I have “pinned” about every medium to the Maldives Complete Pinterest boards – towels, palm fronds, watermelon, coral pieces, flowers, pancake batter, coloured rice, sand, soap suds, bread, cooked rice, coconut husk and milk foam. So I was especially impressed when I arrived at Canareef who presented their welcome fruit arrangement with a bit of aquatic-inspired artistry manta shaped out of a napkin. Serviette with a smile.
Danish Liberation Day today. And for those Danes who want to be liberated from the chills of the North Sea, then Canareef has just the sort of sunshine escape to the Laccadive Sea. They have partnered with Primotours to provide a special Danish treat (not the breakfast kind):
- Direct flight from Billund (Denmark) to Maldives
- Accommodation for 7 or 14 nights in Bungalows with half board
- All-inclusive upgrade option
- Exclusively focused on the Maldives for Primotours wintertime holidays
- Danish representatives in country arranging excursions and servicing our guests (photo above features two, both named Emma)
Note: If you are interested in more details, see their website, but they only have Danish guests travelling to Maldives so their webpage is in Danish.
Den solrige side af livet!
While the main jetty is often the focal point of to-ing and fro-ing, the biggest islands like Canareef (well, one of the longest), also lay on ground shuttles with little electric buggies to ferry people across the property itself. You can call them when you need them, but depending on how busy and far away they are, they might take a few minutes to reach you. Rather than expending any energy standing in the tropical sun, Canareef has constructed a number of sheltered buggy stops at its prime spots (eg. restaurants, spa).
I love pint sized versions of things. One of my favourite websites is Minimus.biz (at one point I was going to open up a European branch of Minimus). The Maldives itself is pretty much made up of pint-sized versions of islands. And, since the outset, I’ve always felt that the appeal of the destination for families with children was always unsung.
I was especially enchanted by Canareef’s mini climbing wall for the smallest tykes t the kids club. Too often the “big” kids get all the cool, adventure toys, while the little ones are stuck with colouring books. This wall is just right for the tiniest alpinists. And at over a meter high (!), they can boast having scaled the highest point on the island.
Perhaps the greatest allure of the Maldives is its intimacy with the ocean. The diminutive islands are nettled just at the water level so you are never far from it vertically or horizontally. Some of the bigger islands lose a bit of this aquatic intimacy. But one of the longest islands, Canareef, has as much if not more pervasive ambience of surrounding seaside. Primarily, because it is so skinny. With the shoreline only a few dozen meters away on either side of the island, the ambient noise of gentle waves permeate the air up and down the island.
And this stereo seaside is just one aspect of the resort’s water immersed motif. If you are a water lover, then Canareef is the resort for you. It features water of every size and shape…
- Seashore – One side dramatic surf, the other side mill pond calm. Both along the longest coastline in the Maldives resorts.
- Lakes – 3 of these relatively rare bodies of water in the Maldives
- Pools – Also a top of the league table number.
- Channel – A relatively rare feature in the Maldives.
Even your own Jacuzzi if you like in the Jacuzzi Villas. If water is what drew you to this destination that is 99% ocean, then Canareef tops it up just a bit further.
How do you make a single island into two (not like they need more numbers with 1,900 in the country)? With a canal.
To make it a segregated resort island (since “resort islands” can do things like serve alcohol which “inhabited islands” are prohibited from doing), the original Herathera resort dug a channel to separate the inhabited side of its incredibly long island from the uninhabited side which was being developed in a resort.
Now connected by a handy footbridge (see above), a large portion of the Canareef staff reside on the inhabited staff and walk to work each day. It also provides a the most handy visit to a “local island” as you can simply walk over to visit instead of devoting a whole excursion trip which most resorts offer (the bridge has a security guard to make sure only authorised staff and guest come onto the resort island).
Siamese twin island joined at the bridge.
The Maldives lagoons. There aquamarine pools are perhaps the feature that most defines the distinctive Maldives topology from above. And yet for many Maldives aficionados and avid snorkelers, they often dismissed and disregarded. The “main event” for the Maldives’ world leading snorkelling is the ‘house reef drop off’. Where the coral shallows plummet into the deep blue ornamented with a living collage of vibrant sealife.
