How can we say this without sounding dramatic? The Maldives have some of the most mind-blowing, next-level restaurants in the world. OK, now that we’ve contained ourselves, we want to tell you about all of these restaurants that are genuinely one of a kind. From architectural masterpieces to famed restaurants that are (no joke) underwater, these destination dining spots make the trek to Maldives all the more worth it.
5.8 RestaurantHurawalhi Maldives Resort, Hurawalhi Island, Maldives
There are two underwater restaurants in the Maldives: The original Ithaa and brand new (opened November 2016) 5.8 Undersea restaurant. Submerged in nutrient-rich waters and surrounded by coral, more than 100 fish and jellyfish swarm outside for an unreal viewing. There’s an eye-level “sunken” boat that’s loved by trumpetfish, moray eel, and the elusive pufferfish, so you’re getting a true show out of this dining experience. We can’t imagine the rivalry between these two restaurants now. 5.8 Restaurant basically feels the same as Ithaa (domed, all glass, eight tables) but the major difference here (besides the fact it really is bigger and deeper and you see more marine life) is the fact the chef worked in Michelin starred kitchens. Expect a tasting menu with gourmet plates that would include scallop, angus beef, and fresh tuna. A seven-course meal is going to set you back $280 per couple, which is not bad considering the one of a kind experience. Also, don’t wear swim shorts here, this is fine dining which necessitates fine dressing.
The Whale BarThe St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, Vommuli, Maldives
You’ll be doing more drinking than eating at The Whale Bar. The bar is located on a deck over the water (despite the fact you’re in Maldives, bars floating over water are shockingly not too common), so that’s already awesome. The bar itself is inspired by the whale shark, so the architecture replicating one is stunning. Whether you believe you’re eating in Moby Dick’s belly is up to you. It actually looks more like The Maldives mini-version of the Sydney Opera House. Bravo, guys! The best part is the unobstructed views (especially at sunset) and the excellent gourmet, island inspired menu (like garlic marinated king prawns and salted cod).
TavaruVelaa Private Island, Republic of Maldives, Maldives
When Velaa Private Island Resort opened years ago, millionaires across the globe booked immediately. It’s a bling-y resort, and the signature restaurant, Tavaru, is one for the books, so much that we wouldn’t be surprised if more people came here to dine rather than Ithaa. The restaurant is an architectural masterpiece. It looks like a small, three-story museum with its ivory white tower with futuristic windows. It actually kind of looks like an alien spacecraft. Inside, the views are stunning (especially the bar), and the cylindrical wine cellar is something out of Scooby Doo. When the restaurant opened in 2015, they hired a Michelin starred chef (no longer there) but you can believe they replaced him with someone of equal stature, and he dishes out high-end Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.
Botanica at One & Only Reethi RahOne & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
You never know what celebrity you’ll run into at One & Only Reethi Rah, and you can expect solid sightings at the al fresco Botanica. It is the only Maldives restaurant that is set under an ancient banyan tree, lit up at night with strung lights, next to a sprawling, tiered garden. Translation: it’s fairy-tale romantic. All ingredients are basically plucked from the garden for a true field-to-fork meal, and land and sea dishes come straight from local suppliers. If you’re not feeling it here (highly unlikely), head to Tapasake, an amazing modern Japanese restaurant with sunken tables and overwater seating. This is going to be the better view as you can see nurse sharks swimming and feeding below.
SwarnaJumeirah Vittaveli Maldives, Maldives
At Jumeirah Vittaveli, you know the villas are on point, so imagine what the restaurants are like. There are actually three places to dine, which is amazing for a such a small property, and Swarna is definitely the best. The restaurant comprises three open-air dining cabanas with a sofa swing, which means it’s definitely going to get intimate. The landscaped gardens and Maharaja-style design perfectly match the fine Indian cuisine you’ll be treated to. You feel like you’re transported to an even further exotic destination with the décor. Couples are sure to feel like they’re in some Indian palace here.