Sun, sand, and sea in abundance are what the Maldives have always been known for. The term ‘pristine beaches’ comes to life here, and a whole new experience opens up underwater, swimming alongside vibrant, colorful schools of fish. And needless to say, the golden tan we can so luckily, and easily, achieve.
These, as well as the concept of Maldives’ ‘One Island, One Resort’ has been driving drones of visitors to this island nation, and on one such trip, the author of this article.
That one resort of choice was Hurawalhi, a chic island resort that looked, from an aerial point of view, like a bird with its wings stretched wide open. As is typical in the Maldives, this resort also features over-the-water villas that are spread out into the sea, away from the beach.
Getting to Hurawalhi
Travel and transfer to every hotel and resort in the Maldives are highly dependent on seaplanes and speedboats due to the well-placed distance between each island. Getting to Hurawalhi was one such feat, a minimal dampener to an otherwise amazing trip. There is a seaplane transfer from the Velana International Airport. In 40 minutes you arrive at Kudadoo, a sister concern of Hurawalhi and both part of the portfolio of Crown & Champa Resorts (CCR). From here, another short boat ride takes you to Hurawalhi.
Be ready to be welcomed in warmth! This is no pun, the sun may shine bright on your arrival, but there is also the subtle pull at your heartstrings as a group of smiling and casually-clad team awaits your boat at the dock, waiting to welcome you to what many would call a ‘paradise.’ This is a common sight across the Maldives and not individually for Hurawalhi, which speaks highly about how the island nation views hospitality. On arrival at the resort, you are made to sit back and relax with a cool drink while you are checked in and then ushered to your villa on a buggy (not essential, but made comfortable to avoid the short distance to each villa. They are very serious about helping you relax and not move a muscle while on vacation at the Maldives).
Every single villa at Hurawalhi looks out into the sea. While some are beach villas, others are ocean villas and all of them have a mini pool as well. The colors and materials all feature an earthy tone, and it is obvious how they try and make sustainability a part of their offering. Glass bottles, woodworks, sensors to adjust room temperature, fans, and more. A king-size bed looks out to the sundeck, with a background of a turquoise sea. The deck has chaise lounges, a table, and chairs, and also a short flight of stairs into the water if you may fancy a swim or scuba dive. The waters around the villas are shallow, differentiated by the shade of blue that meets the eye. The sea gets denser when the color changes to a darker shade of blue. Oh, nature!
Other amenities in the room include a wine fridge, minibar, espresso machine, complimentary tea and coffee, free WiFi (all around the island except in a few spots between restaurants), Bluetooth soundbar, a 48-inch flat-screen IPTV featuring the latest movies (foolish if you end up using this, though, instead of sprawling out on the beach). As well as an indoor bathroom with a rain shower, hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, and nightly turndown service.
Eat, Drink & Chill
Hurawalhi has a few dining options, not so many to overwhelm you and not too few to disappoint either. What takes the pie however is an underwater restaurant, so unique and amusing that even if there were several more to offer, they would all be dissolved by the charm of watching the rainbow shades of the marine life while you enjoy your food.
Let me place that for the last. Canneli, on the beach, serves ‘all you can eat buffet style meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This indoor and al fresco dining experience features a variety of international and Asian cuisines in a traditional open-air dining room with live-action cooking stations. It is spacious and features tropical interiors – wood, bamboo, and flowers.
Kashibo, Taste of Asia, offers a spread of, well, Asian street food. With a view that can take your breath, and mind away. The menu has Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese-inspired cuisine; as well as vegetarian dishes and teppanyaki at this lively over-water restaurant. They also have an impressive wine to choose from W I N E C E L L A R. The resort sommelier is on hand to help you choose from their global selection of wines, with more than 355 international wines displayed in an over-water windowed showcase cellar.
JFK (Junk Food Kitchen) serves no junk, instead of healthier vegan options. Offering a vegan take on comfort classics such as burgers, nachos, and cauliflower buffalo wings, guests can indulge in the menu poolside, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Here during the day you also have the chance to play some pool or table tennis, and some arcade games as well if you may.
Adjacently placed is Coco Bar where you can enjoy a date night, relaxing with a drink and staring into the beautiful sea, or your partner’s eyes, whichever you fancy. This bar is open 24-hours and provides a space to watch sports events on the big screen.
Champagne Pavilion, one of the best rendezvous points in the Maldives, is an over-water pavilion perfectly situated for Champagne sunsets. Toast to a sun-kissed day in the Maldives with Champagne and canapés on this intimate alfresco terrace.
Lastly, but most significantly comes the iconic 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. This is the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant that offers a variety of interesting dishes through a set menu, including vegan options (you may end up choosing this seeing how the happy fish swim about unaware of what could be their fate). The restaurant has only 10 tables which are accessible through a spiral staircase. On the way down you will be greeted by a window that shows where the surface of the sea meets the blue marine world. The restaurant is named after its location, 5.8 meters (19 feet) beneath the lagoon’s surface. You can enjoy a meal feeling all blue, not in the melancholic sense of the word, but in the fascinating shade that is the sea.
Relaxing Amidst the Waves
The Duniye Spa is where you can unwind while at the resort. If you choose a slot nearing sunset, you will get be captivated by the brilliance of nature as the sea devours the sun and its stunning orange rays leaving a residue of deep blue skies sprinkled with stars. Yes, you will get as poetic, and I can vouch for that. The warm welcome at the spa takes off half the stress from your shoulders (assuming you may have any left after the sea and sand has done their wonders on your muscles). My masseuse was a woman from Bali, and I am grateful for that because she knew what she was doing. In fact, to the word, as she placed the pressure in all the relevant parts and left my spine alone – a rarity with massages I have experienced over time. What a fine woman.
The resort offers a long list of water sports and recreation activities to choose from. In case you have not assumed already, this resort is only for adults. So if you are not on a honeymoon then this is a great getaway to switch off from the world and relax with not a care in the world. You can go for scuba diving, snorkeling, sunset dolphin cruises, private luxury sailing, deep-sea fishing, and more – provided you are not unfortunate enough to experience a storm or rains in the middle of all the fun – which I did, but I cannot complain because I enjoy the rains.
The resort also has an infinity swimming pool overlooking the ocean, artificial turf courts for football (futsal), tennis and badminton, a fitness center with a personal trainer, and a deep-sea sports fishing boat. Hurawalhi´s Prodivers outpost offers regularly scheduled guided diving and snorkeling trips, manta search trips, dolphin safari, wakeboarding, parasailing, jet skis, equipment and accessory sales, rental, and repair, and a complete PADI 5-star training center.
If you are one of the aforementioned honeymoon couples, you also have the option to take a short boat ride to the island’s ‘dream island’ – a ‘private, romantic escape’. It is literally that – a private island where you will be dropped off for a couple of hours and are free to graze around it and do whatever your mind and heart pleases. For the sake of too much information and graphic detailing, I leave it up to your own imagination on what all needs to be and can be done here.
There is both much to do, and very little to do at Hurawalhi Maldives, depending on what it is that you would enjoy doing. Whatever it is that you choose, my word of advice is to try and squeeze in a walk in the beach at night, post-dinner perhaps, and allow the cool sand to ease your mind and heart of every little bit of stress or sullenness you may have felt until your trip – it has magical healing powers.
Note: The hotel hosted the critic, but all opinions are her own.