Surf suit. Check
Go Pro. Check
Flip flops. Check
It is a bright and breezy morning in India, and my husband and I are packing our bags for an “active holiday” at a pristine resort—located on the untamed and secluded Dhaalu Atoll in the Maldives. We are one of those couples who prefer bonding over a diving session or a run on the beach rather than a quiet candle-lit meal. Our insatiable desire to partner up for outdoor activities and experience the adrenaline rush together had us spending four nights at this stylish Maldivian lifestyle resort that easily stands out in the crowd of classic honeymooner retreats.
Looking forward to our stay at the Kandima Maldives, our island getaway begins the moment we arrive in Male, a three-hour flight from Mumbai. As soon as we step outside the airport, we are greeted by our Kandima Airport Buddy holding up a sign saying, “Kool people over here!”, and of course, the iridescent Indian Ocean. Just smelling the moist sea breeze is enough… we are already in a tropical state of mind.
What lies ahead is a 45-minute seaplane ride to the remote Dhaalu Atoll followed by a short boat trip to our island. As the seaplane flies low over the stunning reefs and natural lagoons, we are blown away by the view of more than a thousand tiny islands, powdery sandbanks, swanky over-water villas, and specks of uninhabited, coconut-forested land that burst out of the turquoise sea as far as the eye can see. Although what we see from the seaplane is just a glimpse of what is to come during our time in the Maldives, the countless shades of blue, that seem almost unreal, are impossible to ignore. Every moment of the flight is spent either attempting to spot our resort from the top, photographing the scenery, or admiring the paradisiacal landscape that is unlike anything else we have ever encountered.
Sitting on a long and skinny island with pure white sand and lush vegetation of palm trees and bougainvillea, Kandima is unmistakably Maldivian. The public areas with their white walls, pop-coloured upholstery, and lounge music exude a mellow beach-club vibe. However, what truly shapes Kandima's unpretentious personality is its warm and affable staff—they instantly make you feel at home.
Before we settle in our aqua villa, we must pick up our bicycles. Kandima offers bikes at a nominal rental of $5 per day. It's such a fun and healthy way to wander around the three-kilometre long island. There are hop-on-hop-off buggies to take you up and down the resort throughout the day. Alternatively, it can take about 20 minutes to traverse from one end of the island to the other on foot, which makes it medium-sized by Maldivian standards.
What we love about the game-changing lifestyle resort is the fact that it encourages you to experience the outdoors rather than close the doors and retreat inside. From a broad spectrum of marine activities and art classes to a well-equipped gymnasium, the largest pool in the Maldives, and tennis and football courts—there are enough distractions to keep you occupied for days. The weekly list of activities runs from beach workout sessions, aerial yoga, and kickboxing classes to cookery lessons, live music performances, and glow parties. At Kandima's in-house spa, therapists are on top of their game and know how to soothe, stroke and crush out every molecule of tension from your body with their signature massages. Lastly, you can pop into the resort's well-stocked boutique for beach clothing and accessories, jewellery, and local souvenirs.
In between activities, we spend time soaking up the sun on the beach, reading books, unwinding in our swirl pool with some bubbly and mingling at the Breeze Pool Bar. Observing vibrant fish and manta rays from our private deck is something we're hooked on to. Yes, the marine life at Kandima is so profuse you can spot varied creatures of the sea without even getting your feet wet.
Lunch and dinners consist of everything from impeccably-presented dishes from around the world to Maldivian seafood and potato curries. Among the 10 superb restaurants, Sea Dragon is our favourite. Inspired by ancient architectural designs from the Far East, this Chinese restaurant offers authentic Asian cuisine with a modern touch. What adds to the meal experience is the chance to pick the freshest, juiciest lobsters from the tank and let the chef whip up a feast for your tastebuds! While the Deli is great for cakes, sandwiches, ice-creams, and quick bites, Aroma Cafe serves up speciality coffees hailing from the fertile highlands of Southern Ethiopia to family-grown beans from Batin Baru Indonesia. The adults-only Forbidden Bar, accessible through a “Kool” psychedelic tunnel, is where you can enjoy the party ambiance and some innovative cocktails. In the mood for beachside dining under the stars? The modern grill house Smoked offers Mediterranean delicacies, fish, steaks, oven-baked pizzas, and a wide array of wines in an open-air setting. With multiple live cooking stations and self-service areas, the resort's "all you can eat" buffet dining restaurants Flavour and Zest are ideal for a scrumptious breakfast.
A must-do is the floating breakfast served in the privacy of your pool. Think large floating baskets adorned with dainty flowers and jam-packed with fruits, yoghurts, cheese, cold meats, freshly-prepared pastries, pancakes, egg preparations, and more. All this is coupled with the mesmerising views of the Indian Ocean in the background. A perfect recipe for an unforgettable, Instagram-worthy experience!
8 ACTIVITIES TO BOND OVER ART AND ADVENTURE IN THE MALDIVES
1. GO SNORKELLING AND DIVING
The Maldives consists of 22 atolls and almost 1,200 coral islands, making its captivating underwater world naturally spectacular.
