17/07 [Tue] Seaplane Flying. Expectations Exceeded. Stepping into Paradise. A colorful underwater world. Four Course Fine Dining. Salad Dressing Shots.
19/07 [Thu] Floating Pineapples. Mermaid and Merman. More Sea than Land. Tan Lines. Patriotic Feminist Literature. Sunset Boat Cruises. Chocolates on Bed.
20/07 [Fri] Island Running. Sparking Wine Jacuzzi Sunsets. Reef Drop Swimming. Adopted a School. Predinner Drinks. Calm and Carefree Tipsy Giggles. Passing Out Content.
21/07 [Sat] More swimming, more snorkel. Schools of Fishes. Swimming Farther and Farther. Rewarding Courage. Reading a Book in One Day. Chatting with Locals.
22/07 [Sun] Strong Current. Snorkel and Tumble. Raining at Angles. Windy Waves. Villa Chilling. Storm Raging. Scrabble Winning.
23/07 [Mon] Lungs Burning. More Island Running. Snorkel and Swim. Boozy Bonding and Beer. Hunting Sunsets. Freezing the Moment. Appreciation Forever.
24/07 [Tue] Low Tide Loving. Fish Family Visits. Sunrise Swims. Avocado Ice Cream. Sad Goodbyes. Small Wooden Guitar. Smiling Gratitude.
This was definitely one of the most amazing holidays I’ve experienced in my life. Not taking the decision lightly, we shopped around to find a deal to fit and maximize our budget. We eventually found a good beach villa deal but fell in love with the classic over the water villas on offer at many of the resorts around the Maldives. It was clear, for this one, we had to go big or go home.
Maldives is 400km from the coast of India. The group of 1200 islands is so small, you can’t see it on the map unless you zoom in. A LOT. Each group of islands are called an Atoll and Meedhupparu was in the Raa Atoll.
Our journey to the Maldives started on a cold Cape Town day, flying for about 10 hours via Qatar with a 3 hour stop over in Doha and a connecting 5 hour flight to Male, the capital city (or rather island) of Maldives. The flight was tough with constant turbulence for a good few hours, and Qatar flew a roundabout way due their airspace restrictions with Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
The flight to Male was spectacular during the last hour or so. You could spot the beautiful islands with its sandbanks and villas on water from the air. Unbelievably beautiful from high up in the sky, it already started to feel surreal.
Upon arrival, we had to go to our resort counter and wait for the next exciting part of our trip, a seaplane ride.
Where we stayed
We booked our accommodation directly and stayed at the Adaraan Prestige Water Villas (all inclusive) on an island called Meedhupparu, a 45 minute sea plane ride away from Male. We had to wait a few hours at the airconditioned resort airport lounge for more passengers to arrive, but with a free snacks and drinks, we were relaxed while waiting and appreciated the hours on land after such a long journey.
Initially I was super nervous about the flight as I’ve never done such a thing. Ever. It ended up being one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Flying 4000 feet in the air above the ocean with the islands in even clearer view was spectacular. The pilots wore flip flops and landed the 15 seater plane with grace on the choppy water.
We were greeted by the resort hostess, I was given an island flower, and our minimal hand luggage only, was loaded into our golf cart. Upon arrival, we received Cinnamon Orange Iced Tea and a cooling towel, and were escorted to our water villa.
The Water Villas
Deciding to splurge on our accommodation was the best choice we could have made. It felt like a fairytale opening the doors to our room that had a deck with steps directly into the clear water of the ocean and house reef. We could see schools of fish throughout the glass bottomed floor on the deck and when directly looking into the ocean.
Later during our stay we even “adopted” a school of small fish that decided to hang around our water villa entrance.
The bathroom was spacious with a shower, toiletries provided, more towels than one could need, with his and hers basins. The large four poster bed was comfortable and we had the option to choose different pillows from the pillow menu.
The villa had a mini bar, walk-in cupboard with a safe, coffee maker (capsules) and TV (not that you should be watching TV when you’re on a bluddy island! ) with a coffee table and couch.
The deck had a glass bottomed floor, tables and chairs, a bed to lounge on and a jacuzzi. Of course with a direct and uninterrupted view of the ocean. We enjoyed the bottle of sparkling wine we got on arrival while watching the sunset.
Honestly, this villa made me feel like an absolute queen with its space, amenities privacy and views. It was more than we expected and then some.
