As an island nation, it will come as no surprise that fresh seafood is a staple of Maldivian cuisine – often served with rice and coconut – and thanks to influences from India and Sri Lanka, many dishes come packed with heat and spice
You’ll find a tempting array of restaurants scattered across the Maldives and its resorts, all of which serve a fusion of traditional Maldivian cuisine and popular European dishes. In this guide we’ve picked out our must-try local dishes as well as our favourite restaurants across the archipelago.
What to eat in the Maldives
If we had to describe Maldivian cuisine in three words, it would be flavoursome, aromatic and comforting.
Catch of the day, freshly cracked coconut and locally grown herbs are always on the menu, creating the foundations for creative dishes that you’ll want to try again and again. Here, we've featured just a few you simply must sample while on your holiday in the Maldives.
So, what's for breakfast? Well, mas huni is by far the most popular choice. This famous breakfast salad features shredded smoked tuna, fresh coconut, chilli and plenty of seasoning to create a plate full of flavour. Mas huni is typically served with chapati bread to fill you up, ready for whatever you have planned that day.
Garudhiya is an aromatic fish soup made using fresh tuna, chilli, onions and lime, served with a steaming side of fluffy rice. Those who love nothing more than tucking into fresh seafood and testing their limits with spice are sure to fall in love with this popular evening meal. It’s a dish favoured by Maldivians and we think if it's good enough for the local people to eat regularly it's something you have to try during your stay.
Curry, flavoured with herbs and spices, is considered to be a signature dish in the Maldives with a wide variety to choose from, so you're sure to find something that appeals to your taste buds. Carnivores will want to opt for seafood or chicken variations, while vegetarian options include eggplant, tora or pumpkin.
Seasoned with a number of spices and herbs, kulhi boakibaa is a Maldivian take on fish cakes. But these definitely aren't your usual chip shop variety. Served as an evening snack or as an accompaniment to rice, sweet potato or fried yams, kulhi boakibaa combines smoked tuna with ginger, curry leaves, coconut, chilli and turmeric. We're confident that you've never tasted anything quite like it!
Where to eat in the Maldives
Whether you’re looking for traditional Maldivian cuisine or a fusion of flavours, there’s an unlimited choice when it comes to dining in this island nation. Here are our picks of the very best island resort restaurants in the Maldives.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Location: Rangali Island
Based at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, this strikingly beautiful restaurant is situated five metres below the ocean’s surface. Immerse yourself in a magical underwater world as you sample everything from quails eggs and champagne risotto to caviar and fruit sorbet.
Location: Reethi Rah
This Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant is located at the stunning One&Only Reethi Rah and is renowned for paying close attention to detail. Modern sushi dishes come in tapas-sized portions and are served alongside unique sake cocktails. The resort has its own Chef’s Garden, along with regular deliveries from around the world – a reassuring guarantee that the ingredients are fresh and expertly-selected.
Jing is Constance Halaveli’s, overwater restaurant. Take a tour of the wine cellar before enjoying a glass or two on the terrace as the sun goes down. Then, enjoy Asian-inspired dishes fused with European influences from a menu created by executive chef Jordi Vilas, who has done stints in some of Europe’s leading Michelin-starred restaurants, including the legendary El Bulli in Spain.
This overwater Thai restaurant is located in the serene Dusit Thani Maldives resort. Enjoy the great service and transfixing vistas while sampling a heavenly selection of dishes. Benjarong serves up everything from specialist lobster dishes and spicy stir-fries to fragrant salads and aromatic soups.
Take a look at our guide on where to stay in the Maldives, with a dedicated foodies section featuring more inspiration for those looking for tasty cuisine during their stay.
Alcohol in the Maldives
It’s important to note that, as the Maldives is a Muslim country, alcohol is not allowed to be consumed in many areas. There are no bars or nightclubs in the Maldives, nor will you be able to bring alcohol with you in your suitcase. All bags are screened at the airport and if you’re found to be bringing alcohol into the country, you may be fined.
But if you love sipping on a couple of cocktails as the sun sets, don't worry! You'll still be able to purchase and drink alcohol in your chosen resort. So, while you won’t be able to go bar hopping, you can always enjoy a drink or two while relaxing beside the pool.
One of the most popular cocktails typically served in resorts is the 'Maldivian Lady', which pairs white rum with apricot brandy, grenadine, pineapple juice and ice. Alternatively, ask for the Biyadhoo Special and you’ll be served a delicious combination of vodka, pineapple juice and melon liqueur.
Feeling hungry? Why not start planning your next getaway? You’ll find a number of luxurious resorts in the Maldives here at Best at Travel, all of which are hand-selected by our experts or talk to our team today to create a holiday tailored to you.