Michaela recently spent 7 days exploring the idyllic island resorts in the Maldives. Forever held as one of the world’s top holiday destinations, Michaela found out the reasons why and shares her expert tips and thoughts below…
Advice, tips and things I noticed that might be obvious but useful!
- Seaplane transfers are not only the quickest but also the most exhilarating way to arrive! The views from the air looking at the Atolls really are breath-taking and totally worth that little extra cost. Some islands can be reached by boat and domestic flight transfer. In all honesty there is a lot of hanging around including a two hour check in. My advice is to get the seaplane and get to the island quicker and make the most of your time there.
- Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion was provided in each island. Really most things are in the rooms so no need to pack beach towels or hairdryers!
- Most of the plug sockets were standard UK 3 pin, so no need for an adaptor.
- Buy a local mosquito repellent on arrival at your island, they are much more effective and specific to the area than the generic ones available at home.
- All the islands and boat transfers greet you with ice cold face cloths with essential oils. You will relish these as the humidity (especially during May/June) is high and they are so refreshing!
- Take some water shoes! The coral and shells can be sharp on the beach.
Night 1 – 5* Kurumba Maldives
Why not start with the very first Maldives hotel?! Kurumba is a ten minute speedboat transfer from Male which was certainly welcomed after a flight delay meant we missed our onward flight, so we didn’t land until around 8pm. This meant my first glimpse of the magical colours would have to wait until the morning!
The friendly staff were waiting for us and whilst they checked us in we enjoyed a refreshing coconut sorbet. My room was a Beachfront Deluxe Bungalow just a few metres from the beach. The quintessentially Maldivian style room did not disappoint with the bathroom being the highlight. They are the same in each room category and have the wow factor with both indoor and outdoor showers, twin basins and a huge freestanding tub!
There are lots of A La Carte dining options (7 in fact) here and we had dinner in the Thila Restaurant, which was exceptional and it’s easy to see why it is TripAdvisor’s number 1 rated restaurant in the whole of the Maldives.
The turquoise of the Indian Ocean against the powder white sand was a constant throughout this trip and its impossible not to love it!
After breakfast in the main restaurant we were able to explore the island and view the different rooms.
Advantages: Close to Male so ideal for those not wanting long transfers. Great A La Carte dining options. Good for families and people with mobility issues as there are level pathways rather than sand.
Disadvantages: Being close to Male means the mainland is visible from one side of the island (Superior Rooms). Some aircraft noise is inevitable.
House reef: Yes – The hotel like you to take part in some lessons first. Group or private snorkelling daily at an additional charge ($10 group, $30 private.)
Night 2 – 4* Kuramathi
One of the more popular islands because it represents such excellent value for money. The dining options are the biggest draw here with the A La Carte All Inclusive giving you the choice of 9 A La Carte restaurants, 3 buffet restaurants and 7 bars.
You can get to Kuramathi via a 20 minute seaplane or a 90 minute boat ride. Personally, I would always choose the seaplane transfers as the sea was rough when we travelled and the boat journey left quite a few of us a little green by the time we arrived!
We were greeted with a kiwi smoothie whilst we were checked in. We took a buggy tour around the island to look at some of the facilities and room options. The refurbishments that took place in 2016 were very much focused on the northern part of the island. It can feel a little like 2 islands with the traditional Garden Villas and various types of Beach Villa in the south and the ultra-modern Water Villas in the north. You are allocated a main buffet restaurant depending on your location/room type. It is a large island and it is thick with vegetation and ancient banyan trees. They have a huge garden area where they grow salad and vegetables for use in the restaurants which accounts for 30% of their usage.
The resort was almost full, so we only get to see a few rooms including the Water Villa, Water Villa with Pool and the Thundi Water Villa with Pool all in the north of the island. My room was one of the 2 bedroomed beach houses which is pretty much 2 independent beach villas with a shared entrance. They are ideal for families with older children or friends travelling together. I chose the ground floor which was modern and well equipped and had a terrace straight out on to the beach just a few steps from the ocean. I had a quick dip before we got dressed up for pre-dinner drinks in the champagne loft. A cool area with spectacular views and a real party vibe.
