Aside from white sandy beaches and a tropical climate, the Maldives islands are especially well known for one peculiar tourist attraction category: the underwater restaurant.
At Ithaa — which touts itself as the world’s oldest underwater restaurant — guests dine on astronomically priced seven-course dinners or four-course lunches 16 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean with 180-degree views of schools of tropical fish, sting rays and sharks swimming above their heads.
But guests won’t find the marine wildlife swimming just outside the windows anywhere on the menu. Instead, for an exorbitant $325 per person for a seven-course dinner tasting menu, guests can dine on Oscietra caviar, foie gras, prawn tartare, dover sole, sous vide tenderloin and Bolivian chocolate panna cotta. A four-course lunch tasting menu is available for $225 per person and morning cocktails is $75 per person.
Ithaa’s name means “mother of pearl” in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi and is part of the Hilton’s Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort.
The unique glass structure — which consists of 9.5-by-16.4-foot acrylic arches supported by four steel piles and weighs 192 tons — was constructed on dry land before it was submerged into the Indian Ocean in November 2004. The restaurant’s dining room is modestly sized: 147 square feet, with occupancy for only 14 people at a time.
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