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Maldives – Island hopping is pure bliss
I have been dying to go to the Maldives for years. Not only is this the place with the most luxurious hotels you can imagine it is a quintessential place to kick back and relax. And relaxed we did, in fact I do not think I have experienced such a feeling of pure bliss and rest elsewhere. Surrounded by water on all four sides, the colour blue was so easy on the eyes and the bright sunshine felt so good on our skin that we had a total de-stress from the everyday London routine.
I was very fortunate to have stayed at three separate resorts and tested out three main ways of transfers in the Maldives. Our first resort was the beautiful Park Hyatt Hadahaa. You can reach it by taking a domestic flight, it is only about one hour long but the main advantage of taking a domestic flight is that it can also operate in the evening, while seaplanes can only fly in day hours, so you have to ensure that your flights arrives before 3 pm otherwise you are risking having to spend one night in Male.
The reason I was very keen to stay at the Park Hyatt is because it is quite remote and the house reef is phenomenal – I had a tremendous sense of wonder while going there. There is literally nothing around the island, as the nearest inhabited island is 10 km away. You do need to get a domestic flight and then a speedboat to get there but the whole process is so seamless and you are looked after so well that you don’t feel any inconvenience at all.The island feels like a real barefoot luxury retreat – the vegetation is all indigenous and they don’t touch it, yet the design of the villas and amenities is very modern. We really liked our spacious Park Pool villa with direct beach access and a huge TV with Netflix
The food was fantastic! There are only two restaurants but the food is really gourmet and we saw several guests approaching the chef to complement on it. They have a good diving centre and I was told by one of the guests that they saw plenty of sharks and manta rays (although mantas are difficult to find as the atoll is very large). We saw a great variety of marine life while snorkelling, I saw a turtle also, you can snorkel literally off your villa beach! All in all, this is the place that feels very exclusive due to its remoteness, small size and privacy yet completely laid back and you can forget about your shoes due to any lack of dress code.
Our next property was the luxurious Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. This resort is an enjoyable 30 min transfer away from the airport by speedboat. As this is an older resort the area is more populated and also closer to Male, making it a perfect island for those who want a straightforward easy transfer or are only in the Maldives for a few days.
The resort is very smart and luxurious and the attention to detail is impressive. We stayed in a Sunset water villa and it was gorgeous, very spacious with a surprisingly large pool. The food in all restaurants and ambiance were excellent and we really enjoyed our lobster night as well their famous Indian restaurant. Due to its proximity to the airport, this is a great family resort with a fantastic kids club and a turtle rehabilitation program.
After Four Seasons we headed to the newly opened Intercontinental Maamunagau. As this is a new property, only opened a few months ago, I was quite keen to check it out also. What I loved is that it is located in the less populated Raa atoll yet only about 30 min away by speedboat from the UNECSO protected bioreserve Hanifaru Bay. You need to take a 40 min seaplane transfer to get to the resort.
Diving in that part of the country is fantastic and even snorkelling was great, we were surrounded by thousands of fish in the house reef area. I was told that marine biologists were expecting manta rays to migrate from Hanifaru Bay to the resort lagoon in winter month. We really liked our modern and comfortable beach side villa, as the private pool was a good size and there was plenty of privacy due to the vegetation.
This hotel is quite unique because all guests automatically get club benefits, like a bottle of champagne on arrival, free afternoon tea as well as evening snacks and digestives in the evening. It is an excellent family resort and their kid’s club is impressive.
We also had a chance to explore Male on our first day – a typical chaotic asian city full of mopeds and people going about their business. If you are there check out their local food market and particularly the fish market famous for the huge glistening tuna fish.