Are you eager to visit the Lost Continent of Atlantis? Sorry to burst your bubble, but it probably doesn’t exist. However, if you would like to build a holiday around visiting mysterious, underwater cities, you will be thrilled to learn that you really do have options! From Europe to the Middle East to Asia, there is an underwater city just waiting for you to explore!
Dwarka – India
Located 70 feet under the sea near the inhabited island of Bet Dwarka, the ancient, underwater city of Dwarka is a true archaeological treasure worth exploring. It is speculated to have been built sometime between 9,000 and 12,000 years ago and those fortunate enough to visit can witness a diverse variety of buildings in addition to a grid of streets, a seaport and protective walls made of sandstone. Furthermore, the large stone anchors indicate that overseas trade took place in Dwarka during the Age of Antiquity all the way through medieval times. To get there, regular boat transport services are available from the port of Okha, situated around 20 miles away.
Lion City – Qiandao Lake, China
Deliberately flooded in 1959 to make way for a man-made lake and hydroelectric power station, the so-called Lion City (named after the Lion Mountains that surrounded it) was once a political and economic hub in eastern China. It was forgotten for more than 50 years before being rediscovered in 2011. Resting between 85 and 130 feet beneath the turquoise-blue Qiandao Lake, visitors will find wooden staircases and brick houses that are completely preserved. Organized underwater tours are available, and Lion City has become popular among diving enthusiasts.
Do you appreciate ancient Roman statues, mosaics and relics? Then Parco Sommerso di Baia Area Marina Protetta (Submerged Park of the Protected Baia Marina Area) might just be the place to plan your underwater city vacation. Once a site mainly explored by archeologists, Baia has increasingly become a popular destination for tourists seeking out adventure. There are several options for taking in the eerily preserved ruins. You can catch a ride on a glass-bottomed boat, which allows you to peer down at the archeological treasures. Another option is to take a rubber boat, accompanied by a professional scuba diver equipped with a camera who beams live footage of the sights below. Of course, if you are a true adventurer, your best bet is to do some snorkeling or even don some scuba gear yourself and get up close with the ancient wonders!
Pavlopetri – Greece
Perhaps ancient Greece is more up your ally? If so, you can’t go wrong with the ancient city of Pavlopetrioff, located off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnese, Greece. Pavlopetrioff was founded around 5,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest underwater lost cities in the world. Since it was rediscovered in 1967, archeologists and tourists alike have been mesmerized by the well-preserved artifacts, including pottery. What makes Pavlopetri stick out is that it has a nearly-complete town plan, including at least 15 buildings. There is also evidence that it was once a major producer of textiles, with some of the equipment still intact!
Yonaguni Monument – Japan
Discovered in 1986, Yonaguni Monument consists of a series of monoliths that appear as though they were formed on the side of a mountain. However, there is considerable debate over whether they were formed by humans or naturally-occurring. Some archeologists have estimated that the formations are 10,000 years old. If so, they would be the oldest man-made structures in the world, predating even the Egyptian pyramids. In any event, the area is perfect for drift diving and as an additional bonus, if you explore the Yonaguni Monument in the winter, you can catch schools of hammerhead sharks roaming about!
Antirhodos – Alexandria, Egypt
This ancient underwater island, which is believed to have sunk due to earthquakes around the 4th century, was rediscovered in 1996 near the Alexandria harbor. The wonders have to be seen to be believed. In addition to being the site of the Alexandria Lighthouse, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World that had been presumed lost forever, explorers can find a marble-floored 3rd century B.C. palace that is believed to have belonged to Cleopatra. The incomplete palace of Mark Antony (the Timonium) is also located on Antrihodos. Jewelry, vases and even ancient cargo ships have been found on this island. The best thing is that the island is only a few meters under the water, which makes it easy to explore even for novice divers!
Atlit-Yam – Israel
When you think about ideal places to enjoy diving, Israel might not necessarily be on your list. But Atlit-Yam might make you change your mind. This underwater neolithic site was discovered in 1984 off the coast of Atlit near Haifa, and is estimated to have been settled between 6900 and 6300 B.C. Excavations have uncovered houses, stone-built wells, ritual installations, artifacts and graves containing skeletal remains. Also noteworthy is that this location offers the clearest evidence of where humans made the transition from hunter-gatherers to settled farmers. Note that dive insurance is required, so make sure you have coverage as you are planning your trip.
Ocean Spiral, A Deep Sea Future City Concept – Japan
Ocean Spiral is an intriguing underwater settlement idea proposed by the Japanese-based Shimizu Corporation. It seeks to offer solutions to the food, energy, water, air pollution and natural resource crises. It would consist of a large sphere called “Blue Garden” which would contain 75 floors for residential, commercial, hospitality and research facilities. A spiral – which accommodates the functions necessary to allow Ocean Spiral to operate in the sea – would connect the Blue Garden with an “Earth Factory” located on the sea bed. While this concept is still several decades away, it is never too early to start thinking about the exciting possibilities!