Best of the Maldives: Beach Rugby Pitch – Cinnamon Hakura Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - beach rugby pitch

Six Nations might have concluded this weekend, but you can carry on your place kicks in paradise at Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura. They not only have one of the only rugby pitches, complete with regulation goal posts and boundary line, but it is also set on the beach beside Hakuraa Hura’s expansive lagoon. The Sri Lankan run resort has a number of Sri Lankan staff you play regularly if you are looking to join in a seaside scrum.

Best of the Maldives: Rugged Workout – Finolhu

Finolhu - fitness

It’s not just celebrities who face gruelling challenges, whether for reality TV or just their own Instagram feed (check out Sophie Turner battling her own thorny game below). If you want to steel up your fitness for any challenge life throws at you, Finolhu offers not only a complete training course facility, but also their own star trainer to help you out:

  • “Finolhu has partnered with the renowned UFC GYM, the elite fitness concept from global phenomenon Ultimate Fighting Championship®. A UFC GYM Master Trainer will be based on island at Finolhu’s The Cove Club from October 1, offering a blend of traditional workout facilities and mixed martial arts to enhance the fitness levels of guests with a variety of personal training and group classes.”

Do you even jungle gym tho #CocoPrive @cocopriveprivateisland

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Best of the Maldives: Celebrity Reality TV – Vadoo

A really big show with really big names requires more than a really big villa. In fact, it might require an entire resort like Tropika Island Of Treasure Maldives has done with Vadoo. Not the first reality TV show in the Maldives (actually this is the third prompting me to add the “Reality TV” tag), but maybe the biggest now featuring celebrities battling it out in paradise. Many of the episodes are being posted on YouTube so if you just want to follow the frolicking fun wherever you are (even if you don’t recognise the South African stars), you can tune in.

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Water Villa – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi’s Private Residence    St Regis Vommulis John Jacob Astor Estate
Gili Lankanfushi Private Reserve                                                St. Regis Vommuli John Jacob Astor Estate

Sometimes the “Best” (and “Biggest”) of the Maldives can become an ever escalating arms race of hyperbolic luxury. One of the more curious bragging rights tussle is over the “Largest Water Villa in the Maldives

For years, the reigning champion was Gili Lankanfushi’s Private Residence.  I had it listed as 1400 sqm.  Then, a couple of years ago came along St. Regis Vommuli’s John Jacob Astor Estate listed as 1540 sqm, putting the voluminous into the Vommuli.  A YouTube video tour “Largest overwater villa in the Maldives” heralded it as the new crown holder in the outsize overwater villa league table. But then, I read this listicle piece by Lina Travel, “Largest Overwater Villas in the Maldives” which put Gili back on top listing the Private Residence at a larger 1700 sqm. I contacted the resort and they explained, “We had an extension of the Private Reserve in 2015, making the total area 1700 sqm.”

Gili Lankanfushi - private reserve

Best of the Maldives: Elevation – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - elevation

For the high-flying Maldives clientele, you don’t get much more elevated (especially in this part of the world famous for being so low lying) than Soneva Fushi resort. Coincidentally, Soneva’s acronym “SFR” (Soneva Fushi resort) echoes the original icon of high living in castaway paradise – Swiss Family Robinson. Here is a list of the lofty luxury you can find there…

