divers underwater nearing a shipwreck; Courtesy of Stas Moroz/Shutterstock
Big Kids: 7-9 • Tweens: 10-12 • Teens: 13-17

13 Most Unusual Underwater Adventures

See recent posts by Julie Bielenberg

From wildly exotic underwater restaurants, spas and hotels to a quirky underwater post office and library, these adventures will spark curiosity for travelers of all ages. Bonus: You don’t have to be an expert scuba diver to enjoy most of these underwater adventures!

1. Underwater Library – Key West, FL

 

 

 

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The Gates Hotel, along with its sister property, the 24° North Hotel, are both part of The Keys Collection of four hotels in Key West, and together, they have one outrageous perk—an underwater library! Families can enjoy a classic novel that can be splashed on, or taken underwater. Books are available from the either of the two hotels’ front desks. Imagine your teen reading Shakespeare underwater—now that will impress his class after summer break!

Recommended Hotel: The Gates Hotel Key West

2. Submarine Adventure – Hawaii

 

 

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On the Atlantis Adventures Submarines, based out of Honolulu, there’s an opportunity to go under the sea, but this time, you don’t have to get wet. The adventure line offers a 90-minute narrated experience in air-conditioned comfort. The Atlantis’s 48- and 64-passenger recreational submarines plunge underneath the bay of Waikiki. Families will get to view sunken ships, colorful coral, and plenty of sea life passing by portholes. The cruise line has additional routes off Kona and Maui, where humpback whales might be spotted from December to May.

Recommended Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk

3. Underwater Post Office, Hideaway Island

 

 

 

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The Republic of Vanuatu is made up of 83 islands and is home to the world’s only underwater post office. The post office is located within the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary, in three meters of water. Both snorkelers and divers are able to access the special post with waterproof postcards and a trademarked stamp to note they’ve been mailed from the underwater post office. Families can view colorful fish, corals and more, just mailing a letter at this local post office. Note: Following hurricane damage in 2013, the scuba-gear-clad mailmen are now replaced with an unmanned post box.

Recommended Hotel: Ratua Island Resort & Spa

4. Shipwrecks – Munising, MI

 

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Most children think of Pirates of the Caribbean happening in seas far off. But don’t be fooled, mate—The Great Lakes, home to the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, has over 6,000 shipwrecks beneath its surface. Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours offers exactly what its name suggests: a two-hour, fully narrated tour of two shipwrecks, the Bermuda (1860 to 1870) and the Herman H. Hettler (1889 to 1926). The wrecks are located on the bottom of Lake Superior with the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the background. Access is in the town of Munising, Michigan, which also features a historic lighthouse and the colorful rock cliffs and caves of Grand Island.

Recommended Hotel: Beach Inn Motel on Munising Bay 

5. Underwater Cemetery – Key Biscayne, FL

 

 

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Visiting and paying respect to loved ones is a time-honored, family tradition; however, it can now be even more memorable and experiential when done underwater at Neptune Memorial Reef. The undersea cemetery was created and designed by artist Kim Brandell and debuted in 2007. It’s located 3 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne in Miami and sponsored by the Neptune Society. Located on 16 acres under 50 feet of water and modeled after Atlantis, it features stone lions guarding an entrance canopy and porticos. There are a total of 850 homes for the cremated remains of loved ones. Families can visit the underwater sanctuary to honor those who’ve passed on via a dive or a boat tour.

Recommended Hotel: Silver Sands Beach Resort

6. Mermaid Shows – Nashville, TN

 

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Ready to expand your underwater adventures? Located in the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, the Aquarium Restaurant allows families to dine with tropical fish from around the world. The 200,000-gallon aquarium has floor-to-ceiling-views from all of its tables, which surround magnificent displays from the Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, Hawaiian coasts, and South Pacific. But the real highlight is the mermaid shows in the enormous display tanks; mermaids who swim alongside the sea life emphasize the importance of care for fish and coral during a 10-minute show.

Recommended Hotel: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Related: Best Water Shoes for the Beach

7. Underwater Bicycling – Honduras

 

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BOSS Scooter is the newest bike sensation, underwater. Yes, you get on an actual bicycle underwater! There are numerous tours around the word on this new adventure-bike platform. The BOSS Underwater Adventure on Roatan’s coral reef allows families to go underwater without scuba certification or any special skills. The breathing observation submersible scooter (B.O.S.S) is for ages 10 and up. Families will board a boat, where they’ll first get a tutorial on the bikes. Dive masters and dive instructors are with guests at all times during the adventure to assist with any questions and help families get in and out of the scooters with ease. The underwater adventure submerges guests about eight feet underwater and lasts about 35 to 40 minutes. Similar experiences are available in Grand Cayman and St. Thomas.

