The management of Bandos Maldives is proud to unveil a new logo that replaces the iconic logo which represented the island for over 30 years. Developed as the second resort to open in the Maldives, Bandos is one of the pioneer resorts in the industry.
The new logo encapsulates the spirit of its predecessor by reflecting the main three elements of the Maldives that is the sun, sea and nature. By embracing the spirit of Bandos Maldives, the aim of replacing the logo reflects the need to change with the times and be versatile.
The change does not only end with the logo, in the past year there have been several refurbishments carried out on the property which include an uplift of the reception, Sea Breeze Cafe, Huvan and the swimming pool to name but a few. In the next year, there will be more changes to the island which include both refurbishment and enhancements in the services offered to customers.
As always, Bandos Maldives strives to be the Island of Hospitality.
The visionary Sun Aqua brand is delighted to announce the opening of its second property, the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef, a stunningly refurbished resort found on the beautiful bite-sized gem of Meedhuffushi Island in the heart of the South Nilandhe Atoll. The property is the second addition to the group after the Sun Aqua Pasikudah which opened earlier in 2015 on Sri Lanka’s North East coast.
Originally opened in 1998 Vilu Reef is proud to take on new colours and sit as the flagship Maldivian property for the Sun Aqua brand which plans to continue its international growth over the coming years. At Sun Aqua resorts, guests can enjoy perfectly relaxing experiences led by simple luxuries, sensational food and warm, dedicated service and as it stayed open to guests during its refurbishment it continues to welcome new and repeater guests that have grown to love the property and island, year after year.
On 28th October 2015, the original date of opening in 1998, the property officially re-launched to a fanfare of celebration with official ceremonies followed by a beachside feast, dancing and live music held throughout the evening.
Property & Accommodation
The Sun Aqua Vilu Reef is easily accessible from Malé and the International Airport via a 40 minute seaplane ride. The Sun Siyam Family Lounge at the seaplane terminal bids an immediate start to the holiday offering refreshments and massages to help settle guests into the Sun Aqua spirit. The property has gone through a complete revival and been refurbished to an extremely high standard creating five different categories of rooms including 15 NEW Sun Aqua Pool Villas. Splashes of colour can be found throughout the property impressing the Sun Aqua brand into the new future of Vilu Reef.
Hidden amongst the foliage are 62 shell shaped bungalows, (14 Beach Villas, 18 Deluxe Beach Villas and 10 Jacuzzi Deluxe Beach Villas, 5 Deluxe Beach Villas with Pool & 15 Sun Aqua Pool Villas) some now with lava-stone pools and whirlpool bathtubs. Rooms are now all 20% larger than before and offer private sundecks, re-fitted bathrooms and day swing beds.
A further 41 Water Villas (20 Reef Villas, 9 Sunset Reef Villas, 6 Aqua Villas with plunge pools, 5 Aqua Suites now with private swimming pools & 1 Grand Reef Suite) complete the accommodation offering with a select few even hiding inviting over-water hammocks. All water villas offer incredible vista views across the Indian Ocean and a true Maldivian experience.
Dine & Imbibe
One of the best parts of any journey is the adventure into exotic flavours. Guests can be selective at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef and explore the spice and warmth of home style Maldivian cuisine, feast on gourmet organic and free-range produce grown on the resorts private Farm Island, sink their teeth into freshly caught, barbequed seafood or dine under the stars with the properties destination private dining experience.
The Aqua is the resorts main restaurant sat over the water, producing freshly prepared western and international cuisine served in a buffet style and is also the resorts beautiful breakfast spot. The Well Done, the island BBQ grill on the beach serves freshly caught fish and seafood as well as being the home to the islands impressive glass enclosed wine cellar, featuring the finest wines from around the globe, creating a sophisticated backdrop for any evening. The resort also features a boutique pizzeria creating handmade pizzas topped with authentic seasoning and fresh ingredients. Destination Dining offers guests the chance to dine in private away from other guests on any spot on the island accompanied by their own private chef and waiter.
Before and after dinner guests may enjoy the chance to visit one of the island’s two bars. The Nautilus is the resorts beach bar offering a cool, rustic hideaway where one of the bartender’s cocktail’s will help liven up a night of dancing or an exhilarating game of crab racing. Positive Energy, set beside the pool serves an array of refreshing juices, cocktails and signature tropical fruit punch either under the cool of the coconut tree or on a lounger with views of the lagoon and pool.
Spa & Leisure
One of the biggest developments at the resort has been the creation of a full holistic spa offering. Now a major focus of the resort the Sun Aqua Spa consists of six private treatment pavilions each with open air flower baths, open showers, a hydrotherapy area and double treatment beds. On offer will also be a salon, manicure/pedicure and a beautiful relaxation area. Encompassing the Five Element Theory; Wood, Fire, Metal, Earth & Water the spa will offer a lengthy menu of Ayurvedic wellness rituals, pampering beauty therapies and massage techniques from around the world. It will also offer a selection of signature therapies to help renew body and mind including a rich scrub of coconut or coffee, a herbal Udavarthanam detox or a relaxing, fragrant flower bath.
In addition to spa the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef also offers plenty of leisure activities to keep everyone entertained, relaxed and enjoying their time on the island. Diving is a big part of the culture in the Maldives in general and at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef in particular. The 5* Gold Palm PADI / SSI Diamond Dive centre brings together an exciting array of diving and snorkelling programmes and a chance to explore the sea life and reefs that litter the warm and extremely clear waters. The property hosts one of the best house reefs in the region, located just 30 meters from the shore, offering snorkelers an unrivalled experience. Watersports are also a big part of island life and guests at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef can enjoy windsurfing, canoeing and sailing as well as a range of motorised watersports such as jetskis and water-skiing.
Review — Since the first guesthouse opened its doors on Maafushi Island close to Malé in 2010, you can now have a tropical budget holiday on a local island in just about every one of the 26 atolls across the Maldivian archipelago. But getting to the remoter atolls involves costly transfers by speedboat and/or domestic plane and you might wonder whether it’s worth the extra expense.
If you want to experience the real Maldives, if you want empty beaches and authentic experiences, the answer is yes, and yes!
Holiday Home Kelaa in far-flung Haa Alifu Atoll makes visits to the Maldives’ remote far north affordable, by arranging discounted domestic air transfers for its guests.
Wheeling our bags from the quiet and modern arrival hall of Hanimadhoo airport to a wooden pier beyond which stretches a turquoise lagoon as far as the eye can see, we feel as if we have stepped into a Photoshopped brochure of an undiscovered tropical paradise few foreigners have come to visit. A speedboat, aptly named Gaze, whisks us to Kelaa Island, and we gaze in silence for 35 minutes at the incredible colour spectrum.
Holiday Home Kelaa guesthouse manager Morsz, who has come to welcome us, apologises for not having been able to meet us at the airport. There really was no need we say, but it is reassuring to be in the hands of such an enthusiastic and caring manager who makes us feel instantly as if we are part of the family, and indeed of the wider island community.
We have arrived just in time for the annual Eid al-Adha holiday that celebrates the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. “It’s a bit like Christmas in your country,” says one man who hasn’t been back to his local island in eight years. “It’s when we get together to visit family and childhood friends to celebrate, relax and eat lots of good food.”
Kelaa is this year’s official Eid island and Holiday Home Kelaa is hosting Vice President Adheeb and his entourage. For us, that means spending the first night of our holiday in the vacant home of a local family who, like so many, no longer live on the island. It adds to the sense of this being a trail blazing adventure into the real Maldives.
For the next three days we are the only white foreigners on Kelaa and the welcoming locals show us a form of genuine hospitality that I have rarely experienced. Before we can even put our bags down, we are invited to our neighbor’s house for sweet black tea and traditional bondibai, followed by an invitation to the home of Nasiya, the cook of Holiday Home Kelaa, for a late morning breakfast of rosewater flavored sweet bokiba and savoury bokiba of grated coconut and tuna.
