Energetic awakenings at Anantara Kihavah Maldives


Anantara Kihavah is one of the most luxurious resorts in Baa Atoll in the Maldivian archipelago. This is one time in life to embrace clichés because it’s everything you would imagine the Maldives to be: blindingly white sand, clear turquoise water, rows of overwater bungalows arcing out across the ocean. It’s obvious that this is a paradise that you always wanted to visit.


There’s a dream-like quality to the Maldives. That’s partly because the 1200 islands that make up this tropical nation in the Indian Ocean are so remote. To access Anantara Kihavah from Malé, the capital, you must travel by seaplane. As you cross the ocean, you will see a never-ending expanse of blue and turquoise hues broken only by tendrils of clouds and islands surrounded by vivid coral reefs. From above, some of the islands look to be the same shape as the fish that teem in the waters surrounding them.


The true allure of the Maldives is found beneath the surface. Life is extremely sweet on dry land. Anantara Kihavah offers the ultimate five-star experience; it’s all Taittinger champagne, seemingly unlimited choices and seamless service from the mostly Maldivian staff, some with smiles as wide as the mouths of the manta rays I’m dreaming of seeing. But underwater? You’ll be ridding your mind of every thought but the spectacle before you.


There are creatures you have never seen before. A titan triggerfish ploughs past the coral, its mottled yellow skin and dog-like teeth giving it a prehistoric edge. A juvenile box fish – which looks awfully like an oversized banana, thanks to its bright-yellow hue and black markings – hides in a crevice. And a school of black squid huddle together in the shape of a diamond, pulsing through the water. And, of course, there’s the tantalising prospect of seeing those gentle giants of the sea. The Maldives is home to an estimated 5000 reef manta rays. From June to November, they migrate south; the best time to see them near  Anantara Kihavah is August to November.



Hanifaru Bay, the most famous spot in the Maldives to see rays – but until then, there are meals to be savoured, massages to be relished and experiences to discover. There’s something so meditative about a tropical island: the gentle crunch of sand under the bike that will get you across the island, the joy of a light breeze scudding across the water and the sweet surprise of a gecko or a crab scuttling across the path in front of you.


Villas at Anantara Kihavah – from the famous overwater bungalows with see-through bathtubs to the tastefully decorated beach villas beloved of royalty and offering total seclusion and a private pool. Can you put a price tag on the experiences of a lifetime? Adventure-lovers will be torn between snorkelling with turtles, watching dolphins cavort in the warm waters, parasailing up to 150 metres in the sky or diving around the resort and marvelling at that underwater garden, all yellow and green and alive.


The food at Anantara Kihavah is consistently good, from the pan-Asian flavours of Salt to the teppanyaki at Fire. Be sure to book ahead for Sea, one of only three underwater restaurants in the Maldives, which feels both surreal and spectacular. This is the resort’s fine-diner and you will be entranced by the continuous reel of ocean life being played out before my eyes.


Of course, sometimes a dream holiday is simply about relaxing and doing very little: to note the shocking pink of a bougainvillea against a cloudless sky; to succumb in the decadent spa to the hands of the masseuse, to sit on the deck at Sky bar, champagne in hand, and marvel at the stars leaking through an inky sky.


Stargazing in the Maldives is a very special experience as there is no light pollution here in this pristine island located remotely in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  And Anantara Kihavah has the biggest telescope in the Maldives. Ensuring you a real contrast of experiences, from the fish underneath and the stars above.



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