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Nova, Maldives hotel review: Newly renovated resort with an intimate feel

Simon Calder’s Travel

In a nutshell: Sealife spotting from the shore, yoga overlooking the ocean and a scenic seaplane journey – Nova offers a relaxing way to explore the Maldives.

The neighbourhood

Located in South Ari Atoll – one of the few places in the world where you can spot whale sharks – Nova, formerly known as Vakarufalhi, is a 20-minute seaplane journey from Malé. The connection is seamless, with friendly staff on the ground to help . While the seaplane offers spectacular views of the archipelago, there are some limiting factors: there are often delays getting on and off the island due to weather conditions; the last departure flight from the airport is 4pm; and it is very expensive.

Nova island, in South Ari Atoll, is reachable by seaplane


Nova is situated on a house reef, making exploring the underwater world easy. When snorkelling, you can expect to see manta rays, reef sharks and needlefish, as well as turtles (we didn’t spot any, but heard that other guests of the hotel had been lucky).

The look

Fully renovated and reopened under new management in 2022, Nova is clean, modern and chic. With just 72 rooms, the resort has a boutiquey feel and exudes a sense of quiet luxury.

The vibe

There’s a lovely laid-back charm to Nova, making it an enjoyable place to relax and unwind. While we did see families staying at the resort, it’s not particularly geared up to hosting little ones as there’s no kids club and only one pool. As such, it’s best suited to couples looking for a romantic holiday. Owing to its small size, the resort feels intimate and exclusive.

While there are plenty of (chargeable) excursions to take part in – including whale shark snorkelling ($120/£97 per head) – those who get itchy feet might not appreciate the quiet.

Service was fantastic. Everyone was pleased to help us and the other guests staying at the resort, and the waiters in the main restaurant remember where you like to sit, as well as your drinks order.

Idyllic and laid-back, this resort is the perfect place to unwind


Bed and bath

Nova is a small island, comprising 76 villas with a range of amenities depending which category you opt for. These include family beach villas, those with jacuzzis or pools, and water villas on stilts. Equal parts luxe and understated, the villas are a real highlight. Light and airy, they offer the perfect place to…

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