For the next four days it’s party time on Kelaa. Photographers and cameramen have come from the capital Malé to live broadcast the colourful display of traditional dances, Bodhuberu drumming and energetic Bollywood performances by the local youth group Temperature and cover tunes by the 9-piece band The Olympians from Male’.
The highlights are a waterfight between young and old kids armed with huge fluorescent waterguns and the traditional Kadhamaali parade, of males of all ages dressed up in costumes to represent maali, evil spirits and ghosts, banging on drums and kadhaa (a copper instrument). It’s a bit like Halloween in the tropics.
Once the holidays are over, the island quickly empties, as people return to their jobs in the capital and in the many resorts across the archipelago, and we fall into the daily rhythm of island life and the laid-back pace of Holiday Home Kelaa.
Our spacious room with ensuite is part of a freestanding, self-contained, two-bedroom house that is popular with families; we are lucky and have it to ourselves. It sits on the far side of the large and shady yard that serves as a giant sand-floored outdoor living room. Back and front seating areas mean we almost forget to go to the beach, spending lazy mornings between the shaded privacy of the traditional undhoalige – a thatch covered wooden hut with a bed-sized swing, that used to afford ventilation in pre-a/c days – the hammock and traditional jolie [confirm spelling] chairs in the courtyard.
In addition, there are two adjacent double deluxe rooms with private porches and a shared private courtyard. The up-stairs deluxe suite with its private balcony is the jewel in the crown of Holiday Home Kelaa and becomes the honeymoon ‘penthouse’ of a Spanish-Italian couple and their adorable toddler Ambra, who instantly takes our place as the foreign attraction on the island.
The honeymooners say that they have chosen to ad a domestic flight to their international flight for the privilege of spending their honeymoon on an empty and endless paper white sand beach in an authentic setting. The fact that it will be an alcohol-free honeymoon, does not worry them.
You have chosen well, we say, pointing at the large and shallow lagoon, which is ideal for their toddler and spectacular for romantic sunset watching. The long wide beach, offers several separate patches of ‘bikini beach’, all discreetly hidden amongst shiny lime green shrubbery, complete with deckchairs and beach umbrellas. It makes us all feel as if we are alone on the beach; and as if we are all on honeymoon.
I am surprised to discover that there is plenty to do and see on Kelaa after the excitement of the Eid holidays has finished. Exploring the wide lagoon in one of the guesthouse’s kayaks ensures we work off some of the Eid treats we’ve indulged in. At night we try our hand at billiard, table football and darts, none of which I am good at, but it’s fun all the same. Morsz, ever the enthusiastic host, takes us on a snorkeling trip and when we pass on the sunset fishing trip – we are simply too chilled to move – he finds a freshly caught fish all the same and together we prepare a traditional BBQ over coconut shells.
On bicycles we explore shady coconut groves, ride through fields of watermelons, pumpkin and eggplant and find our way to a mangrove swamp. At night we sit with Morsz and two of his friends on the beach under a sky full of stars, chewing areca nuts and chatting about the differences of our lives. We continue our chat the next day during a spontaneous excursion by boat to Utheemo Island to visit one of the country’s few ancient monuments, the palace of the national hero, Al-Sultan Ghazi Muhammad Bodu Thakurufaanu, who liberated the Maldives Islands from the Portuguese at the end of the 16th century.
We feel so relaxed and at home, we extend our stay and return to Malé on the weekly supply boat that also serves as a weekly passenger ferry. The Arafa Express is cheap and cheerful and as quintessentially Maldivian as it gets. The 18-hour trip across a handful of atolls on a calm ocean, amongst friendly locals many of whom recognize us, is the final highlight of one of the most memorable holidays I can remember.
“May I take your shoes?” asks Xain our personal Mr. Friday. Our sandals disappear into a cotton bag, where they will remain for the duration of our stay. We have arrived by seaplane at Soneva Fushi ‘international airport’, a small pontoon in the UNESCO-listed waters of Baa atoll, and are whisked by speedboat to Kunfunadhoo Island. Stepping ashore barefoot feels like an initiation rite into the Soneva FushiSLOW LIFE ethos.
