Marta's Photo Album of the Maldives, October 2010

Maldives
October 2010

Getting there
We departed Johannesburg on the services of Qatar Airlines at 10H40 with an easy check in. We went through passport control in no time, and made our way to the Qatar airport lounge. There was a great selection of fresh food, lasagne, sushi amongst other delights. The lunch on the flight was amazing, fresh fish, bean salad with a great homemade mayonnaise served with crisp cold white French wine. The staff were fantastic, happy and very obliging.

The entertainment on board is the best I have seen. A huge selection of movies with very sophisticated electronic equipment together with a great selection of movies that could be viewed on a large screen in front of you. We landed in Doha in no less than 8 hours.

As we had a layover of more than 5 hours we had access to the VIP lounge where wifi is free with complimentary snacks and drinks. In no time our flight was called and we boarded our flight for Male. The flight to Male is four hours and we landed in Male which is the capital of the Maldives. On arrival we were met by a representative of the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. A short drive to the air conditioned seaplane lounge, where we were served cold refreshments while we awaited our seaplane departure to our first resort, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. The seaplane takes a maximum of 16 people and is extremely safe.

The Maldives

My first impression of the Maldives was from the air, a string of pearls scattered over the deep blue Indian Ocean. This has to be a dream come true. There are 1 190 islands spread over 26 atolls, ring like coral formations enclosing a lagoon, which gives the Maldives its unique paradise feel. Here you will find the most amazing underwater life on our planet. The Maldivian culture has been shaped by African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian mariners whose stopping over at the islands in the centuries gone by, have left their influences which today can be seen in the food, music art and craft that are prevalent on the islands.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

We took off from Male in the ocean and flew over the atolls for approximately 40 minutes, the trip was very scenic and enjoyable.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is located in the Baa Atoll and is certainly the ultimate hideaway in the Maldives. Upon arrival we were greeted by dancers, check in was informal in the reception area whilst sipping a welcome drink. The resort has a tranquil laid back barefoot luxury feel with the emphasis on simplicity throughout. We took an early lunch in the Conch Bar. The setting overlooks the ocean with chairs and tables set up in the sand. The menu has a healthy choice of divine salads. I opted for a fish burger with a light prawn salad.

My beach villa no 57 was a surprise, enormous, stylish with an open air shower and ablution area. There was French champagne in the room on ice and as I looked out I was on the beach just a few steps from the ocean. The most gorgeous white sand beach all to myself. I truly felt that this has to be paradise. We went on an inspection of the resort, which has 98 villas in total all secluded from each other. One does not for a moment feel that there are lots of people, despite the fact that the resort was almost fully booked. The Coco Spa offers a selection of treatments as well as a chocolate therapy treatment. This must surely be different and amazing.

We had evening cocktails at the beach bar whilst couples sat side by side in deck chairs on the beach watching the sunset. This was a sight to behold, a very special moment in time that cannot be repeated. Dinner was served in the main restaurant with live cooking stations. The Cowrie restaurant specializes in Maldivian, Thai and Indian menus. The sushi is fantastic and they serve the best sorbet ever. The al a carte breakfast was amazing, herrings, eggs Benedict with fresh salmon, the best French toast, fresh fruit delectably served, fabulous freshly squeezed grape fruit juice as well as an amazing selection of cheeses. We had to leave the next morning by sea plane back to Male.

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Taj Exotica Resort and Spa

After our arrival in Male we were greeted by a representive of the Taj Exotica and taken to our speedboat transfer that would take 15 minutes to the island. Taj Exotica is located on the South Male Atoll. What a reception we received on board the luxury speedboat, Bulvgari hand wipes and a choice of Evian and Valpre mineral water. We arrived at the jetty and walked down the deck past a glass opening with the ocean below and proceeded to our villas for an in villa check in. This is special and very personal. The resort is a sight to behold, sheer unashamed luxury. Ninety percent of the accommodation is over water. We took our lunch at the 24 degrees restaurant on the beach. They serve superb pizzas amongst many other amazing dishes. I had the prawn curry which was par excellance. We had a snorkelling trip arranged for us from the private jetty. This was great fun, especially seeing the resident turtle.

The same jetty becomes a private set up for honeymooners for an overnight experience or a sunset experience.

The Jiva Grande Spa is located on its own private island sanctuary. There is also a special Ayurveda Pavillion offering age old therapies with a resident Ayurveda physician.

I returned to my over water villa and just took in the experience. The villa was breathtaking to say the least. My seven foot king sized bed over looked the ocean, the deck outside the bedroom has a plunge pool also with a full ocean view. I then had a look at the bathroom, well this was truly spectacular, marble throughout, Molton Brown bath products, an open air or in door shower, and a bath filled with rose petals overlooking the ocean, I can say no more! It was spectacular.

Drinks that evening at Equator Bar were divine, canapés, mozarello balls with basil and olives and beetroot crisps.

The a la carte dinner at 24 degrees was spectacular with the tables set out on the sand. There was a choice of delectable starters perfectly prepared by the chef who was trained in Australia. My starter was fantastic, freshly grilled prawns in a mild tandoori sauce, the main was to die for, the softest lobster I have ever tasted absolutely unforgettable, our host suggested a fine French champagne Veuve Cliquot Ponsarta Brut NV Reims, this was truly wicked and perfectly matched the lobster. The desert was exceptional, cointrau cake and bailys’s crème brulee so beautifully presented!

I discovered that they have in villa butler service which I made use of. Hot plunge coffee brought to you on the deck, on awaking ooh la la!

The breakfast was fabulous, the finest blend of tea, 2 tiny poached eggs benedict with fresh baby spinach leaves drizzled with asparagus and salmon, this was set on a brioche. The fresh carrot juice was amazing, the best I have had in a long while. It was sad to leave this paradise.

