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The Maldives might be known for its breathtaking beaches and unique thatched roof overwater bungalows, but opulent and extraordinary food experiences are quickly becoming a new drawing card to this remote Indian Ocean island nation.

Tuna, coconut and starches once dominated the Maldives’ culinary world. Now, with just over 50 years of tourism, the eating options are defined by caviar, Krug and Michelin chefs at the country’s best luxury resorts.

But it’s not just the world-class ingredients that satisfy sunburned beach-goers; it’s the unique and exclusive settings they serve them in. From zip-lining through the treetops for a multi-course meal to eating seafood surrounded by sharks, here are some of the Maldives’ most incredible dining experiences.

Soneva Fushi

Apart from an airplane, there are few settings in the world you need to strap in to eat a meal. But at Soneva Fushi, the Flying Sauces experience requires you to be fully harnessed before you fly through the sky.

Don’t worry, you’re not heading to the stratosphere. Instead, you’re gliding along the resort’s zipline course in what may be the world’s most fun-loving dining experience.

Guests can soar through the jungle, crossing a series of viewpoints spanning around 200 meters of zipline. Jumping off wooden platforms combined with the adrenaline rush will leave you hungry.

Guests can soar through the jungle, crossing a series of viewpoints spanning around 200 meters of zipline.

Luckily, a meal awaits at the end. You must cross a final rope bridge to reach their massive dining table, which sits more than 12 meters in the air. Surrounded by the lush palm tree canopy and incredible ocean views, you can tuck into a personalized breakfast feast or a multi-course menu by the resort’s current visiting Michelin-star chef.

Meals can be paired with a selection from Soneva Fushi’s wine cellar, which has the Indian Ocean’s largest collection of wines and Champagnes.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

With 11 standout restaurants, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi has some of the Maldives’ most decadent dining options. From Australian wood-fired steak to a boat-full of sushi at Zuma’s only overwater restaurant, the food here gives the resort its ‘it-factor’.

But none are more extravagant than Terra. Ironically meaning ‘earth’, this restaurant is suspended above the ground in the resort’s leafy treetops. Its seven private bamboo nests have peek-a-boo ocean views above the swaying palms.

The restaurant is open for dinner only, serving a lavish tasting menu that includes luxury ingredients like A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, Piedmont truffles and Maldivian lobster. And while courses change and vary throughout the year, fancy foodies can expect dishes such as burrata in edible soil topped with 12-year-old aged balsamic vinegar with picture-perfect plating.

Terra’s sommelier pairs each course with vintages from the island’s extensive wine cellar, The Rock, and Krug Champagne selected by the country’s first Krug ambassador.

Velaa Private Island

At this ultra-luxe resort frequented by royalty and A-listers, expectations are high when it comes to mealtime. Velaa’s fine-dining restaurant Aragu frequently hosts Michelin-star chefs for romantic evenings over the water, but its restaurant Tavaru reaches new heights – literally.

Perched 22 meters above the sand, it’s the highest restaurant in the Maldives, while still meeting the island’s strict coastal building codes aimed at maintaining the natural beauty of the area. On the ground floor, there’s an extensive wine cellar with a huge red wine collection, including rare vintages.

Take an elevator to the top floor, where fire-red sunset views and a sizzling teppanyaki grill await.

Take an elevator to the top floor, where fire-red sunset views and a sizzling teppanyaki grill await. Tavaru has a selection of menus from meat to seafood to vegetarian. The seafood menu offers dishes like hibachi-style Maldivian lobster with mushroom dashi cream sauce and miso-marinated black cod with bok choy.

The meat menu has three kinds of Wagyu and a tomato teriyaki-glazed lamb chop with miso ponzu eggplant.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Floating breakfasts have been a resort hallmark for years now, and it’s no wonder: A basket of gently floating pancakes and bacon from the pool is a delightful and delicious way to start the day.

At Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, guests choose their breakfast the night before. They can select one item per section of the menu, like a granola popsicle with raspberry compote or a salmon Benedict. Guests can toast with bubbly mimosas as the ocean sparkles in the morning sun.

But what makes this resort different from the 100-plus others offering floating food? They also offer a floating sundowner. This creative sunset experience includes three different drink options and a selection of canapes.

Choose between Moët & Chandon, a bottle of wine or sparkling grape juice and fresh island coconuts. Munch on snacks like burger sliders, Wagyu katsu sandos, chicken dumplings and fresh cookies from your private pool as the sun dips below the horizon and dolphins frolic nearby.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Maldives is well-known for its handful of underwater restaurants, offering resort-goers a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience surrounded by throngs of kaleidoscope corals and marine life. And while other resorts have caught on to the magic, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, sitting almost 5 meters below the surface of Conrad Rangali Island, was the world’s first.

