Conrad Rangali Island 20077, Maldives
Most restaurants build their reputations on their culinary creations, but Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island earns its high praise for another reason: its unique location. Sitting more than 16 feet below the surface of the sea in a glass enclosure, guests dine on European fare while admiring vibrant coral reefs, schools of fish, and even sharks slowly gliding overhead. The novelty has earned it a spot on must-see lists since its debut, making it one of the most famous restaurants in the Maldives. Open for lunch, dinner, and special events such as weddings, the set menus include fine-dining staples like caviar, foie gras, and tartare, while incorporating local flavors in dishes such as calamarata pasta stuffed with reef lobster, crispy plantain chips, and coconut-crusted légine (a local fish). If you’d like to extend your stay, check in to the resort’s underwater villa called The Muraka.
Located at the luxe Six Senses Laamu, Sip Sip has an ever-changing menu made up of dishes that are the result of collaboration between the chef and resort gardeners, who tend an organic garden of 40 different herbs and vegetables. Using only fresh ingredients, the culinary team creates a different starter, salad, pizza, and dessert every day, all served poolside in a sunken bar area—more farm-to-pool than farm-to-table. Favorites include the panfried goat-cheese salad with mango compote and juicy cherry tomatoes, and the crispy Thai fish cake on a peanut-and-green-mango salad.
Aptly named Subsix sits six meters (almost 20 feet) below the water’s surface at Per Aquum’s Niyama resort, reached by speedboat (and then a three-tier staircase that descends into the sea). The ocean-inspired decor complements the underwater surroundings, where guests sip gin-infused cocktails like the Swing ’n’ Swim while admiring coral reefs and keeping an eye out for the likes of parrot fish, eels, and turtles. Lunch is a four-course set menu, featuring chef creations like lobster medallions with heirloom tomatoes and blackberry essence, or swimmer crab accompanied by couscous pomelo and ocean foam. You can also arrange for a private dinner or champagne breakfast, and for those with energy to burn, Subsix hosts twice-weekly “glow party” club nights.
Baa Atoll, Maldives
With its dreamy sunsets and endless sandbanks, the Maldives is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, and the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru kicks the romance factor up a notch with its memorable dining options. Guests can be whisked away on a speedboat to a secluded white-sand beach and enjoy a barbecue dinner prepared by a private chef at a table lit by the glow of candles and sparkling stars. The ocean awaits those who prefer a meal over the water—a private wooden platform hovering above a tranquil lagoon is just a brief sail away.
Kaafu Atoll, North Male Atoll, Maldives
Offering something more immersive than classic resort dining, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru has a four-course menu that can be served right on the beach. Watch a chef prepare your gourmet Maldivian lobster dinner right in front of you while you listen to the soothing sounds of waves lapping at the shoreline and enjoying the fresh sea air. Alternatively, choose the Sharkpoint option and tuck into sea scallops and lobster on a secluded stretch of sand. For a dose of culture, head to the open-air Naiboli Bar on a Friday night and take in a traditional bodu beru performance on the beach.
Rangali Island, Rangali 20077, Maldives
Located 100 meters out from the beach among the dazzling turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Mandhoo Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a true gem. The gorgeous open-air establishment sits on stilts and serves up seafood staples like tiger prawns, fresh sea bass, and crabmeat salad accompanied by organic produce grown right on the island. Guests keeping an eye on the water below might be lucky enough to spot a glimpse of a shark or stingray, and should time their visit with the daily fish feeding to guarantee undersea sightings.
Gaafu Alifu Atoll, Hadahaa, North Huvadhoo 20054, Maldives
In a nod to the arching lines of the archetypal Maldivian fishing boat that lends its name to the place, the Dhoni at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is an architectural stunner. Welcoming guests as soon as they arrive on the tropical island, the lounge’s impressive wooden structure was crafted by actual fishing-boat builders and is framed by a pool so still its surface looks like glass. Start the evening at the resort’s Island Grill and watch chefs whip up dishes like seafood paella or succulent crustacean bisque on a traditional grill that’s combined with a wood-fired oven; then make your way to the Dhoni and enjoy a nightcap amid the lounge’s open air.