The highlight of the Ithaa Restaurant is that the entire hotel is located under the sea and offers spectacular views of the underwater marine life. Boasting of being the first hotel of its kind in the world, the Ithaa restaurant combines an exciting atmosphere with delicious cuisine to remain unmatched in terms of picturesque surroundings and exemplary service.
Location: The Ithaa Underwater Restaurant is part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort and is located in South Ari Atoll. The island can be reached by chartered sea planes from the Male’ International Airport and it takes approximately 90 minutes to reach the island.
Restaurant Particulars: The restaurant officially opened in 2005. Though the initial idea was to build the restaurant on the beach, the builders took up the challenge of building the entire hotel underwater.
Due to various constraints, the entire restaurant was built in Singapore and then transported to Maldives on a cargo ship. The name of the restaurant was decided as “Ithaa” by the builders and translates to “pearl” in the local language (Dhivehi).
The restaurant covers an area of 5 by 9 meters and is located 5 meters below the sea level. The size of the restaurant permits it to house only 14 diners at a time and so prior reservations are strongly recommended. The only way to reach the restaurant is through a spiraling flight of steps that lead guests from the end of a long jetty into the sea.
The walls of the restaurant are made of transparent acrylic material which is able to withstand the pressure asserted by the water. The transparent walls enable diners to experience 360 degrees views of the stunning surroundings while eating their favorite dishes.
The Dining experience: Guests who have already dined at the restaurant claim it to be a one of a kind experience. Apart from the uneasy feeling of dining on a particular sea food dish while its live counterpart watches you from outside, most of the guests feel quite comfortable under the water.
In stark contrast to the standard aquariums where it’s the visitors who gaze into huge tanks, at the Ithaa Underwater Restaurant, you will be gazed upon by the marine life outside the walls. However, if you are not scared of being under the water, you can watch some pretty amazing sea creatures swim by all around you as you eat.
The Cuisine: Ithaa Restaurant serves traditional Maldivian dishes, which are mostly the sea food variety and offer an interesting blend of international dishes and Western flavors. Normal prices for meals range from 120 US dollars to 250 US dollars. Open throughout the week from 12.30 in the morning to 11 in the afternoon, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner.
Although dinners are quite popular, lunch times are a hit with diners as the waters surrounding the restaurant are bright enough under the natural light of the sun to reflect almost all of the underwater habitats and the marine life residing in them.
A point to be noted here is that the Ithaa Underwater Restaurant does not allow kids aged 12 years and below. So if you are planning to eat here, you can opt to send them to the resort’s child care center for some time until you finish your lunch/dinner.