Some may dream of distant beaches, others of mountains or jungles in exotic lands, but how about escaping underwater for a vacation in the company of fish?
But we are not talking about diving holidays. A growing number of tourist destinations now offer overnight stays and other underwater experiences, including spas and restaurants.
Apparently many of us want to be one with the sea. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that humans evolved from fish? Here we take a look at some of the best underwater getaways…
Swedish Lake Lodge
The Utter Inn on Lake Malaren in Sweden looks like a traditional red and white Swedish summer house, abandoned on the lake. What makes it unique are its own underwater quarters
The bedroom is three meters deep, under a kitchenette and dining area. Views aren’t always very interesting
Created by concept artist Mikael Genberg, the Utter Inn on Lake Malaren in Sweden looks like a traditional red and white Swedish summerhouse, abandoned on the lake. What makes it unique are its own underwater quarters, three meters deep, with a kitchenette and dining area above, surrounded by an outdoor terrace.
Guests are transported there on an inflatable boat and given a raft to use during their stay to visit a nearby island.
There is no electricity, only battery-operated lamps. Upstairs there is a toilet, kettle (with tea and coffee provided), fresh water, tea, cutlery and crockery. However, there is no shower. “Sometimes the water under Lake Malaren can look a bit like pea soup,” admits Genberg.
Details: From £200 per night (booking.com or call 0046 21 39 01 00).
Indian Ocean Dream
A stay at the Underwater Room of the Manta Resort in Tanzania is an opportunity to discover the Indian Ocean at its most beautiful
The underwater room at the Manta Resort next to Pemba Island in Tanzania was also designed by Genberg. It took four years to create and cost almost £400,000.
A stay here is a chance to discover the Indian Ocean at its most dazzling. You set off on a wooden boat for the quick two-minute journey to the accommodation, which is half in and half out of the crystal clear sea next to a reef. Sometimes an octopus may cling to the window, and other times you may see a shark passing by. You can still sunbathe and stargaze on a terrace above.
Details: From £1,370 a night, with a three-night minimum stay (themantaresort.com).
Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai has two underwater suites with views of 65,000 marine animals living in an aquarium
For lovers of luxury Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai has two luxury underwater suites, Poseidon and Neptune, in an aquarium on a man-made island. Each underwater suite comes with special glass that goes dark at the touch of a button if you want a break from all the underwater creatures.
They are numerous: 65,000 marine animals covering 250 species.
You can take a bath facing the aquarium (a real bath gel infused with gold is provided for you).
The suites are on three levels, allowing you to be above the water and enjoy the top view of the aquarium like a lake. Or spend your time under the sea. Apparently Kim and Khloe Kardashian are enjoying these sequels. Say no more.
Details: From £5,500 a night (atlantis.com/ar/dubai).
Real ocean views
The Conrad Maldives underwater restaurant, five meters deep. Stays in the hotel’s Underwater Suite cost £9,234 per night
The Conrad Maldives on Rangali Island is home to the world’s only glass-enclosed underwater suite, named The Muraka. It’s at the bottom of the ocean, five meters below the clear waters of the Maldives. The Muraka, which means coral in the local Dhivehi language, can accommodate up to nine people.
It is one of the most expensive nights in the Maldives. But at least you have your own infinity pool if the underwater views fade.
Conrad Maldives also has the world’s first underwater restaurant, also five meters deep, which opened in 2005.
Details: From £9,234 per night (conradmaldives.com).
Huvafen Fushi’s unique underwater spa in the Maldives is located eight meters below sea level
The only underwater spa in the world is in Huvafen Fushi, also in the Maldives. If you want to relax while getting a massage, this is the perfect place to indulge in a completely blissful marine dream state. Their most popular treatment is the Underwater Dream, 90 minutes of pure sleep-inducing relaxation during which you take in views of fish and coral in the clear blue habitat.
The spa is accessed by a staircase that takes you eight meters below sea level.
It’s a celebrity haunt: Liz Hurley, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have stayed at Huvafen Fushi.
Details: Bungalow with pool from £799; Underwater Dream massage from £245 (huvafenfushi.com).
Deep within me
This is Australia’s Reefsuites underwater hotel, where guests can gaze at over 1,500 species of fish
Australia’s first underwater hotel, Reefsuites, opened on the Great Barrier Reef in 2019, featuring two suites suspended below a floating pontoon. It’s a 90-minute flight from Brisbane to Airlie Beach, then a three-hour boat trip to the reef, where you’ll finally arrive at this underwater sanctuary and be able to marvel at more than 1 500 species of fish. There are also turtles and rays.
Everything can be seen through floor-to-ceiling windows, without wetting a single toe. At night, guests can turn on a light to observe nearby underwater life as the endless black expanse of the ocean presses around them.
Details: From £900 per person per night (cruisewhitsundays.com).
Jules Undersea Lodge, off Key Largo in Key West, Florida, is the original underwater hotel.
To stay you must be a qualified diver with an open water diving certificate, as there is no other way to access this former two-room marine research unit, eight meters below the ocean .
It opened in 1986, after being moved more than 30 meters below sea level near Puerto Rico where it was used solely for research purposes. There are two beds, a kitchen with a microwave, a coffee maker, a shower and three large windows.
You arrive and check in around 1pm. Your dinner is delivered by a diver at 6pm (yes, fish is on the menu). Then you’re ready for the night with unlimited views of the underwater world until 8:30 am when you’re dropped back down to sea level.
Details: From £600 per night (jul.com).