The Maldives has been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember so I was beyond thrilled when we were invited to Gili Lankanfushi to experience this beautiful Robinson Crusoe style Island. Located in the North Male Atoll of the Maldives, Gili Lankanfushi is a luxury sustainable resort that’s won numerous awards including ‘Number one Hotel in the World’ and ‘The most Eco-Friendly Hotel in the World’.
We flew direct from Istanbul and the journey took 8 hours. Thankfully Gili Lankanfushi is located pretty close to the island where the airport is so we only had a 15 minute speedboat ride until we reached paradise.
After we had gone through customs, grabbed our suitcase and made our way outside we were picked up by speedboat, had our shoes removed and popped into a drawstring bag (their motto is ‘No news, No shoes’) given a cold towel and a refreshing drink.
“Wow”… I think that’s what I said over and over again when I saw that crystal clear, turquoise water as we sailed into Gili Lankanfushi. I have seen so many photos of the Maldives but it was only when I saw it with my own eyes that I could truly appreciate just how incredibly beautiful it is. From the moment I stepped onto the island I felt at home and knew I could get used to this barefoot luxury lifestyle.
Gili Lankanfushi, although only a 15 minute boat ride away felt like another World.
We were greeted at the dock and whisked away on a golf cart by Shifzaan, our Mr. Friday. Each villa is assigned a Mr (or Mrs) Friday, named after Robinson Crusoe’s loyal assistant and dear friend and they are there to cater to your every need. There’s even a Mr. Friday button on the telephones in the villas so they are only ever 1 push away.
There are 45 rustic thatched water villas on the island of Gili Lankanfushi. Made from natural wood and glass, these gorgeous overwater villas blend effortlessly into the surrounding landscape. They are all so spectacular that it would be quite easy to spend the entire time in the villa. Infact, I think quite a lot of people did as the island never felt crowded or too busy even when it was at 80% capacity there were always quiet beaches, empty hammocks and beds by the pool available.
You’ll see 2 bamboo bikes outside your villa with the villa number on the back. This is the main mode of transport on the island and it’s the best way to get from A to B. I loved cycling everywhere on my bike which had a little basket on the front where I kept my camera for easy access (I couldn’t stop taking photos of everything along the way)
As you walk inside you’re greeted by a large open plan living room area with the most beautiful view of your sea garden stretched out infront of you. Blue, crystal clear water as far as the eye can see and yours for the exploring.
The villa had the biggest bathroom i’d ever seen with an outdoor shower, glass sea-viewing floor, a bath tub with an infinity sea view and your own access to a private bathing area in the ocean below….
Next you have the bedroom where you’ll find a desk, a sofa and the comfiest bed i’d ever slept in. You can even choose which scent you’d like your room to smell like. (I opted for lavender) Although we didn’t actually sleep in the air conditioned bedroom that much. How could we when we had the option to “sleep under the stars” every night on our rooftop terrace….just one of the many unique experiences they provide at Gili Lankanfushi. It was the most fantastic feeling to wake up to the sounds of fish splashing in the water below, birds chirping and the sun kissing your face preparing you for another day in paradise.
What makes Gili Lankanfushi really unique and different to other places i’ve stayed at is their focus on sustainability. You won’t find a plastic bottle in sight and all water is served in reusable glass bottles to minimize their carbon footprint. Gili Lankanfushi’s commitment to sustainability, recycling and the environment is really commendable.
They even have a ‘Coral Line project’ which they started in 2014 with the aim to protect and replenish the islands house reef. This project allows guests to donate a coral line and the marine biologists photograph its growth and progress.
We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of their Organic Garden with amazing executive chef Aldo Cadau. He showed us all the herbs and fruits they were growing, such as: rocket, beach lettuce, rosemary, chillies, basil, fennel, aloe vera and mint. Aldo also showed us how they turn glass into sand using a special machine which can then be used as building materials on the island and how they create compost using ‘The Rocket’. This mechanical Biological Composter allows them to process and compost 100% of the organic waste produced in all the kitchens and return it to the garden a fertile organic compost.
The food at Gili Lankanfushi was a highlight for me and we ate like Kings every day. Let’s start with the breakfast, hands down my favourite meal of the day especially when eaten sitting under a palm tree, the Indian ocean lapping at my feet and Bob, the resident heron, strolling around infront of me. There was so much choice from different eggs (try the bacon cheddar eggs benedict!) pancakes, waffles, crepes, the most amazing fruits (my favourite being passionfruit) hot foods, cereals, even sushi and champagne! They also bring shots of different juice mixes every day, which is such a nice touch.
