The magnificent underwater remains of King Herod’s ancient harbor at Caesarea Maritima, which lay hidden for more than 2,000 years, can now be discovered by diving enthusiasts in a one-of-a-kind underwater park.
Inaugurated in April 2006, the park provides divers with the opportunity to view some of the world’s most extraordinary maritime ruins. A score of sign-posted sites guide divers along four marked trails within the 50-acre sunken Caesarea harbor, which includes remnants of breakwaters, basins, loading piers, storage rooms and a promenade. Ancient anchors and other isolated objects are also part of the underwater landscape.
Using a waterproof map, divers chart their own course while learning about the ancient world of the 2,000-year-old harbor and viewing the technological wonders of ancient harbor construction, as well as the ingenious building methods of Herod’s engineers, who built several of the most sophisticated port installations in antiquity.
There is also a trail that is accessible to snorkelers. All of the trails, which range from 7 to 29 feet below the surface, are suitable for beginning divers. Guided tours are also available.
While divers can view other underwater ruins elsewhere, they will normally have little idea of what they are seeing. The creation of the underwater park at Caesarea opens up a whole world of information about the ruins to underwater enthusiasts, said Dr. Nadav Kashtan, a maritime historian from the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.