Kanuhura is an island paradise aimed at the ‘gypset’, with stunning water villas and plenty of restaurants and bars to keep guests fed and watered
What is it?
A tropical island paradise curated for the “gypset”. That’s an exclusive social set composed of artists, designers and entrepreneurs who have the financial clout to combine the gypsy lifestyle – the free-spirited roaming and romance part, not the dirt, poverty and police harassment – with the sophistication of the jet set, if you’re wondering.
Soaring palms sway majestically in benign sea breezes, turquoise waters caress silver shorelines, white powder sand melts underfoot and the sun shines down from azure skies just a little bit brighter than anywhere else you can quite remember, before it pitches into the ocean and drowns in a glorious blaze of pyrotechnics.
It’s romantic, then?
Take a walk along the beach, dip a toe in the Indian Ocean, drop by the infinity pool bar for a mojito, and you’ll notice a distinct lack of people. Our first thoughts are that the resort must be half empty. Then our friendly personal concierge (yes, everybody gets one) confides, with a nod and a wink, that the other guests are busy “enjoying the romance”. And when the romance flags, there is no shortage of diversions designed to ratchet it back up again, from castaway picnics to private candlelit dinners on the beach.
What’s there to do if you’re not in the mood?
A typical gypsetter’s day on Kanuhura might begin with sunrise yoga at the beach pavilion (don’t worry if your private instructor doesn’t show up, it’ll rankle only until day breaks across the lagoon uninterrupted by namastes). Follow up with a buffet breakfast at A Mano, not missing the cool room, with its impressive array of cheeses, cold cuts and desserts.
Head over to Kokaa Spa – the world’s best in 2017, according to National Geographic Traveller magazine – for a couple’s massage, then catch a boat to Masleggihura (one of two neighbouring deserted islands little more than a wade away) for that castaway picnic. Spend the afternoon Crusoe style or, if you’re feeling energetic, snorkelling or scuba diving at one of 40 dive sites around Lhaviyani atoll.
Return in time for a private sunset cruise on a traditional dhoni, serenaded by Boduberu drummers, champagne in hand, dolphins ducking and diving at the boat’s bow. Round off the day with a private starlight cinema beach barbecue dinner; Breakfast at Tiffany’s  is a popular choice; we plumped for The Maltese Falcon ).
Speaking of dinner, what’s to eat?
There are no fewer than eight restaurants and bars, plus numerous private dining spots (on the beach, on an island, at a “secret” table in the chef’s herb garden) serving this tiny island.
Epicurean highlights include Italian restaurant Bottega, set in its own tropical gardens (pastas, seafood and a wood-fired pizza oven); Veli’s Asian fusion (from sushi and Korean barbecue to Chinese, Indian and Singaporean dishes); and beach grill Drift, a 300-metre boat hop away on other-deserted-island-next-door Jehunuhura (where entertainment includes scuttling hermit crabs and the occasional strutting chicken). And don’t miss sundowners at Iru beach bar – think tepees, swing chairs and beanbags in the sand.
And what about the living quarters?
Boho chic decor, natch: almost matching chinaware, mixed scatter cushions and a splash of abstract art on the walls to offset a neutral palate of natural materials. Snag a Water Villa and your bathroom is open to the stars, a wooden deck looks out to sea and steps lead down into the lagoon. Watch out for the occasional passing reef shark from your sun lounger or take the plunge and snorkel straight out to the island reef.
What’s the damage?
Beach Bungalows start from US$850 per night excluding taxes and fees, with Water Villas from US$1,250. Round-trip seaplane transfers from Malé, the Maldivian capital, cost US$490 per person, excluding tax.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and AirAsia offer direct flights from Hong Kong to Malé.