IN THE MALDIVES
Welcome to an underwater restaurant, surrounded by a coral reef.
To enter the restaurant, visitors climb down a spiral staircase in a thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty. They enter the building, which has a curved roof like a tunnel, from above.
Secured five meters below sea level at the Hilton Maldives Resort and Spa, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is a mostly acrylic building that only seats 14. Offering a 270-degree panoramic view to its customers, Ithaa was designed and constructed by M.J. Murphy Ltd., a design consultancy based in New Zealand.
Opened in 2005, Ithaa (which means ‘mother of pearl’ in Dhivehi, the local language) charges a premium for its meals, but they might cost less than one would expect for an underwater dinner. They start in price at about $120 US for lunch for hotel guests. The restaurant serves contemporary fusion Maldivian cuisine with Western and Asian influences. Advance reservations are necessary.
Designed by the Kuala Lumpur National Science Center, the building qualifies as the world’s largest aquarium tunnel. After completion in 2004, Ithaa was taken to the Maldives on the back of an ocean-going barge. It took 16 days to arrive. It is estimated that the restaurant, which is placed in extreme conditions, will only last for 20 years.