Two-thirds of our world is made up of water, which is why travel operators are starting to integrate underwater attractions into travel. It’s the next frontier in the travel industry, as the area underneath our oceans has largely yet to be explored.
There is already an array of underwater restaurants, resorts, tours, and transportation available around the world today — and that’s bound to grow even more in the future.
Here are some of the most fascinating innovations in underwater travel.
One of the biggest underwater tour operators is Atlantis Adventures, which hosts Submarine Cruises where tourists can explore the waters of destinations like Hawaii, Barbados, Aruba, and Catalina Island through recreational submarines that dive through sea life.
But besides submarine tours, there’s a new market for privatised submarine experiences. British travel company Oliver’s Travels created a specially adapted submarine in St. Lucia known as Lovers Deep, an underwater vessel where couples can spend the night in a private accommodation. The submarine, which is already available for use, is staffed by a crew of three, a captain, chef, and butler, and can be taken to locations chosen by the customer.
It’s not cheap, at £175,000 per night ($US274,694), but each interior of the private submarine room is set to be designed and manufactured to your specifications and includes a two-person bathroom and double bedroom with ocean views. Speedboat transfers come with the package, but you can also request helicopter transfer with a beach landing through the company’s Concierge Service.
Scientists are also working on creating a high-speed supersonic submarine as a means of passenger transport. A group of Chinese scientists have been developing a technology to create a submarine that can travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours, according to the South China Morning Post. However, before the technology can be completed an underwater rocket engine will need to be created to allow for the long range needed for the vessel, according to the International Business Times.
There are a variety of underwater accommodations that are already out there for travellers. Most of the accommodations are set only partially underwater, allowing them to continue to use normal electricity and plumbing, and maintain a normalized pressure so guests aren’t uncomfortable when adjusting to changes in water pressure. However, they offer guests the unique opportunity to sleep under the sea.
The Underwater Room in the Manta Resort in Pemba Island, Zanzibar, is only accessible by boarding a wooden boat that takes you to the hotel floating in the sea. The deck is located above water, but your bedroom is sunken to give you views of the schools of fish. If you’re feeling hungry, you can request catered meals from the hotel’s main location on the island to be delivered to you by boat. Rates start at $US1,500 per night.
The Underwater Suites at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai offers luxurious underwater accommodations with large windows that feature up-close views of marine life. To access the underwater suites, guests enter the ground floor, located above water and descend three floors. The rooms come with one aquarium wall for viewing. Rooms start at around $US5,000 per night.
There’s also the Utter Inn in Västerås, Sweden, where guests reach their room by boat and climb down a ladder to a small but cosy underwater room, and
Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Florida’s Key Largo, where guest scuba dive 19 meters (62 feet) down to their rooms.
The oldest underwater accommodation is Jules’ Undersea Lodge, in Key Largo, Florida, which sits 21 feet underwater and is accessible by scuba diving to an opening on the bottom. This is why the hotel requires that you be certified in scuba diving to stay here. If you’re not, they offer a program on the premises for training. Rates start at $US800 per night for a double room, which includes a scuba diving pizza delivery dinner, secured in a water-tight briefcase that’s brought to you by a hotel diver.
In addition, there are several hotels set to open in the future.
The Poseidon Undersea Resorts, set to open in Fiji, will feature 25 suites, an underwater restaurant and bar, a library, conference, room, wedding chapel, and a spa. Guests will be transported to their underwater accommodations by an elevator located at the end of the pier. They also plan to have a three-passenger submersible submarine which guests can use to explore the ocean.
The Water Discus hotel in Dubai, designed by Deep Ocean Technology, has a design plan which will include 21 luxury suites located in two main discs, with one being above water where guests will enter, and the other below.
The exclusive underwater dining experience is another area that’s growing in popularity. In these restaurants, the food is prepared on an upper-level kitchen located above water, before being brought down by the staff for your meal.
The first to open was Ithaa, located in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives. The restaurant opened its doors in 2005, allowing guests to have their meals in a clear acrylic tube 5 meters (16 ft.) under the Indian Ocean. The restaurant is surrounded with 180-degree views of fish, sharks, and coral reefs.
Others include SEA, in the Anantara Kihavah Villas at Kihavah Huravalhi Island, Maldives, where the mirrored designs reflect the surrounding ocean for stunning views, and the Cargo Hold Restaurant, housed within the stern of the Phantom Ship in Durban, South Africa, where diners get views of surrounding sharks.
Subsix,located in the Niyama resort in Dhaalu Atoll in the Maldives, is the world’s first underwater nightclub. You can get views of the sea life in the Indian Ocean while partying.
The structure was constructed on land before being submerged and includes a coral regeneration program where broken bits of live coral are attached to the frames and lowered underwater to grow.
While hotels once used to offer seaside massages, the Huvagen Fushi resort in Kaagu Atoll, Maldives, takes its spa treatments directly underwater with its
Lime Spa, the world’s first oceanic massage center.
There is also the Clear Lounge, in Cozumel, Mexico, which offers a half-hour experience where guests can enter a 13,000 gallon underwater lounge with oxygen helmets and play Jenga, have photos taken in the photo booth, and shoot bubble guns.You have to be over the age of eight to enter, and tickets cost $US38 per person.
Vanuatu’s Underwater Post Office, situated within the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary near Port Vila, has a Post Office that sits 9 feet underwater. Snorkelers and divers can send waterproof postcards both locally and internationally at a starting rate of $US3. Opening hours for the Post Office are posted on the beach at Hideaway Island, with a flag raised on a float above the site to indicate when there are postal workers in the water.
Finally, in Dubai, Polish architect, Krzysztof Kotala has completed the initial designs for the world’s first underwater tennis complex, which would have seven arenas built with clear roof structures where visitors could view marine creatures surrounding them. The designer revealed that the project could take around five years to complete, and he is still waiting on investors to pick up the project.
There are underwater museums all over the world, some of which were built intentionally, while others were landmarks that sunk and have been turned into attractions.
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park in Molinere Bay, Grenada, and the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), located off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, were created by artists to promote the continued growth of coral and underwater life by using marine-grade cement. MUSA is home to as many as 500 submerged whimsical sculptures.
Herod’s Harbour underwater museumis an 18,580-square-foot archaeological park located in Caesarea, Israel, that dates back to 10 BC and includes historical remnants from the Roman Empire like sunken ships, anchors, harbour foundations, and columns. Today, the park has trails marked by underwater sign-posts and water-proof maps to allow you to explore the sunken sites.
The Baiheliang Underwater Museum in Chongqing, China, houses the Baiheliang stone tablet, an ancient water calculation structure that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tablet was submerged during the Three Gorges Dam Project but you can walk along closed corridors of the museum and view its inscriptions through portholes 122 feet below the Yangtze River.
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