Imagine scooping up a wild mushroom risotto with truffle as rainbow-colored parrot fish scurry past the glass next to you. Or digging into a piece of smoked mozzarella topped with pickled watermelon and garden basil while black-tipped reef sharks swim over your head.

Imagine scooping up a wild mushroom risotto with truffle as rainbow-colored parrot fish scurry past the glass next to you.

And if you’re really lucky, a manta ray or two may glide by as a white chocolate pearl with passion fruit is served for dessert. Seven-course menus are offered at both lunch and dinner, with menus for vegetarians, pescetarians and gluten-intolerant guests.

There’s no doubt this all-glass restaurant with 180-degree views of the clear Indian Ocean and just 14 seats is one of the most romantic and wow-worthy meals in existence.

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo

You know the classic question: “What would you bring with you to a desert island?” At Raffles Maldives Meradhoo, you bring a picnic basket.

This remote Gaafu Alifu Atoll resort will drop you off on your own small, secluded island, where you can spend the day swimming, exploring, reading, snorkeling or relaxing on a beach all to yourselves. It’s the ultimate private island getaway. Don’t worry; they will come back and get you before sunset.

And they don’t just leave you on an empty sliver of sand. Before they leave, a butler and their team set up a table and chairs with silverware, as well as several umbrellas and beanbags nestled on the powdery shoreline.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, guests can tuck into the picnic basket filled with ham, tuna or cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit skewers and homemade cookies. A cooler full of ice-cold fresh coconuts, wine, sodas and any alcohol you select sits in the shade under the palm trees.

Gili Lankanfushi

Vegetarians and vegans rejoice: Gili Lankanfushi makes arguably the islands’ best plant-based food. Chef Harinath ‘Hari’ Govindaraj pioneered a plant-to-plate concept. He makes everything on the island, from vegan ice cream to vegan cheese, but his organic vegan lunches are one of the resort’s most loved dining options.

Chef Hari says the heart of the resort’s kitchen is its 100-bed garden, which grows the wide variety of herbs and vegetables used during these peaceful garden lunches. Surrounded by the scents of lemongrass and basil, guests sit at a sustainably made wooden table under a thatched roof while course after course of vegan food is presented.

Gili Lankanfushi makes arguably the islands’ best plant-based food.

This seven-to-eight-dish menu includes inventive combination like aloe vera and coconut ceviche with lemongrass, coconut, mint, mango and curry leaf dip. For the main course, plant-eaters will love the barbecue eggplant striploin steak, sans beef. And each plate can be paired with organic wine selected by Gili’s sommelier.

Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island

Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island is one of the rare resorts in the Maldives with a flat rooftop accessible to guests. It’s perfect for morning yoga, sundowners and the ultimate movie night. Guests can always opt for room service and their favorite flick, but the rooftop barbecue option makes for a much more memorable screening.

A fun evening in for families or couples, guests can select any movie from Netflix or Amazon Prime to watch on the big screen while the resort’s chef prepares a barbecue meal served during the movie. Earlier that day, guests are presented with four different menu options ranging from vegetarian, meat, seafood or a combination of all.

Each is a bonafide feast, with multiple starters and mains, including dishes like Wagyu MB9 striploin, lobster tails with garlic and herb butter and spiced cauliflower steak, depending on your menu selection. Sides, such as sweet corn and wedge salad accompany, and of course, popcorn and other snacks are included.

Anantara Kihavah Maldives

It’s said that there is gold hidden beneath Maldivian corals from centuries-old shipwrecks. At Anantara Kihavah, wine lovers can find a different kind of treasure under the sea. Here, sommeliers are experimenting with aging wine in the Indian Ocean.

In 2020, they started by sinking 12 bottles of Dom Perignon 2008 in a cage near the resort’s house reef for 365 days. Sommeliers say the motion of the ocean, combined with the saltwater, ages the vintages faster and adds unique qualities to the wine, the salt and seaweed complementing the usual notes.

You can enjoy a tasting at the resort’s underwater restaurant SEA, which houses one of the world’s first underwater wine cellars.

You can enjoy a tasting at the resort’s underwater restaurant SEA, which houses one of the world’s first underwater wine cellars. Wine enthusiasts can compare the wines aged on the resort’s house reef and those kept in the cellar while fish life swims around them.

From Dom Perignon Brut Millesime to Castello della Sala 2018, the wine experts here age 22 varietals along the reef for sampling. Each private tasting experience is offered with canapes and cheeses, or a set menu can be arranged.

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