Dive Deep With Underwater Adventures
September 20th, 2018 by Pamela A. Keene

Enjoy a night at an underwater hotel in Key Largo. Guests scuba dive through mangroves to reach the accommodations.
Photo courtesy of Jules Undersea Lodge

Take a dive into the underwater world off the coast of Florida with a couple of unusual attractions.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge is part of Key Largo Undersea Park. It bills itself as the United States’ only underwater hotel.

In addition to overnight stays, Jules’ offers a three-hour pizza lunch in the underwater lodge, plus all levels of scuba certification programs. Begun as an underwater research site, the lodge habitat is filled with reef fish and sea plants.

Guests enter a pressurized pod through the “moon pool” in the main living area. Two private bedrooms have large round windows. The space is air-conditioned, with hot and cold running water, a phone, electricity and other amenities.

Participants must be in good health and scuba-certified or take an introductory scuba course to dive 21 feet through mangroves to the lodge.

Jules’ Underwater Lodge also offers Professional Association of Diving Instructors certifications, snorkeling and diving programs.

Santa Rosa Beach recently opened the Underwater Museum of Art near Grayton Beach State Park. A partnership between the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and the South Walton Artificial Reef Association, the museum showcases seven sculptures submerged 50 to 60 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. Located 0.7 miles offshore, it is accessible through the state park.

Florida Oddities
South of Marco Island, about 180 feet from the shore in the Gulf of Mexico, is a group of concrete igloo-like structures that was once the vacation home of retired oilman Bob Lee. Built in 1981, the Cape Romano Dome House has weathered hurricanes and nature’s forces, but is now abandoned. Standing in 6 feet of water, it is still visible to boaters who want to visit.

Near the Port of Green Cove Springs in northeast Florida, you can still see an abandoned full-scale model of one of the space shuttle’s external fuel tanks. It was destined to become part of the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Keystone Heights, but logistics and costs prevented its move. It remains in Green Cove Springs.

The Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower now stands in ruins. It was built in the late 1920s by a real estate developer who wanted to outsmart the area’s mosquito population at a proposed fishing resort he intended to build. Bats feed on mosquitos, so at the time the bat tower seemed like a perfect solution to the bug problem.

Check out other oddities at www.abandonedfl.com.

Celebrate Chocolate
Some of us celebrate chocolate every day, but according to the official National Day Calendar, October 28 is a big deal. It is National Chocolate Day—an excuse to abandon reason and have chocolate at all three meals and for snacks.
Take advantage of offers of discounts or free chocolate from Lindt, Russell Stover or Godiva by joining their online chocolate rewards clubs. Yummy!