From reading classic adventures, to watching films like The Goonies and Pirates of the Caribbean, the childhood wish of finding treasure after an epic quest is as current as ever. For grown-up fortune hunters, there are certain spots around the world that allow them still to believe.
And travelling to places where precious metals, stones or entire treasure troves might be found has, in many cases, a positive side effect: they are overwhelmingly beautiful.
Here are five places that may or may not make you wealthy in a material sense but will definitely enrich your travel experiences:
- Papua New Guinea
- Norman Island
- Big Sur
- Coober Pedy
- Port Royal
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is known as a location of enormous gold deposits and mining is one of the driving forces behind the developing economy. The region attracts some of the biggest players in the industry, but for individuals with digging fever, organised tours offer the chance to strike it lucky.
The mountainous terrain and diverse plant and animal life offer a real adventure into the unknown while the soil is said to provide the ideal conditions for hopeful prospectors.
Additional info: If you don’t unearth a golden nugget on land, you can always hit the water to explore other wonders. The area is a water sports haven with stunning locations for snorkelling, diving, fishing and surfing.
Norman Island, British Virgin Islands
There’s a reason Norman Island is said to have inspired Robert Lewis Stevenson’s classic tale of Treasure Island. Local legends abound of pirates who hid their wares here and it’s not hard to see why with its network of mysterious caves and coves.
And it’s these stories about lost pirate booty that still draw treasure hunters to the privately-owned paradise. The island, about 2.5 miles long, is also a popular destination for cruiser boats and attracts snorkelers and divers who come to explore the caves, bays, and many wrecks.
Additional info: As well as the prospect of finding pirate gold, the caves offer stunning beauty with coral studded walls surrounding brightly coloured tropical fish species
Big Sur, California
Big Sur is located on the Californian coast and is one of the most scenic locations in the world. For treasure hunters, it also happens to have the biggest deposit of jade found anywhere on the globe.
Not surprisingly, Jade Cove beach is famous for the gemstone, known for its mesmerising green colour. A short hiking trail takes you around the region and there are guidelines posted for amateur miners. Jade Cove also happens to be a designated hand glider site.
Additional info: You should search for jade at the tide level, where the rocks are wet and where you can actually see its depth. In fact removing rock or minerals above mean high tide level is prohibited.
Coober Pedy, Australia
The town of Coober Pedy lies between Adelaide and Alice Springs and is the self-styled “Opal Capital of the World”. The precious gem was found here back in 1915 and the region now boasts the largest opal mining area on the planet.
According to the Coober Pedy website, around 150 million years ago this part of the world was covered by the ocean. When the waters receded, the sandy silica minerals of the seabed solidified in the rocky cracks to from the multi-coloured gems.
The town is also known for its underground residences called ‘dugouts’ built in this fashion to combat the searing surface heat. Tourists can stay in below-the-surface hotels and take guided tours to attractions including underground churches and art galleries.
Additional info: Coober Pedy is home to an 18-hole grassless golf course, voted in the top ten most unique courses in the world.
Port Royal, Jamaica
Port Royal near Kingston also boasts a famous pirate history. It was once known as the “richest and wickedest city in the world” while the waters around it were filled with marauders called the “Brethren of the Coast”. Located on Jamaica’s southeast shore, and once the largest city in the Caribbean, it became renowned for booze, piracy and prostitution.
The sleepy fishing town is now a destination for cliff and scuba divers keen to explore for buried treasure.
Additional info: In 1692 a massive earthquake hit the island and over 33 acres of the city disappeared under water. Today most of its remains lie almost 40 feet below the surface.