Note that “one” villa as pictured actually has 2 rooms so you may have neighbors dependent on occupancy but we didn’t have any noise or privacy issues. No children are allowed in the villas as far as I know.
The island is paradise. With its sandy beaches, crystal clear water and reef, you can’t help but be content and at peace. Its beauty is breathtaking and I needed to pinch myself multiple times to check if I’m not dreaming. The sand is soft, the ocean warm (please do yourself a favor and swim at least a few times in it!) and the tropical trees on the well kept island garden provides for much needed shade.
There are many swimming spots but the Villa Beach (private area for villa guests only) is the best. On the open ocean side is the house reef and the other side of the walking deck is the pristine Villa Beach with beach loungers and towels, put out for Villa guests on a daily basis.
Of course during my first swim, I was sting by either a jellyfish or blue bottle tentacle which wrapped itself around my belly. It stung like hell but growing up alongside the beach helped me stay calm and the burn eventually subsided. Always be mindful of the beautiful sea creatures around you!
The resort will indicate with flags on the beaches whether it’s safe to swim or not.
Now and then we spotted some plastic items washing out on the beach or being left there. And even though the resort has people constantly cleaning and maintaining its grounds and beaches, it seems there are still people that think it’s ok to litter in paradise. Please don’t be that asshole and if you see any litter, even if not yours, pick it up!
The resort had Swimming Pools, one specifically just for Water Villa guests but we ended up swimming only in the ocean.
The fact that our villa was on the house reef meant that with a few steps down, we could see the world of Finding Nemo, right on our door step. Even with choppy waves, you could see a variety of fish on the reef. Some of the brightest and most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen. Mind you, the fact that I even swam AND snorkelled to the edge the reef was a miracle! I can be a scaredy cat at times but this small win gave me the biggest gift of our entire trip. The resort provided us with snorkeling gear and lifejackets. Floating on the waves, seeing the incredible beauty of our ocean surrounding me, felt like a dream come true. Snorkeling from the North Jetty past the Water Villas proved to be one the best spots.
We spotted the following species during our snorkel adventures:
• Moray Eels (tough to spot but watch out they are pretty creepy amongst the coral)
• Frog Fishes
• Flutemouths and Needlefishes (similar looking but the Flutemouths are more narrow)
• Soldierfish (a big school was chilling under the jetty)
• Groupers (huge variety, the book I the villa really helped to identify them)
• Cod (Peacock Rock, Vermillion)
• Orange Anthias
• Cardinal Fishes
• Rudderfish (they swim in big schools at the edge of the reef)
• Sweetlips (The Oriental is a site to behold with its black and white stripes and yellow trimmings)
• Threadfin Beams
• Butterfly fishes (in the brightest colors, mostly a variation of yellow)
• Schooling Bannerfish (on the edge of the reef it is quite the site to behold)
• Angel Fishes (big variety and bright colors)
• Cheeklined Maori Wrasse & Queen Coris, Adorned and Checkerboard, Black Eye Thicklip, Fivestripe
• Parrot Fishes (Roundhead, Bridled, Yellowbar)
• Moorish Idol
• Surgeonfishes (Lined, Powder-blue, Eye-Stripe)
• Unicorn Fishes (Spotted – they stalk you big time, Vlaming’s)
• Triggerfish (Clown, Titan – this one scared hubby to death with its teeth)
• Pufferfishes (Black Spotted)
The island also had a Diving Point but we decided that we were both too scared to push our limits that far.
At 21:30 every evening, weather permitting, the resort will feed the fish from the North Jetty and you will see the beautiful Black-Botched Sting Ray coming to the surface for some food. Odd but pretty looking. Also don’t get a fright when you see massive bats flying around the island.
Other facilities include a basic gymnasium, multiple bars, tennis and badminton courts, a spa and watersports centre.
On our package we got a 30min back massage for free and the ladies were fantastic! The massage tables were outside and there is nothing better than feeling the breeze and smelling the fresh ocean air while getting a massage.
Protip: do this toward the start of your stay before the potential sun burn.
We also took advantage of the sunset cruise that was part of our package and it was a stunning sunset, as expected from a paradise like the Maldives.
Where do I start explaining the spectacular that was the food offered by the Water Villa Restaurant. We have this theory that South Africans make any food better than its origin and this was the first trip abroad that was a truly delightful culinary experience.
