Traveling can sometimes look like a copy – paste job of the last trip you took. Museums, tourist attractions, local restaurants, drinks at the hotel lobby can saturate your vacation itinerary. But a new-ish tourist attraction is starting to pop up on the travel circuit and the experience is something that forces you out of your comfort zone and into a new world under the sea.
Underwater museums can be a unique activity that can stir your senses and make you feel like you’ve truly traveled to a far-off land. Every underwater museum has a different story that is thought-provoking and visually awesome to see.
PRO TIP: The key is to plan! Rough tides can cause unsafe conditions that can also disrupt visibility. Check the weather to make sure the seas are calm before booking your underwater excursion.
Now let’s dive into the top five underwater museums to visit on your next trip.
1.MOUA – MUSEUM OF UNDERWATER ART
If you’re thinking of descending into the Coral Sea for a peek at Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, be sure to add Museum of Underwater Art at John Brewer Reef to your itinerary. Jason deCaires Taylor creates an extraordinary underwater exhibition that blends both man-made and natural elements. This installation is comprised of 25 sculptures encased in a 72-meter greenhouse structure with 3 entrance points. Real coral grows atop the steel structure to attract essential marine life that thrives in this environment. You’ll see 8 human figurines in varying narratives that all have a deeper meaning. It is storytelling under the sea. And yes, you’re part of the story!
If you’re an avid scuba aficionado or experienced free diver, you’ll be able to see the structure up close and even swim through the steel structure with the marine life. If snorkeling is more your style, you can still enjoy an aerial view.
2.MUSA – SUBACUATICO DE ARTE
Perhaps the most awesome underwater museum in existence, Subacuático De Arte is another work from underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor that’s nestled between Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc in Cancun. Get ready to explore over 420 square meters of sculptures in the depths of the Caribbean Sea. This underwater museum includes over 500 individual sculptures that are part of collective works that all tell a different story. Some of the most notable works include The Bankers – a satirical installation that consists of 6 suited men in an exaggerated prayer position with their heads in the sand and their backsides protruding in the air; and Reclamation a single angle made of repurposed Gorgonian Sea fans on her knees with her hands lifted upwards towards the sky. All the artworks are designed to help productivity in the sea and allow the sea life to thrive amongst the manmade figures. A definite must-see for anyone planning to travel to Cancun or Isla Mujeres. You can book a tour on a boat with glass window to see from above or get up and close with a scuba excursion with your very own underwater guide. Or get the best of both worlds with a snorkeling excursion where you get in the water and watch the sites from above.
3. MUSEO ATLANTICO LANZAROTE
Playa Blanca, Spain
Museo Atlantico Lanzarote is a collection of 10 sculpture installations all telling a story about a current event indicative to the area. One of the most notable of the installations is Raft of Lampedusa that depicts a group of life-size humans marching towards a large wall, a take on the recent refugee crisis in Europe. Two men on a seesaw, piles of human figurines in an endless circle are just some of the other underwater installations in this collection off the Canary Islands. This collective work is one of the more powerful ones that relates to the world outside of the ocean. Nonetheless, it’s a moving experience that is perfect for a day of snorkeling, boating or scuba diving.
If you’re looking for the experience without so much of the adventure, Coralarium in the Maldives will suit you best. This semi-submerged museum is about 500 feet from the shoreline and is a cube made of stainless steel that is 10 feet above water and 10 feet below. A submerged staircase gives you entry inside of the cube. Human-like figurines are both above and below the cube. With the staircase you connect both worlds in the water and the sky above. It’s a breathtaking museum that gives you the experience without having to endure a long boat ride, or strenuous swim through the ocean.
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