Five Island Resorts With Food as Spectacular as the Scuba
For some scuba enthusiasts, a great dive is enough.
But for others who find themselves in stunning locations with diving programs, all that swimming works up an appetite. In the way that some people head to the mountains expressly for après ski dining, there has been an advance of restaurants in prime diving spots whose cooking is a destination in itself. It’s a nice change: In the past, most dining rooms around the loveliest waters featured overwrought cooking that had nothing to do with the location, or were fast food spots at which the best part was cold beer.
No longer. Here are five places where you can experience superb diving and dining, all at once.
The Brando, Tetiaroa, Tahiti
A retreat for Marlon Brando—he encountered the atoll when he was filming Mutiny on the Bounty and then leased it in 1967—the island is now home to just one property: the Brando. The 35 villa, all-inclusive resort, accessible via a 20-minute private plane ride from Tahiti, is exceedingly eco-friendly. (It is allegedly the model for the resort Leonardo DiCaprio is building in Belize). Scuba lessons happen in the lagoon right off the property, with open ocean diving outside the reef. Michelin-starred French chef Guy Martin oversees the restaurants. At the chic Les Mutinés, he offers roast lamb in a watercress crust; the more casual Beachcomber Café specializes in Pacific Ocean seafood such as Tahitian shrimp ravioli. Brando also has a vegan menu that takes advantage of the island’s avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, and melons. From $2,500 per night
Four Seasons Resort Nevis
The “Dive and Dine” program at the Four Seasons Nevis allows you to accompany chefs Jason Adams and Kai Autenrieth on a two-tank dive, during which guests can use a handmade lasso to catch—or try—local spiny lobsters. The reward is a lobster feast on the beach, with a Caribbean-style sofrito marinade made with organic ingredients from the resort's garden. Spiny lobster is also on the menu at the hotel’s Coral Grill, where you can make it part of a surf and turf entrée. And if you’re there on a Thursday, you can take advantage of another local products at the 101 Rums Bar Caribbean rum tasting. From $1950 per night for two
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Grand Cayman
On Grand Cayman, things don’t change fast: The Seafire is the island’s first new property in a decade, with 266 airy rooms and bungalows on Seven Mile beach. The resort is amping up the island’s food scene. At Ave, the coastal-cuisine menu offers everything from cracked conch with lemon aioli to piri piri chicken to grilled shrimp and scallops with smoked tomato sauce. The more ambitious Avecita has a nine-seat chef’s-counter tasting menu that might include young coconut and short rib with cocoa. As for diving, General Manager Steven Andre can take guests to the island’s renowned underwater reefs, as well as to lesser-known spots. (Grand Cayman has 365 dive spots, one for each day of the year to suit extremely enthusiastic guests.) From $549 per night
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas at Baa Atoll
Anantara has four resorts in the Maldives, the most stunning of which is the Kihavah in Baa Atoll, which just happens to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Because of its proximity to Hanifaru Bay, it’s one of the best places to catch the annual, dramatic manta ray migration; if you haven't yet dived, a PADI certification class is offered. You can even go underwater without getting wet at Sea, which also features an underwater wine cellar; the glass-walled dining room features such dishes as just-caught spiny lobster with caramelized vegetables and Japanese Waygu seared simply in garlic oil. The wine list is notable, too: Rewards for a particularly satisfying dive include Burgundies from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. From $800 per night
Hoshinoya Taketomi Island, Okinawa, Japan
Not everyone knows Japan as a destination for divers, but Okinawa, off the southern coast, has spectacular coral reefs, large populations of manta rays and hammerhead sharks, and intriguing underwater ruins to explore. The Hoshinoya resort offers half-day diving tours around those spectacularly rich waters, with plenty of R&R upon your return, much like its sister hotel in Tokyo. The property, whose lodgings are traditional red-tiled private pavilions with giant soaking tubs, features the cooking of chef Tatsuo Nakasu, who creates a French-Okinawan fusion cuisine. On Nakasu's menu: local fish and tiger prawns meunière and Japanese black beef ribs with island shallots and black rice. At breakfast, he offers a serious bento box with local ingredients such as Miya pork. From $600 per night