Snorkel between two continents at Iceland’s Silfra

Jun 23, 2017

It’s easy to stick to the beach when on holiday. But adventurers will tell you the really good stuff is hidden beneath the surface.

There is no easy way to travel to the bottom of the ocean. French explorer and researcher Jacques Cousteau knew that better than most, but today – almost 75 years after he first invented the Aqua Lung – there is still much to be discovered.

In Iceland, for instance, scuba divers continue Cousteau’s pioneering tradition at Silfra (above), a corrugated fissure between the North American and Eurasian continents. The only place to dive between continental plates, it is an ephemeral dive site – it continues to drift 2cm apart every year – and remains an enigma few divers truly understand.

Travel halfway around the world and the story is similar in Indonesia. For divers in the Sangihe Islands, the bucket-list destination is Banua Wuhu, a submarine volcano you can descend into and explore. Like the underwater lava tubes found at Lanai Cathedrals in Hawaii, also the result of molten rock exploding in the ocean, Indonesia’s submerged cone presents a different kind of challenge. Those innocent-looking bubbles? They’re skin-burningly hot, and the volcano can often be heard rumbling – unexpectedly – when divers are inside. At such depths, it’s hard not to ponder what lies beneath. But that’s the same question that sparked Cousteau’s desire to map the seas in the first place.

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– BY MIKE MACEACHERAN

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES