Nine of the Most Extreme Dining Experiences Money Can Buy

A bucket list of culinary experiences for those who love food and adventure in equal measure. Usually, being an adventurous eater means ordering offal, snakes, and game meats—or in Beijing, scorpion on a stick. But at these 10 spots, the adrenaline factor has nothing to do with what’s on the menu. When it comes to dining in a crane above the Acropolis or in the spray of a waterfall in the Philippines, you’ll need your sense of adventure just to get to the table. Next time you’re craving an experience that’ll make the hairs on your neck stand up, consider making a reservation …

… In the Magma Chamber of a Volcano in Iceland

The Thrihnukagigur Volcano, in the Southern Peninsula of Iceland, might be dormant, but setting up for dinner in its cavernous magma chamber is still a thrill. According to the guides at Jacada Travel, one bespoke operator that can coordinate the experience, the space is large enough to hold three full-sized basketball courts or the Statue of Liberty tilted on her side. But it’ll be all yours—for a meal entirely of your design.

… Underwater in the Maldives

How about sharks for dining companions? That’s what you’ll get at Ithaa, the underwater restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. On the menu are such dishes as saffron champagne risotto, mascarpone and truffle dumplings, and lobster carpaccio, among other luxe-leaning dishes.

… In the Middle of an Oyster Farm in Tasmania

Anyone can book a tour of the Freycinet Marine Farm, which harvests Pacific oysters in the Tasman Sea. But stay at Tasmania’s most luxurious hotel, Saffire Freycinet, and you’ll be invited to a table to stand knee-deep as a culinary guide shucks the freshest bivalves you’ve ever tasted—pulled straight from the water and set on your plate. (Here’s how we’d recommend you spend the rest of your time in Tasmania.)

… In a Treehouse in the Seychelles

Don’t be fooled by the rustic connotation of dining in a treehouse—this isn’t what you remember from childhood. Luxury outfitter Epic Road will coordinate a treehouse dinner at Fregate Island in the Seychelles that starts in the property’s garden; there, you can pick your favorite ingredients with the hotel’s chef de cuisine. He can whip them up for you or show you the ropes in the kitchen before you climb a spiral staircase to your ultimate dining destination: in a towering banyan tree.

… In a Limestone Cave in Italy

Back in the 1700s, Italian nobility would dress up up to dine cliffside at the Summer Cave at Puglia’s Grotta Palazzese, now a tried-and-true spot on the global tourist map for its postcard-perfect views. Here, the catch of the day comes with a side of sea spray from the Adriatic below. Be prepared to arrive early: You’ll have to maneuver through ascending and descending cobblestone stairways just to reach the hostess stand.

… In a Crane Over the Acropolis

Elevated dining is a literal term for Dinner in the Sky, which sets up sky-high meals for up to 22 diners in 40 cities around the globe. Its most jaw-dropping location might be above the Acropolis, where adrenaline junkies are served a five-course meal on a crane hoisted 50 meters (about 160 feet) in the air. Among this summer’s worldwide events: dinner above the Mexican ruins at Teotihuacán, on the coast of St. Tropez, and hanging precipitously over downtown Los Angeles.

… In the Shadow of Angkor Wat

Dining at Angkor Wat may actually be less an adventure than visiting the iconic ruins at any other time; without crowds, the landmark and its surrounding temples are dreamy and serene. Travelers with Jacada can access the grounds past the site’s normal operating hours for a private Khmer-style dinner under a tent on the temple grounds. Blessings from a Buddhist monk are included before the first course, natch.

… On a Floating Boulder in Zanzibar

Time it just right and you can walk to the Rock, an aptly-named spot that juts 22 feet above the Indian Ocean. But once the tide rises, you’ll have to take a boat to and from this floating restaurant off the coast of Zanzibar. The menu, predictably, focuses on whatever can be caught in the surrounding waters (octopus, prawns, lobster). But the main thing not to miss is a sundowner on the deck—be it a classic Negroni or a more locally inspired Dawa, made with Konyagi (a citrus-y East African spirit), honey, and tonic.

… Under a Waterfall in the Philippines

Villa Escudero is a lovely resort on a 130-year-old coconut plantation in the Philippines, two hours southeast of Manila. But it’s most famous as a place to rest your head after a once-in-a-lifetime meal at the Labassin Waterfall Restaurant across the way. Here, bamboo tables sit so close to the foot of a man-made waterfall that shoes are absolutely not encouraged. (The waterfall was built to mitigate runoff from a nearby dam.) Don’t bother with a poncho, either—getting wet is half the fun. | 2016
Nikki Ekstein