The coasts, lakes and rivers of the United States are packed with interesting dive sites to lure divers from around the world. There are thousands of sunken shipwrecks, from tug-boats to World War II German U-Boats, waiting to be explored. The variety of natural underwater environments around the country ensures that there is something to suit every diver’s tastes.
Despite the plethora of dives sites available, there are some die-hard divers who have used their imagination and resources to create even more dive destinations in the United States. These divers visualized a diving oasis in the desert, an eerie dive adventure in a missile silo, even an underwater eco-friendly final resting place and they turned these ideas into a reality. Here are five of the most unique man-made dive sites in the United States worthy of any scuba diver's bucket list.
Neptune Memorial Reef – Miami, FL
Three miles off Key Biscayne, FL, lies the world’s first underwater cemetery. The Neptune Memorial Reef was created by the Neptune society in an attempt to offer alternative green burial options to sea lovers while promoting marine conservation at the same time. The first completed phase of the project was built to resemble the Lost City of Atlantis. The memorials at the site are creating an artificial reef and allowing those buried there to continue their love of the sea even after their deaths. The cemetery is open to loved ones, snorkelers and scuba divers.
Bonneville Seabase – Grantsville, UT
Tropical fish and even a nurse shark residing in the desert draw divers to this site forty-five minutes outside Salt Lake City. The Bonneville Seabase is a private salt water marine preserve created by two avid divers, George Sanders and Linda Nelson. The couple spent a small fortune purchasing land around three natural salt-water springs and converting them into a tropical dive site through trial and error. The preserve consists of three bays, with depths varying from 13 to 62 feet. One of the bays is covered in the winter to give divers a comfortable entrance and exit point.
Jules Underwater Lodge – Key Largo, FL
Divers who can’t log enough hours underwater can spend the night 21’ below the surface at Jules Underwater Lodge. The lodge was originally used as an underwater habitat and research laboratory for exploration of the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico, today it sits safely in a mangrove lagoon in Key Largo. Guests must dive down to the lodge where they can enjoy all of the amenities found in a regular lodge, with the addition of great underwater views. Dive certification is necessary to visit the lodge, but don’t worry, they have certification courses on site for those who aren’t certified.
Valahalla Missile Silo – Abilene, Texas
Once the home of an Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile; the Valhalla Missile Silo is now the site of an eerie and unique dive experience. After being decommissioned, the defunct silo slowly filled up with groundwater that seeped through the concrete walls. Today, divers descend down 70’ of stairs underground to reach the abandoned and flooded missile silo. The silo, which is 60’ in diameter and 135’ deep, offers divers the unique experience of exploring a piece of cold war history.
Bonne Terre Mine – Bonne Terre, MO
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, spotlighted on the History Channel’s “Weird US” and named one of America’s Top 10 Greatest Adventures by National Geographic; the Bonne Terre Mine is a popular Midwest dive destination. The former lead mine boasts of a billion gallon lake, year round dives, 100’ visibility and 24 dive trails illuminated with over 500,000 watts of lighting. Non-divers can explore the mine by foot or boat.