Ready to add to your ever-growing travel bucket list? As if you needed another reason to visit the dreamy Maldives, it turns out you can dine under the sea of the tropical oasis—literally. And the best part? You don’t even have to grow a mermaid tail à la Ariel to do it.
The 5.8 Undersea Restaurant at the Hurawalhi Maldives Resort is the largest all-glass water restaurant in the world. Sitting at 5.8 meters—or 19 feet—below the ocean surface (hence the name!), you can eat your dinner among sharks, tropical fish, and even octopuses swimming around you.
“We wanted to create something special, not only the fish outside, but also on the plate.” —Bjoern van den Oever, chef
“We wanted to create something special, not only the fish outside, but also on the plate.” Chef Bjoern van den Oever told CNN Travel. “Everything was very inspired by the surroundings: the coral life, the fish. And there’s a lot of small details where you can look on the coral and you get the reflection on your plate.”
Okay, so both the atmosphere and the food are great, but how does the restaurant get the vibrant marine life to come over and hang with customers? One genius diving instructor actually created an entire natural reef landscape by regrowing corals that were in bad condition—and the critters liked it so much, they moved in.
“I found dislodged coral blocks, which were not healthy, then I transported them to the restaurant in hopes that it would start to regain these coral animals that live inside,” said Hurawalhi diving instructor Paige Bennett. “Once I saw that it was going to work, I started to take bigger blocks and create a natural reef landscape, something that would attract fish in a way that is representative of the Maldives. It’s an actual living, thriving reef system and ecosystem, which will grow on its own.”
If you want to pay this Maldives hot spot a visit, the under-water restaurant won’t be your only memorable experience: You can also stay in your own over-the-water villa, hang out at the beach, and go snorkeling with manta rays. Just make sure to get as much sleep as possible on the flight (here are some tips how!) so you can maximize your time in the exotic paradise.