A glamorous 45-minute seaplane hop from Malé lies Kandima, which at 3km long, is one of the biggest islands in the Dhaalu Atoll in the Maldives.
Kandima prides itself on a cool boutique hotel ambience with its collection of modern architectural buildings, bright splashes of colourful textiles and endless relaxing nooks in which to read, snack or sip your ice cool glass of fizz. The highlights are water sports, art clubs and plenty of family activities – plus a peaceful spa to escape to. Hire a bike to explore at leisure – there are numerous beauty spots including lush Kakuni Point at the top of the island – or simply hop on the golf buggy shuttle.
Kandima also offers rejuvenation and detox spa packages from three to seven days, involving a combination of daily treatments designed to re-energise you.
What’s on offer?
Stay in a range of Beach Villas, nestled discreetly in the foliage with balconies and private terraces, some with swirl pools plus enormous outdoor garden-style bathrooms with rain showers, baths and hot tubs. If you really want to indulge, book one of the Aqua Villas with a hot tub on the teak bathing platform and direct access to the ocean whenever you fancy a dip. There is a main beachside pool surrounded by recliners and cabana beds, with its own bar and entertainment stage.
For the more energetic, HIIT beach boot camps will put you through your paces. Gym bunnies will love Burn, a comprehensively kitted out gym with its own pool. At the yoga studio, Sandeep leads a daily 30-minute practise incorporating Hatha, Ashtanga and Yin techniques as well as a serene Friday sunset practise in the stylish yoga pavilion on the beach.
There’s also a soccer pitch, tennis and badminton courts as well as Aquaholics water sports centre run by diving instructor Ben, which offers every kind of activity from parasailing, skydiving, wakeboarding, water skiing, PADI diving courses, deep water dives, big game fishing, kayaking, dolphin and turtle watching, even surfing during the high swell summer season from June to August.
An artist in residence will help you to create your own oil painting at the tranquil Aroma art studio overlooking a natural lake. Maldivian artists exhibit their work here and the KULA art initiative hosts a festival each year, featuring 20 local artists.
Kandima has its own app so you can check out when happy hour starts, find out what the weather is like or peruse the menus before even stepping off the plane.
Tell us about your treatment?
The esKape Spa is all cool whites and natural woods with stunning ocean views. The open plan Maldivian style reception pavilion has a boutique selling Natural Spa Factory body oils, Hush soy candles and serum infused collagen face masks as well as yoga wear and mats. Arrive and sip a glass of tea on a white sofa with colourful scatter cushions. There is a plunge pool and steam room, a beauty bar, and a tranquil relaxation zone with oversized rattan daybeds to recline upon after your treatments in the peaceful spa garden. The ten thatched treatment huts sit nearby in lush gardens, many with outdoor shower rooms.
I was greeted with a temperature check and a chilled glass of honey and ginger tea as I decided on my treatments. After three flights and 24 hours of travelling, I plumped for two relaxing massages in the hope of beating jet lag and getting a good night’s sleep.
Healing aromatherapy massage (60 minutes, US$109 + VAT). My therapist Mega led me to a secluded treatment room and we began with a warm foot bath before I relaxed on the massage bed. Using rose oil, known for its hydrating and anti-ageing qualities, Mega started with a foot massage using her palm and fingers, working her way up my legs and across my back, shoulders and arms. Sweeping palm movements became firmer broad strokes, lulling my tired body into a comfortable and soporific state. She found my perennial tension points in my neck and shoulders with ease, working on them gently but firmly to release the knots.
Lymphatic drainage massage (60 minutes, US$109 + VAT). Ayu started on my back as she applied light finger pressure to my eye sockets, nose and cheekbones. She then moved to the soles of my feet, using her palms before dripping detoxifying oil on my legs and employing a light finger/palm pressure in sweeping upward rhythmic strokes. She continued this on my chest, arms, and then the backs of my legs, back and neck, the repetitive stroking making me feel blissfully relaxed.
I emerged with a serene sense of wellbeing and relaxation that preceded the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while. The energising effects of the lymphatic drainage massage lasted for days.
There’s an incredible 10 bars and restaurants at Kandima. Flavour and Zest restaurants cater for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with delicious muesli, pancakes, yoghurt and fresh fruit or opt for the local curries, gyoza, omelettes or even a full English. Lunch (at Flavour only) and dinner runs the gamut from fresh and flavoursome salads through to stir fries, Maldivian tandooris and curries, freshly caught fish of the day and a plethora of delicious vegetable sides.
Dine on the beach with your feet in the sand at Smoked, an elegant yet relaxed beachside a la carte outpost serving wood-fired reef fish, sea bass ceviche, Piri Piri, veggie burgers, lobster, ribs and barbecued chicken. Azure is Mediterranean themed in a contemporary beach house, while Sea Dragon offers authentic Asian cuisine with a light modern touch: think fresh lobster and crab served with a fiery twist. Try the subtle sweetcorn and crab soup, spicy fried squid and Chinese style baked local fish in soy and ginger. End the night at the Forbidden Bar, where you can kickback with a cocktail or two.
There’s also a Beach Bar serving aperitifs and cocktails with the island’s best vantage point for sunset, the Deli for all day lattes, smoothies, pastries and Dairy Milk in every guise, Aroma art café and Breeze, for a beer and perhaps the best burger on the island.
We loved/didn’t love
Snorkelling off Kakuni point, where you can linger over table coral alongside black and silver tip reef sharks (they’re not dangerous), moray eels, sting rays, longfin batfish, eagle rays, turtles, giant oysters displaying iridescent colours inside their shells and the magnificent crown of thorns starfish.
Beach villas are discreetly set back, hidden between palms trees and foliage, leaving the pristine white sands lounger and building-free, just as nature intended.
We didn’t love
There were no plant milk choices on offer (a small quibble).
Who do you think would like it?
Influencers: With its modern vibe and infinite variety of Instagrammable photo opportunities, Kandima is a favourite with reality stars.
Families: Their children’s club, Kandiland, is the biggest in the Maldives.
Fitness Addicts: You will never run out of activities, sports and new experiences to try during your stay.