I have come with my 17-year-old niece, who loves bling bling, make-up, fancy clothes and, like most teenagers, needs her daily dose of wifi. I am curious how she will take to the ‘no news, no shoes’ policy of Soneva Fushi where wifi access is restricted in public areas, phones are discouraged, and understatement is the order of the day. There is an unspoken ‘dress down not up’ code; think classy bohemian – simple linens, ethnic robes, yoga attire, cotton bags stamped with your local bookshop’s logo instead of expensive designer handbags.
Opened 20 years ago by the innovative husband and wife team, Eton-educated Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmstrom, a former Swedish high fashion model, the resort is a flagship of their unique brand. The award-winning resort has pioneered many concepts that now define the Maldivian tourism industry, including barefoot luxury on a castaway island. Today this concept has matured into what they call ‘intelligent luxury’. “Our belief in luxury is about combining the traditional opposites of sustainability and wellness with luxury,” says Sonu. “We believe that these things actually complement each other.”
Sustainable luxury begins by sourcing responsibly grown materials to achieve the resort’s signature Scandinavian-design-meets-the-jungle aesthetic of blond woods, driftwood features and bright colours that bring the natural environment inside. “We avoid teak and favour bamboo and eucalyptus: both fast growing trees that we grow in plantations and that are just as beautiful as rarer materials,” says Sonu.
Driftwood straight off the beach and recycled woods artfully assembled into beautiful functional items, give the resort its Robinson Crusoe look. The mosquito net over my bed is held up by a driftwood frame and promises dreams of being stranded on a desert island; slabs of driftwood combine into a giant mirror frame in our enormous, jungle-clad outdoor bathroom; the toilet paper is dispensed from a miniature bamboo ladder; and the chairs and tables in the main lunch and breakfast buffet area look like they could indeed have been made by Daniel Dafoe’s fictional Mr. Friday.
“Sustainability is in the DNA of Soneva,” says Kevin Christison, curator of Soneva Art and Glass. Soneva’s Glass Studio is the latest edition of Eva and Sonu’s innovations that push the limits of sustainability on a tropical island. “Traditional ways of dealing with glass waste, has a huge carbon footprint,” says Kevin, who is a long-term collaborator working with chief designer Eva. “So we thought, let’s do it at the source, let’s up-cycle, not recycle.” A prototype range of plates, bowls, and glassware is being designed in collaboration with the chef of Fresh in the Garden, to match function with form. It is due to be rolled out officially for Soneva’s big 20th birthday party on November 21st of this year.
Soneva Fushi also employs a full-time Waste to Wealth manager, Gordon Jackson, who takes us on a tour of the Eco Centro recycling station. All of the resort’s food waste is recycled instead of dumped in the deep sea, as is common practice in the Maldives. Some of the compost, which sits heaped into gigantic mounds, is sold to other resorts for landscaping. There are plans to build a regional composting centre, he says, which would allow all of the resorts in the atoll to produce their own compost instead of buying it from Sri Lanka.
Getting rid of plastic bottles seven years ago, in favour of water bottled on-site (sparkling and still), now practiced by an increasing number of resorts throughout the Maldives, was a no brainer says, Gordon. He points to a patch of soil baking in the hot midday sun, where the resort’s second batch of solar panels – the first and biggest of its kind in the Maldives at the time was installed in 2009 – is about to be installed, to further reduce its reliance on diesel energy consumption. Another no brainer, it would seem.
Gordon leaves us at the Organic Vegetable Garden, one of two gardens where much of the resort’s fresh produce is grown. Lunch is a delicious sampling prepared by a Sri Lankan chef in a pop-up restaurant, right there in the garden. Our favourites are the eggplant and pumpkin curries and the simple fresh green garden salad, which actually tastes as a homegrown salad should.