  • Treehouse – Let’s start with the fundamentals of elevated living – the Treehouse. As in “Villa Suite with Treehouse”. Especially suited as an annex for children.
    Soneva - villa treehouse
  • Kids Club – If your childhood Disney fantasies overcome you and you decide to take the treehouse for yourself, at least the kids get the multi-story labyrinth of whimsy that is the “Den” kids club with plenty of climbing places including their own outdoor play treehouse.
    Soneva Fushi kids club 1
  • Dining – But the whole family can enjoy a soaring supper at the “Fresh in the Garden” (or over the garden) restaurant deck.
    Soneva Fushi restaurant table 2
  • Walkway – Of course, to get there you need the obligatory Indian Jones rope bridge. One the first, longest and highest.
    Soneva Fushi - rope bridge
  • Spa – The second story treatment rooms and chill out area adds a vista to your vinyasa.
    Soneva Fushi - spa
  • Toilet – Loo with a view.  ‘Nuff said.
    Soneva Fushi self-composting toilet
  • Palm Tree Climbing – If you don’t have the climbing dexterity of some of the Maldivians.
    Soneva Fushi - palm wine harvesting
  • Villas – Taller villas than anywhere in the Maldives with sweeping wrap-around decks for 360 degree views.
    Soneva Fushi - residences
  • Mattresses – The thickest mattresses in the Maldives so even when you lie down, you get lifted up.
    Soneva Fushi - bed
  • Ceilings – And when you do lie down, your gaze extends quite high to some soaring ceilings that exemplify the SFR chic aesthetic.
    Soneva Fushi beams
  • Observatory – If none of that is high enough for you, Soneva was the pioneer of lifting their guest up to the star above with the first astronomical observatory in the Maldives. Naturally, the telescope itself is nestled in the treetops accessed by a canopy crossing walkway.
    Soneva Fushi - observatory

There is one exception which is Soneva’s sunken pool seating which is the lowest seating in the Maldives being literally below ground level (without being underground).

Like the Maldives Only Taller

Huma Island - Philippines

As I discussed in my post “Maldives Methadone”, one of the most frequently discussed topic amongst Maldives addicts (known as victims of “Maldivitis”) is the question “Is there anywhere else on Earth like the Maldives?” (hopefully a little cheaper).

If you truly take the unique blend of characteristics that make the Maldives the very definition of Bounty-bar iconic paradise, then the selection is rather limited. So to extend the boundaries a little more generously, I’ve assembled a second tier collection of tropical islands that are like the Maldives in every way except elevation.

Unfortunately, adding a bit of topological height doesn’t really seem to lower the price that much. Most of the rates are comparable to top high-end 4-stars or value priced 5-star properties in the Maldives. But if you are okay with a largish pile of rocks instead a smallish plot of sand for your tropical island, then here are some Maldives cousins…

  1. Huma Island, Philippines (£484 per night) [ABOVE]
  2. Club Paradise Palawan, Philippines (£308 per night)
    Club Paradise Palawan - Philippines
  3. Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar (£427 per night)
    Constance Tsarabanjina - Madagascar
  4. Petit St. Vincent, Grenadines (£665 per night)
    Petit St. Vincent - Grenadines
  5. Komodo Resort, Sebayur Indonesia (£380 per night)
    Komodo Resort - Sebayur (Indonesia)
  6. Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji (£560 per night)
    Royal Davui Island Resort - Fiji

Best of the Maldives: Southernmost Point – Equator Village

Southernmost point

Shangri-La Villingili might be the “Southernmost Resort”, but Equator Village gets you to the Southernmost Point, the tippy-toe, of the Maldives on its Gan island (as you can see from the map below, Villingili resort island extended below the position of Equator Village, but the rest of Gan island outside the resort compound goes further south).  Maldives Complete roving reporter Paola posted the above photo of this geographic extremity on the very tip of Gan’s southern promontory.

Compass point extremes have a strange allure. Like you have gone to the very edge of the place in question. The planet carries on pretty much like the surrounding area, but still you feel like you have reach to the limit of this destination. Especially in the Maldives which stretches so extensively from north to south for nearly a thousand kilometres. Our son, Chase (himself a veteran of many Maldives trips) has explored these topological margins with his field recording both in the USA (Key West where we stayed at the Southernmost Hotel) and the UK (where he undertook a project to record all for compass points extremes in Britain which ended up in the British Library).

Southernmost point map

Seaside Śīrṣāsana on the Sand

A post shared by D A R I A (@__kuznetsova__) on

Maldive guests are absolutely head over heels about yoga. Whether it is your standard Śīrṣāsana, or a bendy Scorpion, One-Legged Wheel or even being suspended in an aerial yoga hammock, the breath of ocean breeze is always a boost to mind-over-matter (even when the mind is well under the matter)…