For a dive adventure of a lifetime, look no further than Fuvahmulah Dive School. A unique island in the Maldivian archipelago, Fuvahmulah is a rock in the middle of the ocean, which plays the role of a huge cleaning station and mating place for big pelagic like black oceanic manta birostris, mola mola, pilot whales, etc. It is one of the only dive schools in the country to offer tiger shark encounters, safely and responsibly. The dive school offers three dives a day to get up close with thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks and silvertip sharks. With more than 15 diving spots around the island, expect to see big schools of barracudas, yellow-fin tuna, bonitos, sailfishes, marlins and millions of reef fish that surround the local reef daily. The school also offers a comfortable, boutique stay along with a friendly atmosphere.
Rooms from $340 per night
2. SKYDIVE FOR THE AERIAL VIEW OF THE MALDIVES
Take in the bird's eye view of the pristine reefs and blue Maldivian island landscapes with a skydiving adventure. Upon arrival at Dhaalu Airport, you are given a 15-minute safety briefing before getting on board a specially-modified Cessna 208 seaplane. After 20 minutes of flight time and reaching an altitude of around 12,000 feet, you take the big leap into the sky with an experienced skydiving instructor. The jump involves a one-minute free fall at the speed of 200 km/hour before your parachute opens for a blissful five-minute journey back to the white sand beach. Tandem skydiving is the quickest and easiest way to experience the thrill of a free fall. Kandima offers a tandem skydive package that lands in Kandima Maldives.
Rooms from $523 per night
3. TRY YOUR HAND AT MALDIVIAN ART
The Maldives has a long history and heritage of arts and crafts and several age-old skills such as lacquer work, mat weaving, boat building, coir-rope making are passed down from generation to generation. Also, Maldivian art and craft mostly use easily available raw materials such as palm leaves, reeds, coral, wood, shells, stones, coir, natural oils, and paints. If you and your partner have a creative bent, delving deeper into local art will give you a chance to discover more about the culture and history of the country.
Set on the edge of a natural lake, Kandima's art studio is that “space of zen” where you could spend quality time in the company of like-minded, artistic folks and create your masterpiece. Kandima not only has interesting artists conducting workshops from time to time but also holds a unique annual art festival that invites more than 20 local artists specialising in various mediums including digital, coffee, acrylic, henna, spray paint, and local crafts, to showcase their skills in front of a global audience.
4. CONSIDER A DREAMY SUNSET CRUISE
One of the most romantic experiences for a couple, a sunset cruise is your chance to gaze at the changing colours of the evening sky in the company of your lover. There will be ample photo opportunities, so carry your camera along. Moreover, keep your eyes peeled for the various dolphin species that frequent the waters, including bottle-nosed dolphins, spinners and stripper dolphins. Anantara Kihavah organises a luxurious yacht experience that takes around an hour and a half and includes champagne and gourmet canapés.
Rooms from $2241 per night
5. FLOAT ON WATER IN A CLEAR-BOTTOMED CANOE
For a unique perspective of the ocean, float over corals, schools of fish and black-tip sharks in a clear-bottom canoe. A different way of surveying the seas, the Molokini canoe at Baros Maldives is entirely transparent and offers unobstructed views of resident marine life while keeping you comfortably seated and dry. Moreover, if you aren’t a good swimmer, this is your chance to fulfill your dream of observing oceanic beauty minus diving.
Rooms from $1,623 per night
6. JOIN A FISHING EXPEDITION
Enjoy the fun and efficient way of traditional handline fishing the Maldivian way! Head out at sunset in a traditional dhoni and cast your line into the dancing waves of the Indian Ocean as the setting sun paints the sky in stunning shades of orange and pink.
The Residence Maldives Dhigurah organises a fun 90-minute fishing class. After returning to the resort, you could request the chef to cook your "catch of the day" for dinner. Alternatively, you could grill it yourself for a complete DIY experience.
Rooms from $939 per night
7. JET SKI FOR SPEED AND THRILL
Looking for a heart-pounding ride across the lagoon? Look no further than a jet ski. Hop on the water scooter, solo or as a couple, and manoeuvre it on your own to explore the sublime surroundings of the island at your own pace. Bouncing off the waves is sure to generate an adrenaline rush. Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa offers the perfect environment to explore the Indian Ocean. There is an instructor just around the corner so you needn't worry about your safety.
Rooms from $503 per night
8. LEARN THE ART OF KITESURFING
IIf you and your partner love embracing challenges, kitesurfing is something you shouldn't miss. It's a pulsating, risky water sport that uses a surfboard that is attached to your feet and a kite. The kite acts like a parachute. An extreme sport, kitesurfing can lift the person out of the water to several feet up in the air. Learning the basic techniques of kite surfing could easily take a few hours. The Maldives is not known as being a high-wind destination, however, between May and October, you can expect perfect wind conditions for incredible kitesurfing on the lagoons. Sun Siyam Olhuveli offers a half-day kite surfing class and you can propel yourself across the turquoise waters under the guidance of experienced instructors.
Rooms from $380 per night