Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 11 – Dining Under the Sea

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Daraius and I used our miles and points to have a fabulous honeymoon in Bora Bora.

We heard that the Maldives Islands rivaled the beauty and splendor of Bora Bora, so we planned a trip to decide for ourselves!

The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts, and most resorts have their own private island.  There are beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water.  The islands also have fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving!

We booked 5 nights using Hilton points at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male, the capital of the Maldives.  We booked this trip to make the most of our Hilton points before the Hilton devaluation last year.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Dining With the Fish Was an Unforgettable Experience!

Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too Index:

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, just south of India.  Getting to the Maldives is a long journey, but the trip is definitely worth it!  Daraius and I have been to many beach destinations such as Bora BoraMaui, and Kauai on miles and points, but the Maldives tops them all!

Traveling to the Maldives is also very expensive, but you can do it for much less than the retail cost!  This trip would have cost us ~$27,000, but we only paid ~$4,300!! These series of posts will show you how you can also take a trip to the Maldives on miles and points!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Daraius and I had tried to save money at the Conrad by eating a big breakfast, light lunch, and a moderate dinner.  We actually ended up spending only ~$125 a day for all 5 of us to eat (have a big breakfast as late as possible which was free because of our Hilton Gold status, skip lunch, and have bar food for dinner!), which was pretty good considering that 1 meal goes for ~$30 a person and up.

Since we had saved money on our other meals, we decided to have 1 splurge meal at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant.  We made lunch reservations, and we ate so much food at lunch that it filled us up through dinner.  The restaurant is located off the main island.

This wasn’t cheap and was ~$200 per person.  Dinner is even more expensive at $300+!

You can save even more money by having just a cocktail (~$90) at the restaurant.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Ithaa Was the World’s 1st Underwater Restaurant

When you enter, there is a small waiting area.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Relax Here While You Wait for Your Table

The table was very pretty with freshly cut flowers!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Table in the Waiting Area Had a Unique Design, It Looked Like Flowers Floating on Water

As we were waiting, we took a few pictures.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Ready for Our Underwater Dining Experience!

We were all so excited for our meal!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Dining at Ithaa Was Our Big Splurge on the Trip

You have to take your shoes off to help minimize noise in the restaurant.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Leave Your Shoes at the Door

We then walked down a small spiral staircase and into the restaurant.  The restaurant only had 8 to 10 tables.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

We Almost Had the Entire Restaurant to Ourselves

There was only 1 other family eating with us.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Dining 16 Feet Below Sea Level

There was a lot of coral all around.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Coral Was So Colorful!

We saw all kinds of fish, including zebra fish.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

A Zebra Fish Stopped by to Say Hello

Big fish…

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

I Called This One “Grumpy Fish” Because of the Mean Look on Its Face

…little fish…

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

I Loved Its Long Pointy Nose

…and schools of yellow fish.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Schools of Neon Yellow Fish Also Swam by to See What We Were Having for Lunch

After admiring the fish for a while, we were treated to our 1st course, split pea soup.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

This Was My Favorite Part of the Meal!

The soup was delicious!  In between courses, we took in the fantastic views.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Every Direction You Looked There Was Something Interesting to See

We were all so excited!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Ithaa Was Rated “The Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World” by the New York Daily News in 2014

Our 2nd course was quail and mushroom ragout.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Quail and Mushroom Ragout Was Tasty

It was going to be scallops but they substituted with quail due to my fish allergy.  Our 3rd course, or the main course, was either chicken with a peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes, and vegetables or lamb.  I chose the chicken…

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

An All-American Meal: Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Broccoli. Yum!

and Daraius had the lamb.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Portions Look Small but Were Very Filling

For dessert, we had a chocolate mousse cake and white & dark heart shaped chocolates.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Last but Not Least: Chocolate Mousse Cake

It was a really cool restaurant and I am glad we went.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

What’s Daraius’ Favorite Time of the Day?  Dessert Time!

Our parents really enjoyed it!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

We All Had Water With Our Meal Because Drinks Were Pricey

Not long after they brought out lunch, the servers brought something else out…

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant


It was a cake that said “Congratulations!”

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Congratulations on Your Graduation!

No, no…I’m not pregnant…. I just finished my MBA!  Neither of my parents finished college, so this was a big achievement for me and my family.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

A 1st Generation College Graduate Celebrating Her MBA!

It was so sweet of Daraius to surprise me!

After lunch, we were able to take lots of pictures in the restaurant because the other family dining with us had left.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

It Was Time to Say Goodbye to the Fish

My mom and Mark could not have been happier…

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

We Were Glad We Splurged on This Meal

I was glad we had made the reservation, even though it was expensive at $195 per person plus service charges.

