1/7-16: A new destination - Kanifushi Resort Maldives. Our first overseas trip of 2021. Here's the story.
And this is the island's map compliments of their web site.
ATMOSPHERE KANIFUSHI MALDIVES
We first got wind of this place when I read the blog of a Brit whom I'm guessing is also likely either the owner of or an agent of Fly Odyssey Tours in the UK. It was particularly appealing in that he indicated the resort to be a strictly DIY experience since there is no fly fishing guiding operation there - and that's the way we like our fly fishing vacations. We don't want to deal with guides when we fish - we simply like to fish on our own.
The resort turned out to be so interesting we could probably write a short novel about the place, but let me try to condense the information to a somewhat quicker read, and will do it by parts.
From the USA, it's about as tough a trip as one can imagine since it's exactly halfway around the world. I'd estimate 36 travel/layover hours to get there and probably another 38 or so to return home. We flew from Tucson to Dallas and after another layover, left on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha that took roughly 14 hours. After an eight hour layover there, we did another four plus hours to Male in the Maldives where we had another layover before boarding a seaplane to the island. Twelve time zones away from our place in Arizona. Exhausting doesn't begin to describe the trip
Returning home the next weekend was even longer. There's no way to avoid the lengthiness unless you're willing to shell out roughly $20K apiece for some first class fares that might pare a handful of hours off the duration, something we'd not likely ever to do. For what it's worth Qatar Air is a decent operation, a step above Etihad, but certainly not the equal of Emirates Airways. The Doha airport terminal is a wow and almost worth a visit as a destination.
Truly a fascinating place. The entire island is completely developed - full of beach villas, over the water chalets, restaurants, and affiliated buildings. The sunset beach villa we occupied was a terrific unit, by far the nicest and most completely furnished and outfitted of any beach resort we've ever visited. Good sized space with an enclosed atrium in the back with double sinks, a sunken Jacuzzi tub, large outdoor shower and the other etc. The ocean side deck had easy water access and good seating. Best of all was a micro fridge full of wine, beer, sodas, and various waters that was replenished daily along with plenty of snacks for happy hours - and there was no extra charge for the resupplied food and drinks. A real treat for a change. Best of all WiFi was available everywhere and not just at the main dining facility.
There are roughly 172 dwellings of various sizes on the island, several restaurants and bars, recreation and workout rooms, water sports equipment, and a dive shop. It's very much like our favorite island - Alphonse, but pumped up on steroids. Apparently the 300 person staff can handle the roughly 500 guests that might be here if the place is totally booked, which it almost was on our visit.
Interestingly we may have been the only Americans on the island. More than half the guests were Russian and the balance split between folks from India, Sri Lanka, and other countries of the surrounding ocean area. The Russians were very interesting too. Most brought their children with them. As a group, the adults come off as very dour - rarely smiling or greeting others passing by, but we're certain they were all enjoying the warmer weather as opposed to the snow they had left at home.
For a more complete description, click this link to read more about Kanifushi from their web site. What we probably appreciated most about the resort was the quality of the food at Spice, the primary restaurant. It was astonishingly well done and is impossible to describe in detail. There was an amazing variety of cultural and ethnic foods - to be honest, the best we've enjoyed anywhere. Changing menus daily, the freshness and tastiness of the seafood, vegetables, meats, salads, breads, and pastries went beyond what we've ever had before.
The resort island area is about two kilometers in length - it's a long narrow strip of land with all of the dwelling units on the Western or lee shore. Breakwaters protect the over water villas and other vulnerable areas. Our villa was about a mile from the main dining pavilion, and we walked to and from it each day several times (mostly to work off the calories from the extra food we ate.)
Small electric open air shuttles run constantly to move people around the island. Management of the operation is outstanding. We were able to spend time chatting with several of the top people including the general manager Philippe Claverotte who's done a wonderful job of recruiting and motivating all of his staff. Given the current Covid issue, resort workers cannot even travel to the adjacent isles to visit their family and friends for a break so keeping the workers happy and productive has to be a very tough job.
Here are a few snips of the travel and the resort:
Kanifushi is not a fishing resort. It's a family getaway destination. We were the only people on the island who were casting. A Russian guy had brought along a tenkara telescoping rod but took it to the edge of the flats and after one look, gave up. The fishing situation is complicated here. It's very tide dependent and all the sand flats North of Kanifushi island have been eroded and devastated by storms. The manager's wife who used to walk a half mile of those flats bare footed daily now cannot even begin to walk a foot in that direction. The sand is all gone, having been simply swept away. Consequently normal flats style bone fishing doesn't exist at the moment.
The whole area has a complicated bottom situation. There's a narrow rough coral rock stretch adjacent to the windward edge of the flats, another narrow patch of turtle grass flats next, followed a cobblestone area that used to be the sandy bottomed flats. Given all that, it still can be very good fly fishing. Fish are here, but they are a lot harder to find and entice to strike. The species of game fish are identical to what we find in the Seychelles and in the South Pacific.
We had to do a new kind of discovery each day. Take a look at the following rough video to see what we found:
It's definitely worth a visit if you can handle the travel.
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