  1. Daria Kuznetsova (Russia) – Royal Island [ABOVE]
  2. Kino MacGregor (USA) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Kino MacGregor (USA) - Sun Siyam Irufushi 2
  3. Philine Pi Roepstorff (Denmark) – Cocoon
    Philine Pi Roepstorff (Denmark) - Cocoon
  4. Paola (Poland) – Velassaru
    Paola (Poland) - Velassaru
  5. Elena Minagi (Italy) – Kudafushi
    Elena Minagi (Italy) – Kudafushi
  6. Mar Mengot (Spain) – Athuruga
    Mar Mengot (Spain) - Athuruga
  7. Yoshie Roux-Chabert (France) – Amilla Fushi
    Yoshie Roux-Chabert (France) 2
  8. Emma Pensini (Australia) – Finolhu
    Emma Pensini (Australia) – Finolhu 2
  9. Tippawan Tanchai (Thailand) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
    Tippawan Tanchai (Thailand) - Atmosphere Kanifushi
  10. Jena Frumes (USA) – Park Hyatt Hadahaa
    Jena Frumes (USA) - Park Hyatt Hadahaa
  11. Jinx (Hong Kong) – Milaidhoo
    Jinx (Hong Kong) – Milaidhoo
  12. Paige Rene (USA) – Maalhoss
    Paige Rene (USA) - Maalhoss
  13. Lisa Jakobsson (Sweden) – Anantara Kihavah
    Lisa Jakobsson (Sweden) - Anantara Dhigu

  14. Katrin Amaure (Austria) – Furaveri
    Katrin Amaure (Austria) - Furaveri
  15. Eden Adar (Israel) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Eden Adar (Israel) - Sun Siyam Irufushi
  16. Juhi Chawla (India) – Six Senses Laamu
    Juhi Chawla (India) - Six Senses Laamu
  17. Adell Bridges (USA) – Maalifushi
    Adell Bridges (USA) – Maalifushi 2
  18. Kristina Schulman (USA) – Shangri-La Vilingili
    Kristina Schulman (USA) - Shangri-La Vilingili
  19. Dominika Myslivcová (Czech) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Dominika Myslivcová (Czech) - Gili Lankanfushi
  20. Sarita Câmara (Brazil) – Anantara Veli
    Sarita Câmara (Brazil) - Anantara Veli
  21. Kseniya Cherezova (Russia) – Sun Island
    Kseniya Cherezova (Russia) - Sun Island
  22. Nicole Dzikowska (USA) – Meedhupparu
    Nicole Dzikowska (USA) - Meedhupparu
  23. Karen (Sri Lanka) – Maalhos
    Karen (Sri Lanka) - Maalhos
  24. Anna Kleb (Germany) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Anna Kleb (Germany) - One & Only Reethi Rah

  25. Bianca Jade (South Africa)
    Bianca Jade (South Africa)
  26. Babe Sik (OAE) – Kandooma
    Babe Sik (OAE) - Kandooma
  27. Katarina Rodriguez (Philippines) – W Maldives
    Katarina Rodriguez (Philippines) - W Retreat
  28. Jessica Rae (USA) – Fihalhohi
    Jessica Rae (USA) – Fihalhohi 1
  29. Sarah Meith (Germany) – Makunudu
    Sarah Meith (Germany) - Makunudu
  30. Marta Filipkowska (OAE) – Six Senses Laamu
    Marta Filipkowska (OAE) - Six Senses Laamu
  31. Beth Sykess (United Kingdom) – Finolhu
    Beth Sykess (United Kingdom) – Finolhu
  32. Grace Kelly (Portugal) – Paradise Island
    Grace Kelly (Portugal) - Paradise Island
  33. Anne (Sweden) – Six Senses Laamu
    Anne (Sweden) - Six Senses Laamu

  34. Michelle (OAE) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Michelle (OAE) - Sun Siyam Irufushi
  35. Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
    Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
  36. Scarlett De La Torre (Hong Kong) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Scarlett De La Torre (Hong Kong) - LUX South Ari Atoll
  37. Jemma (Australia) – Constance Moofushi
    Jemma (Australia) - Constance Moofushi

Prana in Paradise

A post shared by Real Maldives (@realmaldives) on

The International Yoga Festival takes place this week in neighbouring India and home of all things yoga, but the Maldives is an international yoga festival in its own right all year round…

