The best underwater restaurants in the world

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

Descend to the depths to experience culinary heights at these destination dining rooms. We look at the best places to experience world-class cuisine while marvelling at local marine life, all without getting your feet wet.

Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab – Dubai

The towering Burj Al Arab in Dubai is instantly recognisable, but people might be less familiar with three-Michelin-star chef’s Kim Joinié-Maurin’s Al Mahara, where the dining room channels an underwater feel thanks to its wall-to-ceiling aquarium. Order a show-stopping Seafood Tower that’s served hot or cold and features whole lobster, langoustines, Hokkaido scallops, king crab legs and Loch Fyne oysters. Alternatively, if you are hungry for sky-high views as well as sub-aquatic vistas, a Culinary Flight sees diners enjoy dishes at four restaurants as they travel from the intimately lit Al Mahara to the stunning white-sand views on offer from the Skyview Bar & Restaurant on the 27th floor.

Ithaa, Conrad Rangali – Maldives

One of the world’s first underwater restaurants, this 14-seat space is named after the word for mother-of-pearl in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi. The glass-walled restaurant represents such an impressive feat of engineering that the 175-tonne structure housing it was originally built in Singapore before being transported to the island and sunk onto the seabed where it’s supported by steel legs. But you don’t need to worry about the logistics as you are led across a wooden jetty towards a thatched pavilion, where you’ll see a winding staircase that leads to Ithaa. Set lunch and dinner menus are served as colourful marine life – and possibly even turtles, stingrays and sharks – glide pass. For a taste of the aquatic adventure that’s on offer, join the fishes for afternoon champagne and canapes.

Justin Nicholas

5.8 Undersea Restaurant, Hurawalhi – Maldives

One of the world's largest all-glass underwater restaurants, located just under six metres below the surface, this place serves modern cuisine to 20 people at a time. The barefoot rule means guests are asked to take off their footwear, which adds to this already otherworldly eating experience, while vegan menus featuring truffle-roasted butternut risotto and sweet pea tartare on caramelised quinoa ensure a variety of tastes are catered for. As you gaze out over the coral, take heart in the fact that it was nurtured by the resort’s dive instructor Paige Bennett, who took previously damaged and dislodged sections of reef and set them around the restaurant. The result? A thriving ecosystem that promises to (brilliantly) distract diners’ attention. 

Koral Restaurant, Apurva Kempinski – Bali

With its brilliantly clear waters and fascinating snorkelling sites, it’s only right that Bali should have its very own aquarium dining destination. With its teak wood ceilings and red clay walls, the recently opened Koral effortlessly reflects its rich Indonesian heritage while providing a sultry and intimately lit backdrop to the sub-aqua scenes playing out through the expansive windows that are built into the walls, ceiling and floor. Within a menu that privileges coastal flavours and fresh seafood, you can expect to find local ingredients such as kemangi lemon basil and fiery dabu-dabu salsa sitting happily alongside French caviar and Australian sparkling wine.

Sea, Anantara Kihavah – Maldives

It’s not just people who enjoy hanging out underwater, the 450-plus bottles at this underwater wine cellar seem to be thriving too, thanks to the cool temperatures that are maintained at six metres below the water. With offerings from more than 15 of the top wine-producing countries in the world, and labels dating from 1795, it’s the perfect place to try rare vintages and match glasses to each course with the help of the resident wine guru.

Under, Lindesnes – Norway

Now for something completely different. Away from the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, this stylish Scandinavian offering in the icy North Atlantic is amazing architects and enticing adventurous eaters all over world. Enter the submerged concrete dining room and tuck into locally sourced plates of cod and lobster, as well as ingredients foraged from the restaurant’s rugged surrounds, such as salty sea kale, wild mushrooms and juicy berries. It’s all part of the seasonal multi-course Nordic menu from head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard, which can be matched with wines or juices. All the while, the 40 diners have a panoramic view of the seabed and the rare opportunity to spot the fascinating creatures who call this dramatic area home. 

Ivar Kvaal

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!