When visiting an island paradise like the Maldives, dining plays a crucial role in the unique experience that you can only get here. Home to some of the most renowned underwater restaurants, fine dining in this stunning archipelago in the Indian Ocean is unlike anywhere else. The restaurants in the Maldives enjoy some of the world’s finest seafood, while hordes of stingrays, reef fish and sharks circles above your head. Does dining get much better than that? Since there isn’t really any agriculture on the islands, the restaurants in the Maldives often import their ingredients. Seafood, however, is the leading lady in this culinary show and each of the top restaurants in the Maldives serves only locally-sourced seafood caught by local fishermen using the sustainable pole-and-line method.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Instantly recognizable, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is perhaps one of the most beautiful and unique restaurants in the world. It was one of the first to offer an underwater dining experience and the first that did so in a stunning all-glass setting, while the coral fish circle above and around you. Five meters below the water surface, this intimate restaurant can accommodate 14 diners at a time, and it’s not just the remarkable setting that’s worth noting – the food really does follow suit, and the world of flavors is truly astonishing. The restaurant often welcomes guest chefs from across the globe, and they deliver culinary excellence to each and every dish.
Any seafood dish from the menu is an absolute must-try. While the majority of ingredients are sourced from abroad considering the location, the seafood is locally-sourced using the sustainable pole-and-line method since fishing nets are forbidden in the Maldives. There is a daily catch of local reef fish that’s on the menu, and if seafood isn’t necessarily up your alley, choose a meat option as the restaurant only uses the finest cuts prepared in the most delicate way.
Continuing with the underwater experience, another noteworthy aqua-themed gourmet experience is the Subsix restaurant six feet below the water surface. Getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself – the only way to access it is by speedboat, and the entrance is a subtle pair of doors on top of a dock. However, the moment you step into the restaurant, all subtlety fades. The clam-shaped restaurant with urchin-themed chairs is an instant stunner and boasts a surreal charm. For an underwater restaurant, the space feels vast and uncrowded.
The mouthwatering menu at Subsix features only the freshest and most deluxe ingredients which are stunning in their simplicity – scallops, fresh tuna carpaccio, Wagyu beef, pan-seared seabass. The unpretentious menu isn’t trying to reinvent things but rather serve already long-established quality dishes in the finest fashion.
Transitioning from under-water to over-water dining experience, Mandhoo at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is one of the best-kept dining secrets in the Maldives. Everything about this restaurant radiates harmony and rejuvenation, and the menu has been specifically designed to reflect that. Dishes here are nutritious and fortify the body with only the best, freshest organic ingredients. The restaurant embraces the five elements of the earth – air, earth, fire, water, and plants.
Each dish is prepared in a way that respects its natural appeal – chefs take into careful consideration things like texture, moisture, temperature and density. The menu has been created together with nutritionists so you know you’re not only enjoying an unforgettable dining experience but at the same time deliver only the most beneficial nutrients to your body. At the same time, you can also experience the island luxury as the restaurant set on stilts over the Indian Ocean offers spectacular views, and if you’re lucky – a baby shark or stingray swimming by.
The Island Grill
Part of the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa resort, The Island Grill is one of the best grill restaurants in the Maldives. Regionally-inspired dishes cooked over the open grill and wood-burning oven are as exceptional as the setting itself. The open kitchen concept allows you to witness the whole process, further contributing to the luxury island experience, and the restaurant itself embraces its surroundings by having natural sand floors. And if the seaside setting isn’t enough, the panoramic views of the Maldivian sunsets certainly are breathtaking.
The dishes are made from only the finest and freshest ingredients, sourced from nearby waters and islands. Embrace the sharing concept by starting with several of the appetizers – each supercharged with the most remarkable flavors. Grilled meats and local daily seafood catches dominate the mains menu, and let’s be honest – the seafood really is what you come here for. Grilled Maldivian lobster with herb butter is our top choice.