Holidays: Kanuhura, Maldives

Reviewer: Simsi
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Sometime back in the 80′s, when I was a mere youngster, before the days of this amazing Interweb thingy, I remember seeing an advert in a glossy magazine for a package holiday to an amazing looking place called the Maldives. It was what has now become the sterotypical package holiday brochure image depicting paradise – the palm tree, white beach, glistening blue lagoon and the distant outline of a small Island – and I remember thinking “one day, I’m GOING to go there!” The trouble is of course, the pics in the brochure are always touched up, taken from the “right angle” and generally the best possible advert…the real thing never lives up to the image.

Or so I thought. When I returned from my first package holiday to the Maldives in 2001 (one of Kuoni’s Far and Away holiday packages), my answer to people who asked what it was like was “it’s the only place I’ve ever been where the reality is better than the pictures!”. Which is probably why I went back again in 2006 and will be going back again as soon as I can, and probably again after that (repeat to fade). I’m not normally one to go back to the same place twice in quick succession, but the Maldives is definitely the exception to my rule. And of course there are stacks of different Islands to choose from, all with their own litle quirks.

The 2001 trip was a Kuoni holiday package to Kanahura Resort & Spa which is a 30-or-so minute flight by the excellent Air Taxi service from the airport in Male and situated in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Now we got lucky here because when we went it was an independently run Island, and while expensive (we paid $3,500/£1,800 each for a 14 night package with flights/transfers), it wasn’t as expensive as it became when it was bought by the exclusive “One & Only” company, and it’s now moved on again and is one of the Leading Small Hotels Of The World. It has it’s own website at Kanuhura.com with photos and contact info. But it really lived up to the billing of 5* accommodation, the staff were really friendly – in fact the time we visited - at the end of October – there were probably more staff than guests on the Island being just before the main season kicks in and a great time to go – the food was brilliant, the accommodation spotless and the Island was really paradise on earth as you imagine it. You could have the beach to yourself.

It was the first time I’d ever been snorkelling (I’m not good out of my depth!) and the shallow lagoon with it’s coral section was perfect for this. We saw baby shark, moray eels, hoardes of beautiful fish, shoals of bright blue tuna and giant clams, all in under 6 feet of water! Fantastic. There were some good package holiday deals on other Islands via LastMinute.com at the time, but we ultimately booked this holiday through Kuoni and everything ran like clockwork.

The resort was obviously purpose-built rather than the natural habitat we discovered on a subsequent Maldives holiday to the lovely Asdu island, but sympathetically done. The food was excellent and every night was themed. I can’t see any point in a swimming pool on an Island surrounded by a shallow and very calm lagoon myself, but it did make a great focal point for the Island being next to the restaurant and bar area. But why bother when you have empty white beaches? There are also water sports available although that’s not my bag. Overall a fantastic trip and heartily recommended if you have the dosh.

If your budget is tighter, check out the review of my second trip to the Maldives on Asdu Sun Island – one third of the price and an equally fantastic holiday. The Kanuhura trip was a holiday package from Kuoni, while the second trip to Asdu I booked flights and accommodation seperately for a bargain price.

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