Recommended Hotel: Paradise Beach Hotel 

8. Underwater Movie Set and Town – Salem, SC

 

 

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Oftentimes, when a dam is created, houses, buildings and entire towns even become submerged, and that’s exactly the case at Attakulla Lodge Hotel in Salem, South Carolina. The owners of the hotel refused to sell their land in 1973, so it’s now located 300 feet below the surface of Lake Jocassee. But wait, there’s another relic from yesteryear: Mount Carmel Cemetery from the movie DeliveranceThis experience is for the truly advanced and expert divers. For those who simply want to cruise over the sites in a boat, there are plenty of options for that as well. Tours can be arranged through Visit Oconee South Carolina, which offers over a dozen adventures on Lake Jocassee.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Seneca-Clemson Area, SC

9. Underwater Forest Stroll – Green Lake, Austria

 

 

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High mountain lakes might not sound like the most compelling place for an underwater adventure; however, a vanishing and reappearing lake might be more intriguing.

Noted as one of the most “exotic” waters to scuba dive in all of Europe, the small hamlet of Tragoess Village, in the southeast part of the country, has Green Lake (Grüner See). The area is surrounded by high mountain peaks. Come summer, the valley fills with water and swallows everything—pathways, benches, trees, bridges and more. March snowmelt brings on the waters, which usually recede by late July. At a maximum depth of 12 meters, this can easily be seen via a snorkel or scuba dive trip (for those who can brave the chilly, crystal-clear waters).

Recommended Hotel: JUFA Natur-Hotel Bruck

10. Underwater Sculpture Park – Grenada

 

 

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Grenada has the first-ever, underwater sculpture park. The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park was created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in 2006. There are over 65 concrete sculptures spread across roughly 800 square meters underwater. To access the park, it’s easiest to get a water taxi to and from the site; however, strong swimmers can snorkel to the site from shore (about an hour-long swim each way).

The most popular sculptures in the park include Grace Reef at a depth of 12 feet, The Lost Correspondent at a depth of 22 feet, The Unstill Life at a depth of 25 feet, Vicissitudes at a depth of 14 feet, and Taylor’s most recognized work in the park, a ring of 26 children holding hands, called The Fall From Grace, at a depth of 21 feet. The various depths help explain how some sculptures are easier to spot than others. Whether you choose to view the sculptures via scuba dive trip, snorkel trip, or simply glide over them with your eyes from a boat, your family will be in awe.

Due to extreme popularity, more underwater sculpture gardens by the same sculptor have since been constructed. Other sites are located in Cancun (2009); Nassau, Bahamas (2014); Museo Atlantico Lazarote, off the coast of Spain (2016); and Indonesia (2017).

Recommended Hotel: Spice Island Beach Resort

11. Deep Dives – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 

 

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Dubai is famed for its ability to dream up the impossible, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s home to one of the most unique places to stay. The Palm’s five-star Atlantis hotel is renowned for its aquatic attractions, massive water park and aquarium. But, there’s so much more. For starters, you can dive or snorkel with marine animals in the hotel’s Ambassador Lagoon that’s home to 65,000 sharks, stingrays and fish. You don’t have to be scuba certified to participate in this activity and underwater dives start for children as young as age 10. To truly dive deep in Dubai, choose the hotel’s signature suites at Atlantis Dubai; here, families can stay in a three-story underwater suite, where gliding rays, sharks and marine life overlook the bedrooms in floor-to-ceiling windows.

Recommended Hotel: Atlantis, The Palm

12. Underwater Suites – Shanghai, China

 

 

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The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland lays claim to the world’s first underground hotel. Not only are the hotel suites underground, but two of the 18 floors are actually underwater. The hotel offers six underwater suites with their own saltwater aquariums and fantastical viewing spaces. The rooms have private areas just for kids and separate sitting rooms to view the ocean life. Guestrooms above the water have a balcony and cozy theater box from where you can watch the hotel’s nightly water show.

Recommended Hotel: InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

Related: Dive Into Adventure: 9 Resorts Where You Can Learn How to Scuba Dive

13. Underwater Kelp Forests – Tasmania

 

 

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Most families think of Australia as a place to see large mammals in their native lands. But many destinations in Australia also hold secrets under their waters! Eaglehawk Dive in Tasmania offers tours to The Great Kelp Forests, located just off shore in a number of coastal locations: Bruny Island, Maria Island, the Tasman Peninsula, Binalong, Freycinet, Eaglehawk Neck and Fortescue Bay. These unique ecosystems of marine biodiversity are in rapid decline due to climate change and direct human impact, and only an estimated five percent of the original forests remain. Families can suit up and enter the forest and as light streams through the surface, the silhouette of the kelp against the sun provides passage to and from the sea floor. The dive shop has sites suitable for divers of all levels of experience. They are also helpful in explaining the sensitive dive spots and what they provide to the world’s resources.

Recommended Hotel: Stewarts Bay Lodge

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based journalist and Colorado’s leading agritourism writer. She contributes her expertise to various outlets including AAA, USA Today 10 Best, 5280, Westword, Mountain Town Magazine, Hunting Life, and Mile High Mamas. Julie also works with the National Dude Ranchers Association. When she’s not traveling or on horseback, Julie is at home with her husband and three young children, who are passionate about everything Colorado has to offer, from skiing to hot springs! Follow Julie’s adventures, @slowandgotraveler

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