Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives
The Maldives is a destination that has become synonymous with barefoot luxury living, but it's the people at Gili Lankanfushi who were the original pioneers. The philosophy of 'no news, no shoes' rules supreme and is the only rule to live by on the island – your biggest worry during your stay is likely to be remembering what time the sun sets each day.
At Gili Lankanfushi, you're encouraged to discover your inner Robinson Crusoe and you'll find that's not particularly hard to do amid the swaying palms, silky white sands and gin-clear waters. Just in case you need a nudge, there's a copy of Daniel Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe novel in every villa and your own personal Mr/Ms Friday is on hand to cater to your every whim while you're on the island. And the resort is keen to keep its desert island feel, with its buildings constructed from sustainable materials, food is grown in its own organic garden, plastic is banned and even the toiletries are organic and contained in earthenware.
Gili Lankanfushi's pioneering ambition extends to its accommodation, as it was the first all-overwater villa resort in the Maldives and their rustic-luxe design has been wooing couples and honeymooners ever since. If you want a tropical escape laden with romance where your worries melt away the moment you step off the speedboat, come to Gili Lankanfushi – just remember to leave your shoes at home.
Crafted in a traditional style, each of the 45 villas are exceptionally spacious and all look out to sea. There is plenty of space between each villa ensuring privacy and seclusion. These thatched villas encapsulate life on the water’s edge; your rooftop pavilion is comfortably furnished and your overwater sundeck has direct access into the lagoon. In fact, if the urge takes you, it is entirely possible to just roll from the comfort of your sunbed into the warm waters and kaleidoscope of marine life below! Even though we love all villa categories, the Crusoe Residences stand out as the most romantic spaces we have found in the Maldives. Standing alone in the ocean, these luxurious retreats can only be accessed by boat – absolute solitude is guaranteed (a private rowing boat is provided and a pontoon vessel is also at your beck and call). Inspired by Robinson Crusoe’s right hand man, each villa comes with its very own Mr/Ms Friday whose wish will be your command 24 hours a day!
The dining experiences at Gili are just as magical as the location – if that’s possible. Mouth-watering produce from the island’s organic garden makes its way into the menus of main restaurant Kashiveli, whose inventive themed evenings take you from a spice souk in the Mediterranean one night to the best of Indian cuisine on another. By the Sea is Gili Lankanfushi's Japanese restaurant, serving up excellent sashimi, sushi and Japanese fusion cuisine – watching the skilful chefs in the open kitchen is more like a theatre performance. The food is only matched by the glorious ocean views which accompany your meal (hence the name).
The Overwater Bar is eye-poppingly placed over the crystal-clear lagoon and as well as expertly crafted cocktails, it's a great place for light lunches and grilled seafood dinners. Elsewhere, sweet tooths will rejoice at Fini Foni (it means cold sweet in Dhivehi) and its range of ice creams, while the resort's underground wine cellar is a treasure trove of 500 tipples from all across the globe. But where Gili Lankanfushi really excels is its incredible array of dining experiences and you can pick from dining under the stars on the beach, in the heart of its organic garden or escaping to the private One Palm Island for something truly special.
Gili Lankanfushi may be a tiny island but it's surrounded by a large lagoon. You can go snorkelling straight from the beach and be greeted by myriad marine life, while the on-island PADI-certified dive centre means you'll be well equipped to venture further and deeper. The resort is only a 10-minute boat ride away from Manta Point, one of the best places in the Maldives to swim with manta rays. Beyond diving and snorkelling, there's a wealth of water sports to take on, including waterskiing, deep-sea fishing and wakeboarding. If you fancy trying to ride some waves, Gili Lankanfushi has teamed up with luxury surfing company Tropicsurf to offer lessons in its lagoon, before taking you out to some of the best surf reefs in the Maldives. If you're keen to learn more about the marine environment around you the resort's own marine biology shack, Gili Veshi, offers plenty of opportunities to get involved through informative talks and presentations, coral adoption and educational snorkelling trips.
Back on land, there are plenty more activities to do, from private film screenings in the Jungle Cinema to sports such as tennis, volleyball, table tennis and pétanque (beach boules) and more laze-inducing pastimes such as a selection of board games and library well stocked with beach reads.
Gili Lankanfushi also has you covered when it comes to unique experiences you can have during your stay, such as romantic sandbank picnics, dhoni cruises to spot dolphins or to admire the sunset or trips to explore local islands or the Maldivian capital of Malé.
Gili Lankanfushi has a rectangular main swimming pool set right on the beach flanked by sun loungers and hammocks strung between palms – perfect spots for enjoying a book from the resort's library. The Meera Spa is an overwater sanctuary set in a secluded bay, with every one of its six private treatment rooms coming with a glass floor so you can watch the marine life beneath while enjoying your massage, facial or other treatment, all of which draw of holistic therapies. In addition to the treatment rooms, the spa also has an Ayurvedic treatment champa, steam and sauna rooms and an open-air relaxation area. A beachside yoga and meditation champa also lies not too far away, so you can salute the sunrise and sunset.
Gili Lankanfushi FAQ
No, there isn't an all-inclusive meal plan available at Gili Lankanfushi. The board basis options are bed and breakfast, half board and full board.
Gili Lankanfushi can be found floating in the North Malé Atoll, not far from the Maldives' capital Malé.
Gili Lankanfushi can easily be reached from Malé via a 20-minute speedboat ride.
Yes. Grab a snorkel and a pair of fins and, straight from the beach, you can snorkel among kaleidoscopic fish and reef sharks. Head to the edge of the house reef and its 15m drop-off is a fantasia of coral-encrusted walls, turtles, rays and other marine life.
Gili Lankanfushi has 45 villas, all of which are found overwater, either connected to several jetties snaking out from the island or standing alone on stilts in the water as lavish private residences. That leaves room on the island for two restaurants, one bar, an ice cream bar and a wine cellar.
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Where is Gili Lankanfushi?
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