Welcome to the first in a series of posts on our visit to the Maldives! Beginning with travel tales and followed by practical travel tips from our visit to this unique island country, we will also share our thoughts on some interesting contrasts which we observed. We will share our impressions of the less than ideal political situation as well as the worrying effects of climate change on this surreal but fragile environment. Finally, we will share exclusive behind-the-scenes stories of personal triumph and talk about conquering long established fears. We hope to also provide a glimpse into the lives of regular Maldivian people and expatriates who work in the local tourism industry.

 

Almost anyone with an ounce of wanderlust has salivated at pictures of these mouth wateringly beautiful islands and imagined themselves transported to its white sands and turquoise blue waters. We got tired of ogling Pinterest photos and decided to take the Maldives off our bucket list! We were really excited when months of planning came together and we were able to make this trip a reality! Be sure to read our post on ‘5 things to help with planning your trip to the Maldives’.

Kurumba | Maldives

After the thrills from our cross-country trek across neighboring Sri Lanka, we caught the early morning Sri Lankan Airways flight for the short hop from Colombo to Male, the capital of Maldives and soon landed on HulHule Island which is one of around 1,200 geographically dispersed islands resembling a flotilla of regal ships when seen from an aerial view. Of these, around 100 islands are luxury holiday resorts while approximately 200 are habited by the local population. We would later come to learn of government restrictions which limit the locals (except those employed in the local tourism industry) from the resorts and foreigners from visiting some of the islands habited by the locals.

HDYTI Tip: Consider balancing the rustic wildness of Sri Lanka with the idyllic and soothing tones of the Maldives. These two countries are so close to each other that it makes sense to include the Maldives in your itinerary if planning a trip to this region.

HDTYI Tip: Think Maldives and the first thing that comes to mind is the word ‘EXPENSIVE’. Needless to say, this is first and foremost a luxury travel destination and one that isn’t exactly designed for budget travel. However, according to fellow blogger, Oneika the Traveller, options for the budget traveller are becoming more available thanks to government efforts to open up the industry so that locals can more directly benefit from tourism, the country’s main source of revenue. The Nomadic Boys and Henrik Travel in their engaging narratives also provide additional tips on low cost travel to the Maldives.

 

Ay Kurumba!

The Maldives was everything we imagined and more; pristine natural beauty, luxurious hospitality and immaculate service. We had chosen the magical Kurumba Maldives resort, located in the North Male Atoll, for our visit. After clearing customs and immigration, a smiling resort representative greeted us, ushering us to a waiting area and explaining that he was expecting a few more arrivals before ferrying us across to the island.

Male Airport | Maldives

With over half an hour to spare, we wandered along the shoreline outside the airport arrival terminal to the busy sea port, observing sea planes coming and going and speedboats and ferries collecting new arrivals and off-loading sun burned but contented looking visitors for departure. Shades of blue merged into more shades of blue as far as the eye could see, enrapturing us for a few moments before the revving engines of the Kurumba resort speedboat and a sign from the resort rep informed us that it was time to leave.

Although we missed the earthy adventures of Sri Lanka, we looked forward to the idleness that awaited us in the Maldives. We made our way to the top deck and watched the outlying islands disappear into the distance as the air-conditioned speedboat cut through the waters towards Kurumba like a hot knife through butter. Ten minutes later, we were cooling off with scented towels and dainty cups of coconut and lime sorbet in the Kurumba welcome lounge.

Kurumba | Maldives

Although Kurumba was the first luxury resort to open (in 1972) in the Maldives, the ultra-modern facilities and the highly trained international staff made a mockery of its age. Our only minor critic was the closeness of the resort island to Male, the capital city (more about Male in another post). This proximity makes it impossible to miss the unsightly city skyline in the distance and the passing marine and sea plane traffic. However, the resort was still far removed from commercial activity; enough to give us our desired sense of isolation and tranquility. As we were only staying for a week, we were not keen on making a long on-ward journey to a more remote island. We were looking forward to a few days of pampering and peace and we had found the perfect place!

Kurumba | Maldives

HDYTI Tip: Some say that the best way to experience the Maldives is to hop between islands rather than stay at one resort during your visit. Whilst desirable, this can be very expensive. Besides, our resort offered an interesting variety of activities and cuisines that kept us engaged throughout our stay with no room for boredom. However, for those with a passion for scuba diving, one option is to do a ‘live aboard’ which provides divers the freedom to experience a wider range of dive locations across the Maldives without being limited to resort recommended areas. Diving enthusiasts can read tips from fellow bloggers Divergent Travellers here.

 

A room with a view? Not quite…

After a speedy check-in, we climbed into a golf buggy for a quick familiarization tour around the island. Our burly host/guide chatted away, pointing out the water sports centre, other recreational facilities, the spa, restaurants, guest accommodations and staff accommodation areas.

