Sea, Sand and Silence: A Maldives Getaway Without Underwater Restaurants, Golf Carts, and Hovering “Beach Butlers”… But Lots of Luxury

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The term “back to basics” has been much ridiculed since then. Jean Major I used it on a Conservative party conference in October 1993.

But here at Maldives News This is true. There are no underwater restaurants; no golf carts traveling ridiculously short distances; no hovering “beach butlers.” But there’s plenty of luxury after a £12m revamp a few years ago.

Located in South Ari AtollA 30-minute seaplane flight from the capital Malé, the island is just 358 meters long and 179 meters wide, one of the smallest in the Maldives. It is surrounded by a spectacular reef teeming with multi-colored marine life.

Nova’s three restaurants, bars and 76 villas (26 of which are on the water, the rest beachside) offer a simple design that reflects a palette of oceanic colors. Premium amenities in the villa’s rooms include near-silent air conditioning and shower rooms with ocean views.

The villas, some of which have private pools and jacuzzis on the back terrace, have stairs leading down to the Indian Ocean, ideal for snorkelers.

David Churchill honeymoons at Nova Maldives after resort's £12m renovation

David Churchill honeymoons at Nova Maldives after resort’s £12m renovation

Nova's three restaurants, bars and 76 villas – 26 of which are on the water, the rest beachfront – offer simple designs that reflect an oceanic color palette, according to David.

Nova’s three restaurants, bars and 76 villas – 26 of them on the water, the rest beachfront – offer simple designs that reflect an oceanic color palette, according to David.

Chef Sanjeet Gopee oversees a Maldivian cooking class for guests for an additional fee. My wife and I tried this, but were unable to replicate her delicious tuna curry despite several attempts.

The culinary highlight is Nova’s overwater teppanyaki restaurant, Mizu. The minimalist, dimly lit wooden frame and all-round sliding doors allow you to watch the sunset while the ocean waves surround you.

Nova is close to a large community of mantas and whale sharks, which are year-round residents of the Maldives, particularly in the protected South Ari Atoll. We were taken into the resort boat by the entertaining and experienced manager ‘Toby’.

The villas, some of which have private pools and jacuzzis on the back terrace, have stairs leading down to the Indian Ocean, ideal for snorkelers, says David.

The villas, some of which have private pools and jacuzzis on the back terrace, have stairs leading down to the Indian Ocean – ideal for snorkelers, says David.

The island is surrounded by a spectacular reef teeming with colorful marine life, David recalls.  Pictured: A Tasseled Scorpionfish in the surrounding waters (stock image)

The island is surrounded by a spectacular reef teeming with colorful marine life, David recalls. Pictured: A Tasseled Scorpionfish in the surrounding waters (stock image)

We could tell it was native by its fish-like swimming abilities, and thanks to its extensive knowledge of the ocean, in less than an hour we were lucky enough to see a gigantic shark whale.

It was a breathtaking moment to see the six meter giant gliding gracefully within touching distance and only a few meters above the coral below.

A few days later, we were treated to an intricate aerobatics display from a pod of dolphins who made the boat’s sleek lines shine as they swam alongside it.

Another highlight was playing Robinson Crusoe one afternoon by taking two jet skis to a deserted sandbar about a 30-minute drive from the resort.

On his last night at Nova, David dined on the beach under the stars where the staff had set the table in an illuminated heart etched in the sand, he said.  In the photo: an example of a beach villa at the hotel

On his last night at Nova, David dined on the beach under the stars where the staff had set the table in an illuminated heart etched in the sand, he said. In the photo: an example of a beach villa at the hotel

Here our only companions were crabs scurrying across the expanse of white sand – no more than five by 15 meters.

We sat with them in awe as the sun set. The easiest activity to fit into our “busy” week was an immersion in Maldivian culture.

Although it seems impossible when staying at a luxury resort, Nova hosts a weekly “Holhuashi” event where we learned about local traditions, heard tales, and ate traditional snacks.

The gathering takes place under a native banyan tree in a dedicated clearing in the center of the island, where we also played Maldivian board games.

On our last night in Nova, we dined on the beach under the stars where the staff had set our table in an illuminated heart etched in the sand. Well, it was our honeymoon. And a wonderful one too.

TRAVEL FACTS

Travel Republic offers seven nights full board at Maldives News from £2,238 per person. This includes flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Male, a villa stay and all transfers. Villas cost from £467 per night.

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