Last month I enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime at Kandima Maldives. Full disclosure – I was invited to stay here in exchange for honest reviews and coverage in different newspapers and publications. However, being offered freebies has never clouded my judgement and I strive to be as honest as I possibly can. So here is my honest review of Kandima Maldives private island resort.
This was my second visit to Maldives – the first one had been for our honeymoon over eight years ago. It was a very different experience from the last time, considering we had our 6-year-old son with us this time. Further, our itinerary was packed with activities from morning to night, unlike our last visit which was a leisurely post-wedding recovery / get to know each other situation where we barely left our over-water villa!
Anyway, back to the subject of this post – the review of Kandima Maldives. This private island resort is located a picturesque 45-minute sea plane ride away from the Male airport. Sounds like too long a time to reach there? Trust me, it isn’t because the sea plane ride is just so beautiful – you would be forgiven for thinking you were flying over a gorgeous painting. Kandima is one of the largest islands in the Maldives, which means there are plenty of things for you to do here. It also means that it is one of few islands that offers many categories of accommodation (a staggering 264 studios and villas) which range in price from affordable to uber-luxurious. Read on to know more…
BOOKINGS AND HOW TO GET THERE:
I always recommend booking directly on the website in order to get the best possible deals:
Delhi and Mumbai offer direct flights to Male airport. From Delhi, the flying distance is 4.5 hours. The tickets are reasonably priced if booked in advance but there are no TVs in the flight!
From Male airport, you must take either the private seaplane or a domestic flight which costs less. However, just for the experience, I highly recommend taking the seaplane. Once you reach Dhaalu airport, there is a 2-minute boat ride till Kandima Maldives.
Since the island is spread out over 3.2 kms, it is recommended that you cycle to get around. However, if like me, you are uncomfortable on bicycles, you can choose to walk or wait at assigned spots for buggies / buses that ferry people around. These come every 15 minutes.
TYPES OF ROOMS:
With 264 studios and villas, you will be spoilt for choice at Kandima Maldives! The Sky and Beach Studios are competitively priced and offer the biggest bang for your buck, especially if you are in a large group. They offer wonderful views of Kandima’s expansive lagoon and are located on the beach.
Next in line are the beach villas in two categories – sunrise and sunset depending on your choice of view. We stayed here for our first two nights, and absolutely LOVED it. Not only were we able to stumble out of bed and walk on to a pristine white sandy beach, but we also really enjoyed the swirl pool (jacuzzi) in our spacious outdoor bathroom, apart from the private pool in our villa.
The next category consists of Aqua Villa with Swirl Pool. It overlooks the lagoon and is close to the beach. It is competitively priced and is a popular category.
On our last two days, we shifted to the Ocean Pool Villa with our private infinity pool looking on to the vast and beautiful ocean. The views from here were truly stunning! Though very exclusive, this was still not the highest category of room. That is reserved for honeymooners and is known as the Sunset Aqua Pool Suite. It boasts a larger living area and private pool.
THINGS TO DO:
OMG, this list is soooo long! Haha! You may feel that the Maldives is a place to visit only for relaxing and taking gorgeous pictures to show off your beach body. Though you could do that, at Kandima Maldives, you don’t have to feel restricted if you don’t want to.
I’ll start by listing out the many things I did, and then mention the other things I could have done but did not get a chance to explore.
- Water sports – With an entire centre dedicated to water sports and activities called Aquaholics, run by a bunch of the sweetest locals, water babies have a lot to choose from at Kandima Maldives. I am deathly afraid of water but still managed to snorkel, parasail, and sit on a ‘fun ride’ which was basically an inflated sofa being pulled along by a boat! My husband went jet-skiing and sea-bobbing, an experience unique to Kandima Maldives. I also tremendously enjoyed watching dolphins swimming by the side of our boat, and spotting baby sharks, pilotfish and other exotic sea creatures from our villa or the public areas of the resort.
- Private cruises – One of the most beautiful memories from our trip was the sunset cruise we enjoyed on our first day there. Rain was imminent but we managed to catch the setting sun in all its glory, offset by two gorgeous rainbows. As soon as our boat docked on the jetty, the rain clouds burst open, and we were saved from being drenched on sea just in the nick of time. Another memorable aspect of this cruise was meeting other celebrities and influencers from around the world who were also being hosted by Kandima Maldives. This included a celebrity makeup artist / reality TV star from Dubai, a sports anchor from Germany and an Indian Instagrammer with a massive fan following. Having made friends with these lovely people, we could not refuse when they suggested going on a sunset fishing cruise two days later! Though my husband and I failed miserably at the fishing, the others made up for it and we enjoyed making memories.
- Art classes – I would never have imagined taking art classes in the Maldives! But it turned out to be one of the most unique travel experiences I have ever had. In keeping with their focus on wellness, as well as bolstering the local economy by offering a platform to local artists to showcase their work, Kandima Maldives has its own Art Studio, run by a local Maldivian artist. She patiently taught me how to paint, while my son enjoyed making his own painting. As I looked at the beautiful Kandima Lake and sipped on delicious wine from the café across the studio, my painting came to life under her able guidance. I loved the entire experience and regret forgetting to pick my painting from the reception on the way out to bring it home with me!