For our visit, we had chosen to stay in Kurumba’s Garden Pool Villa. This extremely spacious property offered us a bed big enough to sleep three people, a lounge area, a Jacuzzi, a private coffee and wine bar, a private dipping pool and indoor and outdoor showers (all within a walled enclosure guaranteeing privacy). Surrounded by coconut trees and ferns, there was nothing to disturb our privacy except the stars in the sky. Our resort offered all kinds of room configurations. The more desirable rooms are of course those with direct access to the beach. Unfortunately these were no longer available when we made our reservations. Although our property lacked the cliché ocean view, we did not mind this because all properties were designed so that regardless of room type, guests are only a stone’s throw away from the beach.

 

HDYTI Tip: Some resorts are more ideal for families than others. Kurumba is one of them. Others provide more private (read: no kids) experiences for honeymooners and couples. Although there were many families visiting during our stay, we did not feel inconvenienced in any way.

 

Around the world in tasty bites

Our suitcases, which we last saw back at the airport, had ‘mysteriously’ reappeared in our room. After unpacking, a late breakfast was still possible and so we made our way to the Thila restaurant which offered an array of fruit platters, freshly made pastries and other made-to-order options. Thila quickly became a firm favourite for breakfast throughout our stay. This was largely down to the fruit juice boosters and free-flowing iced breakfast champagne complemented by sun-kissed ocean views. Room service certainly does not provide breakfast with the rising sun and pristine ocean views!

Kurumba Food Maldives

Food in the resorts is generally expensive and Kurumba wasn’t any different. Unfortunately, calling up an Uber taxi and going to look for restaurants serving your preferred cuisine isn’t possible in these parts. You’re pretty much limited to what your resort offers. However, if other resorts are similar in style to Kurumba, food boredom will be next to impossible. Every night, in addition to the dizzying buffet selection available in the main restaurant, we could also choose from a selection of bespoke and intimate restaurants offering Japanese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Italian, Chinese/Eastern and Maldivian cuisines. Our resort also had a number of bars and cafes which added to the rich food selection already available.

There is something to be said about the food in Kurumba. We found dinners to be sensory adventures inspired by culinary diversity; perhaps comparable to watching a time-lapse video of a garden and seeing tender buds bloom into beautiful multi-coloured sweet-scented flowers. Only in this case, all of this activity was happening right inside our mouths, with flavours lingering long after they initially hit the tongue. On our arrival night, with the soft evening breeze for company, we feasted on melt-in-your-mouth Lobster Consommé (butter poached slipper lobster, mussels and spiced tomato) and a healthy looking rack of lamb, adorned with garlic pansies, Jerusalem artichokes and arugula sauce. It is luxury travel after all and Kurumba did not disappoint.

HDYTI Tip: Upon arrival, we chose to upgrade our default ‘room and breakfast’ meal plan to include discounts on dinner at the various specialist restaurants; allowing us the opportunity to ‘save’ on the cost of walk-in meals. Also, with late morning starts planned, we chose a breakfast and dinner only (no-lunch) meal option. We figured we could always grab an afternoon snack rather than a full sit-down lunch. We’re not sure how other resorts operate so speak to your resort front-of-house staff to find out what meal options are available.

 

Wine tasting in the sea

We heard that there would be an evening meet-and-greet wine tasting session on the day we arrived. We turned up fully dressed and were pleasantly surprised to discover that this was unlike any other wine tasting event either of us had previously attended. The bar was the lagoon itself, arranged in such a way that guests could stand waist deep in the water surrounded by elevated tables laden with wine. Following a quick change into more appropriate clothing, we waded into the warm lagoon water. A chatty waiter waded from one group to another, topping up empty glasses. Soon, we were chatting away with other guests while watching the changing reflections of the sun on the turquoise blue waters.

Kurumba | Maldives

HDYTI Tip: The Maldives is an Islamic country and therefore publicly drinking alcohol is forbidden. Alcohol brought into the country may be temporarily confiscated. However all the resort islands have licences to sell and serve alcohol.

 

Small world

Conversation flowed as freely as the evening wine and soon, we were speaking to a lovely older British couple who had mentioned a shared interest in one of our favourite TV series of all time, Breaking Bad. Whilst exchanging thoughts on TV shows (shout out to Scandal, House of Cards and Vikings), it came as a pleasant shock to us when we found out that not only did they live in the same county as we did, but that their son recently moved to a house on our street! We had travelled half way across the world only to bump into fellow travellers who could have easily been our neighbors! This chance meeting was a confirmation to us that this world is much smaller than we imagine it to be. As the sun set in the distance, trading its yellows for more subtle golden orange colours, the words from the famous Walt Disney song sprang to mind…

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

Kurumba Maldives

In the next post, we will talk about our strange day trip to Male, the capital city of the Maldives.

Are you planning a visit to the Maldives? Do you find these tips helpful? We would love to hear from you.

Have you been to the Maldives? What are your views on Island hopping or choosing a resort? Do drop us a comment below.

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).