay is open to divers.