The spectacular islands of the Maldives prompt very specific images in the mind’s eye: aqua villas offering personal access to crystal clear water, ice cubes clinking in a glass of fresh cocktails, and palm branches swaying lazily under the hot sun. Going to the Maldives has been on my bucket list since the first time I saw a photo of this paradise. However, its remote location in the middle of the Indian Ocean makes it a bit challenging to visit. For years I’ve tried to fit in a trip to one of the beautiful islands and finally this spring, the opportunity came to go with my friend Carrie!
From Stuttgart, Germany we flew through Istanbul and then transferred in Male, Maldives to a small domestic plane. As we got closer to the atoll we were staying on, we could see the vast aqua blue water below that was dotted with pristine islands of glowing white sand. Upon landing we were picked up by the resort staff and transferred to the port where we took a speed boat out to our final destination. The friendly staff were pier side waiting to greet us with some cold refreshing drinks and then we made our way across the pier, soaking in the stunning beauty of the Kandima Resort that was to become our home for the next several days.
We received our keys and an itinerary filled with activities for the weekend before being driven down the small path linking the different areas of the resort. Barely containing our excitement as they dropped us off at our pier, we made it just inside the door of the villa before dropping all pretentions and jumping up and down. Champagne was chilling waiting for our arrival which was immediately popped and poured as we wandered around discovering all of the fun features in our aqua villa. The view from the patio was absolute perfection and we spent many hours rotating between swimming around the crystal clear water, soaking up some rays on our lounge chairs, and sipping champagne in the shade.
After settling in for a bit we headed down the pier to meet everyone and were handed glasses of champagne that magically refilled themselves as the DJ played a chill soundtrack for our first sunset. There have been many places with gorgeous sunsets around the world that I have had the opportunity to enjoy, but the hues and spectacular vibrant colors made the Maldives’ sunsets easily top my list of favorites.
Once the sun dipped below the horizon we were escorted to a buffet dinner with an unbelievable spread of food from fresh fruits and seafood to well-seasoned pork that fell off the bone. The table setting was on the edge of the water and was lit by tall glowing lamps and the full moon overhead. It was absolutely surreal to casually eat dinner in paradise with the water quietly lapping up against the shoreline a few feet away. It is no wonder that the Maldives is such a popular destination for couples as it’s hard to imagine a more romantic setting!
The next morning we were still smiling from ear to ear as we headed off for beach yoga before the sun got too hot. We sweated out some of the champagne from the previous evening though as our instructor slowly moved us through morning stretches to loosen some of our tight muscles from the long trip over.
After beach yoga we continued on to breakfast which was just as remarkable of a spread as the night before ranging from local cuisine to a full omelet station (while the food was fantastic, I must warn that my philosophy of food calories not counting on vacation was not validated by my scale upon return). We relaxed for a bit and then walked across island to head out for paddle boarding and kayaking. The brilliant blue water ranged from turquoise to aqua was far different from the fairly murky waters the last time I went boarding in VA Beach!
The next stop was sushi class where a chef was waiting at the head of a table filled with seafood and giant bowls of rice. We took our places at the individual sushi stations and watched as the chef carefully demonstrated precisely how we were to cut the salmon for the sashimi, spread the rice over the seaweed wrap for the sushi rolls, and carefully fill the hand rolls. The chef then made her rounds patiently correcting our numerous mistakes. The benefit to making a mistake though was that we immediately got to eat it in order to hide the evidence. By the time the class finished and we each finally had a tray of respectable sushi, almost everyone was already full. We let the food settle for a few hours before joining the others at the afternoon pool party.
The day ended with our second sunset on the beach which was every bit as brilliant and breathtaking as the first!
In the morning, we sipped coffee on the deck taking periodic dips into the water below to cool off. By 9:00 we were ready to head off to breakfast for a quick bite before trying our skills at aerial yoga. My visions of gracefully spinning around on long silk ropes doing elegant aerial stunts were quickly replaced by the reality of learning the less than dramatic basics. For the next hour we learned several simple maneuvers which were surprisingly challenging, but by the end we were able to look at least semi-graceful.
In the afternoon we made our way back over to the pier to rent jet skis. Cruising out into the bay, we were soon surrounded again by the brilliant blue water which was smooth as glass making it easy to go full throttle around the island. We only slowed down when we spotted dolphins hoping they would come a swim with us and our guide tolerated our lollygagging well as we tried to delay the inevitable return.
The afternoon was spent mostly beach and poolside as we drank our way through the cocktail menu thanks to the surprisingly reasonable bar prices.
That evening we headed out for a sunset dolphin cruise where we unfortunately did not see our dolphin friends from early, but did take full advantage of the tasty appetizers and champagne that was offered. As the sky turned orange for our final fiery sunset, we all relaxed and enjoyed the brilliant views.
After returning to the villa for a nap, we cleaned up before attending the all-white party. One of the best aspects of Kandima was the laid back crowd of guests that attended the daily events ranging from the rowdier pool party and Latin dancing on the beach to the yoga sessions and art classes offered. Since the resort owns the entire island, there are additional pools and restaurants always available for guests wanting a quieter and more relaxing stay.
At breakfast the next morning we ran into the General Manager where we kindly informed him that we had been researching squatting laws in the Maldives and would in fact, not be leaving the island. While we definitely would have loved to stay another few nights, since our flight was not until evening, the staff did let us keep the room for the whole day before taking the final jet boat back to the airport. We spent the day bouncing between the pool and the beach trying to soak up as much sunshine as possible before heading back to Germany and reality.
Overall it was one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen and the staff was incredibly friendly, making us feel a part of their family. This is definitely a once in a lifetime dream destination that I hope to repeat! Special thanks to Anna and the Kandima staff for a perfect weekend and to iKooPhotos for so many amazing photos from the trip!