Australia - Australia's First Underwater Hotel Lets You Sleep Next to Fish in the Great Barrier Reef
As exciting new developments crop up, the question about their impact on one of the world's most fragile environments remains.
I am 15 feet underwater, in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In front of me, fish of every size, shape, and color—tiny orange-and-white striped clownfish, silvery giant trevally, candy-colored parrot fish—are swimming around in a joyful frenzy. I feel like I’ve crashed some sort of underwater dance party. Suddenly, the fish dart away at a dizzying speed. Out of the depths, a hideous, shark-like creature with mottled gray skin and bulging eyes emerges, and begins slinking towards me. Suddenly, his jaws open, revealing rows upon rows of thin, sharp teeth. I scuttle backward, only to find myself trapped—by a pile of soft, thick pillows. I laugh, flooded with relief. This sea monster can’t possibly touch me: I’m watching this entire scene unfold from my king-size bed, in a glass-walled hotel suite beneath the Coral Sea.
Moments like this happen frequently at Reefsuites, Australia’s first underwater hotel. The hotel, which opened this past December just off Hardy Reef, consists of just two suites suspended beneath a floating pontoon managed by luxury tourism operator Cruise Whitsundays. Reaching it is a trek—from Brisbane, it’s an hour-and-a-half flight to Airlie Beach, then a three-hour boat ride over to the reef. But in this undersea sanctuary, you can observe 1,500 species of fish, as well as turtles, rays, and yes, even sea monsters from floor-to-ceiling windows, all without wetting a single toe.
Over breakfast, I tell Thorin, a snorkel instructor, about my near-encounter with the sea monster. “Oh, that’s George—he’s deadly,” he says of the Queensland Groper. “He ate a shark once. Last week, he swallowed a whole turtle. He spat out the shell and we found it under the pontoon.”