Eating in Paradise: The 9 Hottest Eating places within the Maldives

The Maldives is, frankly, a ridiculously pretty country. The most turquoise of the Indian Ocean’s waters lap its palm-fringed coral atolls, where soft white sand leads to an underwater wonderland. After a picture-perfect sunset, watch the sky explode with stars before retreating and falling asleep to the sound of waves.

But here’s the kicker: it’s also home to some of the finest dining in all of South Asia. The world’s most celebrated resorts and hospitality brands vie with one another to dazzle diners through celebrity chefs and insane wine cellars, decadent tasting menus and restaurant locations which defy belief.

Just bear in mind that there’s very little hopping between resorts for meals, given the distances and costs involved. Our suggestion? Book in to two or three resorts over your trip, to get a feel for the finest flavors on offer.

From underwater dining surrounded by sharks to ziplining in for dinner—seriously—here are the nine finest ways to get your eats on in the world’s sexiest archipelago.

Aragu, Velaa Private Island

Aragu

If you fancy walking in the sandy footprints of J-Lo, Shakira and Paris Hilton, then Velaa Private Island is where you’ll need to head. The ultra-exclusive getaway continues to attract an A-List clientele, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that one of its restaurants, Aragu, was the first and so far, only restaurant in The Maldives to feature in the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, a regional offshoot of the hotly debated global equivalent.

Aragu means “essence” in the local Dhivehi language and positions its cuisine as modern European with Asian twists, while local Maldivian menus are also available. Chef Gaushan de Silva was formerly head chef to the Jordanian royal family and also worked at Noma, so sustainability is a key element. Dishes to tempt in the 36-seater include yellowfin tuna with confit egg yolk, barbecued chicken with braised eggplant or the country’s most famed lobster curry, the definite mouthful of kandukukulhu.

Decanter, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Decanter, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Oenophiles are also in for a treat in The Maldives, despite being thousands of miles from the nearest vineyard. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is home to Decanter, a subterranean wine cellar offering thousands of famed vintages, one of which dates from 1755, if you’re feeling especially baller.

Naturally there are tasting menus to match, served around their 12-seat Italian marble table. From the five-course menu with stellar wine pairings, highlights include hand-dived Hokkaido scallops with a chorizo crumb, or an MB9 Wagyu tenderloin with a tartlet of morel, edamame and pecorino. At a cool $950+ per person, glasses include Bollinger and Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru.

Sea, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Sea, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Victor Romero/Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

You’ll quickly learn that underwater dining is a thing in The Maldives. Thankfully we’re not talking eating while you SCUBA, but rather restaurants that are surrounded by the ocean. While it may seem a bit harsh to dine on ingredients while their relatives swim by you, there’s no doubting that it makes for a unique, if slightly surreal meal. The simply named Sea sits 20 feet under the waves on the edge of the house reef at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, meaning that sharks, turtles, tropical fish and more provide the backdrop.

It’s open from breakfast through to dinner, where their seven-course degustation runs $540 per person with wine pairings. On it, “Shellfish medley” features sea urchin custard, seared scallops, grilled calamari and apple salad under a truffle foam, while even the seabass fillet comes with sauteed langoustine and snow crab.

Le 1947, Cheval Blanc Randheli

Le 1947, Cheval Blanc Randheli

Dan Kullberg

Dining in The Maldives doesn’t come much finer or more elegant than at Le 1947, a restaurant named after Château Cheval Blanc’s famed vintage. Both the famed Bordeaux winery and its namesake resort are owned by French luxury titans LVMH, while the only other Le 1947, at Cheval Blanc Courchevel in the French Alps, holds three Michelin stars. You get the picture.

Stunning plating and presentation come as standard across a tasting menu served in a supremely refined setting, all accompanied by arguably the country’s finest wine cellar. Seabass carpaccio with yuzu gel, a crispy egg with sour cream and Oscietra caviar or a rack of milk-fed baby lamb from The Pyrenees are just some of the culinary creations to tempt. Be sure not to miss the Cigar Lounge for a digestif and a Cohiba.