Breakfast could be served in our Villa upon request. We did this twice when we tried the Breakfast with Islanders Touch a must try during your stay if you want to experience Maldivian Curries. It consisted of Pumpkin Tuna Salad, Rhotis, Milk Rice, Potato Curry and the best Fish and Dhal Curries we’ve ever tasted. Other days we tried different items on the menu which offers a wide variety for health junkies and those that need recovery from cocktails the night before. The fresh fruit juices are a must try too.
Lunch every day was 3 courses, starting with a bread basket, either a soup or salad, a main course and dessert. Highlights were definitely anything served from the ocean, the chef cooks the fish to perfection and the combination of flavors were always tasty. They also had other basic dishes on offer like sandwiches and burgers but I dare you to explore the menu and send your tastebuds on a Maldivian journey. Desserts are small portions, just enough to give your sweet tooth satisfaction.
The mini bar was replenished daily with water, juice, cooldrink and beer, plus chocolates and fruit. If that’s not enough, ice cream was served in the afternoon and you also get the option to have canapes served in your room before dinner. More chocolates were provided with the evening turn down service.
Every evening a feast was available to indulge in. Starting with a small appetizer served in a spoon, a bread selection with dukkah and olive oil, followed by an appetiser choice of salads/starter dish, soup, the main course, sorbet as a pallet cleaner and then dessert. This may sound like a lot but the portions are manageable and you would want to taste everything available, believe me. Most of the time we opted again for anything seafood but there was also a strong Asian influence in the selection of dishes offered. Once again, the flavors were out of this world and this holiday was the best foodie experience we’ve had yet.
We also had a private dinner on the beach at sunset which came with our package which made the visit feel more like a fairytale. The Berry Trio dessert served that evening was my favourite dessert of our whole stay.
The all inclusive included a variety of great wines, beer and cocktails. They offered 3 different types of Pina Coladas which I enjoyed maybe a bit too much, during dinner times. But who wouldn’t want Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain when on an island?! The resort uses Paper Straws which is a true blessing to the oceans that surround them.
Protip: a shot of Espresso or coffee with no milk and sugar will keep your digestive system going.
We were treated like royalty from the time we set foot on the jetty from the seaplane flight. Our butler, Adam, gave stellar service, while attending to our needs and eagerly answered our questions about the local government, tax schemes and general life on the island. Housekeeping was done twice a day, and our room was kept immaculate.
The waiters and barmen in the Water Villa Restaurant was friendly, courteous and eager to please. Even though service took a while here and there, it didn’t bother us at all, as one gets mesmerized by the view, and lose track of time very quickly. In paradise, go with the flow is essential to having a good time. I have to point out the service given by one exceptional waiter, Assan (a trainee at the time we were there), who has a delightful sense of humor and was very attentive.
Overall the staff in the resort are pleasant and friendly, greeting you as you run/walk past. The resort really ensure that you are kept happy throughout you stay.
On departure, landing back at Male, their staff ensured we got the right bus back to the terminal and explained where we can access the airport lounge and check in.
What to Pack
• Minimal Clothes, but do keep in mind that you need to be dressed for the restaurant.
• Sunscreen, at least 300ml.
• Flip Flops
• Reef Shoes
• Anti-Misting Spray for Snorkelling Goggles
• At least 2 swimming constumes
Note that this is an additional charge when booking via 3rd party sites like booking.com and check whether this is included or not. Baggage Allowance is 20kg + 5kg for hand luggage on the seaplane.
Do not spoil your holiday before it even happened by looking at the weather forecast! I gave myself so much anxiety when I saw thunderstorms predicted but those only happened mostly during the evening. April to November is their wet monsoon season but honestly the rain would quickly pass and sunshine came back quickly. Raincoats were provided in the room. During one storm we were stuck in the Water Villa restaurant and decided to play Scrabble in the Bar Lounge.
The temperature remained around the 30 degree mark throughout our stay and the breeze on most days were a blessing despite making the waves choppy and the current strong.
Tipping is not compulsory but who would not want to tip good people that’s been friendly and looking after your needs for a week. We tipped our butler, housekeeping staff, waiters, barmen and kitchen staff at the end of our stay. Tips should be in USD and only crisp new notes are accepted by their banks so make sure your notes are in a good condition.
Male is 2 hours ahead of South Africa, the Meedhupparu island is an hour ahead of Male. Even though this may annoy some, it’s a great fail safe when something goes wrong as weather may interfere with sea plane transfers or simply if you would like a late check out.