- Spa – This is an essential part of all my holiday experiences. I rarely stay at a hotel that offers a spa without sampling it. The spa at Kandima Maldives has many services and I thoroughly enjoyed the signature treatment I got and so did my husband. Another interesting experience was the ladies evening organised at the spa, where we were served cocktails and serenaded with music, while we had our heads massaged and nails painted free of charge. At this event, one could also book future spa treatments and buy their range of beauty and wellness products for a discount.
- Children’s play area – Kandiland is an exclusive children-only activity center where parents can drop their kids off while they do other things on the island or spend time with each other. Kandiland organises activities as per a timetable and is run by three friendly people who promise to take excellent care of your children. A dedicated swimming pool is an added attraction for kids.
- Exercise on the beach – Another distinctive experience I never thought I would pursue but tremendously enjoyed once I did, was exercising on the beach! Kandima Maldives has a fully equipped fitness center with a host of classes to choose from, including offbeat ones like aerial yoga. On designated days of the week, they organise circuit training and yoga on the beach at sunset, so one can grab exercise while listening to the therapeutic sound of the waves and watching the orange sun dip low and disappear. It is truly magical. The classes were led by an Indian yogini who was easy to follow and respectful of people’s differing fitness levels.
- Shop – Though Kandima Maldives has three separate shops located at different places around the island, there isn’t much to shop here. If all you need are basics like sunscreen or touristy items for gifting, you will find them easily. Beware though, everything is very expensive because you are marooned on an island!
- Eat – Owing to its large expanse, Kandima Maldives has a plethora of dining options to choose from, numbering 10 in total. However, only three of these are fine-dining options, two are ‘full-board’ buffet outlets, one is a Deli to pick cold eats and easy items from, and the others are cafes and bars with limited menus. Though it’s nice to have access to food and drink anywhere on the island, we were disappointed with one of our meals (the one at their restaurant Smoked) because that night the service was extremely slow, and the food was average. However, both our meals at Azure – one of which was local Maldivian cuisine and the second was a private dinner on the beach – were fantastic. The buffet meals were also satisfactory in all regards.
- Photoshoots – Since this is a popular service in the days of Instagram, Kandima Maldives has its own photo studio, which I unfortunately did not get time to check out.
- Football / Tennis – For the truly sporty, or for those who check in for longer vacations, football and tennis are also available.
- Castaway experience – This sounds amazing, but I did not experience it. One can book a private castaway experience to a nearby island and be waited on hand and foot, while they enjoy an entire island to themselves for a while.
REVIEW OF KANDIMA MALDIVES:
This is turning into a very long post but there is so much to say about this lovely property! As you can probably tell from the exhaustive list of things I’ve put down in the last section, Kandima Maldives is the kind of place where you can choose to do nothing and have a wonderful time, or you can choose to do everything and make the most of a vacation here.
With so many different things on offer, I believe it is the kind of place that will appeal to any kind of traveller – solo, family, honeymooner, bachelor, friend group, wellness, adventure or whatever else you may be looking for. I also really appreciate its tech-forward stance, as it made our stay quite easy. Most things can be arranged on a user-friendly app. I faced a glitch only once where we were unable to place a food order in the afternoon, and had to call for it. Our room keys were magnetic waterproof bracelets which we kept on at all times, even in the water, and never had to bother about losing – a fact we really appreciated.
The service is warm, friendly, and responsive – very characteristic of South Asian hospitality in general. I especially want to thank our wonderful host Neeraj Seth who is the Cluster Head of Marketing, Communications & Public Relations for this and a couple more resorts owned by the same group. By the end of our stay there, we had become friends owing to his warmth and welcoming nature.
For those worried about being stuck on an island with nowhere to go, there are some things that will provide succour – Kandima Maldives has its own medical center with trained doctors and access to basic medical facilities. Further, its 10 dining options mean you never get bored of eating the same food over and over again. Its many accommodation options are attractive in their price range and allow you to choose something that fits in your budget.
However, everything finally boils down to this question – how much does a stay here cost? I cannot give you that answer as it changes seasonally, and I did not pay for my accommodation (only my flight). I can however tell you that Maldives in general is expensive. Even though we did not pay for many things, we did spend quite a bit of money on simple things like room service, the minibar, buying food and drinks from the Deli and shopping for knick-knacks. So, yes, a stay in the Maldives is expensive but Kandima Maldives is a resort that offers a more affordable price point, owing to the many options you can choose from. Its USP is ‘Affordable Luxury for All’. Keeping in mind how expensive true luxury can be, and the amazing hospitality and overall experience offered by Kandima Maldives, I completely agree with this stance of theirs.
I highly recommend a visit to Kandima Maldives, and can assure you that I will certainly be returning here whenever I possibly can.
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