Escape to Hurawalhi Island in the Maldives for the ultimate couple’s getaway
Want to fall off the map with your better half? Hurawalhi Island in the Maldives is the ultimate couple’s getaway.
On the Maldivian island of Hurawalhi, one gets the sneaking suspicion that every sea critter is in cahoots with resort staff, working to put on a show so spectacular that guests will consider extending their stay in this little slice of paradise.
Below the jetty that connects a string of overwater villas to the beach, a school of skinny needlenose fish greets guests each morning. And if you look out onto the Indian Ocean at about 8am, you’re likely to see dolphins leaping and back-flipping some 50 metres away.
Located in the Lhaviyani Atoll about 40 minutes by seaplane from capital city Male, Hurawalhi is one of 1,190 islands southwest of India and Sri Lanka that make up the Maldives. Only about 200 of those islands are populated, and even fewer are home to luxury resorts.
That still leaves plenty of options to choose from, but Hurawalhi’s laidback, small-island vibe and “adults-only” designation make it a favourite among honeymooners and besotted couples both young and old.
Guests can choose between a standalone villa that sits on stilts atop the ocean, or one planted firmly on the beach. The only remaining decision is whether to splash out on a villa with a personal pool, some of which boast a sunset view.
The resort comprises 90 rooms in total, and the island – 400 metres long by 165 metres wide – can be circumnavigated in mere minutes. Yet despite Hurawalhi’s small size, it’s hard to see and do it all in one trip, especially for those with hopes of ticking off all the aquatic attractions: snorkelling, diving, kayaking, jet skiing, windsurfing and deep sea fishing, to name but a few.
Kirsty Ballard, resident marine biologist at Hurawalhi, says the waters surrounding the resort are rich in biodiversity.
“The southern atolls get the whale sharks, but here in Lhaviyani you’ve got a lot of great dive sites for big stuff like grey reef sharks, where you can do channel crossings on motorised scooters and see 50 to 100 of them in one dive,” says Ballard, who grew up on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
For those who’d rather keep a safe distance from sharks and oddly-named filter feeders, 5.8 Undersea Restaurant – so called for its depth (in metres) below sea level – is Hurawalhi’s star attraction. Not only is it the largest all-glass undersea restaurant in the world, but the food is just as impressive, with Michelin-starred chefs helming the kitchen and serving up surf and turf delights, plus a vegetarian menu that doesn’t compromise on quality.
Also popular among happily coupled holidaymakers is the nearby Dream Island, which can be booked by Hurawalhi guests for two to four hours at a time.
There are plenty of other activities to keep you busy, including a dolphin-watching cruise, sunrise yoga sessions, football, tennis and badminton courts, wine tastings and nightly entertainment ranging from a popular DJ to traditional Maldivian music performed by resort staff.
But what truly sets Hurawalhi apart as a top honeymoon destination is the rare luxury of relaxation. Staff are genuinely friendly and attentive, and while the amenities provided are no doubt five star-worthy, it comes with none of the pretentiousness that can be felt at similarly-rated establishments.
“Carefree is the way to be,” says Mohamed Solah, the resort’s director of operations. “We encourage guests to go without shoes and they don’t need to dress up, which is a luxury in itself. Normally, in your day-to-day life you have to make sure everything is well thought of beforehand, but here you can enjoy an easy life.”
If the Maldives is on your bucket list, you might want to consider going sooner rather than later. As a result of climate change, rising sea levels threaten to sink these pristine islands – although there’s no consensus on the likelihood of this occurring.
One thing is for certain, though: Hurawalhi, where the serene verges on surreal, is a once-in-a-lifetime trip – unless, that is, you’re anything like the repeat visitors who have come back two or three times since the resort opened.
“I have seen so many people who come here and say, ‘OK, Maldives can be crossed off the bucket list,’” Solah says, “but then they get addicted and keep coming back.”
The full version of this feature appears on Gafencu Magazine’s March 2018 print issue as ” Honeymoon Avenue” by Emily Petsko. You can download the free app for digital editions of the magazine.