We ate in the A La Carte Palm restaurant and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. Afterwards we went to the Sand Bar and chilled on beanbags on the beach whilst watching the live band with a cocktail or two!
Advantages: The A La Carte All Inclusive gives complete flexibility and more of a resort feel. Large choice of room types catering for all budgets. Great for families with lots of facilities and activities. It is a great Honeymoon choice with the wide choice of water villas.
Disadvantages: Maybe not the best for people with mobility issues simply due to the size of the island. Those who are looking for that secluded feeling may not like the neighbouring island of Rasdhoo close by.
House reef: Yes – Guests can access from the beach through the 12 snorkeling channels from main area up to the sand bank. Snorkeling equipment (mask, fins and snorkel) is chargeable for guests on Full Board basis, for guests on All Inclusive equipment is included. Life vest is complimentary to all guests regardless of the meal plan booked.
Night 3 – 5* Dhigali
Everybody wants to know which is my favourite island, and whilst it’s very difficult to choose one island, it would have to be Dhigali – it wowed me from the second I touched down in the seaplane! I felt emotional there because it was just so stunning. It was the first time I felt like I had actually arrived in the Maldives. Probably due to the remote location in the Raa Atoll and the spectacular seaplane arrival. The scenery, the colours, the vibe, the staff, it was just idyllic and every last detail was taken care of.
It is contemporary in style and the concept is all built around nature. They have kept it very green and full of vegetation. The Spa is built within the natural habitat so feels like a rainforest and its incredibly peaceful. The dining was divine with superb choices of A La Carte.
We arrived by seaplane which took 45 minutes and it was so exhilarating, the views were wonderful. The seaplane lands in open water and moors on a small pontoon and then it is a two minute hop over to the island. A huge white Dhigali sign stands on the jetty and contrasts against the water. The island recognises a photo opportunity and the power of social media so of course we had to take some photos here!
We enjoyed an ice cold lemongrass detox drink whilst we were checked in and we had a scrumptious lunch in the Jade restaurant. My room was a stunning Water Villa with views of the vast Indian Ocean. After lunch we visited the different room types and the other facilities on the island. I was so impressed with the rooms, all beautifully decorated and fully equipped, just steps from the ocean. At the top end of the island there is a huge chill out zone which is called Haali, which means nest, and it’s is exactly that – a huge wooden nest filled with swings, hanging chairs, beanbags and it is the perfect place to watch the sunset on the sandbank. I LOVED it! We decided we just had to come back for sunset cocktails at this funky beach bar and it was the perfect setting. Beanbags on the beach, lots of twinkly lights and candles and a glass of bubbly! We had the most amazing dinner in the Faru restaurants which is a haven of delicious seafood.
The Spa was huge and so tranquil it was ideal for unwinding and relaxing. The children’s club here was fantastic! There were traditional activities every day and no technology. We met some children who told us about the things they had been doing and they clearly enjoyed it.
I did my first snorkelling of the trip at Dhigali before breakfast and I was treated to lots of colourful fish. Our time came here came to an end and a huge team of staff came to wave us off and stood on the jetty waving until we sailed away – a lovely touch.
Advantages: It has the “wow” factor! Remote location gives the feeling of seclusion. Perfect sized island, neither too big nor too small. At one with nature. Superb staff and personal service. Exquisite dining.
Disadvantages: I’m struggling to find any… being super critical this was the only island not to have outdoor showers.
House reef: Yes, the reef is all around the island and it is very accessible from all villas. The drop off or the edge of the reef is just a few feet away on the northern side of the island. Snorkelling gear is free of charge and guests can keep the gear for the duration of their stay.
Be sure to check out Part 2 of Michaela’s account of her fantastic Maldivian adventure, which you’ll find HERE!