Lori and I often feel these unsung littoral shoals are underappreciated. On our first visit, we knew nothing about the drama of the house reef and spent our first days happily snorkelling among the scattered coral croppings in two-foot deep water. We were nonetheless still mesmerized by the schools of tropical fish darting here and there. Since that time, we have had some very fine snorkels in lagoons.
I long ago added a basic ‘house reef’ rating to the resort Profiles, but a couple years ago I thought of adding a ‘Lagoon Rating’. I didn’t have enough information to do a good job of it and, as I’ve mentioned, there’s not a lot of call for lagoon info. But I have seen many lagoons in my 70+ Maldives resort visits and snorkelled most of them, and I have been struck by a number of them. For example, Four Season Kuda Huraa’s with its early and ambitious reefscaping initiative stands out for example. But I have to call out Canareef’s “Coral Garden” as very possibly the best ‘house lagoon’ in the Maldives.
While lagoon snorkels are more sedate and less eventful affairs, our snorkel of their Coral Garden was one of the most exciting underwater excursions of the trip. First you are struck by the great variety of coral. Most of it in very good health. One of the best parts is the crewcut forests of staghorn coral tickling the underside of the ocean top. They weave in contorted shapes like a shrubbery maze in the garden of a stately home that you can get lost in roaming through the sandy channels.
And this water wonderland extends for acres and acres. In fact, it gets a bit spooky to swim half a kilometre offshore even if the depth is still chest high. The shallow depth makes the Coral Garden an attractive option for snorkelling novices especially at low tide. If you have any difficulties, you can just stand up (as long as you ONLY stand on the sand, not the coral, but there is plenty of sand around). Even though it is sheltered and shallow, always take every precaution when snorkelling especially if you are less experienced.
Many resorts have started adding a number of creative touches to give their lagoons more allure. Despite its abundance of natural blessings in the lagoon department, Canareef is not resting on its laurels. They are in the process of building a special overwater bar to support the snorkelling. You can get gear there and have a post-snorkel drink while sharing all your snorkel spotting tales.
Never have I seen so much marine life in such little water.
When is a big island not a big island? When it goes on and on seemingly forever, and yet you are never more than a few feet from the ocean.
Canareef is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it resort for people who want to be far flung from Male…but without high seaplane transfer costs (the domestic flight is about half the price). For people who want the intimacy of a tiny island with the gentle ocean sounds surrounding them…but with a bit of room to spread their legs and support a range of activity (the island is distinctively long and skinny giving it this big-but-small duality). For people who want quality comforts and cuisine…but without all the fussy chic design and gourmet palaver.
Canareef is just the latest in probably the most extended identity crisis of any resort. The island has been known as Herathera, Handhufushi, Amari Addu and now Canareef. But I think it has finally found itself. It really made an impression on us. We would rate it as one of the Top Ten Most Distinctive resorts in the Maldives. Distinctive in terms of memorable uniqueness.
All of its distinction stem from its sinewy length – the longest stand alone resort island in the Maldives. Its 5 kilometers seems to stretch it out endlessly, but it is very narrow so the ocean is never more than a stone’s throw either side of you. So it still ‘feels’ like a tiny island with the gentle ocean acoustics in stereo surround sound. Despite its sizeable number of villas (271), you don’t feel at all crowded. In fact, if you venture up the stunning Coral Garden (the best lagoon coral garden we have seen in the Maldives) at the southern most tip of the island, there are no villas and you feel like you are on your own deserted island expedition.
The restaurant offers nicely done food – lunch included grilled to order lamb steaks, pickled calamari, and stone fruit mousse. But the best part was the ocean view and the sand floor. Too many of the larger buffet restaurants opt for hard floors or enshroud their restaurant in the inner island away from the sea views (mind you, Canareef doesn’t really have an inner island, it is so narrow). They also have sand floors at its reception and bars. I am struggling to recall a resort that uses natural sand floors as extensively as Canareef.
Canareef is a very affordable resort that so many people crying out for with all the creature comforts combined with an exceptional island.