On our way back to our villa we get lost on the 1.4 km long island, which is large by Maldivian standards, and come out at the construction site of the new Children’s Den. More like a resort within a resort exclusively for kids, this 5-star adventure wonderland enveloped in the jungle makes me want to be a kid again.
And that seems to be the point of this resort. Roaming barefoot through tangled jungle on old-fashioned black bikes, that look like they too have been recycled, takes me back to the carefree days of my childhood.
My niece also becomes an instant Soneva devotee; the room full of homemade chocolates and the selection of 30 daily changing icecreams – available all day until late on a help yourself basis – will seduce any teenager. I watch her become a little child again, kneeling down to pet a black and white bunny rabbit – there are a dozen or so roaming wild near the vegetable gardens.
Crossing the suspended wooden bridge swaying above the treetops to reach Fresh in the Garden, an exquisite treehouse-like restaurant, we shriek like excited kids. The composting toilet in the treetops, complete with the signature driftwood aesthetic and 180-degree views of the surrounding jungle, should not be missed.
Dinner under the stars above the treetops is followed by stargazing at the observatory, which is reached via another wooden bridge above the treetops. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has looked through this same telescope on his visit, Shameem the in-house astronomer proudly points out. Like many long-term employees here, this local Maldivian speaks with more than a hint of Sonu’s Eton accent.
We cycle back to our villa through the jungle. Earlier in the day we’d found the wifi button and flat screen– discreetly hidden in a mock travelling trunk – but we decide to indulge our Robinson Crusoe fantasy and switch off everything, including the air conditioner. Opening up all the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows feel like our massive coconut-wood beds sit right inside the thick jungle. We fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean, cooled by the natural breeze.
At Soneva Fushi the Robinson Crusoe fantasy is paired with an extraordinary display of high-quality foods and wines. The breakfast the next morning is the best I’ve ever seen or tasted (because as hard as I try, I can’t taste all of it). The charcuterie and cheese room takes me from castaway island to Italy and France; the extensive menu of fresh juices reminds me to combine luxury with health, and the extensive coffee menu includes Eva’s Special Cappuccino. A short black with a large hood of frothed milk, it is the cup of coffee I have tried and failed to order countless times anywhere I go. This resort truly speaks my language.
We never get to meet the couple behind the Soneva ethos, who call this island home. Eva is in residence, but very busy with the Children’s Den, and Sonu left the week before, but he promptly answers my questions via email.
“Luxury is what is rare to us,” he says. “Our theory is that a new luxury is emerging based on what is now missing in everyday life: nature, sustainability, and good health.” We couldn’t agree more.
The 271 villas comprise of 80 Sunrise Villas, 71 Sunset Beach Villas and 120 Jacuzzi Villas from sizes of 76sqm – 97sqm. Three restaurants, Kilhi, Meera, and Dhoni is served by the culinary team lead by Executive Chef Kampa. The restaurants offers International Cuisines, from local Maldivian delights, to Sri Lankan and French Cuisines. A well-equipped fitness gym is available 24 hours a day for the fitness enthusiasts who prefer exercising in the comforts of an air-conditioned environment.
The Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed who graced the ceremony held in Malé for the rebranding, said that this resort will open more job opportunities especially for the people of Addu City. Addressing the ceremony Chairman of Crescendas Hospitality Management Lawrence Leow announced plans for increasing the number of beds at Canareef Resort Maldives by introducing over water bungalows.
As an opening promotion Canareef Resort Maldives is offering a very low price of US$65 per room per night including breakfast for two, excluding tax and service charge. The resort offers from Dolphin Cruises to Manta Ray dives and the largest World War II shipwreck, ‘The British Loyalty’, to local Island Tours in Hulhumeedhoo for local cultural experiences. The Equator Crossing to the resort would be one of the key highlights of the domestic flight to the resort. All guests to the Island via domestic flight will receive a personalised Equator Crossing Certificate from the Captain of the airplane.
