Great escape: Kandima, Maldives

Into the wide, blue yonder.

As the boat bounced over the impossibly turquoise sea, the palm-fringed tropical island of Kandima appeared on the horizon. Stepping onto the jetty, then the white sand, we understood what Robinson Crusoe must have felt like.

Masterminded by Sanjay Maniku—whose father was one of the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives—and Mohamed Khaleel, Kandima is the latest resort to spring up in this archipelago of nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, 80 of which have hotels.

The 2½-mile island in Dhaalu Atoll, lapped on one side by a lagoon, now houses nearly 300 rooms. There are beach villas with plunge pools and lavish open-air bathrooms, inter-connecting studios for groups and ‘aqua’ apartments on stilts with access to the sea.

The vibe is modern, with contemporary architecture, cerise and red soft furnishings and a relaxed ethos that encourages guests of all ages, not just honeymooners, to do as they please.

Recommended videos for you

We spent our days luxuriating in 31ºC heat, swimming in the crystal-clear sea, collecting shells and marvelling at crabs scuttling along the beach, which is swept by an army of staff each morning. At the all-day dining restaurant, Flavour—when the resort opens fully this month, guests will have 10 restaurants and bars to choose from—we enjoyed grilled reef crayfish and Asian dishes prepared in huge woks by chefs from the Sea Dragon restaurant, at which guests will be able to dine while overlooking the ocean on languid Maldivian evenings.


Kandima Maldives - Paula Lester


  • Keep your camera handy to take pictures on the sea-plane flight from Male to Niyama, where you board a boat for the final leg to Kandima
  • Go on a sunset fishing trip. We line-caught red snapper and an Emperor in the Maldivian manner and ate them for supper the next night
  • Enjoy a piña colada in the round seating pods set in the 100m pool—the biggest in the Maldives—in front of the Breeze bar
  • Go snorkelling or diving with the resort’s resident marine biologist. The region’s coral reefs are home to 12 species of whale and dolphin, exotic-ally marked lobsters, octopusses and shoals of bioluminescent lionfish
  • The resort’s aquaholics centre offers every water sport under the sun, from para-sailing to paddle boarding
  • For those who prefer to stay on terra firma, there’s a luxurious spa, cooking lessons with Kandima’s chefs and an art school

Sky Studio from £160 per person, per night, based on two sharing on a half-board basis, excluding international flights (about £730) from London Heathrow to Male International Airport and local transfers (00 960 676 0077;