Canareef Resort Maldives
What We Love
- An idyllic stay at a beachfront villa in the stunning Maldives, with breakfast, lunch and dinnerWatching the sun set over the Indian Ocean from your villa's private terrace
- Lounging on powdery white sand and taking a dip in the bright turquoise water
- Heading out on a dolphin cruise or diving with manta rays
What To Know
- The resort is huge and pretty spread out; you can rent bikes for $4 per day, or use their buggy service which is free
- Villa bathrooms are entirely outdoors – be on the lookout for bugs, especially at night
- Free WiFi is extremely spotty, but that's to be expected given your island locale
If you close your eyes and picture an island paradise, you’ll probably see something similar to the Maldives. With powdery white sand, lush green palm trees and bright turquoise water, this island nation in the Indian Ocean is among the most spectacular in the world. Hidden among a collection of cerulean atolls, you’ll find Canareef Resort Maldives. This resort promises a stay like no other, and even getting there is part of the adventure – you’ll fly over the equator and take an exhilarating speed-boat ride from the airport.
The resort itself is just as impressive as the location. The beautiful villas are separated by lush greenery, and each offers access to the private sandy beach, where you can lounge and gaze at the sparkling Indian Ocean. Inside, you’ll find gorgeous natural materials and a color palette that reflects the scenery and culture around you. These spacious sanctuaries even include bathrooms that are partially open to the outside, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the island.
As lovely as your villa is, there are also plenty of activities in and around the resort to keep you busy – join dolphin cruises, dive with manta rays, explore shipwrecks and take local island tours. After a bit of excitement, dine on local specialties or enjoy a massage at the waterside spa.
Good to know
Guests must contact the resort directly at least three days prior to arrival to inform them of their flight details and the names and number of travelers. This will allow the resort to help arrange for an additional domestic flight and a boat transfer.
Each of the villas offers beach access directly from the bedroom, with sliding glass doors that open up to the soft white sand and infinite stretch of turquoise water. You’ll also enjoy the tranquility of a private terrace – perfect for sipping your morning coffee or a cocktail at sunset. Sunset Beach villas offer 820 square feet of space for you to stretch out in, while Jacuzzi villas feature 1,045 square feet and an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Amenities- Flat-screen cable TV – Minibar- Coffee and tea facilities- Wi-Fi access- Air conditioning- Luxury bath amenities- In-room safe- Hair dryer
The island’s three restaurants will provide you with an array of gastronomical delights. Kilhi offers sumptuous international buffet spreads, as well as private dining lounges available for booking. Elsewhere, Dhoni is the perfect place for tropical cocktails at sunset or barbecue seafood dinners on the beach. There’s also Meeraa, which serves exquisite Asian cuisine and a wide range of cocktails at their poolside bar.
Keep your heart pumping with one of the many activities at the resort, including snorkeling, island hopping tours, tennis, beach volleyball and cycling. There’s also a certified PADI dive center on the resort, so you can get up close and personal with the area’s incredible marine life. However, if it’s pure bliss you’re after, stop by Sanctuaire Spa. Secluded from the rest of the island, this peaceful, waterside compound provides private suites for massages and a whole range of detox and beauty treatments.
The resort is located on Herathera Island, in the southern Maldives. Guests must contact the resort directly at least three days prior to arrival to inform them of their flight details, as well as the names and number of travelers. The resort will then help arrange for a domestic flight from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport to Gan International airport, and the resort will also provide a boat ride from Gan airport to the island, which takes approximately 10 minutes.
How to Get There
If your idea of paradise is white sand and nothing else, a pristine resort manicured within an inch of it’s life, this is not the place for you.
Instead, at Canareef, you get, on the lagoon side, white sand with pebbles, shells and coral all naturally washed in from the sea.
You get beautiful blue sea, and the only thing you can hear is the lapping of the waves, occasionally, an electric buggy passing by or the sound of other guests out on their bikes.
We stayed in a sunset jacuzzi villa which looked exactly like the website pictures. We had two chairs and loungers on the deck facing the sea and loungers in the back next to the jacuzzi.
The spa is a must; the hot stones & Balinese massages are some of the best we have experienced.
The resort itself is best described as rustic. Others have mentioned the sand on the floor which actually works - unless you don’t want a beach resort in which case, take yourself somewhere else!
The service is mostly good, Asim and Shier really took care of us. Shier really excelled himself decorating our room and the walkway to it for a special birthday which was lovely.
Bar service was mixed, particularly in the restaurant where the drinks were limited and they didn’t seem to want to get you a drink from the bar. So if there is something you really want, get it before you go to dinner!
The ‘all inclusive’ package is really limited and a bit disappointing. Food is only served during the restaurant opening hours and unlike other all inclusive resorts, there was no ‘snack / pool bar’ type options. The drinks menu, particularly for cocktails is poor.
We visited when it was quiet so many of the bars were not open. The Dhoni bar is a great place to watch the sunset if you’re not on the lagoon side.
