Remember the old Beatles song with the lyrics “I’d like to live under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade?” Now it looks like the famous song lyrics could become a reality. Believe it or not, there is actually an operating underwater hotel in Key Largo, Florida. Guests are required to scuba dive 21 feet to access the lodge which is located adjacent to a tropical mangrove habitat of the Emerald Lagoon.
This is the only underwater hotel in the world, called “Jules Undersea Lodge.” The hotel can sleep up to six guests, who will have access to “all the creature comforts necessary,” according to the website. Comforts such as warm comfy beds, gourmet food prepared by a chef, hot showers, books, and even video movies are available.
This fascinating venue actually began as a research lab called La Chalupa, which was an underwater habitat that scientists used to do research on the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. It is the first underwater sea lab that has ever been accessible to the public.
While staying at the hotel, guests have access to watch a plethora of underwater life in a habitat that is enhanced by the structure itself. Sea life such as angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers are visible through the 42-inch windows of the hotel, while anemones, sponges, oysters, and feather duster worms can be seen in abundance in the mangrove lagoon.
Owner and co-developer of the Lodge, Ian Koblick describes the underwater structure as having marine life that is
“actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure.” Ian also says, “Jules’ Undersea Lodge serves as an artificial reef, providing shelter and substrate for marine animals. And the flow of air to the Lodge constantly adds oxygen to the entire surrounding body of water, creating a symbiotic relationship between the technology of man and the beauty of nature.”
The structure sits on legs which keep it five feet up from the bottom of the lagoon and the interior space is filled with compressed air which keeps the water from entering. Check out the slide show pictures of what the lodge actually looks like inside at http://www.jul.com/slideshow.html; it looks like something that housed astronauts on the latest space launch, only with bright colored tropical décor.
Divers enter the lodge through a five by seven-foot “moon pool” in the floor of the “wet room,” where guests leave their diving equipment, shower off the salt water, then enter the air conditioned living space. This encompasses two bedrooms, a common room, dining room, and galley. Each bedroom has amenities (just like in a real hotel) consisting of a telephone,DVD player, intercom, and a music entertainment system. Each room has 42-inch windows as the focal point. “Waking up to view a pair of angelfish looking in your bedroom window is a moment you'll never forget,” states Koblick.
Divers can log limitless hours while staying at the lodge and there is no limit to the number of nights one can stay, so divers can complete a “saturation” dive which permits them to spend extended time underwater, provided that proper surfacing intervals are adhered to. Jules even offers an Aquanaut Specialty Certification. But don’t worry, even if you have never been certified you can actually get your initial three-hour course right there at the hotel, so guests of any level diving skill are welcome. The price: a mere $475 per person, per night.
According to the website, famous guests include former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, and Jon Fishman of Phish. Most guests described it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience they would never forget.