There is nothing better on this Earth than a soul to connect with on every level.
How it all started
A normal day at the office and upcoming extra days off giving us the chance to travel again! Great! But where?! All we wanted was to relax and pamper ourselves somewhere by the ocean but the closest tropical destinations from where we are, are at least five hours away by plane and mainly honeymoon destinations. We looked at each other across the monitors, and said at the same time: ‘Let’s go to the Maldives!’ And so we started planning – we had 2 days to find a nice hotel that wouldn’t break our bank accounts for the next year and we did….or at least thought we did. We decided for the 4* Vista Beach Retreat hotel on Hulhumalé Island – located in the south of North Male Atoll, close to the airport island Hulhulé.
Let the journey begin
The following night we met at the airport and we were both set and ready for our first trip together not knowing that was about to mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Finally, there we were with more than 2 hours at hand before take-off, strolling from one duty free shop to another. I must admit, The Airport is my addiction. The frenzy restless atmosphere, hectic passengers transiting, shopping, everybody eager to go places and meet beloved ones. The place that never sleeps makes me happy from the moment I set my foot inside. It’s a reaction, just like Pavlov’s dog, I anticipate and expect (not food) but another tick-off from my travel bucket list.
We boarded the plane and after a 5 hours flight and a 5 stars experience on board of Qatar Airway’s A350, we landed in the middle of the Indian Ocean – at Velana International Airport, also known as Malé International Airport.
During the flight, everybody is given a Disembarkation/Embarkation card that needs to be submitted to the immigration counter upon arrival, so make sure guys to have the hotel details and a pen handy for that. To enter Maldives, no pre-arrival visa is required but make sure you read the information about the passport requirements and visa on arrival issuance, before you travel. The whole immigration process took no longer than 10 minutes and as we only had our carry-on luggage, in 20 min after landing we were already outside looking for our driver, who of course, was running late. Luckily I had the hotel number and called them from the information point, but not so luckily – nobody picked up. Do you often tell yourself: It only happens to me?! ‘Cause I do. Damn my luck!!
After 10 minutes our driver FINALLY arrived and off to the hotel we went! Phew…
Expectations vs Reality
Palm trees, white sandy beaches, crystal blue water and a relaxing atmosphere was what we had in mind. Instead, we found a hotel that looked far from what we saw in the pictures. Now it made sense why the price was low compared to other resorts…My advice is, that if you’re going to the Maldives, skip Hulhumalé and go straight to the resorts. This island is still under construction, so expect it to be messy. It is a local island, bikinis are not allowed on Hulhumale Beach (we found out about it a little too late) and the only tourist/bikini beach was a 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel. This island is excellent for transit though, as it can be accessed by bus from airport, departures are every 30 minutes from 6 am to midnight and the fare is 20 MVR (approx. 2$).
So! There was no way we were going to stay there so I started looking for nearby island resorts. One important thing to note, is that there are some taxes (listed at the end of this post), which aren’t included in the final price if you don’t book directly through the hotel’s website. These taxes apply to meals and souvenirs as well so better do your sums in advance and avoid ‘surprises. I managed to book a room, and in an hour we were out of there and back at the airport where the Kurumba representative was waiting for us. Tired but happy, we boarded the air conditioned speedboat where we were served cold water and wet towels. Such a blessing! We spent the last minutes up on the deck admiring the tropical paradise that was rising in front of us as we got closer. Surrounded by the most bright blue crystal clear waters I’ve ever seen and whitest sandy beaches – the perfect image we envisioned when we planned this trip was taking shape! As the speedboat approached the docks the image depicted in front of us was even more surreal, a tropical paradise like those seen in Hollywood movies or the desktop wallpapers we all at least once daydreamed about .We again looked at each other and laughed: “This is what we deserve!”
Three days in paradise
Kurumba resort is situated on a small island of the North Malé Atoll, called an impossible name to remember (at least for me) Vihamanaafushi, just 10 min away by speedboat from the airport and it is the first ever resort in the Maldives set up in 1972 but once you are there you will never guess that it’s almost 46 years old.
A smooth check-in and the most delicious coconut sorbet I’ve ever had. We booked a twin Superior Room with breakfast included for three nights and this is how our budget trip suddenly became a luxury one. Everything looks impeccable and every single detail is taken care of. They clean the room twice a day and they provide daily complementary water for each guest.
Conveniently located just steps away from the white sandy beach and the blue ocean, our room was spacious and offered the perfect view from our cozy balcony. The bedroom led to a bright luxurious open bathroom complete with a washbasin, a glass-walled indoor shower, a free-standing bathtub and an open-air sand and stone-floored shower garden so you can see the sky and coconut trees while you relax away in your bath.
