The Maldives is the native home of the underwater restaurant. Having emerged from relative obscurity to become a major tourist hub in the 1970s, the Maldives is now filled with luxury resorts.
Back in the day, the best hotels in the Maldives were not known for being culinary havens. They may have offered the best overwater bungalows in the Indian Ocean, but the food on offer often took the form of a buffet (*shudder*). With more and more luxury travellers flooding into the Maldives, the culinary scene is now world-class. You’ll find Michelin star chefs working in the Maldives. A vast array of international cuisine is available for you to choose from. The ingredients tend to be seasonal and sourced locally, including the stunning seafood.
Since 2005, Maldives has been the home of the world’s first underwater restaurant. It was so successful that others soon followed. Here’s our guide to the best underwater restaurants in the Maldives.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant @ Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
This is the Maldives’ flagship underwater restaurant. It was hailed as “the most beautiful restaurant in the world” by the New York Daily News. Located five meters below the surface of the ocean, this is one of the most romantic and atmospheric restaurants you’ll ever dine in.
Surrounded by sweeping coral garden views, you’ll be dining on fusion cuisine paired with fines wines as sharks, dolphins and manta rays swim past. The Maldives is home to some of the world’s most vibrant marine life. You’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with it at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant.
5.8 Undersea @ Hurawalhi
Located 5.8 metres under the sea – hence the name, obvs – you’ll find the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant. Despite being the largest, 5.8 Undersea has just 10 tables. Only couples can book. This is very much geared towards romantic trips.
You can book one of two lunch sittings and one dinner sitting. You can even book the restaurant for a private champagne breakfast. The menus always vary and can change based on season and the chef’s current culinary inspiration.
M6m @ OZEN
OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo is one of the best hotels in the Maldives. Naturally, it has an underwater restaurant. The big difference with M6m is that you can dine here as part of OZEN’s all-inclusive plan. One night per week, to be precise. Most resorts in the Maldives with underwater restaurants charge separately. This could potentially make M6m trickier to book.
Inspired by the colours of the surrounding ocean, this underwater restaurant has mirrored ceilings and a silver colour scheme. Wine and dine in style as tropical fish and sharks swim by.
Anantara Kihavah is a charming boutique hotel with stunning overwater villas. The hotel has an underwater restaurant, and even the world’s first underwater wine cellar. Try the Maldivian lobster or pan-seared Japanese wagyu. The in house Wine Guru will pair your food with a selection from over 6,500 bottles.
SUBSIX @ Niyama Private Islands
Not content with mere underwater dining, Niyama Private Islands has opened SUBSIX, a subaquatic entertainment venue. A speedboat will transport you over the lagoon to the three-story SUBSIX venue. Keep an eye out for the resident Hawksbill turtle. SUBSIX has a club as well as a restaurant.
Chandeliers shaped like coral glisten overhead. Enjoy a subaquatic lunch or a champagne breakfast. In the evening, experience one of the most exotic club nights known to man.
H2O by Chef Andrea Berton @ You & Me
You & Me by Cocoon is one of the more recent luxury hotels to emerge in the Maldives. It’s located in the north in the Raa atoll. It’s an adults-only resort geared towards romantic trips. There’s a fully submerged underwater restaurant, and even a Moet & Chandon branded restaurant. H20 by chef Andrea Berton offers 360 Degrees views. This is the first underwater restaurant run by a Michelin starred chef.
Can you drink in the Maldives?
All of the booze is imported. Alcohol is technically illegal in the Maldives, then again, so are many things. The reality on the ground is quite different. Booze flows freely at the Maldives many resorts, each of which takes the form of its own private fiefdom. The resorts and privately owned and managed.
The Maldives is heavily reliant on tourism, so western decadence is warmly embraced at the resorts. It’s a different matter for locals. Hypocrisy you might say, but you gotta pay the bills. So, the answer is yes, you can certainly drink in the Maldives.
Food and drink is more pricey in the Maldives, especially if you’re dining in an underwater restaurant.