Ethereal and Enchanting Depths: Underwater Opal Mines of Slovakia

Slovakia's underwater opal mines

The acclaimed Opal Mines are hidden behind winding forests. Located near Presov, Slovakia, the tunnels can be explored by an ambitious divers, only with the help of an experienced guide.

Today, it is a protected region, but lots of active mining activity occurred there. Over 300 workers were going in and out, in order to reap the mineral resources. The underground Opal tunnels are mostly untouched, providing a natural mysterious vibe full of wonder for visitors to explore.

An unused entrance (left); ore with opals

An unused entrance (left); ore with opals.
Photo: Martin Strmiska

In order to explore these depths, divers will require an adequate amount of physical strength and stamina. Divers carry their equipment to get to the entry pool: more than 40 vertical yards to be exact. Upon entering the pool and diving deeper, you’ll be dazzled by the play of colors across the water, cast down by the hues of the Opal gems.

As you go deeper into the mines, you’ll uncover the abandoned tools used by miners nearly a century ago. A cavern frozen in time, the different hues of colours across the limestone walls are due to environmental changes and mineralisation over time that paints the upper walls in various colors.

A doorway leading deeper into the opal mines

A doorway leading deeper into the underworld.
Photo: Martin Strmiska

Exhaled air forms capsules on the upper walls that reflect light one a torch is shown on them, creating an even more intricate play of lights together with the Opals.

The underwater tunnels are quite narrow and sometimes fragile, making it quite difficult to manoeuvre. It becomes extra hard, when trying to take photos. It’s a good idea to have plan a journey with your guide in advance. The waters are acidic and are quick to absorb any warmth, so be prepared for frigid waters.

Divers descend muddy stairs to ­access ­flooded tunnels

Divers descend muddy stairs to ­access ­flooded tunnels.
Photo: Martin Strmiska

Essentially, to be able to dive and catch a glimpse of these magnificent opal caves, it’s advised to have some substantial experience in scuba diving. This is critical, especially when navigating the narrow tunnels as it may be easy to lose your bearings. If you’re bringing some photography gear, make sure to have a shoulder strap to secure your gear, leaving your hands free in case of any slippery surfaces.

Gas trapped at the ­ceiling — colored by the minerals that create opals — makes beautiful ­reflections

Gas trapped at the ­ceiling — colored by the minerals that create opals — makes beautiful ­reflections.
Photo by Martin Strmiska

The water temperature of these caves remain constant all-year-round. However, during the rainy season visibility might be quite low so, it’s best to keep an eye on the weather forecast before planning your trip. The Slovakian tunnels can be accessed from Budapest and Vienna. The recommended option is to travel to Budapest and head to Slanske Hills.

As mentioned before, divers need to be in an excellent health condition and have experience in underwater cave diving. Full cave certification, a medical statement, and dive insurance is required to be able to make the trip here. Visitors can find comfortable accommodation at the Opal Guest House in Zamutov which is 7 miles away from the dive site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *