Our top 3 unusual places to scuba dive
When we think about scuba diving, we usually think about warm, tropical waters, full of coral, fish and sea turtles. Maybe some sharks if you’re adventurous. But there are also other, more unusual places that you can go scuba diving. You just have to do a little more research.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada “Dangerous Lagoon” (Toronto)
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada offers a “Discovery Dive” experience where you do a 30-minute guided scuba dive in their 750,000 gallon (2.8 million litre) “Dangerous Lagoon” exhibit. The tank is 12 feet/4 meters deep and features sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks, longcomb sawfish, roughtail stingrays, green sea turtles and several species of tropical fish from the western Atlantic.
While you must be a certified scuba diver to participate, it will be the easiest dive in your life. For the safety and comfort of the animals, they require divers to be overweighted and stay on the bottom at all times. You’ll follow your guide into the centre of the exhibit and rest on the ground for the duration of your dive while sharks continuously circle you.
That might not sound super exciting, but trust us… it’s thrilling! With the constant circling of sharks and rays, you’ll soon feel like you’ve seen hundreds of them! Some will even swim directly towards you, only veering off at the last minute. You’ll also get to see the critically endangered longcomb sawfish up close, which you’ll probably never get to see in the wild.
As part of the package, you also get a private behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium and a souvenir package that includes a duffel bag, towel and USB key with photos from your experience.
If you’re not a certified diver, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada also offers snorkelling with cownose rays, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays and roughtail stingrays.
Similar to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto, other aquariums in North America that offer scuba diving include:
- National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland has a Guest Diver Program in their Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit
- Downtown Aquarium in Denver, Colorado offers 2 different scuba diving options, “Dive with the Fish” and “Dive with the Sharks”; for people who aren’t certified, they offer a new caged dive option
- Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada offers a “Dive with Sharks” for hotel guests and annual pass holders
Note: We have consciously excluded a couple other option because they’re facilities that keep dolphins and other marine mammals in captivity, which we do not support.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge (Key Largo)
This is more an unusual “hotel” that involves scuba diving. Jules’ Undersea Lodge, located in the lagoon of Key Largo, Florida, is a 2-bedroom lodge submerged 21 feet under the surface.
The lodge was originally an underwater research laboratory. Now converted in an underwater accommodation, it features a common room with microwave, refrigerator and television, and 2 bedrooms with 42″ porthole windows that look out into the lagoon. It even has wifi!
In order to access the lodge, you must be a certified scuba diver or take the discover scuba diving course at Jules’. You enter through a moon pool in the wet room of the lodge, where you take a warm shower and dry off before entering the living areas. The 21-foot depth of the lodge was carefully planned, since you can stay underwater (or in the lodge breathing compressed air) at this depth indefinitely without requiring decompression.
The overnight package includes the overnight accommodations, a pizza dinner (delivered underwater) and breakfast, with the option to upgrade to a lobster or filet mignon dinner. Guests are also provided an unlimited supply of tanks for exploring the lagoon.
Alternatively, you can book a 3-hours visit with pizza lunch. They can also organize underwater weddings in the lodge.
Le Rêve — The Dream show at Wynn Las Vegas
Le Rêve — The Dream is an aquatic stage production, with dancing and acrobatics over a 1.1 million gallon, 27-foot deep pool at the Wynn Las Vegas. Performers will fall 80 feet into the water. Support scuba divers are underwater during the show to provide performers with air for certain routines.
Their “Diver’s Dream” package offers a unique opportunity to experience the show from under the water. The package includes a 2-night stay, premium seats to the show (above water), a backstage tour, and then see the show again from below the water.
Do you have any other recommendations for unique and unusual scuba diving opportunities? Let us know in the comments below.