Whether you are submerged in the Indian Ocean, staring out at the North Atlantic seabed or dining alongside an aquarium in Bali, underwater restaurants offer some of the most fascinating views in the world.
Here are some of the best:
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island was the first resort in the world to offer an all-glass underwater restaurant. Ithaa is located five metres below sea level and offers coral garden views, as well as impromptu visits from a range of Indian Ocean marine life.
Set lunch and dinner menus feature local flavours combined with western influences, and the restaurant is open for midmorning cocktails. The space can be reserved for private dining, weddings and special occasions.
For those who develop a taste for the underwater life, the resort is also home to The Muraka, a luxurious two-level residence with a master bedroom submerged below sea level.
Only Blu, Maldives
The latest underwater restaurant to open in the Maldives is also the largest in the archipelago. Unveiled in June, Only Blu is accessed via a wooden jetty that sits between the two island resorts of Oblu Select Lobigili and Oblu Xperience Ailafushi.
It is located 6.8 metres below the surface and features an open kitchen and, as the name suggests, a predominantly blue interior. Covering 190 square metres, with 46 seats, the restaurant’s horseshoe-shaped design ensures that every table has its own window view of the coral reef.
Highlights from the menu include panko and sesame crusted tofu served with enoki mushroom, scallion and tossed greens; Maldivian yellowfin tuna poke served with Peruvian avocado, Spanish onion, mango and edamame; and guinea fowl ballotine served with foie gras and wild mushroom emulsion.
Under, Lindesnes, Norway
Half-sunken under the sea in Norway’s Lindesnes, Under offers a rare opportunity to witness the marine ecosystem of the North Atlantic Ocean at work. Offering a panoramic view of the seabed through massive acrylic windows, the restaurant combines dramatic architecture, marine research and gastronomy.
A stark rectangle tilted on its axis, the structure will, over time, become part of its marine environment, as the roughness of its concrete shell acts as an artificial reef. Lindesnes is known for its intense weather, which move from calm to stormy several times a day, offering a constantly evolving backdrop for diners who trek to this remote corner of the country. There is one set menu served each day, carefully crafted using the produce of the season.
Ossiano, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
Located in Atlantis, The Palm. and seating 50 guests, Ossiano takes diners 10 metres down to the bottom of one of the world’s largest aquariums.
The menu aims to similarly transport guests. Chef Gregoire Berger has launched a nine to 11-step tasting menu guided by his respect for seasonality, terroir and sea foraging. All ingredients are sustainably sourced from the oceans or within 50 kilometres of a coastline. From a delicate whelk shell served on a bed of sand and filled with umami dashi, to Brittany brown crab, fragrant kari gosse and bouillabaisse essence, dishes also highlight Berger’s love of telling stories through food.
Ristorante L’Olivo at Al Mahara, Dubai
Chef Andrea Migliaccio of Capri’s Ristorante L’Olivo, which has two Michelin stars, is responsible for the menu at Burj Al Arab’s Ristorante L’Olivo at Al Mahara. Promising authentic Mediterranean flavours, the menu features assorted raw fish dishes, tartares and grilled scallops, as well as pasta dishes, lobster, black cod and other seafood mains.
All are served in an underwater setting, courtesy of an enormous coral and fish-filled wall-to-ceiling aquarium.
Cargo Hold, Durban, South Africa
Located within Ushaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa, Cargo Hold presents an opportunity to dine with sharks. Set within the stern of the marine park’s Phantom Ship, with views into the shark tank, the restaurant offers dishes from around the world, including freshly shucked oysters, mussels and honey ginger panko prawns.
Ushaka is home to the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere, with underground viewing galleries that extend 500 metres through a series of four recreated shipwrecks.
Koral, Apurva Kempinski Bali, Indonesia
An aquarium is also the focal point of Koral at the Apurva Kempinski Bali, which was named the world’s most “picture-perfect restaurant” in the 2021 TripAdvisor Traveller Awards.
The watery views are complemented by the restaurant’s ornate floor tiles, red clay brickwork and teakwood ceilings. Indonesian coastal flavours are served up by award-winning chef Andrea Astone, in set and degustation menus.
A soundtrack that captures the melodies of life below the waves completes the experience.
Nemo, Antalya, Turkey
A bar, lounge and restaurant in Antalya, Turkey, Nemo combines opulent interiors with aquarium views.
Named Turkey’s best hotel restaurant at the 2020 Culinary Awards, Nemo takes a more glitzy approach to aquarium dining, with a menu that draws inspiration from the sea and specialises in “modern Eurasian cuisine” tinged with Pan Asian influences. Innovative cocktails, sakes and a live DJ round off the experience.