The 90 villa, all adult Hurawalhi Island Resort is home to the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant. This engineering masterpiece was built in New Zealand.

The 5 star eco-friendly Hurawalhi Island Resort in the Maldives boasts the world’s largest all glass underwater dining venue. Named 5.8 because that is the number of metres it is underwater, the interior of the submerged restaurant has been designed for intimate conversations so accommodates no more than 10 couples for lunch or dinner. The spectacular restaurant has a curved glass roof, glass sides and a mostly glass floor, so diners are surrounded by the sea.


The 415 tonne structure, the biggest of its type in the world took just 19 days to arrive from New Zealand at its new home in the Indian Ocean, where it was carefully positioned on piles eight metres below the surface. The work had to be carried out with extreme care because the island is surrounded by coral reefs and the engineers did not want to damage them.

Positioning Restaurant Module (


Usually, large nations such as Korea, China, Japan and even Germany and France, have developed and built large, innovative engineering projects. Therefore, it is newsworthy when a modestly sized engineering company in a small city, with a population of just 56,000 in isolated New Zealand, should be responsible for creating this engineering feat. Fitzroy Engineering shipped its unique creation to the island of Hurawalhi in early March 2016.

“Having the appropriate site is critical for projects such as this – water depth and clarity, sea floor conditions, tides, average wave heights, frequency and severity of storms are taken into account.” Mark Arnold, Fitzroy Engineering’s Development & Marketing Manager told the media when the restaurant opened last December. Fitzroy Engineering is primarily a gas and oil equipment service provider, designing, constructing and maintaining heavy equipment, so to create and build an underwater capsule must have been outside their comfort zone. However, as recently proven with the America’s Cup win, New Zealanders can create ground breaking designs in a number of fields. The innovative design and equipment that created the New Zealand America’s Cup boat that proved to be the fastest in the world, showed the world that Kiwi ingenuity is a force to be reckoned with.


Eating in the exotic venue in the Maldives isn’t cheap. The six-course ‘sprinkled with romance’ dinner in the sunken eatery is around $380, while stopping in for lunch costs around $200.

A Canadian tourist who had a meal at the underwater restaurant commented on her Facebook page: “It seemed strange gazing at the fish swimming around me while I was eating one. It made me think about what I was doing.”

There are 10 other restaurants around the world with living fish. Not all are actually underwater but have large aquariums surrounding the dining areas. The most impressive ones can be found in Nashville, Dubai, Eilat (Israel) and Berlin, The Cargo Hold Restaurant in Durban, South Africa is located at the stern of an old ship incorporating an aquarium. Those wanting an underwater drink can pop into the submarine marketed as the Guinness Deep Sea Bar off the coast of Norway. However, the Maldives offers four genuine underwater restaurants including the one mention in this blog. It is obviously here that hotel and resort developers have truly utilized the ocean as part of a dining experience. It’s also thanks to kiwi expertise that the Maldives now boasts the world’s largest underwater restaurant.


I mentioned at the start of this blog that large industrial nations were beaten by a small Kiwi company to build the Hurawalhi Resort undersea restaurant. This is not so strange when you consider another New Zealand first was the underwater travelator at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland. The 110 metre (360 feet) underwater tunnel allows visitors to experience fish, including sharks, to swim beside and above them. I have stood on the travelator and experienced this amazing invention. Being totally surrounded by living fish really is a rather special experience. I gazed up wide eyed as the giant skate that was there at the time glided slowly over my head. I was also able to eyeball the shark that also swam gracefully past me. For many years, this was the only underwater tunnel of its kind in the world. However, today, there are a number of copies in cities from Singapore and Sydney to Bristol and various American cities.

Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater Tunnel (

Being a small island nation surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, it is no surprise that Kiwis have embraced the sea and found ways to stay close to its inhabitants.

Ceidrik Heward

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