Bucket List Worthy
With summer fast approaching, it’s never too soon to think of innovative ways to beat the heat. A sure-fire solution to avoid the rays (and the ozone hole in the atmosphere) is to seek an aquatic refuge. Here are some unusual underwater escapes where you can have fun while keeping your cool.
1. Suite Fit for a Mermaid: Water nymphs seeking a romantic retreat should check into the underwater accommodations at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. To commemorate the five-year anniversary of Ithaa, the sleek 12-seat restaurant located five meters below the surface of the Indian Ocean, has been converted into a private suite for two. Encased entirely by Plexiglass, the views are otherworldly (although apparently the noonday sun is so bright that sunglasses are essential). Included in the price are a champagne dinner (the cuisine is billed as “Maldivian fusion”) and breakfast in your seabed.
2. Deep-Sea Dining: While Ithaa is closed to the public, those in search of a bite below the surface can head to the Red Sea Star Underwater Observatory, submerged six meters below sea level in Eilat, Israel. Competing with the maritime scene glimpsed through the windows, this oceanic fantasy of a restaurant features sand floors (sealed with a layer of clear epoxy), velvet sea urchin cushions, and starfish light fixtures. By day, the sea is illuminated by natural light, but after dark, special external lighting allows diners a rare glimpse of oceanic night life without disturbing its participants. Fish and seafood dominate the menu, but the real draw is the ambiance.
Cancun, Mexico’s new “Subaquatic Museum.”
3. Aquatic Art: Avoid the line-ups and crowds at this summer’s blockbuster museum exhibits by checking out within Cancun’s National Marine Park,this submerged gallery features life-sized sculptures cast out of low-acid cement and displayed eight meters below the surface of the Caribbean Sea. Figures are being positioned throughout the year; by the end of 2010, there will be 400. The installation project is the brainchild of British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, who is also responsible for a series of underwater sculptures displayed off the coast of Grenada. The goal is that, over time, these works will become artificial reefs, capable of sustaining life as well adding a new dimension to the aquatic landscape. The viewing public can check out the sculptures by donning diving or snorkeling gear or taking a glass-bottom boat.
4. Hydro History: China keeps racking up “firsts” – including the inauguration, last year, of its first underwater museum. allows viewers to check out the world’s first known hydrological station: a 1,600-meter long rock tablet whose smooth stone surface is engraved with beautiful fish sculptures that, for 1200 years, served as water-level markers. Also visible are thousand of poetic inscriptions dating back to 763 AD, in which poets from various dynasties paid lyrical homage to the power and beauty of China’s longest river.
5. Submerged Traffic: Located 40 meters below the surface of the Yangtze River, Virginia’s Lake Rawlings, the Three Gorges Dam, Fuling City’s Baiheliang Museum Closer to home, freshwater aficionados can have a whale of a time at spring-fed lake where visibility extends to depths of over 20 meters. Talk about buried treasure: the bottom of the lake not only shelters various sunken cars, a van, and two school buses (named Ms. Nikki and Wayne), but its very own twin-engine airplane as well. Proof that the life aquatic need not sink your finances, weekend diver packages costing $75 include three days of diving, three nights of camping, and three tanks of air.