It’s like a scene from a Bond movie. “Am I dreaming?” Grace asks.
A short speedboat ride from Per Aquum Niyama brought us to the Edge, a restaurant half a kilometre offshore. A dramatic three-tier staircase leads to Subsix, where we sit in anemone chairs beneath a ceiling of shells. This is subaquatic dining at its finest, with bottles of Bordeaux about $5000.
“We’ll have the Pomerol, please,” Taj asks, with a wink. “Just mineral water,” I add, shooting him “the look”. This ultra-modern bar – with swooping curves, like a clam – was built above ground then sunk onto the seabed. It’s the world’s only underwater nightclub, with “glow parties” twice a week. The view is pure theatre, with moray eels snaking past colourful coral, and Moorish idols, a distinctive looking fish, trailing delicate dorsals.
Over an amuse-guele of truffled mushroom soup, and a ballotine of fish with star anise foam (plus penne pasta and tomato soup for the kids) we decide this is the best family resort in the region.
At the moment it’s accessible only by seaplane, although an airport is about to open on a nearby island. “When we land on the water, do we have to get wet?” Grace asks our host Tha’ae in the welcome lounge at Male airport. “And are there sharks?” Taj asks her colleague, Shagy. “All the sharks here are vegetarian,” Shagy laughs, like his namesake on Scooby Doo.
The hour-long flight spans hundreds of islands in the Maldives archipelago. Atolls appear as zygotes, breeding across the ocean. Someone has spilled a cocktail of blue curacao, with droplets of turquoise, cerise and cyan.
Niyama comprises two interconnected islands, Chill and Play. It’s surreally stunning, with tropical gardens across the interior, and a fringe of icing-white sand.
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