The Maldives has been on my travel bucket list for a long time and I was never fully convinced I would visit there until I had met someone and it was for a special occasion like an engagement or honeymoon. However, if you have read my last travel post, you will know that I’m not afraid to do things on my own. Why should we wait until we find “the one” to do something special like breakfast in bed, a night out at the cinema, or in this case a trip to one of the most picturesque and romantic places in the world? Well, this time I didn’t travel completely alone and was lucky enough to bring a friend of mine with me who really needed a break (like I did!) from the hustle and bustle of London.
About the Maldives
The Maldives is an exotic paradise comprised of almost 1200 small islands scattered in the Indian ocean. The majority of the islands are uninhabited but over 100 of them have been transformed into resorts, while a further 200 are inhabited by Maldivian island communities.
The Maldives is famous for some of the best beaches in the world with incredibly soft, white sand and vibrant turquoise waters. The crystal clear water is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, and you can be sure to find an array of different species of underwater wildlife including; tropical fish, manta rays, sea turtles, and sharks!
Fishing, after tourism, is the second biggest economy and as such, fish plays an important role in the Maldivian cuisine. Fish curry or their traditional breakfast ‘Mas Huni’, which is a dish made with tuna, coconut, onion, and chilli served on a type of flatbread called roshi, are some of the most popular Maldivian dishes.
When to go
The temperature is hot all year round but the weather does vary quite drastically from blistering sunshine to torrential tropical storms – particularly during monsoon season. If you want to avoid the highest rainfall season then book your trip sometime between November and April as the monsoon runs from May to October. We travelled there during July and most of the trip consisted of rain and thunderstorms, although they were broken by spells of glorious sunshine.
A number of airlines now fly from the UK to Malé, the international airport and capital of the Maldives. Upon arriving at the airport, you can take a boat or seaplane transfer to your resort, depending on how far away they are. Most resorts will organise this for you, which was the case for us when we visited.
As a side note (just because I’ve certainly overlooked this before with other destinations), you do not need a visa before arriving in the Maldives – just a valid passport and a landing card which you will be given on the plane to complete.
Where to stay
With so many stunning resorts, it really is hard to choose from. And although there are resorts ranging in various prices to suit various budgets, if you’re looking for the ultimate luxury experience be prepared to pay a little extra. However beyond the real high end 5 star resorts there are also plenty others to choose from. Some people stay 2 or 3 nights at one resort then move to another, which is a nice way of trying different types of accommodation and sticking within your allocated budget. During our trip we spent our first 3 nights at Kuramathi and the final 3 nights at Kandolhu.
Kuramathi is one of the Maldives’ most popular resorts and it’s perfect if you’re looking for some activity alongside relaxation. This resort is perfect for not just honeymooners, but also families, friends and couples purely seeking out somewhere beautiful to holiday. Amongst the tropical foliage you can find various bars, and restaurants dotted around the island, and other facilities such as tennis courts, a spa and gym, and an Ecocentre which hosts snorkelling safaris and other excursions. One of my highlights of this trip was the turtle reef snorkelling safari that we went on while staying at this resort. It is so breathtaking to swim amongst the coral and observe the beautiful marine life from clown fish and sea turtles to manta rays and whitetip reef sharks.
For dining, you will be allocated to one of three buffet restaurants determined by the location of your villa. In addition to the three main buffet restaurants, Kuramathi also has an impressive nine à la carte restaurants offering a range of cuisine from Thai to Mediterranean. We upgraded to the all inclusive option to have a full choice of the à la carte restaurants – my favourite was Palm for lunch and The Reef for dinner.
Rooms on the island range from simply designed Garden Villas and Beach Villas nestled to Deluxe Beach Jacuzzi Villas that face the lagoon and luxury Pool Villas that sit right at the edge of the beach. We stayed in the two bedroom beach house, which could easily sleep 6, located right beside the ocean.
Ps. Make sure you check out the sunset from the sandbar at the tip of the island. Even on a moody overcast day it is still pretty spectacular.
For the second part of our trip we stayed at Kandolhu, an intimate resort with only 30 villas on a tiny island which measures 150 x 200 m. When we arrived at the jetty, we were greeted by the managers Marc and Laura and the most delicious mango coconut smoothie.
They have 5 different styles of villa to choose from pool villas on the beach to ocean villas located over the water – which is what we stayed in. Regardless of which villa you choose, they are all pretty incredible and all feature king-sized beds, air conditioning, an ipad for guest use, a sound dock, and even a GoPro to capture all of the incredible underwater life. I was also pretty excited about the bathtub which overlooked the ocean and insisted on making full use of it with lots of bubble bath and a good book to get lost in.
When it comes to dining, this resort has 5 restaurants which is quite a lot considering there is only 30 villas! Banzi, their japanese sushi restaurant, is their smallest (only seats 6) so make sure to book in advance if you want to eat there – and I recommend you do! In terms of the meal plan options we opted for the A la carte dining which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner at any of the restaurants. Any snacks or alcohol was charged on top. One of the nights which we stayed there it was pretty stormy out so we ordered a pizza in to share and popped a movie on the laptop, this was also an extra charge but not unreasonably priced.
Kandolhu also has its own house reef which offers one of the best snorkeling experiences in the Maldives. You don’t need to get a boat, simply rent some snorkelling kit from the resort and go exploring – don’t forget the GoPro. If you want to dive deeper into the ocean they also offer various diving experiences and PADI certified courses for both beginners and experienced divers. And if diving isn’t your thing, there is always the Varu spa which I 100% took a visit to for a full body massage during my stay.
I stayed in the Maldives for a total of 7 days and I honestly felt like it was the perfect length of time – I may have stretched it to 10 days but as someone who likes to keep busy, this blissfully lazy paradise was ideal for just a short trip. If you’re considering visiting, special occasion or not, I promise you that you will fall in love with the place, instantly.
I’ve managed to grab you guys a deal for Kuramathi with Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) who offer seven nights full board at Kuramathi in a Beach Villa with Jacuzzi including flights on Sri Lankan Airlines from London Heathrow and transfers in resort. The price for selected departures in Jan & Feb 2019 based on two adults sharing is from £2399 per person with a saving of up to £278 per couple. To book please quote tour ref: MV177. Book by end of October.
Disclaimer: I do not earn commission off this deal or from these resorts – all views are my own.