Immersive dining experience hopes to inspire and educate visitors about protecting the ocean

Hidden Worlds is a virtual, underwater multisensory adventure that allows people to dine under the sea without having to put on a wet suit.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Every second breath we take comes from the ocean.

On this World Ocean’s Day, people from all over the world are observing this special day of conservation and reverence.

Here in South Florida, many have been flocking to a special, fully immersive entertainment experience open right now on South Beach that takes people down to the bottom of the sea to inspire us all to care more and do more to protect our planet ocean.

It’s a world not many get a chance to experience, even though our planet is more than 70 percent ocean.

Miami is the ocean,” said conservationist Ashlan Cousteau. “Yet so many people don’t go out there and touch it and swim under the waves or they don’t understand what’s happening in Biscayne Bay. And that to us was one of the main reasons to come here. And really just to do something like this in the first place.”

The experience is called Hidden Worlds, a virtual, underwater multisensory adventure that allows people to dine under the sea without having to put on a wet suit.

“We’re trying to give you the opportunity to see the environment, to feel the environment, and to see some of the challenges of that environment in order to create the awareness,” said Hidden Worlds CEO, creator and producer Daniel Hettwer.

The pop-up installation, now running at the Rudolf Budja Gallery on South Beach, is the brainchild of Hettwer, who brought it to life by collaborating with famed ocean explorers Ashland and Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the legendary ocean conservationist and filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau.

“Immersing people here in these mangroves into coral reefs in a way that most people will never and have never experienced,” said Philippe Cousteau. “It’s a whole other level of excitement and what we like to call impact-tainment.”

And visitors feel the impact all around by dining under the mangroves or in the coral reefs as manatees and sharks swim by.

The eight-course meal was carefully curated to feature ocean positive dishes that progress as the habitats transform themselves in the space.

“It really adds a layer of complexity that connects you to the stories,” said Philippe Cousteau. “We’re eating invasive species, but it’s delicious green crab, right?”

Added Hettwer: “And we’re trying to get make it fun, make it sexy, make it delicious, but also provide you some of the insights as to why you can alter your food choices.”

Making different choices to protect our natural world is what producers hope the takeaway is at Hidden Worlds. As the evening advances, visitors will see first-hand the challenges our planet ocean is facing from climate change, pollution and overfishing.

“We want to move away from sustainability and go towards restoration and regeneration,” said Ashlan Cousteau. “And that’s really another thing that the evening is all about is how can we eat for the ocean. How can we eat things from the ocean that helps the ocean.”

Those curious about Hidden Worlds are encouraged to visit and explore the wonders our ocean has to offer while walking away knowing that it’s not too late to turn things around.

“I want everybody to know that there’s hope,” said Hettwer. “There’s hope, but we have to get our act together.”

“Truly, at the end of the day, as Jacques Cousteau said, we’re all in the same boat,” said Ashlan Cousteau. “So, we all have to come together, and we all must come together to protect our ocean and to keep our beautiful land healthy.

Hidden Worlds runs through June 20.

The eight-course dinner experience is $250 per person, but another option is to come during the day for a 30 minute deep dive into the immersive voyage.

That runs $36 for adults and $29 per child.

“The world is an extraordinary, amazing place,” said Philippe Cousteau. “We have two little girls, and we want to make sure that they inherit one that is thriving and that’s possible. If we take action.”

For more information on Hidden Worlds, click here.

About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.