Museums aren’t the only places to discover the rich and diverse histories of the world. Some of the world’s most important heritage sites are, in fact, underwater, where the wreckages of ships, airplanes, cars and other artificial structures lie at the bottom of the ocean floor. If you’re looking to combine your love for diving, history and travel in a scuba diving holiday, explore these amazing historical dive sites around the world – from Sudan and the Maldives to the Philippines:
Scapa Flow – Scotland
The Orkney Islands are an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, where 74 ships from the German Navy’s fleet were detained at the end of the First World War as they waited to learn what fate Allied forces decided for their future. However, the fleet’s Rear Admiral decided to scuttle the ships to prevent them falling into the hands of the British Navy in 1919. The body of water known as Scapa Flow (pictured above) is one of the world’s largest shipwreck graveyards.
USAT Liberty – Bali, Indonesia
Bali is one of the world’s best-known diving destinations with welcoming waters for underwater explorers and a wealth of diving schools offering PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification courses. It’s also a great place for less experienced divers to try shipwreck exploration, as the seabed off the north-east of the island is the final resting place of USAT Liberty. Located just 25 meters from the shore, this US Army cargo ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during the Second World War. It was intentionally beached at Tulamben after sustaining damage, but lava flow from the Mount Agung volcano pushed the wreck back into the sea in 1963.
SS Thistlegorm – Egypt
The wreck of this British Merchant Navy ship, carrying military equipment to troops during the Second World War, is a must-dive in the Suez Canal. Situated 30 meters underwater, the 126-meter long cargo ship remains almost entirely intact. It sunk after being bombed by the German air force in 1941, with the explosion of munitions in its holds ultimately sealing its fate. Divers exploring the wreck will see cargo such as a locomotive, an anti-aircraft gun, trucks, motorcycles and more. At least two dives are required to fully explore the wreckage.
Hawaii – Pearl Harbour shipwrecks
The consequences of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an important US naval base during the Second World War, have created a hotspot for divers looking to explore history first hand. The wrecks from this major event in world history aren’t easily accessible. However, the site is home to other war relics, such as the YO-257, a US Navy Yard Oiler that was scuttled off Hawaii to create an artificial reef.
Chuuk Lagoon – Micronesia
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia is home to a huge underwater graveyard of Japanese shipwrecks from the country’s large WW2 naval base in the region. The US Army attacked the fleet in 1944. Today, divers can explore several Japanese shipwrecks around the islands of Dublon, Eten, Fefan and Uman. Highlights include the Fujikawa Maru, which is covered in coral, and the Shinkoku Maru, where a sick bay and operating table are visible. Divers can also spot a submarine which, rather than being bombed, sunk when the crew forgot to close the hatches.
Umbria – Sudan
At Port Sudan in the Red Sea, the Umbria is considered one of the most stunning shipwrecks for divers, made famous by filmmaker Hans Haas and French naval officer and explorer Jacques Cousteau. The 153-meter long Italian vessel remains intact and can even be explored inside. Divers will easily identify the propeller of the ship, which was scuttled by its crew after being detained by British officers in 1940. The Umbria was, in fact, secretly carrying a shipment of bombs.