Dive into Crystal Clear Waters at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives
All other diving experiences will pale in comparison to that of diving in the Maldives. ‘Dive’ is in the name for Maldives for a reason. The underwater playground is filled with adventure – tropical fish, coral and even a shipwreck just off the coast of Centara Grand Island Maldives can be explored.
Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives focuses on reducing their impact on the environment in every part of their operations. As part of Centara’s core values, sustainable initiatives include the marine environment. Through Green Fins Project, the world’s first and only set of environmental standards for scuba diving and snorkeling centres, Centara Grand Island Maldives is able to better facilitate diving experiences for guests while protecting the precious marine life and ecosystem.
Centara Grand Island Maldives has additional innovative initiatives such as a reef growing programme, which was designed to rehabilitate parts of the reef that have stopped growing and promote the growth of new coral.
Recently, Centara Grand Island Maldives and Best Dives Maldives Dive Centre were honored to be recognized as one of the Green Fins Top Ten Dive/Snorkel Centres, among other resorts from all over the world. This recognition further encourages the team at Centara Grand Island Maldives to continue to work hard to preserve the natural beauty that surrounds them.
The PADI certified Best Dives and Water Sport Centre at the resort provides services for everyone, a starter or a pro. Several other water sport activities such as catamaran, snorkeling and wind surfing lessons are available and are free-of-charge. Wake-boarding, kite surfing, banana boating and para-sailing are also offered.
Family-friendly Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll, about 25 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport, or 15 minutes by speedboat from the domestic Maamigili Airport.
Surrounded by a glorious white sandy beach, it is the only resort in the Maldives designed in a colonial style, with whitewashed timber buildings and meandering boardwalks. Surrounded by palm-fringed beach and a shimmering lagoon allows for an escape on and off land. Just steps down from the terrace in a newly renovated Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, dive into the ocean or enjoy the 12-square-metre private plunge pool with views across the ocean. The Deluxe Family Water Villas offer an added level of comfort for families with a children’s sleeping area with bunk beds and entertainment equipment along with secured access to the terrace for safety of the little ones.
Receive a 20% discount when making diving arrangements at the time of booking. For more information please click here or contact [email protected].
The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, which opened 1 August, has announced wedding, honeymoon, and romance packages to match the splendour of the resort’s romantic setting in the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the south of the Maldives.
For couples about to be married, a Deluxe Wedding Package at US$3200 (net), includes a six-course dinner with champagne, in-villa breakfast the morning after the wedding, a Navasana Spa treatment for couples and romantic turndown service. A US$2500 package is also available.
All weddings on the romantic coral-fringed island include a dedicated wedding coordinator, MC or priest, exclusive wedding venue, a ring and vow exchange ceremony, and a guarantee that no other wedding will be taking place on the island that day.
In addition, all wedding couples will receive guaranteed early check-in, late check-out, a wedding cake, a palm arch or white-draped pavilion, a bottle of champagne, local Maldivian musician performance, and a symbolic wedding certificate*.
Honeymoon and anniversary couples have a choice of two value-added packages.
The Romancing Package (US$1430 net per couple) includes a bottle of sparkling wine, one in-villa breakfast, a candle-lit dinner on the beach, an in-villa Navasana Sweet Dream (30-minute bath and 60-minute body massage), a 60-minute body scrub or body wrap, a 60-minute facial treatment or 60-minute after-sun soother, plus 15% off a la carte spa treatments.
A Pampering Package (US$940 per couple) includes a bottle of sparking wine, an in-villa dinner, a bath ritual decoration with candles and rose petals, romantic bed decoration, a 60-minute aromatic massage and a 120-minute romantic spa ritual comprising 90 minutes of aromatic massage and 30 minutes floral milky bath.
“The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort is made for romance,” says the resort’s General Manager, Mr Pascal Billon. “Whether on the beach or over the water, all of our magnificently spacious villas have private pools. Couples can also take a speedboat to a choice of remote private islands for the ultimate romantic experience.”
