The Maldives is known for its spectacular beaches and magnificent clear blue water, with its top resorts offering villas that sit right on beach or float on stilts right above the water. It is a top pick for honeymooners, families, and couples looking for a quiet retreat to enjoy time together. Sun, sand, and sea is what the Maldives is all about. The barefoot luxury is phenomenal, with the glamour of the location, and the luxurious villas being the biggest attractions.
Now, some of the Maldives resorts are taking it even one step further by offering underwater accommodation. Yes, you can actually sleep beneath the surface of the water and watch the amazing marine life pass you by, 24 hours a day. Instead of waking up to the ocean breeze and the sunrise, you will wake up to the underwater beauty of the coral reefs and vibrantly colored fish. There are also hotels that have underwater restaurants, underwater spas, and underwater clubs. And why not? The Maldives are famous for its impressive marine life and extensive reef system. Seeing it up close without having to get your feet wet is the next big thing, not only in the Maldives, but all over the world.
Maldives Marine Life
There are 187 varieties of coral reefs in the archipelagic nation, with more than 1,000 fish species swimming in and around them. Puffer fish, lion fish, angelfish, moray eels, reef sharks, sting rays, and eagle rays call the water of the Maldives home, as do manta rays and whale sharks. There are also 21 species of dolphins and whales, and five species of sea turtles.
The magnificent marine life makes the country a hot spot for divers that want to catch sight of the stunning fish that swim in the 35,000-square-mile country. People from all over the globe head to the Maldives to scuba-dive and snorkel, making it one of world’s top diving destinations.
The Maldives is made up of 99 percent water, with only 1 percent of the country protuding from the water to form a land mass. This land is spread over 1,192 islands, separated into 26 atolls, some of which offer better diving and marine life than others.
The greatest selection of dive sites are in the Ari Atoll, which should come as no surprise as it is one of the largest atolls in the Maldives. There are nine fantastic sites here that offer divers the chance to see reef sharks, grouper fish, puffer fish, snapper, and white tips, to name a few. You may also spot a leopard shark or a sea turtle. It is also home to the famous Rangali Madivaru site, which is the best site in the archipelago to see manta rays.
The Malé Atoll is split into two; South Malé and North Malé. South Malé Atoll is a fabulous place to see sharks, and eagle rays, while North Malé Atoll is home to an abundance of colorful reef fish.
This is the only Maldives atoll that was not affected by the global coral bleaching in 1998. This means that the reef here is more colorful than anywhere else in the archipelago. It is home to numerous big fish, like manta rays, eagle rays, and sharks, as well as plenty of other species. Addu Atoll is also where divers will find the country’s largest wreck – the British Loyalty.
Maldives Underwater Hotels
Imagine being submerged into the water while getting a massage, enjoying a meal, or sleeping in a submarine-like suite beneath the water. Be it a spa, a restaurant, an exclusive club, or a suite, the number of Maldives underwater hotel options is growing. Some of these are already built and ready for guests to enjoy, while others are currently under construction. These are all of your options for enjoying the spectacular Maldives marine life without ever having to dip your feet into the water.
Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi
The resort itself isn’t under the water, but its Huvafen Spa is. This is the world’s first ever underwater spa, and what a spa it is. This sanctuary beneath the surface if the water boasts 2 underwater couple’s treatment rooms that offer spectacular panoramic views of the coral reef and the underwater life. Watch the tropical fish swim by while you soak in bubbles and get your muscles soothed, finishing it off with a hot pot of tea.
Anantara Kihavah Villas
Dine while staring out at the ocean floor at Anantara Kihavah Villas’ Sea restaurant. The food is as fantastic as the views of the Maldives marine life swimming by as you indulge on Maldivian lobster, pan-seared Japanese wagyu, and foie gras confit. Let’s not forget about the wine. The Sea is home to the first ever underwater wine cellar, which has a superb selection of vintages that date back as far as 1795. If money is no object, dining here is a must while on holidays in the Maldives.
Ozen by Atmosphere at Maadhoo
Sitting six meters below sea level, Ozen by Atmosphere’s M6M is a stylish underwater restaurant that is completely surrounded by water. You will even see fish swimming above you while you dine on Chilean sea bass, Alaskan crab, or poached lobster.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Not only does the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island have a scrumptious underwater restaurant, but they will soon also have an incredible two-story villa, part of which will be 16.4 feet below sea level. The villa, which will be named Muraka (coral in Dhivehi), will have its very own gym, infinity pool, and butler’s quarters, with the bedroom being completely underwater. This will mean that you will be able to enjoy unparalleled views of the marine life 24 hours a day. When construction is complete, it will cost a whopping $15,000 per night to stay in the Muraka villa, which will include private seaplane jetty, round-the-clock service, and an on-call fitness trainer.
If you can’t afford the steep price to stay in the underwater villa, you should at least dine at the incredible Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. This was the first ever all-glass underwater restaurant in the world, sitting 16 feet below the ocean’s surface. In 2014, the New York Daily News pegged it as the most beautiful restaurant in the world, and in 2017 it received three awards at the World Luxury Restaurant Awards. Ithaa, which means mother of pearl, offers spectacular 180-degree views of the colorful coral that surrounds it. The views can be enjoyed while dining on a five course meal that includes caviar, foie gras, and veal tenderloin.
Water Discus Hotel at Kuredhivaru Maldives
This incredible space-age looking resort is currently under construction, and when built, will be the first ever underwater hotel. The disc-shaped resort will feature 22 rooms, all of which will be completely underwater. This means that guests will get the perfect sea view without having to leave their bed. The resort is being developed by a Polish company called Deep Ocean Technologies. When completed, there will be an elevator and stairs right in the center of the underwater disc that will take guests up to a second disc that sits seven meters above the water’s surface. This disc will house a luxury spa and restaurant, as well as other resort amenities. It is something straight out of a James Bond movie, complete with a rooftop swimming pool and helicopter landing pad.
Guests that want to get even closer to the marine life can go diving around the impeccable resort and dive straight into the hotel’s very own airlock compartment. It will even have its own compression chamber. The resort will also have a three-passenger deep-sea submarine.
Niyama Private Islands Maldives
This is the home to the world’s first underwater club; Subsix. The luxurious club is accessible by taking a speedboat to a private island and then descending down a three-tier staircase to the club, which is 20 feet below the waterline. Dance the night away while looking deep down into the Indian Ocean, or book the club for an intimate event. You can even just come for the four course lunch, which runs daily from 12 noon to 2:30pm. Be sure to also check out any of their special events, like the ‘Underwater Glow Party’ or Champagne breakfasts. If you are staying at the resort, you can also book Subsix for your ‘Destination Dining’ experience.
The entire Hurawalhi Maldives is exceptional, but one of the best things about it is the 5.8 Underwater Restaurant. As its name suggests, the restaurant is located 5.8 meters below sea level and is famed for being the world’s tallest all glass-walled underwater restaurant. The extraordinary scenery is matched by the culinary treats that are sure to delight anyone’s taste buds. It is an intimate space that can only accommodate 10 couples, with one sitting at lunch and another at dinner. Reservations are a must for anyone that wants to experience this incredible culinary experience.