This abandoned labour prison from the soviet times near the Estonian village of Rummu is a real treasure find for any adventurer seeking an off the beaten waves destination. Built in the 1940s when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union it was a limestone quarry, where the inmates were forced to toil. After Estonia became independent in 1991 and the Soviets left, the quarry and the prison were abandoned. The groundwater that was constantly pumped out now quickly took over the mine and flooded some of the buildings. Swimming over the double walls, barbed wire and into the prison cells is a rather surreal albeit thrilling experience.
GPS: 59.225218, 24.197766
Depth: 5-10m depending on the season
Type of bottom: Silty with grassy patches
Interests: Underwater prison, underwater forest, shore dive
Water Temperature: 6-8°C in May
Visibility: up to ~15. If there hasn't been rain or strong winds.
To the left of the entry point, on the shore, there is a stone wall which continues underwater and comes out again on the opposite shore. On the right side of the wall, right next to the entry point there is an underwater forest. with some trees sticking out of the water. You can swim between the trees just be careful not to break off any branches and not to get snagged.
The main attractions are the underwater buildings on the left side of the wall (approximately 100m at a bearing of 330° from the entry point). If the water level is low you can see the roof breaking the surface. If you follow along the wall you can see the ladders, barbed wire, and lamp-posts. Swim through a half open gate and that brings you into the prison grounds and close to the buildings. You can swim in and through the buildings, there are lots of clear and safe exit points. Occasionally, windows have the prison bars and some rooms still have pieces of furniture. If you have time and are not cold, then you can head 330° from the northwest edge of the building for about 60m and reach the big building that you see sticking out of the water.
How to get there:
It is about an hours drive from Tallin. From the capital you reach Rummu on road 17 and the prison is on your left. The area is enclosed by big concrete walls and fenced off, so you need to drive around to the other side of the quarry to reach the entry point. Continue along the road, past the main gate and follow the wall to your left, turn left after you see the limestone chat pile. When the road splits, bear left onto the bumpy dirt road, with the wall still to your left. Continue around the lake until you are opposite the main entrance. When the wall sharply turns left, take the path next to it and this leads you straight into the water! This your entry point.
The dirt road is in really bad condition: there are many big pot holes so drive slowly and carefully. If it has been raining a lot consider getting a higher car if not a 4WD.
None! But there is plenty of space to park multiple cars next to the entry point.
Toilets: Scenic. :)
We borrowed tanks and weights from Estisukeldujate Klubi .
We contacted Terje Meos
Terje is really helpful and as she knows the area very well can provide advice. As a PADI IDCS Instructor she runs guided tours and has all the equipment that you might need. Tank and weights rental is €10 per day.
There is also another dive site further along the dirt road, the old pumping station that is meant to be very interesting. However, we haven't dived it so cannot provide more details.
Emergency number: 112