Thursday, October 4, 2012
The World's Only Underwater Restaurant
Welcome to the Maldive Islands. The Maldives are a grouping of 1,190 islands, or which only 200 are inhabited, in the Indian Ocean. They are miles and miles from nowhere, and tropical sunny and warm. The beaches are white, the people are friendly, the resort hotels each have their own private island. There are 100 resorts there. The waters are pristine, and the lunch is watching you.
Ithaa is the world's first and only underwater restaurant. It's on Rangali Island in the Maldives.
The Maldives look like this from the air. It would give you the impression that there isn't much there but sand. Trust me, there are 350,000 people, a lot of which are on the main island of Male'. They are a fishing people who have in recent years turned largely to tourism as a national business. And what a choice they made. Divers from all over the world come here to swim the coral reefs. It's become a great honeymoon spot, with the resorts happy to take you to your own deserted island for the day. Who wouldn't want that kind of privacy on their honeymoon?
Visiting the local towns is also a treat in the Maldives. The people here are largely Muslim, but have escaped the violence that you see on television. In the Maldive's the people still live simple lives in most areas. There are small villages, normally fishing villages. They don't have a lot of modern conveniences in a lot of areas, and they do a lot of work by hand. They do largely speak English though, so it is relatively easy to get to know them. And they are a friendly bunch.
Diving is one of the biggest things in the Maldives. The waters are clear and blue. The weather is fine most of the year, and the wildlife is amazing. The reefs are alive and vibrant, covered with beautiful coral and full of fish. There are sharks and rays abounding.
You might even meet this guy.
Is it any surprise that sitting in the middle of an ocean would make the Maldives a great place to surf? No. The Maldives is one of the world's great surfing wonderlands, and it draws thousands every year. The best part about the Maldives is if there's no waves where you are, you can just get a boat and go to another island where the waves are better.
But after a long day of fishing, boating, surfing, diving, and canoodling, Ithaa is the most unique restaurant in the world to have a fabulous Maldivian Fusion meal. That's mostly seafood for those, like me, who don't follow the terminology. Ithaa is your chance to eat with the fishes.
By the way, it you don't think that the place is really under the ocean, check this out.
This is how they installed it. What an idea. They took the kind of aquarium material that they would use to create a giant underwater world for captive fish and made it for the customers of the restaurant. The people get to be in the aquarium. You will pay to eat here. I won't lie to you. It costs a good $150 or more for two. The thing that this place has is that you've never had ambiance like it. It's a once in a lifetime experience.
So, if you're looking for a friendly laid back place that largely speak English, where you can get your privacy and enjoy tropical weather, with the one and only undersea restaurant, then the Maldive Islands are your dream vacation. So, pick a resort. The Conrad is on Rangali Island. Make your plane reservation. If you're coming from the Eastern US you will probably have to layover in the Middle East, but they stop you in Qatar which isn't bad. I believe that you will find that it is all worth it for the view, the people, the reefs, and of course, the food with a view.