Dining in paradise: The Maldives' finest tables

Set in the impossibly turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the islands of the Maldives have become a luxury vacation destination with few equals. But in between snorkeling the reefs, topping up your tan and generally taking the word "relaxation" to new heights, there's the key question of what to eat -- and where.

  13/09/2019 15:16
Happily the country punches well above its travel weight when it comes to culinary choices, thanks to exclusive resorts where celebrity chefs craft some of the world's finest and most expensive ingredients -- as well as local produce -- into show-stopping plates.

Bear in mind, the Maldives is made up of 26 atolls filled with over 1,000 islands occupied by dozens of resorts -- all spread out over 90,000 square kilometers -- so hopping between properties for meals isn't really an option.

Not to worry, the food in these 5 resorts is as much of a draw as the white sand and stunning sunsets.

Shades of Green, Soneva Fushi

The barefoot luxury resort of choice for celebrities including Madonna, Paul McCartney and the Beckhams, it's no surprise that Soneva Fushi's dining options are among the very best in the Maldives.

Choices on this private island include sushi restaurant So Hands On, an eight-seat private dining space developed in a partnership with three Michelin-starred Japanese chef Kenji Gyoten.

And then there's Shades of Green. As the name suggests, the focus is on plant-based cuisine and diners begin their tasting menu by chef Carsten Kyster with a tour of Soneva Fushi's extensive gardens, where snacks are hidden amongst the foliage.

The bounty of produce surrounding diners is then crafted into five impressive gourmet courses.

Soneva Fushi, Kunfunadhoo Island Baa Atoll, Maldives; +91 124 451 1000

Manta Ray Treehouse, Joali Maldives

The recently opened Joali Maldives features a particularly unusual dining destination.

At the Manta Ray Treehouse, guests eat nestled amidst the trees in spaces crafted from natural materials that are designed to resemble two of the giant aquatic beauties.

Each space seats up to eight diners, who feast on Maldivian menus featuring local favorites such as tuna with chilli and lime, fish curry and native lobster.

Joali Maldives, Muravandhoo Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives; +960 658 4400

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island scored a unique first when it opened in 2005, becoming the world's first undersea restaurant. Five meters under the waves, diners look out to coral gardens and take in the ocean's remarkably diverse marine life.

Lunch could include a salad of butter poached lobster with white peach, artichoke and roasted garlic soup or a honey-roasted pumpkin cheesecake.

Open for cocktails, lunch and dinner, Ithaa can also be reserved for private dining or even a wedding.

Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island 20077, Maldives; +960 668 0629

Destination Dining, Baros Maldives

Baros Maldives opened to the public back in 1973 and, more than 45 years later, the former coconut plantation still offers fine dining experiences.

In common with other resorts in the Maldives, options include both traditional restaurants and private dining spots. Amongst the latter, their secluded sandbank is a popular choice and can be booked throughout the day.

That could mean a breakfast of smoked salmon and champagne, a sushi lunch or a barbecue for dinner. Whichever you choose, the romance quotient is undeniably high.

Baros Maldives, Malé 20-02, Maldives; +960 664 2672

Baraabaru, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

South Asia is the focus at Baraabaru, which means "excellent" in the local Dhivehi language, at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa.

The restaurant's design is inspired partly by the architecture of the southern Indian state of Kerala, while Indian flavors are matched with local seafood.

Their Thali offering lets diners sample a selection of home-style dishes served together on an elegant tray, while they also offer "Tandoor Tapas," small plates of contemporary Indian street food that can be served on their torch-lit deck under the stars.

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, North Male' Atoll, Maldives; +960 664 4888

Source Chris Dwyer, CNN

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