fine food - Treetop dining in the Maldives
Written by Mike MacEacheran
Going for dinner in the Maldives isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It may be the world’s flattest country, with atolls fringed by abundant arcs of buttery sands, but that doesn’t mean the country’s chefs are content with their oceanfront beach bars and palm-fringed pool bistros. In pursuit of novelty, the most luxurious resorts are now taking fine dining to new heights: by moving their signature restaurants off the ground and into the trees.
Leaf, Six Senses Laamu
Working with local fishermen – who bring their daily catch straight from the ocean floor into the treetops – chefs at this airy treehouse know how to aim for the sky. In the heart of the restaurant, they put together a Mediterranean-influenced tasting menu, with all the theatrics of a TV cooking show. At this height, the air has a salty tang, complemented by a drink of coconut water – most commonly picked straight from the nearby palms.
Nest, Per Aquum Niyama
Suspended some six metres off the ground, on an open-air dining terrace best described as a giant replica of a pterodactyl’s nest, this treehouse restaurant is as much jungle adventure as culinary outing. Take a table in one of the treetop pods, spot tropical birds in the banyan trees, and savour Asian cuisine such as Japanese teppanyaki, Balinese grills, and Thai salads.
Fresh in the Garden, Soneva Fushi
A restaurant without walls in the Maldives is no great feat; one that rises high above an organic herb and vegetable garden, and is entered by a swinging Indiana Jones-style rope-bridge is. Situated on a breezy multilevel terrace, surrounded by aromatic banana trees, this lofty dining experience sees the chef hand-pick the freshest items from below, then turn them into a five-star menu that changes with each sunrise. It’s so good, in fact, it wowed Gordon Ramsay and dining buddy David Beckham.
Or how about dining underwater? Sea, Anantara Kihavah Villas
If you hadn’t already guessed, they do things differently in the Maldives. Cue one of the first underwater restaurants, five metres below the surface, alongside the first-ever submerged wine cellar. It’s an octagonal-shaped affair with floor-to-ceiling views of the surrounding corals and marine life, and, all told, is like fine dining inside Captain Nemo’s fabulous fantasy submarine Nautilus.
Distance: 3,351 km
Flight Time: 4 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: 2 flights a day