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Travel Destination of the Month

Oscuba at Qiandao Lake

Certainly, Hainan Island at China’s southernmost tip is the nation’s most renowned location for scuba diving. Most eager first-timers would choose the tropical paradise by default. However, China’s economic rise has meant rapidly increasing tourism demand, and the island is not yet ready to handle such heavy holiday traffic. So, a new diving destination emerged. With an abundance of fish and a stunning underwater eco-system that is rarely paralleled elsewhere on the planet, the new hotspot has proven suitable for both amateur and professional divers. Qiandao Lake’s name literally translates to “lake of one thousand islands,” and it can be found just outside of Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.

In contrast to ocean diving, practicing scuba in lakes provides a special allure that is not easy for some to imagine. Since the lake’s silt is extremely light, even gentle movements can stir up cloudy water, causing divers to lose visuals. Therefore, controlling buoyancy is more important than in the ocean. Water temperature can be another concern, and divers must make sure to keep warm during a dive. Deeper water can become considerably darker, so experienced divers know to bring lighting equipment along.

However, the extensive preparations are all worthwhile. After diving into Qiandao Lake, not only will the amazing waterscape be revealed, but visitors get the rare chance to explore ancient underwater cities. When a dam was built that created Qiandao Lake in 1959, local residents were evacuated. However, three ancient cities became forever submerged in water, creating a spectacular scene. Of the three cities, Lion City, which was constructed in the Tang (618-907) and flourished through the Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty, is the most famous.

For those interested in diving in Qiandao Lake, contacting a local guide is the best first step. Local scuba circles are still small enough that you could bump into the divers who first located Lion City in 2001.

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