  1. Amanda Strachan (Canada) – Milaidhoo
    Amanda Strachan (Canada) - Milaidhoo
  2. Jessica Rae (USA) – Fihalhohi
    Jessica Rae (USA) – Fihalhohi
  3. Sofi Anna and friends (Germany) – Maalifushi
    Sofi Anna and friends (Germany) – Maalifushi
  4. Bridget Bahl (USA) – Shangri-La Villingili
    Bridget Bahl (USA) – Shangri-La Villingili
  5. Kristina Schulman (USA) – Shangri-La Vilingili
    Kristina Schulman (USA) - Shangri-La Vilingili

  6. Naysilla Mirdad (Indonesia) – W Maldives
    Naysilla Mirdad (Indonesia) - W Retreat
  7. Alisa Ilieva (Ukraine) – Kanuhura
    Alisa Ilieva (Ukraine) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
  8. Ocean Bloom (Canada) – Finolhu
    Ocean Bloom (Canada) - Finolhu
  9. Nicole Dzikowska (USA) – Meedhupparu
    Nicole Dzikowska (USA) - Meedhupparu
  10. Raquel Cueto Ruiz (Spain) – Anantara Veli
    Raquel Cueto Ruiz (Spain) - Anantara Veli
  11. Ali Dixon (Australia) – Kandooma
    Ali Dixon (Australia) - Kandooma
  12. Joanna Jović (UAE) – Cinnamon Dhonveli
    Joanna Jović (UAE) - Cinnamon Dhonveli
  13. Michaela Griffin-Smith (OAE) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Michaela Griffin-Smith (OAE) - LUX South Ari Atoll
  14. Ekaterina Dmitrieva (Russia) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Ekaterina Ilina (Russia) - LUX South Ari Atoll
  15. Jeong Hwa (South Korea) – Halaveli
    Jeong Hwa (South Korea) - Halaveli
  16. Melini Jesudason (Japan) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Melini Jesudason (Japan) - Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
  17. Xenia Deli (Moldova) – Six Senses Laamu
    Xenia Deli (Moldova) – Six Senses Laamu
  18. McKenna Ray (USA) – Conrad Rangali
    McKenna Ray (USA) - Conrad Rangali
  19. Devie Suhendi (Dhiffushi) – Indonesia
    Devie Suhendi (Dhiffushi) – Indonesia
  20. Dannielle Blaker (OAE) – Ayada
    Dannielle Blaker (OAE) - Ayada
  21. Sandra Dobuschinsky (Germany) – Reethi Beach
    Sandra Dobuschinsky (Germany) - Reethi Beach
  22. Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
    Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi

  23. Natalie Molhart (Sweden) – Vakarufalhi
    Natalie Molhart (Sweden) – Vakarufalhi
  24. Mu Qi Yi Ma (China) – W Maldives
    Mu Qi Yi Ma (China) – W Retreat
  25. Dolores Semeraro (Italy) – LUX Maldives
    Dolores Semeraro (Italy) – LUX Maldives
  26. Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Gili Lankanfushi
  27. Bubee Kanpaibool (Thailand) – Lily Beach
    Bubee Kanpaibool (Thailand) – Lily Beach
  28. Rosemary Vandenbroucke (Hong Kong) – W Maldives
    Rosemary Vandenbroucke (Hong Kong) – W Retreat
  29. Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – NIYAMA
    Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – Huvafenfushi

  30. Regina Chow (Singpore) – Cocoa Island
    Regina Chow (Singpore) – Cocoa Island
  31. Klutzclumlov (Malaysia) – Gangehi
    Klutzclumlov (Malaysia) – Gangehi
  32. Dodo Said (Germany) – Jumeirah VIttaveli
    Dodo Said (Germany) – Jumeirah VIttaveli 
  33. Melissa Pretorius (Australia) – Kandooma
    Melissa Pretorius (Australia) – Kandooma
  34. Tatiana Orleanskaya (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
    Tatiana Orleanskaya (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
  35. Gökçen Arikan (Turkey) – LUX Maldives
    Gökçen Arikan (Turkey) – LUX Maldives
  36. Yulia Obraztsova (Russia) – Cheval Blanc Randheli
    Yulia Obraztsova (Russia) – Cheval Blanc Randheli