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Visiting the Maldives is a dream for many vacationers but that’s usually all it is – a dream. The remote, Indian Ocean island paradise is so far away from our everyday lives – both literally and figuratively – that it seems impossible to picture ourselves among the swaying palm trees and million-dollar views.
But now there’s a Maldives resort where everyone is welcome – honeymooners, families, friends off on a girls’ weekend. You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a vacation in the Maldives a reality. At Kandima Maldives, the second you step foot on the island, you’re part of the family.
Why Choose Kandima Maldives
Kandima is a modern luxury resort, opened in March 2017, with a promise to be different. It’s a resort for everyone, not just honeymooners and rich socialites.
The second we opened their website we knew that Kandima was just the kind of affordable resort we enjoy. Even their vibrant website colors feel more upbeat than the typical Maldives resorts, and Kandima’s prices were decidedly more appealing. I immediately desired a seat inside one of their bright-pink beach bar pods with drink in hand.
Our Stay at Kandima Maldives
Kandima Maldives is located on the Dhaalu Atoll. Unlike most Maldivian atolls, this one is not round, but nearly 3 km long, with a stunning lagoon and lush, green surroundings. There’s plenty of room for the resort to expand – and it plans on doing so in the near future.
When we arrived at the Velana International Airport in Malé airport, ready to be transported to Kandima, we found ourselves among 30+ fellow vacationers who were going to Kandima as a group. We were sure this was going to cause problems with overcrowding or that we would feel alienated among the large group. However, all of those worries were gone the second we arrived, laying eyes on the vast resort property.
To walk from HQ (what Kandima calls their reception area) to Smoked, the restaurant on the far end of the island, takes about 25 minutes (Don’t worry, Kandima offers shuttle transportation).
During our stay, we actually never saw group we arrived with. In fact, the size of the resort made us feel like we were on an exclusive, isolated, vacation island for two. Of course, we occasionally noticed other vacationers.
Even the buffet restaurant, where we enjoyed some meals, didn’t feel packed. The main pool felt peacefully isolated with only an occasional family or two paddling around in it.
Kandima has 276 studios and villas, with accommodations at many levels depending on your Maldives budget, from beach and sky studios to two-story apartment buildings. Each room has sliding doors that open up to a beautiful view of the azure lagoon. Kandima also has beach villas and overwater bungalows, with a combination of jacuzzis and pools with even more amazing views.
We stayed in one of the 18 ultra-luxury ocean pool villas. These spacious, luxurious and beautiful duplex-style villas are on the ocean side of the island and have an infinity view across the Indian Ocean. The ocean pool villa has a private pool that juts out over the ocean.
We spent countless hours there watching the sun set, drinking Champagne and pointing out fish we saw in the tide below. We never heard or saw another person while we were out there. The villas offer the utmost privacy and solitude.
The most important thing we look for in a resort before we consider a stay is the food. Kandima Maldives has 10 restaurants and bars. Four of them offer sit down service while they also have a deli that serves sandwiches, wraps and warm dishes. There are also two bars that offer food or snacks with your drinks and one bar with a nightclub.
We visited all of the restaurants at Kandima, except for Smoked, which was closed for a private function. Many guests choose the half or full board option that includes breakfast and dinner (or all 3 meals for full board) at the main buffet restaurant, Flavour.
We ate at Flavour a number of times. There were plenty of choices, representing many different cuisines. The biggest problem we had at the Kandima buffet was deciding what to eat.
Since we love food, it’s important to us that there are good a la carte options, and Kandima has those. We enjoyed different dishes at Azure for both dinner and lunch.
We celebrated a birthday while at Kandima. The Chinese-influenced Sea Dragon proved to be the perfect spot for a special occasion dinner. We enjoyed Chinese vegetables, pork riblets and a fantastic dish of Thai clay pot noodles.
Activities at Kandima
Kandima wants its guests to be as active and entertained as they wish to be. They offer beach activities – pool, loungers and sunbeds on the beach, a pool table at the beach bar, and snorkeling gear you can check out for free at Aquaholics.
Vacationers can also take diving lessons, go swimming with dolphins, take cooking classes, rent bicycles to ride around the island, take a yoga class, learn to make cocktails, or indulge in a variety of spa treatments.
We took a pizza-making class at Azure while we were at Kandima Maldives. The pizza chef, Hugo, taught us the essential skill of stretching the dough without breaking it. Hugo walked us through the best methods for making homemade pizza, and we each made our own pizza for lunch.
Kandima also offers an Indian Ocean cooking class as well as a cook-your-catch class where you can go fishing and then grill your own catch later.
When selecting a beach vacation, most people dream of sitting by the pool or beach with a fruity drink in hand. There are a couple of locations where this is possible at Kandima. If you’re lucky enough to have your own pool, you could be swimming all day.
If you don’t choose to stay in an Ocean Pool Villa or a Beach Villa with a Pool, Kandima has two resort pools. In the center of the island, you’ll find the Breeze Bar, attached to the largest pool in the Maldives, measuring 100 meters.
On the far end of the island, where the overwater bungalows are located, you’ll find the Beach Club and the second pool with a swim-up bar. This pool area felt more “adult” centric, whereas the main pool tends to have more families with children.
How to Get to Kandima
Getting to Kandima, as with any remote island, is a bit of a challenge. Every Maldives resort requires that you pay an extra fee for transportation to and from the island. Some fees are extraordinarily high. Kandima’s fee, we felt, was reasonable.
You can choose two different methods to get to the island. Thinking we would save a bit of money, we opted for the domestic flight and speedboat transfer.
Unfortunately, after 13 hours of overnight flying with no sleep, we arrived at the VIA (Malé) airport and had to wait an additional 4 hours to get our domestic flight to Kandima. All told, it took us five long, tedious hours to reach Kandima. The cost for domestic transfer is $350 per person, round trip.
On our return, we smartly opted for the seaplane ride, which takes off from Kandima’s own seaplane platform. The flight took 45 minutes to reach the airport and we were on our International flight within another 1.5 hours.
The seaplane ride was nothing short of amazing. You will enjoy a glimpse of many beautiful atolls along the way. The cost for the seaplane transfer is $550 per person, round trip.
How to Book a Stay at Kandima
Setting up our stay at Kandima was easy. We chose our level of accommodation and package, decided how we wanted to arrive, and Kandima arranged the rest.
I suggest booking directly on the Kandima website so you can access all the different package options. We found that various booking sites didn’t have enough specifics to make an informed decision. Plus, clicking through the website will give you a good feel for what to expect on the island. What you see is what you get at Kandima.
Prices are always fluctuating, so we won’t give them here. Check the official website for the current prices. As an example, prices in February 2018, with full board included, ranged from $570 USD per night for 2 people in a beach studio to $920 USD per night for 2 people in an ocean pool villa. Transfers were not included in these rates.