11 hauntingly beautiful underwater sites

On the Water, Around the World

We live in a beautiful world, but some of the most mesmerizing sites take a little digging (or diving) to find. From shipwrecks to sculptures, these underwater attractions are the perfect combination of eerie and alluring.

11 hauntingly beautiful underwater sites
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11 hauntingly beautiful underwater sites

Yonaguni Monument, Japan

The Yonaguni Monument was discovered in 1986 off the coast of Yonaguni, one of the Ryukyu Islands in Japan. Since then, it has been the subject of much speculation and debate. The rock formation has tiered planes and straight edges, giving it a sort of pyramid shape. While some think the shape looks manmade, others claim the stratigraphy is normal for sandstones in areas with tectonic activity. So: Japanese Atlantis or geological wonder? Therein lies the monument's mystery—and appeal.

Photo: Getty

Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), Cancun, Mexico

This enchanting underwater museum features more than 400 permanent life-size sculptures on the ocean floor, each designed to promote coral and marine life. Visitors reach the museum via boat and snorkel above the statues, which range from groups of people to a Volkswagen coated with seaweed.

Photo: Getty

Ginnie Springs, Florida

Florida has a wealth of freshwater underwater caves to explore, but Ginnie Springs stands apart for its accessibility and crystal-clear water. There’s no need for extra training to explore the large cavern in Ginnie Springs; it’s been deemed safe enough for open-water certified scuba divers to enter. The upper portion is lit by sunshine filtering through the entrance—an impressive sight. —Jonathan Shannon

Photo: Getty

Shipwreck of the Sweepstakes, Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada

There are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, most of which have not been accessed by people. But there are some wrecks visible in shallower waters, including the schooner Sweepstakes, located in Lake Huron's Big Tub Harbour in Fathom Five National Marine Park. The boat sank about 50 yards from the shore in September 1885 and has remained surprisingly intact ever since, making it a popular attraction for divers and tourists.

Photo: Getty

Dos Ojos, Tulum, Mexico

This cavernous cenote with double entry points—hence the moniker "Two Eyes"—is so incredible it was featured in the IMAX film Journey Into Amazing Caves and an episode of Discovery Channel's Planet Earth. It's perfect for snorkelers, experienced scuba divers, and daredevils willing to surface in the system's bat cave.

Photo: Gallery Stock

Christ of the Abyss, San Fruttuoso, Italy

The eight-foot-tall Christ of the Abyss is located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of San Fruttuoso, where it has stood waiting for divers since the 1950s. With its outreached arms and upward gaze, it's hard to decide whether the statue is sublime or spooky. Regardless, it's worth taking a 55-foot dive down to snap an underwater selfie with Jesus.

Photo: Alamy

Christ of the Abyss, Key Largo

There are several versions of the Christ of the Abyss statue scattered around the ocean floor, including a famous one in Key Largo. The Floridian replica is a bit more accessible at a depth of 25 feet, but the effect is haunting all the same.

Photo: Getty

Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole is a 1,000-foot-wide, perfectly circular sinkhole in the middle of Belize's Lighthouse Reef, as well as a famous spot for divers. The limestone shelf surrounding the vertical cave sits about 40 feet below the surface, and then it’s a straight jump down into the unknown. The further down divers go, the clearer and more beautiful the massive underwater stalactites and stalagmites become.

Photo: Alamy

The Green Lake, Tragoess, Austria

During the fall and winter, Austria’s Green Lake is a small but scenic body of water surrounded by popular hiking trails. But when the snow on the bordering mountains begins to melt in the spring, the runoff causes the lake’s water levels to rise. By June, the nearby park becomes completely submerged, making for one of the most unusual diving experiences in the world.

Photo: Alamy

Silfra fissure, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Iceland's Silfra fissure offers adventurers something that no other diving spot in the world can—the chance to swim between two continental plates. The crack between the Eurasian and North American plates widens about 2 cm each year, inviting divers and snorkelers to enjoy the impressive water visibility, bright green algae, and sheer geological uniqueness.

Photo: Getty

Amphitrite statue, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

If you ever want to come face-to-face with a mermaid, consider booking your next vacation to Grand Cayman. One of the island's quirkiest attractions is a ghostly mermaid statue sitting in 50 feet of water off the coast of the beach, where she has been chilling since 2000. The 9-foot-tall, 600-pound sculpture is based off of Amphitrite, goddess of the sea and wife of Poseidon in Greek mythology.

Photo: Getty


This piece originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.

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