The idea of living (or at least visiting) underwater, once a purely sci-fi conceit, has moved closer to reality thanks to modern technology and architecture. A growing number of underwater structures, from hotels, to restaurants, to research facilities, inch us ever-closer to making that dream a reality. Here are just 10 of the underwater structures that you can visit today — although they don’t come cheap.
The Manta Resort, on Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania and north of Zanzibar, offers a three-level offshore hotel room, floating in the lagoon. The sleeping quarters are submerged 13 feet (4 m) below the ocean’s surface. Reef fish, such as batfish and trumpetfish, have taken up residence just outside. There’s also a living area and bathroom (above water), as well as a rooftop deck for sunbathing or stargazing.
Here’s your opportunity to join the “Mile Low Club,” on a submarine called Lover’s Deep, which, the website says, can be moored anywhere from St. Lucia to the Red Sea. Using a specially adapted leisure submarine, lucky guests choose interior design and furnishings to their liking, and can expect service from a private chef, captain and personal butler. But luxury like this doesn’t come cheap — a single night in Lover’s Deep will set you back $220,000 USD.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
Next up is Jules’ Undersea Lodge at Key Largo Undersea Park. The world’s oldest undersea hotel used to be a research lab, but now hosts guests for anywhere from three to 24 hours. You can visit for lunch or spend the night at this cottage-size facility, which sits at 21 feet deep. Guests enter from the bottom of the structure, and must be scuba certified to do so. If you’d like to visit and you’re not certified (or your travel partner is not), you can take a Discover Scuba course upon arrival. It’s steep at $800 a night for two people, but not entirely out of reach like some of our other entries — and best of all, your overnight stay comes with a pizza delivery dinner, via diving pizza guy.
For a cold-water experience, there’s the Hotel Utter Inn, in Vasteras, Sweden. Local artist Mikael Genberg designed the structure, a typical Swedish house floating atop Lake Malaren in Vasteras. Just 10 feet (3 m) below, guests will find the sleeping quarters. Guests are transported out to the inn via inflatable boat and left to their own devices. There’s a deck at the water level, as well as an inflatable canoe available for exploring nearby islands. Although it’s not luxurious, the charming house is cozy and comfortable.
At the luxurious Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel you can eat underwater at the Ithaa Undersea restaurant. At 16 feet (5 m) below sea level, colorful tropical fish, sharks and turtles fly by above as diners enjoy a six-course set dinner menu. With only seven tables, and a 180-degree view of the sea, it makes for an intimate evening.
Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky, Anantara Resort Kihavah, Maldives
Another submerged restaurant taking advantage of the crystalline Maldivian seas is the beautifully named Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky. At Anatara Resort in Kihavah, Maldives, the restaurant actually encompasses a rooftop bar (Sky), a Teppanyaki lounge (Fire), an Asian-inspired grill (Salt), and an underwater dining room (Sea). There you’ll dine on international cuisine infused with local flavors, while you savor an unforgettable view.
Named Subsix because it’s six meters underwater (20 feet), Subsix restaurant at PER AQUUM Niyama in the Maldives offers fantastic views by day and a party atmosphere at night with “underwater glow parties” twice per week. The resort delivers visitors to the exclusive restaurant, 500 meters offshore, via speedboat. Upon arrival, they’re led below sea level via a grand staircase where anemone-inspired chairs and a clam-shaped bar await.
So far we’ve seen hotel rooms, restaurants and an outrageously luxurious submarine. Next up: an underwater spa. The Maldives seems to have a clear edge on underwater experiences, and they’re leading in this category as well. In addition to move standard over-water treatment rooms, LIME Spa also offers two completely submerged couples’ treatment rooms, complete with panoramic reef views.
The Aquarius, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Some students at Florida International University have access to the Aquarius, the world’s only underwater research facility. Scientists and students can spend up to 10 days at a time underwater, studying marine science in the Florida Keys. Accommodating six people at a time, the Aquarius sits at 60 feet (18 m) below the surface and features trappings of home, such as air conditioning, showers and toilets, cooking facilities and an internet connection.
If just visiting an underwater structure isn’t enough and you’d like to live there, H2OMES is making it possible — but it’s not cheap. A small subsea house costs around $4 million USD; larger options could set you back up to $12 million. But don’t worry — the builder will not only construct your underwater dream home, but will even find and secure the building site. Finding the funds is up to you.
BY GUEST AUTHOR LAUREN FEATHER