Pizza cravings can hit you anywhere, as the folks at Jules’ Undersea Lodge know only too well. The submerged hotel in Florida—located 6.4 metres below the surface in a lagoon in the Atlantic Ocean—is accessible only to certified divers. Everyone, including the staff and guests, has to strap on scuba gear and dive their way there. And yet, Jules offers crisp, thin-crust pizzas made from the local Papa John’s outlet on the mainland.
Enter dive captain Rob Doyle, lead mission director and pizza deliverer at Jules’. Every time a pizza is ordered, Rob swims to the surface, walks over to Papa John’s, gets a take-away order, and then packs it into his trusty yellow waterproof briefcase. “We use the case for almost all things we bring into and out of the lodge,” Doyle told National Geographic Traveller India. He then plunges back into the ocean and swims until he reaches the 5x7ft entrance pool at the base of the lodge, filled with compressed air to keep the water from entering the hotel.
It’s an eccentric service befitting a lodge named after sci-fi novelist Jules Verne. Set up in the 1970s, Jules’ Undersea Lodge was previously a marine research lab that studied the continental shelf off Puerto Rico. Owner Ian Koblick developed and operated the lab in the early 1970s, but since 1986, he’s been using it to introduce holidaying humans to the lagoon’s anemones, oysters, parrotfish and manatees. Famous guests include Aerosmith frontman Steve Tyler and Pierre Trudeau, former Canadian prime minister and father of the current PM Justin Trudeau.
The lodge may be cut off, but it still has creature comforts. There are two bedrooms, a hot shower, a lounge equipped with a TV and DVD player, and 42-inch windows to make friends with the fish. An above-ground control centre pipes in oxygen, water, electricity and communications. “Waking up to view a pair of angelfish looking in your bedroom window is a moment you’ll never forget,” Koblick says on the website. We reckon eating pizza 21ft deep ranks pretty high too.
Jules Undersea Lodge is located off the coast of Key Largo, an island in Florida, U.S.A. It is connected to the mainland by a Coastal Highway, and is about 110 km/1 hr from Miami International Airport, and 47 km/34 min by road from Florida City. There are regular shuttle buses and ferry services between Key Largo and the main land. For accommodation rates and to make reservations, visit the Jules Undersea Lodge site.
is Assistant Web Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She loves places by the sea, and travels to shift her own boundaries. She tweets as @Saumya_Ancheri.
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