“I’m just here for the treasure, then I’ll be on my way” – me, unprompted, to my Airbnb host.
If you’re looking to add a little thrill to your vacation, why not consider searching crystal clear waters with the intent of returning home much, much wealthier than when you arrived. If this idea sounds like something you might be interested in, below are a few reportedly yet-to-be-found treasures and their corresponding locations around the world. So, grab your metal detectors, kids, it’s time to get rich (or, at the very least, daydream while you’re walking along the beach).
Top Picks for You
WHERE: Nassau County, Florida
A shipwreck containing a lot of gold? Check. The vessel San Miguel sunk around 1715 while attempting to outrun a hurricane somewhere near Amelia Island. The gag? Aside from gold, its cargo is said to have been comprised of jewels and coins, all of which come to a total of more than $2 billion. And it has yet to be discovered in full. There have been some tantalizing findings, though (like a jeweler’s furnace), that hint that something extravagant truly lies beneath the surface.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
A 37-acre field that remains, today, one of the only public places people can actively search for diamonds (though tickets must be purchased first: $10 for adults, $6 for children), the Crater of Diamonds State Park is the attraction it is because of a volcano. Its surface is the spot of a volcanic crater, which means gemstones abound; also, someone found a 15-carat stone there in the 1950s and everyone went wild. While renting tools at the park is not an option at the moment (courtesy of a certain pandemic), you can bring your own equipment, as long as it’s not motorized or battery-powered.
INSIDER TIPThough the Diamond Mine and the Visitor Center are open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., respectively, limited capacity has been implemented due to the COVID-19.
Lost Dutchman Mine
WHERE: Superstitious Mountains, Arizona
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Phoenix, the Lost Dutchman Mine was the site of an alleged gold discovery sometime in the 19th century by a wealthy family. The location of the discovery has yet to be revealed—the patriarch of the family literally died before he gave it up—but the area contains a museum and is home to plenty of trails for quality hiking. So, if your search for riches comes up short, there’s some other (travel) value to be had.
The Lost City of Gold (aka Paititi)
WHERE: Amazon Rainforest
This one’s a tale as old as time and remains an enduring treasure-hunting spot because, in part, Hollywood refuses to stop being Hollywood. The “spot” does have quite a bit of weight to it though, as many explorers have lost their lives (the Amazon is expansive and often isolating!) attempting to get eyes on it. While we won’t recommend going to such extremes, the Lost City of Gold is just too impactful to not mention here. We can, however, recommend a trip to the Amazon, as it’s nothing short of magnificent. River travel and cruises there are an especially effective way of gaining insight into the region as old as time itself.
Bad King’s Crown Jewels
WHERE: Lincolnshire, England
Early in the 13th century, a one Mr. Bad King John—an evil monarch (hence the nickname)—attempted to cross a wetland in this region in hopes of escaping his enemies. But as fate would have it, the haphazard detour resulted in a large amount of his flashy cargo somehow making its way overboard. Its value is said to be in the ballpark of $60 million and has yet to be located, though travelers have no doubt scoured the area countless times with their metal detectors.
WHERE: Nova Scotia
While a hunt at Oak Island might not be as accessible to search for treasure as some of the other destinations on this list (as it’s now privately-owned), guided tours that offer insight into the island’s chaotic history are available. I say “chaotic,” because, since the 1700s, the island has been said to harbor a pirate treasure, but those who go searching for it fall victim to a curse (six people have died on their quests for the alleged treasure). In fact, the History Channel created a show about it.
Ethiopia’s old city, Axum is reported (by locals) to house the Ten Commandments and the Ark of the Covenant somewhere inside its walls. Mythologically, it’s easy to see how this tracks as it’s considered extremely holy by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Also an underrated tourist sport, Axum is said to hold a bevy of underground tombs, many of which contain valuable items.