Dive the Great Wall of China with Urbane Nomads

Did you know that parts of the Great Wall of China are underwater? Yeah, me neither. But according to Urban Daddy, one particular section of the wall has been submerged under a lake since the 1980’s. And now a luxury tour company called Urbane Nomads is offering the first-ever guided diving trips to the hard-to-reach spot.

Guides will carry your gear to the submerged portion of the Wall and direct you to the coolest underwater spots, where you’ll see “Ming-era stone carvings, some intricate tunnels and a tight-squeeze guard tower”. The “Diving the Great Wall” package includes two dives at the site plus more exclusive activities like a guided tour to the unrestored parts of the Forbidden City, usually off-limits to tourists.

The group at Urbane Nomads calls themselves “travel mixologists” creating unique itineraries that customers can tweak according to their preferences while still keeping the main ingredients. There’s definitely an emphasis on luxury here, though the company claims that, unlike other high-end tour operators, their tours seek to connect visitors with the local culture (in a way that is not staged or touristy) rather than isolating them from it. In addition to China, they offer tours to over 30 destinations, including Spain, South Africa, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Oman, Thailand, Turkey, Laos, Morocco, and Argentina.

Australia’s Open Water

Sleeping under the stars, with the magic of the underwater world beneath you is about as cleansing of an experience as you can get. Far from civilization, the stars are amazingly bright and–but for the waves breaking over the boat–it would be almost unbearably quiet.

The best way to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is definitely a live-on-board scuba diving trip. Because in most places, the GBR is some 2-3 hours from shore, it is really not worth it to just do a day trip. In Cairns, a gateway town to the GBR, there are numerous establishments offering just that. We went with Scuba Pro and would recommend them to anybody. A three-day trip is about $400/pp, all-inclusive: boat trip, two nights on the boat (there are private rooms, but some people choose the sleep-on-the-deck option to enjoy the stars), food and drinks, equipment rental and 11 dives, including 2 night dives. All in, it’s a pretty good deal. This is also a good way to get certified, although after diving the GBR, you’ll be spoiled and other places will seem like a cold pool of muddy water.

Needless to say, the diving is incredible. Turtles, sharks, lobsters, dolphins…all in water so warm you don’t actually need a wetsuits, if it weren’t for the damn jellyfish.