Global travelers in search of new destinations have increasingly been looking underwater, where a growing assortment of luxury experiences are waiting to be had. Some are offered in conjunction with a beachfront or overwater resort, while others provide intrepid adventurers the opportunity to channel their inner oceanic explorer, plunging below the surface in search of shipwrecks, exotic wildlife, and more.
For adventurers who have already mastered the art of scuba diving (or are looking to skip certification), and are dreaming of sinking even further into the great abyss, there’s The Deep Blue Experience by Fraser & U Boat. Guests can explore forgotten shipwrecks and underwater volcanoes throughout the Mediterranean on the U Boat Navigator, a 24-meter expedition yacht that houses a pair of Triton submarines capable of diving 1,000 meters deep; a three-person, custom-built Triton 3300/3—the same model used to film the BBC’s award-winning Blue Planet II—and a smaller, one-person Triton 3300/1 that serves as a support sub. The U Boat Navigator cruises through Malta, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and beyond, aided by a crew of six professionals. There’s even a full dive center with mixing facilities for breathing gases.
At roughly US$80,000 per week, the package—which accommodates up to 11 guests for cruising—is ideal for amateur explorers who are passionate about world history, shipwrecks, or geology. The U Boat Navigator can be chartered either as a stand-alone explorer vessel or as a shadow vessel for someone’s principal charter or their own yacht. Fraser creates bespoke itineraries based on the interests, including shipwrecks, dive sites, Mediterranean volcanoes, underwater cinematography, and more.
Marine biology enthusiasts looking for a new snorkeling experience are venturing to Thailand for a one-of-a-kind Swim Reef at The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui. The largest man-made reef pool in Southeast Asia teems with more than 50 species of injured fish rescued from local fishermen, and advanced filtration systems ensure that pollutants, jellyfish, and suspended solids in the seawater are removed, resulting in a consistently temperate and safe environment throughout the year. Strategically placed artificial coral reef structures allow for optimum fish viewing. While enjoying immersive snorkeling discoveries and supervised fish feedings, guests are able to view cat sharks, hold sea cucumbers, and try an ad hoc spa experience by letting tiny cleaner wrasse fish swim up and nibble dead skin off their outstretched arms.
Renowned for its overwater bungalows and endless blue waters, the Maldives has become a preferred aquatic playground for the global jet set. In November 2018, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island debuted The Muraka (“coral” in Dhivehi, the local language), a luxury suite submerged more than 16 feet under the water’s surface. Nestled on the Indian Ocean floor, the two-level structure has an above-water living area, sitting over a main bedroom with an 180-degree curved acrylic dome, windows in the bathroom and walk-in closet, and a dedicated tunnel viewing theater that doubles as a personal aquarium. With rates starting at US$10,000 per night (depending on the season), the suite, which can accommodate up to nine people, includes an infinity pool, a gym, a private bar, and 24-hour butler service. Junior explorers can go glamping with the fishes, as staff will set up a tepee in the undersea suite.