Enjoy a luxurious lunch, spend the night gazing at deep sea creatures, take in museum exhibits or even catch a glimpse at an underwater stripper pole in these seven wonders of submerged architecture. Located from 20 to 50 feet below the surface, these real-life submarine structures (including a couple concepts currently under construction) would make for a swinging town for mermaids and mermen if they were all located in the same place.
Abandoned Underwater Strip Club, Israel
Once, this barnacle-covered underwater building in Eilat, Israel was the Red Sea Star restaurant, bar and observatory. But when that didn’t work out, it became perhaps one of the weirdest submerged businesses of all time: a strip club. The entrance is above water; visitors crossed a 230-foot bridge and descended a flight of stairs to gain access, so no scuba suits were necessary. Surprisingly, the Nymphas Show Bar wasn’t a big hit. Since its closure, it has been abandoned. Marine biologist Gil Koplovitz captured a series of shots that peer inside, which can be seen at The Huffington Post.
Water Discus Hotel, Dubai
If you’re skeptical that the Water Discus Underwater Hotel will ever really be built, you’re hardly alone – it seems like one of many fantastical structures in Dubai that get a lot of attention as concepts but never manage to become reality. However, the developer has announced that construction is about to begin. The hotel will consist of a series of discs, some underwater and some above the surface, with 21 two-guest rooms in the submarine space.
World’s Largest Underwater Museum, Mexico
It may not have walls, but the world’s largest underwater museum is impressive nonetheless, with a series of displays made of pH-neutral concrete that can only be seen by divers and tourists in glass-bottom boats. The sculptures were designed to attract algae and marine life, making them an ecosystem. A total of 400 structures are planned. The Cancun Underwater Museum is located off the coast of Isla de Mujeres, Mexico.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
While many similar concepts have never gotten past the ‘impressive renderings’ phase, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Hilton Maldives Resort has been open since 2005. Made of acrylic with a 270-degree panoramic view, the restaurant seats only fourteen at a time, for an intimate and quiet underwater dining experience (that’ll cost you at least $120 per person – for lunch.)
Poseidon Resorts, Fiji
Another submerged hotel set to open sometime soon is the Poseidon Undersea Resort, located 40 feet under the surface of a lagoon off a private island in Fiji. The hotel will host 25 underwater suites, a restaurant, bar, gym and wedding chapel as well as 51 additional above-water rooms. Guests (paying upwards of $15,000 per week) will have access to four personal submarines to explore the area.
Aquarius Reef Base, Florida Keys
The world’s only operational underwater research habitat, the federally owned Aquarius Reef Base, almost became another abandoned relic when budget cuts laid off the staff and the facility went up for sale. An effort to save Aquarius included a mission led by renowned ocean explorer Sylvia Earle. Thankfully, Florida International University took over, and in November, Fabian Cousteau – grandson of Jacques – will begin a record-breaking 31-day mission at the facility.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key West
While the reef base isn’t open to the public, another underwater attraction in the Florida Keys is: the Jules Undersea Lodge, which also started out as a research habitat. Guests must be dive-certified, scuba diving 21 feet under the surface and entering through an opening in the bottom. It’s a relatively small hotel suite, but the experience of sleeping underwater makes up for the lack of luxury (and the dated decor.)