Best of the Maldives: Beach Huts – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - beach hut

If you want to keep from getting pink in a carcinoma-inducing sun over-exposure way, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru offers private beach huts for guests:

  • “Beach Pavilions, located on the public beach in front of the Dive / Watersport Centre. They can be used by in-house guests that do not want to stay in the privacy of their villa and we also use them for guests that arrive early and have to wait for their villa to be ready for check-in. Three beach cabanas at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and in-house guests can reserve them via our Resorts Hosts / front desk.”

We often struggle with the delicate balance of being as close to the water as possible, but having access to more sun protection than an umbrella and/or palm frond. We find ourselves moving back and forth from our beach perches back to the shelter of our villa set back further. Vabbinfaru provides sort of the best of both worlds with this bonus villas.

Sort of a home away from home away from home.

Best of the Maldives: Water Feature Jacuzzi – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - water feature jacuzzi

How do you like to relax? Bathing in a jacuzzi? Listening to the hypnotic sounds of a water feature. Well, how about a water feature into the Jacuzzi. I’ve seen several cascades into villa pools, but Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru’s aqua combo was the first I’ve seen with a Jacuzzi. Double the soothing soak.


Illustrating Sporty Swimsuits

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI cover

While While the Maldives might have competition for being the top photoshoot destination in the world, there is definitely one top photoshoot in the world…the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The 2016 issue which hit the stands yesterday now so hotly anticipated that they have developed a television show to launch it. Famous SI Swimsuit models include Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson, Kathy Ireland, Paulina Porizkova, Anna Kournikova, Kate Upton and Beyonce.

And two of the most famous today – partly for their own reality TV shows – shot their issues in the Maldives. Tyra Banks was on the ascendency to becoming her “Americ’a Top Model” with the 1998 edition shot at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. Her previous year’s cover was historic as she was the first black American to grace the cover of the blockbuster annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That year also introduced “America’s Got Talent” Heidi Klum as 1998’s cover girl.

The next Maldives issue was 2010 shot at Anantara Veli and Dhigu featuring Christine Teigen, Bar Refaeli, Dominique Piek and Brooklyn Decker.

While the USA Swimsuit Edition is the main event, SI South Africa has also been drawn to these neighbouring picturesque Laccadive shores. SI South Africa produced a swimsuit calendar featuring Joelle Kayembe at Bandos, as well as Lee Ann Liebenberg and Liza Botha back at Anantara.

Here are 10 true “10s” from the SI Swimsuit collection…


1. Tyra Banks (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Tyra Banks
2. Brooklyn Decker (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Brooklyn Decker
3. Lee Ann Liebenberg (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Lee Ann Liebenberg
4. Bar Refaeli (Israel) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Bar Refaeli
5. Beri Smither (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Beri Smither
6. Joelle Kayembe (South Africa) – Bandos: 2008
Bandos - Joelle Kayembe
7. Christine Teigen (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Christine Teigen
8. Liza Botha (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Liza Botha
9. Dominique Piek (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2010
Anantara Veli - Dominique Piek
10. Heidi Klum (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI inside


And if the pin-ups are not enough, Sports Illustrated has kindly posted a whole collection of videos taken from the shoots so you can enjoy the backdrop of the Maldives with this assortment of aesthetic additions.

Best of the Maldives: Neighbourly – Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru aerial

(photo courtesy of Luxury hotels




Olhuveli and Fun Island might be the closest geographic neighbours, but Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru are the closest operationally (not attached).

You have Angsana which is literally a 2 minute hop by hourly water 'taxi', so you have the benefit of two islands in one resort (you can also charge any costs on Angsana to BT, and visa versa.” (thanks John)

You might not be able to go pick watermelons, but you can enjoy any of the other amenities (perhaps a watermelon martini).

Best of the Maldives: Reef Innovation – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Lotus project 2

Banyan Tree Vabinfaru takes a completely different approach to using electronic media to help preserve the environment. Their Lotus Project is pioneering the use of ‘Mineral Accretion’ technology which use low voltage electric currents to stimulate coral growth (thanks John). Sort of an electromyostimulation for reef fitness…

“In November 2001, the Vabbinfaru Lotus was successfully launched. This unique reef restoration project was developed under the supervision of architect Prof. Wolf Hilbertz, coral scientist Dr. Tom Goreau and Abdul Azeez Abdul Hakeem, the marine environmental consultant to Banyan Tree Maldives. The metal structure is two meters high, 12 meters in diameter and shaped in the form of a giant lotus flower…A method invented by Prof. Hilbertz and Dr. Goreau called ‘Mineral Accretion’ now enables us to restore marine habitats by using completely safe low voltage electrical currents to grow solid limestone structures in the sea and making additional energy available for the corals. The energy accelerates the growth and reproduction of corals; it increases their ability to resist environmental stresses and makes them healthier and visibly brighter in color…The Vabbinfaru Lotus is not only a visually appealing object but also combines aesthetics with purpose. It acts as a coral nursery, a ‘Coral Ark’, that maintains a fascinating diversity of species. With its open flower shape the surface area is maximized, inviting the sun to promote the development and growth of the corals. Half a ton of welded construction reinforcing bar was used to build the frame, which was then carried by around 40 volunteers through the shallow lagoon and deposited on the slope of Vabbinfaru’s outer reef. The Lotus is now located at a depth of three to ten meters…It uses around 600 watts of power, which is only a little more than each of the lights on the jetty attracting fish at night.”

Power to the coral!


Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Lotus project 1

Best of the Maldives: On the Beach Rooms – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru beach villa



‘Intimate’ is one of the words most frequently used to describe the Maldives. Both in a romantic sense, but also in a geographical sense. The the islands’ tiny size making for an intimacy in staying on them. Their low lying aspect giving visitors an intimate connection to the ocean. Their shallow lagoons and reefs lending a gentle intimacy to the ocean itself.

Water villas have come to characterise the intimate connection one has with the ocean during a Maldives stay, but if you want all of the proximity to the ocean of a water bungalow without actually being on a bungalow, then Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru has an option for you, reports Adrian Neville

No beach rooms in the Maldives are more on-the-beach than those of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. Don't expect privacy too.”

You might ask, ‘Why would you want something so close to the water without having a water villa?’…

  1. Kids are not allowed in almost all water villas.
  2. Water villas cost significantly more.
  3. Don’t step on sand going from water to door (okay, I’m reaching here).


Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru beach villa 2

Best of the Maldives: Nature Conservation – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

EC3 Seed Award

I’ve been running a series of posts of the range of eco-friendly approaches various Maldive resorts are taking as the Maldives asserts itself as the most carbon progression nation on the planet. It’s not just about using the planet’s resources wisely, which many carbon reduction and intelligent design approaches have concentrated on, but it can also be about restoring, renewing and replenishing the environment.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru received the EC3 Global annual ‘Seed Award’ for its efforts to restore the reefs around the island during and after the construction. The EC3 site includes a great video on the various efforts undertaken.

“Banyan Tree’s in-house Marine Lab at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2009, making it the longest running resort-based marine research facility in the Maldives. In the past five years, the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab has been involved in major projects such as tsunami recovery efforts, working with endangered and threatened marine species, planting coral gardens, mentoring at-risk children, and sharing sustainable livelihood methods with local communities. The successes of the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab have shown that private resorts can enable stewardship and understanding of their own reefs, as well as that of the whole Maldives archipelago, protecting against phenomena such as beach erosion and coral bleaching due to climate change.”