Soneva Fushi is the original desert island hideaway. Everything about it feels right. The seaplane arrival. Picture book palm trees. Perfect white sand. Secluded beachside villas within touching distance of pristine reef. Nesting turtles and bunny rabbits cohabiting happily on a jewel of emerald green in a vast ocean of turquoise.
It’s the kind of place that makes you feel like a child again. Every guest has a bicycle to explore the island. At a kilometer long by half a kilometer wide with sandy paths criss-crossing dense jungle, the island is big by Maldivian standards. Whereas some Maldives islands can be toured in seconds, Soneva Fushi is a proper island with hidden treasures to explore at every turn.
The unique sense of discovery, optimism and innocence begins the moment you arrive at ‘Soneva Fushi International Airport’, a floating pontoon no bigger than a small living room. You are met by smiling hosts, arriving in a traditional Maldivian dhoni boat with cold towels to wipe away the dust of the real world. Once your shoes are handed over, the ‘no news, no shoes’ philosophy kicks in and your whole being relaxes.
Accommodation fits the idyll. Sixty villas and five private residences are hidden away behind dense foliage a few steps in soft white sand from the warm sea and three or four strokes from pristine coral reef, the villas are located sunrise or sunset side of the island. Their style defines the effortless, rustic chic synonymous with Soneva. Luxurious yet understated. Vast, sigh-inducing beds with a choice of four duvet types as well as an extensive pillow menu. Open-air bathrooms and a selection of showers with Bose sound systems, intoxicating jungle aromas, waterfalls and sounds. Organic amenities that smell good enough to eat. Impeccable, intuitive service courtesy of Mr./Ms. Fridays who know what you want before you want it.
Many guests stay ‘home’, enjoying unrivalled peace and privacy with the best ‘takeaway’ food in the Indian Ocean. Others head out to explore the nine different dining options. To breakfast at Mihiree Mitha, the social hub of the island, or dine in Fresh In The Garden, a restaurant cooled by breezes above the heady scents of the famous organic herb (delicious rocket) and vegetable garden. The spa is always a great temptation. Watching movies at Cinema Paradiso, the open-air movie theatre with only the starlit sky above, is not to be missed. Nor is counting Saturn’s rings in the world class Observatory in the company of Dr Parag Mahajani, one of India’s leading astronomers.
Opportunities to venture beyond the island including sunset dolphin cruises, picnics on the island’s own private sandbank or three deserted islands, breathtaking diving such as watching the majestic rays feed at Manta Point, or fascinating cultural visits to nearby islands. Soneva Fushi is the ultimate pioneer of memory-making experiences.
Choices abound. How do you decide between sixty flavours of ice cream? Eleven types of pillow. Five hundred wines. Umpteen freshly squeezed juices. The freshest line-caught tuna prepared in a hundred different ways.
As is the Soneva way, all this is offered while treading as lightly as possible on the earth. Sonu and Eva Shivdasani’s passion for enriching lives while protecting nature’s precious resources pervades every aspect of this magical island. At the heart is Eco Centro, proving ground for the sustainable culture Soneva extols, where everything from the sun’s rays – the island is part powered by solar panels – to fallen timber and driftwood is re-used.
Serious goals for sustainability do not repress Soneva Fushi’s sense of fun. They enhance it. The proximity to nature, the innate respect for the ocean’s wonders, 24/7 bare feet, all help to enhance a feeling of liberation and inner peace. Pleasure goes hand in hand with respect for the planet. Lounging on the nets at Bar(a)bara sipping cocktails as dolphins scoot by in front of the setting sun is hedonism of the best kind. Snorkelling the house reef in the company of the resident marine biologist before enjoying a Kurumbaa Kaashi rub with coconut oil, milk and flesh harvested minutes earlier from a freshly fallen nut simply restores your long forgotten sense of wonder.