Ancient-looking columns guarded by carved lions mark the entryway into a “lost city” located 40 feet below the surface of the sea, complete with stone roads, soaring gates, and crumbling ruins.Originally named the Atlantis Memorial Reef, the lost city is part of an underwater cemetery that also acts as an artificial reef, sponsored by the Neptune Society, a cremation company. Located about 3 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne in Miami, the undersea cemetery was designed by Florida artist Kim Brandell and opened in 2007.
Cremated remains are cast into concrete memorials and placed within the sunken necropolis, where divers can explore or visit with loved ones. Shipwreck diver Bert Kilbride, once listed as the oldest living scuba diver in the Guinness Book of World Records, is interred here in a place of honor at the top of one of the entry columns at the Reef gate.
Most of the architecture in the 16-acre underwater cemetery is concrete with bronze and steel accents. It was intentionally designed to create a marine environment for fish and coral, in the end creating a city of the dead that is either enchanting or unbelievably creepy, depending on your interpretation.
Know Before You Go
The memorial reef is free to visit and open to all divers, whether you are visiting deceased loved ones or exploring the sculptures and marine life. You can reach the site with your own boat or book one of the several dive boats that visit the reef regularly. Simply get in contact with one of the Miami dive shops listed on the reef’s website. During your visit, be sure to be gentle with the marine life and respect the cremation ashes.