Daraius:  I much preferred the food at Villa Mahana in Bora Bora as a memorable splurge meal.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Thanks Daraius for Such a Thoughtful Treat!

How You Can Do It Too!

Our favorite way to get to the Maldives from the US is with American Airlines miles on Etihad or Qatar Air.

If you’re willing to book separate award tickets (i.e. 1 award ticket from the US to Hong Kong & another from Hong Kong to the Maldives), you could even fly on Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Air using American Airlines miles to the Maldives.  

Here are ways to get lots of American Airlines miles.  And here’s my series on using American Airlines miles.  It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you.

You can also use Alaska Airlines miles on Emirates or Cathay Pacific. And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

We used United Airlines miles because we wanted to go to India first.  But folks who only want to fly from the US to the Maldives would likely use American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles.

1.   Using American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

A flight from the US to the Maldives costs:

  • 45,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 67,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 90,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

You can use American Airlines to fly many different ways to the Maldives, including on Etihad, Sri Lankan, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airways.  If you want to book on Etihad, first find the available flights on the Etihad website and then call American Airlines to reserve the tickets.  See this step-by-step guide for more information.

2.   Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Link:   Alaska Airlines partner award chart to Middle East

From the US to the Maldives you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Emirates)
  • 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Cathay Pacific)
  • 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 72,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Emirates)
  • 90,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Emirates)

You can book Emirates flights on the Alaska Air website, except for Cathay Pacific, which has to be reserved by calling Alaska Airlines customer service.  See this post for more ways on using Alaska Air miles to get to the Maldives.

And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

3.   Using United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines award chart

To fly from the US to India, you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 70,000+ United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Here’s a post on how to use United Airlines miles.

And here’s how you can get the airline miles and hotel points for your trip to the Maldives!

Bottom Line

The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant has fantastic views of Maldivian ocean life.

Paying ~$250 per person after fees was expensive, but it was worth it to treat our parents.  We had such a big lunch that it also filled us up for dinner.  It was a very unique experience and we are glad we did it.

Our parents weren’t big on snorkeling, so this gave them the chance to see the underwater life.  However, if we return to the Maldives I don’t think we would do it again.  You can find much better views by just swimming out to the reef with your snorkeling gear.

The food was good, but not that much better than the bar menu at the Rangali Bar.  And I still preferred my BBQ Chicken Quesadilla to the main course I had at Ithaa!

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9 responses to “Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 11 – Dining Under the Sea

  1. Congratulations on your MBA!!!

    The restaurant looks lovely.

  2. Emily, congratulations on your MBA!

    One other thing: $90 for a cocktail? For that price, it should feature an ice cube retrieved by space probe from a comet somewhere in the Oort Cloud (LOL)! The only time I’ve paid that price for liquor, it was Hennessey Paradis cognac at Fleur in Mandalay Bay in Vegas. I’m all for splurging, but I don’t think I could convince myself I’d been anything but ripped off when it comes to dining in that resort.

  3. $27,000 vacation? Errr….yeah…. Once I bought a Turkish carpet for $5,000. The guy told me it was worth $20,000 so I saved $15,000, right?

    Your blog has some great information but sometimes you are straight up lying… it reminds me of one of those late-night infomercials

  4. @Cogswell–Did you skip the very first post i this series? It outlines the retail cost of each aspect of the trip and what Darius and Emily actually paid.

    The numbers aren’t made up–like your carpet salesman’s numbers. They flew business class to India and stayed at an expensive resort. It’s EXPENSIVE if you are paying cash for a trip like that.

  5. Emily,
    Your MBA graduation really touched me. My daughter, too, is the first college graduate in our family, and she also got her masters. We are so proud of her for being the first on either side of our families – hopefully the first of many!

    Congratulations Emily. What a way to celebrate!

  6. Congrats, Emily! Well done…

  7. Really nice series. Congrats on your MBA Emily! Now you both got MBAs, right?

    We went last February to the Conrad (on points obviously), way in with pre devaluation United on Austrian and Turkish, way back on Emirates to Colombo, and then Cathay on business and First. Best week of our lives! The Conrad Maldives was just amazing, Spa, restaurants, the mantas at the jetti, the scuba diving and snorkeling! BTW I highly encourage anyone going there to try scuba it is unbelievable both the life and the royal treatment one gets!

    Regarding Ithaa, we decided just for the cocktails for $90++ and we thought it was enough. The sparkling wine, the cocktails and the about 1 hour there was enough for us who like scuba and snorkeling, but for those who are not into the sub-acquatic life, it might be interesting to stay longer. Yes, $90 or the dinner is expensive, but you are in a underwater restaurant surrounded by glass!

  8. Thanks everyone for your well wishes! Continuing my education will be a lifelong journey! 🙂

  9. wow what a place to eat dinner under the sea