Best Underwater Attraction (2016)


There's something magical and mysterious about exploring the world beneath the surface of the water, and you don't necessarily need a SCUBA certification to do so! We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to help us find the best underwater attractions in the nation, and after four weeks of voting, the results are in.

  • Bonne Terre Mine

    Bonne Terre Mine
    Bonne Terre, Mo.

    Bonne Terre Mine, one of the world’s largest man-made caverns, is also home to the largest fresh water scuba diving venue in the world. The clear water is illuminated from above to give divers visibility of more than 100 feet down, where the mine architecture – oar carts, scaffolding, grating, staircases, pillars, slurry pipes and an elevator shaft – remain visible.
    Photo courtesy of Bonne Terre Mine

  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

    Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
    Weeki Wachee, Fla.

    An iconic example of classic roadside Americana, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and its resident 'mermaids' have been entertaining visitors since 1947. The crowning jewel of the 538-acre park is the 400-seat submerged theater where visitors watch the now-famous live mermaid show.
    Photo courtesy of Weeki Wachee

  • Mermet Springs

    Mermet Springs
    Vienna, Ill.

    What do a Boeing 727, a railroad coal car, a Ford pickup and a motorcycle have in common? They're all at the bottom of Mermet Springs! These are just a few of the many underwater attractions within this 8.5-acre spring fed quarry in Southern Illinois.

    8.5 acre spring-fed quarry
    Boeing 727

    Photo courtesy of Mermet Springs

  • Atlantis Adventures

    Atlantis Adventures

    While the Hawaiian archipelago is certainly a snorkeler's and diver's dream, it's possible to explore the state's underwater treasures without getting wet, thanks to Atlantis Adventures. Aboard a fleet of environmentally safe submarines, Atlantis passengers tour Hawaii's natural and artificial reef habitats from 100 feet below the surface.
    Photo courtesy of john / Flickr

  • The LuLu

    The LuLu
    Orange Beach, Ala.

    The LuLu was purpose-sunk off the coast of Orange Beach, Ala. on May 26, 2013, making it the state’s first full-ship diving reef. The 271-foot retired coastal freighter now sits 115 feet below the sea’s surface, where divers can spot red and mangrove snapper, amberjack, grey triggerfish, gag grouper and king mackerel.
    Photo courtesy of Lila Harris of “Aquatic Soul Photography”

  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

    John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
    Key Largo, Fla.

    The first undersea park in the country comprises 70 nautical square miles, teeming with coral reefs and other marine life. Perhaps the most recognizable underwater landmark in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Christ of the Deep, a 12-foot submerged bronze statue of Jesus. Visitors can experience this underwater attraction via scuba diving, snorkeling or glass-bottom boat tours.
    Photo courtesy of Florida Keys News Bureau

  • Crystal River Complex

    Crystal River Complex
    Crystal River, Fla.

    Visitors to Florida's Crystal River Complex have the unique opportunity of observing slow-moving Florida manatees in their natural habitats. Visitors can see these gentle giants from the Three Sisters Springs boardwalk or up close on a guided snorkeling tour.
    Photo courtesy of

  • Sea Trek Reef Encounter at Miami Seaquarium

    Sea Trek Reef Encounter at Miami Seaquarium

    Miami Seaquarium's Sea Trek Reef Encounter gives visitors the chance to walk underwater in a 300,000 gallon tropical reef tank using innovative dive helmets that allow free breathing. It's a perfect half step between observing marine life from dry land and full-fledged scuba diving.
    Photo courtesy of Miami Seaquarium

  • Haigh Quarry

    Haigh Quarry
    Kankakee, Ill.

    Located in a former limestone mine, Haigh Quarry opened as a freshwater scuba diving resort in 1992. As part of an Underwater Archaeology Program, the quarry features six underwater sites in its Artifact Park, where recreational divers can learn about the study of underwater archaeology.
    Photo courtesy of Haigh Quarry

  • Dutch Springs

    Dutch Springs
    Bethlehem, Penn.

    Dutch Springs, a 50-acre lake near Bethlehem, Penn., offers underwater platforms, submerged vehicles and sunken aircrafts, in addition to a diverse array of freshwater fish, such as Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Bluegills, Palomino Trout, Koi, Yellow Perch and Goldfish. While geared toward scuba divers, Dutch Springs also offers a snorkeling tour.
    Photo courtesy of Olga Torre


The top 10 winners in the category Best Underwater Attraction are as follows:

  1. Bonne Terre Mine - Bonne Terre, Mo.
  2. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park - Weeki Wachee, Fla.
  3. Mermet Springs - Vienna, Ill.
  4. Atlantis Adventures - Hawaii
  5. The LuLu - Orange Beach, Ala.
  6. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Key Largo, Fla.
  7. Crystal River Complex - Crystal River, Fla.
  8. Sea Trek Reef Encounter at Miami Seaquarium - Miami
  9. Haigh Quarry - Kankakee, Ill.
  10. Dutch Springs - Bethlehem, Penn.

Other nominees for Best Underwater Attraction included Alger Underwater Preserve in Munising, Mich.; Bioluminescent Bays of St. Croix; Carthaginian II in Maui, Hawaii; Edmonds Underwater Park in Edmonds, Wash.; HMCS Yukon in San Diego; Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah; Monterey Bay in California; Neptune Memorial Reef in Key Biscayne, Fla.; Papoose in Cape Lookout, N.C. and Spiegel Grove in Key Largo, Fla.

Congratulations to all 10 winners!

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