Encounters with Manta Rays and Anantara Kihavah Villas‘ house reef ‘The Golden Wall’ are two lifetime experiences snorkellers of every ability shouldn’t miss out on. The manta ray is one of the most mysterious and largest fish in the ocean with wingspans of up to 5 metres or more and Anantara Kihavah Villas offers your best opportunity to encounter these amazing creatures in their natural annual migration to The Maldives.
“This year’s migration to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is particularly exciting,” says Joseph Lassus, Anantara Kihavah Villas resident Marine Biologist. “According to reports from the Manta Trust research team based in Baa Atoll, when the mantas arrived in May this year, there were more sightings of pregnant mantas than in the last 10 years. We are noticing this as well with the mothers getting bigger as the season progresses. With a pregnancy term of 12 – 13 months, this means that next year we can expect to see a lot of baby mantas in Hanifaru Bay. Already on a recent snorkeling trip we came across a newborn pup, which is really quite rare to see, roughly measuring 1.2 metres from wing-tip to wing-tip.”
Curious, friendly and, unlike stingrays or eagle rays, mantas do not have stingers. They feed on a variety of plankton, which accounts for their large, gaping mouths. Hanifaru Bay is situated in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO marine protected biosphere covering an area of 303 hectares. From May to November each year, huge amounts of krill and plankton here attract all kinds of marine life, making it the world’s largest natural manta ray feeding destination.
Being the best place to spot manta rays in the Maldives, access to Hanifaru Bay is regulated by park rangers, who have close contact with Elements water sports centre at Anantara Kihavah Villas, giving our guides information on sightings before they head out on the 20 minute boat ride to the protected area. With no previous snorkelling experience required, tours depart 3-4 times a week from Anantara Kihavah Villas. Our tour guides scout the spots where mantas frequent, usually in Hanifaru Bay or in nearby currents where plankton and krill swim. Once in the water, snorkellers are then treated to an amazing underwater ballet whereby giant mantas glide and somersault in mesmerizing patterns. The mantas often swim within centimetres of snorkellers, always managing to avoid contact at the last second. On any given day visitors to Hanifaru Bay can see anywhere from a couple of mantas to more than a forty depending on plankton levels. Getting this close to these majestic creatures is truly an experience of a lifetime.
At Anantara Kihavah Villas itself, the house reef has become known by the local divers as ‘The Golden Wall’. Joseph explains, “The beauty of this dive site results from the incredible amount of sedentary life forms inhabiting the wall, completely covering its steep surface, edges and overhangs. This provides an immense variety of habitat to many local species of fish, lobsters, sea stars etc. The area is clearly dominated by widespread colonies of soft corals, these being of many different species displaying a huge range of colours, such as the orange, magenta or mauve spiky soft corals and cauliflower soft corals. To have this quite literally on our doorstep means an amazing dive no matter what the conditions are. Among all the bright colours displayed, the particular presence of yellow and golden coloured variations make it clear to any diver why this reef is best called The Golden Wall and a “must dive” reef when in the Maldives.”
Anantara Kihavah Villas provides a stylish haven just 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé. The Ocean Discovery Package for two persons is bookable on Anantara.com and includes five nights’ accommodation in a Beach Pool Villa or Over Water Pool Villa, daily buffet breakfast, and both guests enjoy a Dolphin Discovery excursion, a Turtle Quest or Manta Ray Snorkelling excursion, a choice of one Scuba Dive or one Scuba review course, a 30 minute Seabob water sport experience and a local island visit.
Arena Beach Maldives is located in Maafushi island in South Malé Atoll (Kaafu Atoll) Maldives. Arena Beach is conveniently situated right across the beachfront giving guests a spectacular view of the northern seashore and blue lagoons of the island.
Arena Beach Maldives offers deluxe and superior room standards. All rooms are equipped with 24-hour complimentary tea/coffee and water, in-room safe, mini bar and wireless broadband internet. The hotel also provides laundry service.
Arena Beach Maldives also provides a wide variety of daily excursions and day trips.These excursions include scuba diving, snorkelling, night fishing, sand bank picnics, dolphin cruise, manta watching, whale shark watching, picnic island trips and day trips to resorts.