Customer Service is ok, communication is lacking as trips were cancelled due to the weather but no one told us; they just looked surprised when we turned up!
We were unlucky, the weather was not great with torrential rainstorms over a number of days so perhaps we didn’t see the resort in its best light.
That said, four stars is stretching it a bit for us.
We took our two kids and had a wonderful time here, the food was pretty good and the service is excellent. One of my daughters had a birthday here, so the staff made us a lovely chocolate cake and the band came to sing to her and the kind manager offered us a free snorkeling trip.
The room was clean twice every day and plenty of water bottles left for us all. No issues with the cleaning, it was very good.
The island is lovely and the bikes are good value to hire daily. The big swimming pool is delightful to swim in , water is very clear and warm.
We did a couple of excursions and the cost of these can mount up when there is a family and the resort prices are reasonable.
The only downside is the third party companies which run the flights from Male to GAN, for a flight of about 500miles the prices are very high and currently they are the only company providing the flights.
Also the third parties that set the prices for the dive center, the water ski's/speedboat etc were extortionate so we didn't bother with those, we can do the same at in a European resort for a quarter of the price.
The kids didn't want to go back home to the UK and I wish I had booked for a bit longer than 10 days.
All in all , we had a great time and would go back any time we can afford to.
Staff are great. Very friendly and helpful. Food excellent. Snorkeling at the south end of the island was very good, safe. Buggies always on hand to cart one to all amenities. Accommodation clean and tidy (cleaning twice daily!). Met some really nice people who became friends.
Wonderful view from our Sunset villa,a few steps from the beach.The Island is some 5kms long by about 40 meters wide at the narrowest point between the Khili Restaurant and the Dhoni Bar and pool.Lots of Tropical forest.Staff were generally very good and accommodating.Good transport via buggies to all places.A 50 meter pool at the Dhoni bar was needed as the beach was part sand and coral and ripped your feet when entering the sea. The villas are set out along the long stretch of both beaches but the overall impression was of isolation.Food was buffet style, and of reasonable quality.The Dhoni bar was understaffed and we had long wait between ordering and actually receiving the order.A cocktail and drinks party was organised which was the highlight of our stay.We have previously visited the Maldives and this place was a star behind last years.A special mention to ABU our room cleaner. He was very good and friendly gave good constructive advice.
You can write a very long review to describe key highlights of Canareef Resort. Let me to focus only on key areas valid for January/February 2019:
a) everything start on Male airport where local team guides you to the local plane (approx 1 hour trip) and later on within 15 minutes with speedboat you are reaching most southern atoll of Maldives. Passing equator comes with certificate :)
b) dedicated Customer Support representative is present from first to last minute (thank you Aman!)
c) loneliness....this is key word on Canareef. Resort is located on Herathera island - narrow one with approx 4 km of length and 200 meters wide....try to imagine only 100 hotel guests there. For many days we were alone on the beach with no person in sights for several hundred meters.
d) island has two different sides:
- "sunrise villa" side with rocky beach - uncomfortable to swim and "high" 1m waves (January)
- "sunset villa" side with beautiful sandy beach, however you can feel some parts of reef when entering the see without shoes......Even 200m away from the beach, there is not more than 2m of depth....very shallow and safe for kids
e) hotel facilities - huge swimming pool, several restaurants, bar, diving base (amazing experience that deserve another review: mantas, sharks, barracudas just few meters from you for not more than 90 USD all-in-rate/dive), rental of sport equipment, pretty well equipped gym, bike rentals (yes, island is pretty long and you can visit neighbouring island connected with bridge - Hulhumeedhoo), SPA and man more. In addition there are walking tours around small lakes, dolphin tours, fishing, parties with hotel management, crabs races and and and....
f) temperatures and climate - 9 days where only 3 times it was raining but for not more than 15 minutes (only ones during the day time). Most of the time there was full sun or partially behind few clouds. Air temperature of 32 degrees. Water temperature of 29 degrees. Please remember it is most southern atoll of Maldives, below the equator - climate is far better than in Male where sky was fully covered with clouds.
g) room selection - If you are budget oriented select the sunrise villa. You will be forced to walk only for short distance to reach sunny beach on sunset side. Please consider the alco prices (explained below) and think about AI package
h) southern corner - another beautiful part of the island where more reef is accessible for snorkelers. We were told to consider current....Well....Keeping in mind 60 cm water depth for sure you should keep in mind safety procedures, but :)))
i) very friendly hotel staff - always serving you with natural smile
On con side let me to mention few points:
- no real support when travelling back to Male (unfortunately local plane was delayed and we missed flight back home from Male). Responsibility was transferred to Maldives airlines those acted in full professional manner, but....bit of last support from hotel would be appreciated
- drinks prices. I'm not a heavy drinker, but one can of beer for approx 8 USD can ruin wallet in short time (think about All inclusive package). Even 1.5 l of water served to dinner/lunch costs 3.2 USD...water in villas is free of charge