Kaashi, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa

Kaashi, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa

Akash Jagtap Photography/JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa

Even when they’re not underwater, restaurants in The Maldives seek to outdo each other with unique dining locales and Kaashi at JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is all about the treetops. Lit by lanterns and fire tiki torches, with sweeping ocean views, it makes for Instagram gold, particularly by their swaying suspension bridge.

The flavors are equally eye-catching in dishes by chef Praewpan “Perry” Saengon from Isan in northeastern Thailand, a region famed for its cuisine. Her versions of phad kra prow or spicy chicken with holy basil and the brilliant noodle dish khao soi are two standouts. The latter’s fragrant base notes of lemongrass, lime leaves, turmeric, ginger, coconut and much more make for a stunning broth, into which chicken, crispy and egg noodles complete a humble but outstandingly tasty bowl.

Beach Shack, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

couple dining beach maldives

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives

It’s hardly surprising that luxury-tinged beach shacks are another mainstay of Maldives resort dining, as who doesn’t like to dine with their toes in the sand? The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is home to pretty much the poshest shack we’ve ever seen, complete with a pool table, DJ with a live saxophonist and fully stocked bar.

The menu sees the Mediterranean meets the Maldives, so grilled seafood is a highlight accompanied by an impressive selection of French rosés. Elsewhere, tuna tartare and reef fish ceviche make for light appetizers, before salads, tacos, burgers, lobster and their signature paella ensure that there’s something for everyone. Evenings may include cinema nights, s’mores and special champagne soirées.

Ba’theli, Milaidhoo Island Maldives

Ba’theli, Milaidhoo Island Maldives

Milaidhoo Island Maldives

The menu may be fine dining but the dress code is barefoot beach chic at Ba’theli restaurant at Milaidhoo Island Maldives. It positions itself as the country’s first “modern Maldivian” restaurant and start by offering a unique dining room in the form of three traditional local wooden sailing boats that sit on stilts above an azure lagoon.

Diners can choose to eat under the stars or under cover, with a glass floor below them showing the reef’s aquatic world in all its glory. Dishes are inspired by the country’s ancient location on a key spice route, a port of call between India, Indonesia and Arabia where cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper made for a priceless cargo. This translates into plates such as slow-braised lamb curry from the country’s northern archipelago, or local pumpkin and herb salad.

Flying Sauces, Soneva Fushi

Flying Sauces, Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi

Soneva pride themselves as genuinely sustainable pioneers in the world of barefoot luxury and their resorts continue to attract celebrities and high-end travelers seeking very special breaks. Dining certainly doesn’t get much more unforgettable than at Flying Sauces, the world’s first fine dining zipline experience. Oh, yes, indeed.

You arrive by gliding along their 650-foot zipline through the tropical treetops, before gently landing on their elevated dining platform, 40 feet up. After that adrenaline rush come incredible ocean views, before you’ve even had a bite. The menus from chef Rasal are seasonally driven, meaning produce from their own extensive gardens and seafood that is guaranteed to have been sustainably caught by local fishermen. Think black cod with sunchoke purée, onion, mushrooms and teriyaki truffle sauce, or plant-based cheesecake with mango salsa and mixed berry compote.

Blu Beach Club, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Blu Beach Club, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Thomas Alexander/Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Finally, to Blu Beach Club at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, a destination which more than lives up to its name. It sits on one of the most expansive Maldivian beaches that we’ve seen, offering jaw-dropping sunsets over the impossibly blue ocean. Chef Gaetano Trovato oversees a broad Italian menu with highlights from Sardinia, the island with its own distinct terroir and dishes.

Baked snapper comes with spinach, almonds and bottarga, the salted and cured fish roe known as the ‘caviar of the sea, one of the finest examples of which comes from the waters off Sardinia. More familiar combos include a great rendition of tuna tartare with avocado and mozzarella, while lobster, the “King of the Crustaceans” is always in demand at their ever-popular lobster night, where Sardinian wines make for intriguing and revelatory pairings.

Source: Robb Report