Forget preconceived ideas of the Maldives being reserved for giddy-in-love newlyweds. The Maldives are also a magical playground with lots of fun and activities. Edward Smith, picked up two different styles of escapes to reveal the broad range of activities the archipelago has to offer…
Kandolhu The Best Kept Secret
For people interested in extreme privacy and natural wonders, Kandolhu is a treasure. Located in northern Maldives and accessible only by plane, the island is a 25-minute flight from Malé. Intensely intimate, Kandolhu is the essence of a barefoot-chic island resort with its only 30 secluded villas scattered in and around its sandy coast.
On this tiny island (it takes less than five minutes to walk around it), all the villas are loaded with luxury amenities and an incredible attention to detail. Even down to the music playlist customised for different mood and time of the day, designer furniture sofas by Rolf Benz or bathtub in the water villas with a view of the sea beyond, simply incredible!
The lagoon is almost tailor-made for swimming and snorkelling is literally right on your doorstep. Skip the hassle of boat rides and offshore excursions, jump in from your private jetty and you can spot some parrotfishes, reef sharks, eagle rays, occasional moray eel, you name it. There are also number of resident turtles who live on the reef and are easily approached by snorkelers. More serious divers can partake in the PADI training programme (the dive school offers PADI and SSI certified courses for beginners) and explore the Ari atoll, a spot that most divers agree still offers the best diving in Maldives.
Dorianne and Walter, the dive instructors, even proposed fluorescent night dives, a must-do for enthusiasts for big thrills. And for a perfect end to a beautiful day at Kandolhu we highly recommend the sunset cruise on board of the island private sailing yacht ‘Ari Explorer’ and last but not least don’t miss the foie gras at Olives restaurant, one of the four à la carte restaurants available in the resort.
Kurumba, the multifaceted resort
Now let’s take a look at one of the country’s (oldest – first resort to open in the Maldives) grandest resort, Kurumba. It is also the closest resorts from Malé, just 10-minutes by speedboat from the airport, so it’s an ideal choice for a short stay. Like Kandolhu this resort offers the most modern comfort and amenities and half or fullboard (breakfast and dinner) packages as well, so you don’t have to worry about anything and enjoy the moment. We loved our beachfront deluxe bungalows which offers private terraces and daybeds perfect for dozing in the late afternoon sun.
The outside enclosed shower even further enhanced the tropical rainforest feel of the resort. With one eight top restaurants, including Arabian, Chinese, Indian, Italian, and a Japanese counter, Kurumba Maldives is a classic resort that sets the standard for the rest of the archipelago.
One of the top five must do’s on Kurumba is the Sunset dolphin cruise. After a beautiful 20-minute breathtaking boat ride, you can see many dolphins swimming alongside the boat and some others flipping in the air! It’s truly an amazing sight. Spotting them is one thing-capturing them on camera is another! The trick is to keep your camera focussed and ready for the shot. And yes, it is so gratifying once you manage to catch a good shot of a dolphin jumping above the water! One of the resort’s mission is to introduce Maldivian culture to its guests through a myriad of activities, cooking class being one of them.
Imagine an over-water open kitchen bar with panoramic views of the Indian ocean, few baby sharks swimming around in the background and the in-house chef teaching you how to prepare a ‘rihaakuru’—a tunabased thick brown paste—an essential item in Maldivian cuisine. It was an incredible experience!
Note that lessons for children can also be arranged upon request as Kurumba is very family friendly destination and offers a wide range of activities for kids and grown ups alike. Kids’ clubs are relatively rare in Maldives, especially among luxury resorts, so it is worth mentioning the resort offers great kids amenities with Majaa Kids Club, which offers a playground and supervised activities like face painting, crab racing, treasure hunts for 4-12 years and parents will be free to enjoy some time alone too!
“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it”, The Maldives perfectly illustrates this beautiful statement by French author Jules Renard. However, the archipelago nowadays attracts over a million visitors each year and with its second international airport now open, Gan in Addu Atoll and a few new properties in the pipelines, things may not remain quite so idyllic and quiet for much longer. So go soon if you want to keep ahead of the crush.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Even though weather is warm year around, the best weather is between November and April. January to March are the driest months, with little rain and low humidity, making this peak season at the resorts (higher rates).
However in the last couple of years the weather pattern has been much harder to predict so experts now advise that it may be worth taking your chances in the wet season or during the transitional months, especially if you want to take advantage of seasonally lower hotel rates. For surf aficionados the season is from March to October, which is convenient as resorts will be at their cheapest from May and less crowded!