Under the sea is always a fascinating place for children and sometimes just a few hours snorkeling is not enough. To really indulge a love of marine life and nature, an underwater hotel room is a unique family adventure holiday activity for everyone and (in some cases) you don't even need to know how to swim. Whether you are sightseeing in Singapore, lazing around in Florida or in Africa with kids, Here are some amazing and exotic family-friendly hotels for parents traveling with kids...that are actually under water.
The Mantra Resort, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Located on the Island of Pemba, this resort is a refreshingly unpretentious option for a holiday with kids in paradise but what makes it really worthwhile is the new underwater room which only opened in November last year. Only a 2-minute boat ride from the resort proper, this private retreat is situated right in the middle of a 12-metre deep blue hole isolated from almost the rest of the world.
On top is a sundeck with stunning ocean views, but it’s below the water’s surface that you will see the magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding environment. Even at night you will still get to interact with the fish as spotlights are provided to attract the nocturnal swimmers.
This room is so exclusive and cut off from the rest of the planet that meals are delivered to you at pre-arranged times and a mobile phone is provided for emergency use only. (There is also security stationed at a nearby buoy.) In the spirit of encouraging guests to really relax and enjoy the surrounds, there is no television and no music (although the room does have full shower and toilet facilities).
The resort proper only allows kids aged 7 and above and the underwater room has an age minimum of 12 (and a maximum of four people allowed at one time). The resort is also quite isolated (it’s a chartered flight and bumpy car journey and the nearest doctor is one and a half hours away) which means it will not work with smaller children.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Florida, USA
If your kids are SCUBA certified, then another option is to visit Jules’ Undersea Lodge, perhaps the only hotel in the world that you enter underwater. To get inside, guests actually dive 21 feet through the mangroves of the Emerald Lagoon before you swim up and surface in a “pool” in the lodge’s wet room. Because this is a former research laboratory, it was specifically created so those inside can easily see sponges, oysters, parrot fish, manatees and barracuda all in their natural habitat.
Inside the facilities are not luxurious, but they are still pretty incredible for a building under water. There are hot showers, air conditioning – and they can even order delivered pizza!
If you are desperate to experience this but are not a certified PADI diver, the lodge does offer a basic training certificate that you can undertake before you enter. Kids must be over 10 years old, able to swim and have undergone at least the basic training certificated supplied by the lodge.
To find out more about SCUBA diving with kids, read the suitcases&strollers story here.
Ocean Suites, Singapore
For a holiday destination with kids that is a little easier to access, Resorts World Singapore has their 11 Ocean Suites. These brilliant rooms look directly on to the Open Ocean Habitat at the S.E.A. Aquarium. Here you will see around 50,000 fish, rays and sharks playing and swimming in awesome formations. Don’t think that the price of an entrance tick to the aquarium will give you the same experience – at night when the aquarium is closed that’s when the rays really begin to frolic – all for the private entertainment of the Ocean Suites guests.
Obviously an aquarium tank is not a natural environment for fish, but there is a great plus side to this. One doesn’t have to live without the special little luxuries such as a rooftop private Jacuzzi and a bathtub overlooking the acquarium view. Plus this is perfectly safe (and extremely fun) to visit with very small kids. The one massive negative is the price – you can expect to pay top dollar for this kind of once in a lifetime experience.
If the price is a little steep for your budget but you still want to give your kids something of the experience, there is an underwater restaurant at the S.E.A. Aquarium with the same view. To read more about it, see the suitcases&strollers story Singapore’s Family-Friendly Restaurants.
For more unique family-friendly accommodation travel tips, see the suitcases&strollers story Treehotel
Images: Jesper Anhede