Every exotic destination has something special going for it â€“ white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and a string of luxury hotels. If youâ€™re looking for something really strange and inviting, though, look no further than a trip to Maldives. There youâ€™ll find the Ithaa restaurant within the Conrad Maldvies Rangali Island hotel â€“ the first underwater restaurant in the world.
The Ithaa Restaurant
Located about 5 meters (or 5 Â½ yards) beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean, the Ithaa Restaurant opened in April of 2005 and offers visitors a unique dining experience. With a 270 degree panoramic Â view of the ocean, diners can enjoy marine and reef life while dining in what seems like an aquarium.
Ithaa, literally translated, means pearl in the Dhiveli language. The restaurant, designed by the M.J. Murphy Ltd company from New Zealand, was built out of an R-Cast acrylic material, enabling the establishment to have a transparent roof.
Construction of the restaurant was originally supposed to take place on the beaches of Maldives, but there was fear of technical challenges due to limited resources in the area. The restaurant was actually completed, in its entirety, in Singapore. In November of 2004, the restaurant was placed on a barge and was shipped to the Maldives.
Once there, it was filled with sand (to help it sink) and was lowered into the ocean where it was secured to four steel piles that had already been hammered into the ocean floor. Additional concrete was used to secure the restaurant to the piles.
Believe it or not, the restaurant itself is only expected to have a life expectancy of about 20 years.
Finding Your Way to Ithaa
Diners who want to experience underwater dining can access the restaurant from the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel. They must first travel to the Sunset Grill Restaurant (located over the water) and then cross a wooden walkway to the entrance to Ithaa.
Those hoping to get a seat must make reservations as far in advance as possible. The restaurant only has 12 seats and requires visitors to dress in formal attire. Children are welcome during lunchtime only, and only at the discretion of restaurant staff, so make sure you ask in advance before bringing the little ones along.
The Menu at Ithaa
The menu is simply stunning, offering a distinct blend of Maldivian and Western tastes as well as a list of international dishes. Imagine a cold dish of yellow fin tuna with citrus, lemon grass, and sumac dipping sauce. Perhaps youâ€™d like something warmer, like a pumpkin soup with sour cream. In this restaurant, the lobster is a course of its own, prepared in one of two distinct variations. For the main course, you might enjoy black Angus beef with truffles orÂ king fish with katafi langoustines.
Is your mouth watering yet? The dessert menu here is just as decadent. You have your choice of a macaroon filled with sweet mangoes and berries, a chilled chocolate fig dariole, a mascarpone infused with lemon grass espuma, or a lime and limoncello chiboust.
Dining at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Because of its limited seating capacity, seating at the restaurant is limited to guests at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort alone. You must contact the resort directly to make reservations, and the price varies from $120 to $150 per plate depending on the time of day you choose to dine and the type of meal plan you have purchased from the resort.
A trip to Ithaa, if you are lucky enough to get a seat, is one youâ€™ll remember for a lifetime. This is one meal worth splurging on!