Ocean lovers might want to point their sextant in the direction of Zanzibar with the opening of Africa's first floating underwater room off Pemba Island, a fertile tract that produces nearly three-quarters of the world's cloves and offshore, popular with divers.
Set in the “Blue Hole”, an irregularity in the coral reef, Manta Resort's unusually located 17th room is about 250 metres offshore at 12 metres deep and surrounded by large coral heads.
The three-level floating structure has a lounge and bathroom at sea level and guests can climb a ladder to the roof with lounging area for stargazing without light pollution.
Downstairs, the double bed is surrounded by glass and ideal for watching the shoals of reef fish. After sunset, uplights near the windows are said to attract the shyer creatures such as squid. And coral is already establishing itself on the anchoring lines of the structure.
Designed by Swedish company Genberg Underwater Hotels, the resort's managing director Matthew Saus says awe has been a common reaction of the happenings around the underwater room from the six guests who have stayed so far
“You can hear dolphin when snorkelling around the room in the evening but we haven't had a visit yet,” Saus says.
Inspiration for the Zanzibar room was taken from the Utter Inn, a structure three metres below the surface with a typical Swedish house on top on Lake Malaren in Vasteras, 100 kilometres west of Stockholm.
A hotel spokesman says there is no restriction for the holiday at sea.
“[Guests can stay] as long as they want … a couple just booked a one-week stay.”
Onshore there's a dedicated staff member for boat access to shore and for landlubbers, the resort includes six new seafront villas.
The underwater room costs from $US750 a person, twin share; a stay seven, pay for five stay in a garden room costs from $US1238 a person, twin share.