Lunch was at the over water bar and until 3pm daily you make your own salads at the salad bar (using ingredients grown in the organic garden) and choose from one of 3 specials of the day that Chef Kalem had lovingly prepared. He was wonderful and I couldn’t wait to eat lunch here every day.
For dinner there are loads of choices. On our first evening we ate at ‘By The Sea’ the island’s Japanese restaurant. It was so delicious and the sushi was some of the best i’ve ever had.
We tried their à la carte menu, dined on the beach under the stars surrounded by candles, one night a week they have the Maldivian Fisherman’s Grill and a Mediterranean night. Perhaps my favourite of them all was the Asian Street market night where stalls were set up under the leafy palm trees with different vendors serving food from different countries such as Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Although all of the villas are overwater, some of them such as the Crusoe Residences are free standing and secluded, the only way to you’re able to reach them is by boat. Gili Lankanfushi is also home to the Largest Overwater villa in the World known as the ‘Private Reserve‘
With prices starting from $15,000 (and going up to $30,000, depending on the season) it’s well out of my budget, but we did get to play in it one afternoon which was fun. This “rustic-chic fort of dreams” is 1,700 sqm and home to a gym, cinema, infinity pool and water slide which I spent far too much time whizzing down.
Some people might be under the impression that being on an island for a week might be boring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many activities and excursions you can do from surfing and snorkeling, to fishing, local island hopping or sail on a sunset dolphin cruise that there’s really no time to be bored.
The waters around Gili Lankanfushi are rich with marine life and we often spotted turtles, stingrays and blacktip reef sharks swimming around. Even after seeing them numerous times a day, I still squealed with excitement whenever I spotted a new one.
At night we went to the beach (dodging the giant crabs that roam the sands when it’s dark) and would goto the waters edge and kick the sea. We may have looked really odd to passers-by but when you kicked the water, hundreds of tiny blue star-like bioluminescent phytoplankton sparkled and lit up the dark water, it was truly magical.
Since I became a PADI certified diver in Jordan last year there was no way I was missing out on an opportunity to dive in the Maldives, one of the best diving spots in the world. Gili Lankanfushi’s Ocean Paradise Dive Centre was brilliant and I had the best morning of diving with them. There are numerous dive sites to choose from, we did ‘Fish Tank’ and saw lots of marine life such as a turtle, sting rays, school of barracuda, hundreds of eels and the cutest yellow trumpet fish who followed me around for a while and posed for photos. Thanks to PADI and Ocean Paradise for the fun dives!
On our last day we went to Meera Spa for a massage and it was the most relaxing 60 minutes, I think I even fell asleep at one point. When you’re getting your treatment and you put your head in the U-shaped face cradle, your view is not of the floor but a window to the sea below so you can watch the tropical fishes swimming below you.
Gili Lankanfushi offers great food, wonderful facilities and the amazing service that you would expect from a 5-star resort without being pretentious or flashy in any way. If I had to sum this eco resort up in 3 words it would be: friendly, laid-back and relaxing.
What I loved the most was the small, special experiences and attention to detail that make the resort truly unique:
• The chocolate cave (a room inside the wine cellar with home made truffle chocolates!)
• Riding around the island on our bamboo bikes
• The jungle cinema
• Their organic herb garden and eating the salads every day that were all naturally grown on the island
• The amazing ‘Destination Dining’ options like 360, Horizon, dinner on the beach surrounded by candles etc.
• Gili Lankanfushi’s commitment to sustainability, recycling and the environment around them
• The homemade passionfruit popsicle and sorbet from Fini Foni parlour
• The snorkel tour with the resident marine biologist where we learnt so much about marine life
• Sleeping under the stars every night
This island in the middle of the Indian Ocean really is heaven on earth and where moments become memories. Thank you Gili Lankanfushi and Tammy, it was a trip we’ll never forget.
Our bamboo bikes
Sand hearts and exploring Palm Beach
Delicious fruit stand at breakfast each morning
Such a gorgeous sunset over the pool
Dragon fruit (looks a lot prettier than it tastes) 😀
Bath with a view
Delicious food on Mediterranean night
Breakfast at the restaurant
Relaxing to the max in the ocean hammock
Fruit platter, much needed in that Maldivian heat
Sunset and a traditionional Maldivian boat called a ‘Dhoni’
The Private Reserve
Taking a dip in Gili’s stunning pool
Passionfruit mocktails in the organic garden
Fini Foni ice cream parlour (they have the best passionfruit popsicle ever!)
Our open planned living room
The lagoon villas jetty
Our outdoor shower
Wine and chocolate cellar
Enjoying our last sunset before flying home…