I really loved the fact that they produce their own coconut oil on the island and all the toiletries that they provide are made of fresh coconut oil. So cool, right? Not only did it smell delicious but they left our skin and hair incredibly silky smooth and soft. Did you know that ‘kurumba’ means ‘young coconut’?
If you’re in the mood for full relaxation, disconnecting from the world but with fast internet connection, this is the perfect place to unwind and Instagram all day long ;). It’s a small island but heavenly beautiful and it can be explored in 30 minutes. It offers all kinds of activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports, sunset boat trips, fishing etc. There’s also a SPA on the island, a gym and a kids club. We preferred to lounge on the beach during the day reading, sunbathing or swimming.
After dinner we would watch the sunset and have long walks on the beach.
There are 8 restaurants on the island so there’s plenty to choose from that will satisfy even the pickiest eater.
- Thila – Contemporary Restaurant & Grill.
- Vihamanaa – We had an excellent buffet breakfast included at this restaurant and I must give Kurumba a big thumbs up for it as it was delicious and varied every day.
- Hamakaze – Teppanyaki Restaurant
- Al Qasr – Middle Eastern Restaurant
- Mahal – Indian Restaurant
- King Thai – Thai Restaurant
- Isola – Modern Italian Restaurant
- Café – Classic Café, Pizza & Maldivian Specialties
As we only had breakfast included, we had to pay for lunch and dinner and the average price for one was approximately 45$ per meal (tax included).
There are also 4 bars on the island but our favorite was Kandu – an open-air pavilion with wide over-water deck with day beds and relaxing loungers. And here’s where we enjoyed our Maldivian nights with live music and delicious cocktails. If you ever visit Kurumba I recommend the Kurumba cocktail.
*The average cost of a cocktail with taxes included is 15$. I also recommend the Athiri Beach & Sunset Bar for (you guessed it right!?) a stunning sunset.
Maldives weather in December
It is said that rainfall is mostly concentrated on the first half of the month, and most tourists opt to visit Maldives towards the end of December to experience fine tropical weather and celebrate Christmas and New Year’s here. Even though rainfall was expected on 13 days of the month we were lucky, and while we were there it rained just for half a day on our last day on the island. But that did not keep us inside our room. There is something magical about the tropical rain I must admit, I had a nice swim before it really started pouring and then we just enjoy the view in total silence from under the sun umbrella.
We played pool the rest of the afternoon, shopped for souvenirs and enjoyed a cocktail at the bar for the last time.
Overall, the service at Kurumba was excellent, all staff around the island were so friendly, helpful and went out of their way to make each customer feel welcome. No wonder the list of awards of this resort is so long that I cannot list here, but please check it out.
A big plus of Kurumba is the location, as it’s really close to the airport so you will not have to worry about missing your flights due to bad weather, which can delay seaplanes and boat transfers from resorts located further away from Velana International Airport.
We were sad to leave this corner of paradise and wished we could have enjoyed more of this breathtaking tropical island. We left on the morning of the 18th of December wishing we returned soon…Until next time, Dhanee!
Vihamanaafushi – Kurumba Resort is 15 minutes away by boat and the fees, at the moment I’m writing this article are:
- shared airport transfer: Adult/37.50 USD; Child/18.75 USD per way;
- private airport transfer: Adult/75.00 USD; Child /7.50 USD per way.
Taxes charged at the hotel:
- Service Charge 10%
- T-GST-R 12%
- Green Tax 12$
Local Currency: 1 Maldivian Rufyaa = 0.65 US $
Visa information: http://www.immigration.gov.mv/pages/entry.html
The official language is Dhivehi, here are some useful phrases you might find useful:
- Hello – frm -Assalaamu Alaikum
- How are you? – Haalu kihineh?
- Welcome – Maruhabaa
- My name is… – Aharenge namakee …
- I’m from … – Alhugan’dakee … rayyitheh
- Pleased o meet you – Baddhalu vee thee varah ufaavejje
- Good morning – Ba’ajjeveri hendhuneh
- Good afternoon – Ba’ajjeveri mendhureh
- Good evening – Ba’ajjeveri haveereh
- Good night – Ba’ajjeveri reygade
- Goodbye – Dhanee
- Yes – Aan
- No – Noon
- I don’t understand – inf. Mashah ingey
- Help! – Salaamai!
- Thank you – Maruhabaa
- Sorry – Ma’aaf kurey
- Please – Shukuriyyaa
Thanks for reading! See you soon with my next adventure.