By Jason Heaton
on 1.22.09
Photo by Gishani

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You’ve slept everywhere: the European hostel circuit, Everest base camp, countless beaches, and world-class ski resorts. What’s next? How about 30 feet underwater?

In a sheltered seawater lagoon outside of Key Largo, lies a former research habitat that has been transformed into the world’s only underwater hotel. Whether you go for a three hour lunch tour or an overnight stay, you’ll be assured of bragging rights when you return to the office back home.

Accessible only by scuba diving, Jules Undersea Lodge (formerly known as the La Chalupa Research Lab) boasts all the creature comforts you’d expect in your average hotel suite – hot showers, a telephone, stocked kitchen, and a DVD library with requisite submarine titles like “Thunderball” and “The Abyss.” Two bedrooms comfortably sleep two couples and each has its own entertainment center, writing desk, and porthole window so you can watch fish nibbling at the barnacles on the outside of the thick glass.

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Entering and exiting the lodge is like something out of a Bond film. You must swim under the lodge, which is supported on four legs anchored to the sea floor, and come up into the “moon pool“, an opening in the floor of the lodge. Once you emerge from the pool, you’re in a dry, warm room where you peel off your scuba gear and have a shower before entering the carpeted living quarters. Though the lodge is open to the sea via the moon pool, water is kept out by the constant air pressure supplied from the surface, which equals the water pressure on the outside of the lodge (were you paying attention during high school physics?). It’s so comfortable, in fact, that you might forget you’re underwater after a while. That is, until you see a four-foot grouper swim past the window.

jules-undersea-lodge-diagram.jpgAll guest needs are attended to, and safety monitored by the “Mission Director” (more sci-fi fantasy fodder) who operates back on shore. The Mission Director also transports all meals and your dry clothes to the lodge in a watertight case. Alas, no booze or cigars allowed, but cameras monitor only the wet room, so you and your Bond Girl can explore other vices as you wish.

Cost: $800 (per couple)

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