Strange Travels: Jules’ Lodge is an Underwater Hotel in Key Largo

If animated movies like Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid left you fascinated with the undersea realm, then you may be delighted to know that you can live underwater with real tropical fish – at least for a night or two. At Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key West, Florida, guests can pay for the privilege of scuba diving down to an aquatic research lab that has been enterprisingly converted into a small underwater hotel. Created by Neil Money and Ian Koblick in 1986, Jules’ Undersea Lodge welcomes a mix of couples, families, and curious celebrities for pampered overnight stays in a kitschily decorated enclave. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2006, this novel underwater hotel named after author Jules Verne was the first lodge of its type in the world.

Instead of 20,000 leagues under the sea, Jules’ Lodge rests a mere 5 fathoms (30 feet) into the fish-filled waters off of Key Largo. But that hasn’t negated the novelty of scuba diving to this steel and acrylic container, which consists of two bedrooms and a common area connected by a wetroom for equipment. Visitors enter the compressed-air lodge via a special moonpool in the wetroom. Looking something like an abandoned spaceship that crashed into the sea, the underwater hotel features 42-inch round windows in both bedrooms so that guests can enjoy watching their neighbors swim by. Because Jules’ Lodge was originally a research station, it is located in an exotic underwater thicket of maritime life featuring angelfish, barracudas, and other entertaining creatures along with the more contextual sponges and sea anemones in Key Largo’s Emerald Lagoon. So most guests try to log as much diving time as they can, using Jules’ Lodge as a resting place between their scuba adventures.

When guests tire of diving and window-watching, they can enjoy music and movies or feast on filet mignon prepared by the resident “merchef” for the underwater hotel. The result is an active diving component combined with a relaxing, pampering overnight stay. Within the womb-like confines of this submerged station, guests can rest assured that Jules’ Lodge is being monitored around the clock by staff and that it has numerous backup systems in place for protection and communication. In fact, to stay at this underwater hotel, one need not be an experienced scuba diver. The minimum requirement is a three hour class which teaches the essentials for a safe descent and resurfacing.

The novelty of this underwater hotel habitat is available for just under $400 per night per person. For information on booking, visit Jules’ Undersea Lodge online.