The Maldives is an archipelagic country comprising twenty-six atolls, situated in the Indian Ocean of Southern Asia. Throughout the years, this bucket-list destination has captured the imagination of many an island explorer, and travellers from far and wide consider it one of, if not the ultimate island destination. Ranked top in exclusivity, Maldives and its upscale resorts was once considered a destination beyond the reach of budget travellers. But, this changed over the recent years, and nowadays, the island welcomes an array of visitors to its inns and guest houses.
A consultant from Jenny’s Travel recently visited the Maldives and provided us with inside information about this remarkable destination, straight from the traveller’s mouth.
Departing From OR Tambo International Airport.
I departed on a Sunday and flew a direct flight with Air Seychelles. The Air Seychelles staff are friendly and attentive, and I was pleasantly surprised by the spacious legroom in economy class.
Arrival in the Maldives
I arrived the following day at Velana International Airport on the capital island of Malé. Customs was hassle-free, and I received my luggage without delay.
From Malé, I took a 15-20 min speedboat to the Crossroads Maldives. Crossroads is a union of three islands: The SAii Lagoon, The Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and The Marina Island; the Marina is the centrepiece of the Crossroads with all the different activities and amenities. SAii Lagoon guests can join a pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel, and Hard Rock guests relax at the quiet beach of the SAii. Additionally, Marina Island is open for day guests during standard operating times.
The 5* SAii Lagoon Maldives, a Curio Collection by Hilton, opened in 2019. Once you arrive at the resort, the staff will help you download the SAii Lagoon App as the restaurant menus and daily activities are available there. What an exceptional experience! My Beach Villa, with a private plunge pool, was lovely, with walk-through access to the beach. The spacious bathroom has a waterfall shower, an outdoor shower, and a bathtub. The fantastic beaches and friendly and super helpful staff make this hotel stand out. A special touch is the M.I.Y or “Mix It Yourself” Aroma Lab. Unfortunately, they were out of stock, and I could not enjoy this experience. On Monday evening, I enjoyed dinner at Miss Oliv Oyl, which offers Mediterranean Cuisine.
Hard Rock Hotel
Connected to SAii Lagoon is the Hard Rock Hotel, where I stayed the Tuesday. Hard Rock, Maldives has lived up to its hype. The resort boasts friendly staff, first-class service, a beautiful beach, excellent food, and great entertainment. I stayed in the Silver Beach Studio with direct beach access – an out-of-this-world experience.
From Hard Rock, I took the 15-20 min speedboat back to Mahé, were I boarded a seaplane and landed at Riu reception 45 minutes later.
Hotel Riu Palace and Hotel Riu Atoll – What an unforgettable experience! The island is stunning, the hotel is fantastic, and the staff is polite and attentive. I would say that this is the best value for money. The two all-inclusive 24-hour operational hotels situated on the private island of Maafushi opened their doors in 2019. My over-the-water suite was terrific. On the terrace was a bathtub, a Balinese bed, sun loungers and direct access to the ocean from where one can go snorkelling. I recommend that you bring your snorkelling gear. Renting from the Dive Centre costs 50 USD, and you are only allowed to snorkel in front of the centre. You are not permitted to take their equipment to the house reef. If you stay at Riu Palace, you can use the Riu Atoll facilities for free. Pass the Riu Atoll Water villas, and you will find their house reef, where you can do great snorkelling.
I took a speedboat from Riu to Kandima Maldives on Friday morning for a quick site inspection and did not overnight. Kandima Island is nearly three kilometres long, and the resort has the largest pool in the Maldives. A breathtaking resort with lots to do and explore. Activities include jungle walks, the escape spa and the centre Aquaholic that will not leave you bored. A great addition to their water sport is the Seabob – an exciting water toy which is something between a jet ski and an underwater scooter.
South Palm Resort
On the southern tip of the Maldives, you will find South Palm Resort. From Malé, it is a 2-hour domestic flight and about a 25-minute speedboat ride to get there. It is not the most exclusive resort you come to expect from the Maldives, and maintenance is a bit lacking. The accommodation was a basic bungalow with direct access to the beach. It was spacious and clean, with an indoor and outdoor shower. I enjoyed the best food with a good selection of everything made fresh, while you wait. There are two sides to the resort. One side faces away from the atoll, which is not the best place to swim due to dead coral and incoming solid waves. The other side faces inwards with calm water. The water sports are costly; however, I booked a guided snorkelling tour that was a highlight, and swimming with the turtles was breathing.
Maybe a bit expensive, but my favourite resort. The Kuramathi Airport representatives met us at Malé and directed us to the speedboat. The boat transfer takes approximately 90 minutes and runs twice daily at set times. When I arrived, all the staff were friendly, professional and polite, making my stay so welcoming. The island is clean, elegant and just all-around beautiful. No matter how many photos or videos you see, this would never compare to the true beauty of this island. You will not be disappointed in choosing Kuramathi. It was great to see the whole island and the different accommodations as guest villas are scattered around lush gardens. Snorkelling is an absolute must on the house reef. It is the resort with the best Kids Club, The Bageecha Kids Club, which opens from 08:30 until 19:30. It offers a fantastic programme with a wide range of outdoor and indoor activities for kids aged between 3 to 12 years, including nature walks, treasure hunts, beach activities, and marine life education in conjunction with the resort’s Eco Centre. I stayed in a two-bedroom beach house, ideal for families. This spacious two-storey unit offers everything you need, featuring separate living spaces and individual entrances.
Not only a vision of beauty but a destination that offers a lot to do in and around the pristine waters and white sands. The vigorous marine life, coral reefs and unique diving spots speak to the heart of snorkelers and divers. In contrast, exclusive golf courses, spas and sophisticated restaurants cater to above-water explorers. Whatever your preference, the Maldives delivers and does not disappoint.