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Olhuveli Beach and Spa Resort

Located on the tip of South Male Atoll, a picturesque 45 minute speedboat ride takes you to Olhuveli, famed for its beautiful beaches and abundant sandbanks. We had a fairly speedy check in the sand bar with a welcome drink and proceeded to our accommodations. I was situated in a deluxe room which is located in a double storey block of 4 rooms all beach fronted. The beach villas are great as they have a private garden bathroom with an enclosed rain shower with double glass doors leading out onto a private verandah and featuring a daybed over looking the beach. They are individual and offer complete privacy. The Jacuzzi beach villas are beautiful with breathtaking ocean views. This resort is also sold on an all inclusive option. I was lucky enough to experience the scuba diving. I found the dive centre very professional and the staff most helpful. The 25 meter boat we went out with was very well equipped and we travelled for around 45 minutes to one of the outer dive sites. We did a wall dive and I was amazed at the topography, an incredible variety of soft and hard corals. After a quick breakfast the following morning we had to leave for our speedboat transfer back to the mainland.

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Meeru Island Resort

This resort is located on the easternmost tip of North Male Atoll. The transfer is around 55 minutes by speedboat. The resort is surrounded by a beautiful lagoon and long stretches of white sandy beach. The resort was one of the first built and is well established. We were warmly welcomed by the management and felt at home immediately. The Northern side is perfect for honeymooners and couples, whilst the Southern area is more suitable for families.

The Jacuzzi water villas located over the water in the lagoon all have a private sundeck which provides access direct into the water. I loved the water villas which are located over the water in the lagoon. You can walk out onto the white sand beach and right into the crystal clear ocean. The décor is fresh and colourful, Maldivian island style. The over water spa was stunning and had a full range of body and beauty treatments. I was able to go on a scuba diving excursion with a group in the afternoon. The centre is very well run with excellent safety and great equipment. I loved the dive, there were so many hard and soft corals and a great variety of marine life. The buffet dinner was superb in the Northern part of the resort, there are live cooking stations and the variety is excellent.It was Halloween and the staff had gone to such effort to carve the fruit and ice creams on the buffet, that it looked too good to eat. There was also a party that night for those that had the energy to participate. The restaurant in the Southern area was where we had our breakfast, the fruit was so fresh, excellent omelettes with the food layout being exceptional. Sadly we had to leave this great resort onward to our next adventure.

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Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa

This resort is located in the North Male Atoll, with a short speed boat transfer of approximately 20 minutes from the mainland. The resort is set on its own private island and surrounded by tropical turquoise waters of the lagoon. The accommodation is categorized into beachfront deluxe rooms which are constructed in duplex block of 4 and have private gardens. The cottage where I stayed was freestanding with a lovely view of the ocean. The furnishings were understated and exuded a timeless elegance. The bathroom is outdoor which really gives you a tropical island feel. The products provided were truly lovely and made for a very special bath experience. There are gorgeous water villas and water bungalows for those wanting an over water experience. The resort is well laid out within beautiful tropical gardens and geared for those wanting to exercise whilst on holiday. We had a fabulous lunch at the Sand Coast Café which offers informal alfresco dining on the deck or under a thatched pavillion. I chose a Maldivian curry tuna fish, followed by praline nougat ice cream, both were truly delightful and unique. The menu caters for western tastes as well as Indian and Maldivian tastes. I spent much of the afternoon swimming at the gorgeous white sand beach. I spent time reading a book on my private patio overlooking the ocean this was a real treat. Dinner that evening was at the Full Moon, the main restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely selection of meats, sushi, chicken and salads. Sadly this was our last resort and we were departing fairly early the next morning.

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Doha Oryx Rotana Hotel

We had boarded our flight to Doha on Qatar Airlines and arrived in Doha at noon and were transferred to the Oryx Rotana Hotel where we had a room until our flight the following morning. The hotel is located near the airport and is a stunning design of the most modern architecture in glass. The lobby is beautiful with lots of exotic plants strategically placed. The room was very luxurious and felt more like a five star than a four star.Our visas had been pre arranged by Holiday Tours. We had a great tour planned for that day.

We were taken to a camel auction and observed the local and Saudi camels, rather smelly but non the less interesting. We visited a fresh produce market and I was amazed at the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. We then went on to see the show jumping pure bread stallions stables. Well I had never seen horses like that. There were Arabian horses with gleaming muscles being walked for exercise and groomed constantly. We then proceeded to the local souk for shopping, this was quaint almost like an old Arabian city, however photography of people are not permitted. I found that the city exudes wealth, especially in the most spectacular architecture in almost all of the buildings. Much glass is used throughout. The country is the largest exporter of natural gas and second is oil. One USD buys you five litres of petrol or two and a half litres of water. Unemployment is at 0.07% so there is not much poverty there.

In Conclusion
Maldives is a true one island one resort experience which makes for perfect secluded holiday relaxing with someone special. The wide range of resorts offer an array of accommodation from laid back to state of the art luxury. Your holiday can be as tranquil or as active as you wish with each resort offering a selection of activities and entertainment for you to enjoy. The scuba diving is superb as is the snorkelling. Honeymooners, couples and families will all enjoy the destination.

General Info and Tips
Visas are not required for South African passport holders. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the return date.
Maldives has a tropical climate with the best seasons being between November to April however it is good to travel there throughout the year.
Travel with US dollars or Euros. All major credit cards are widely accepted.

With Special Thanks
A very special thanks to Holiday Tours for arranging this incredible educational and all the wonderful people who made our stay in the Maldives so unforgettable.