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Honeymoon Diaries in Maldives

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By Ana Tepsanu. Ana is a freelance journalist who loves travelling, movies, blogging, reading and gelato. She write regularly for Yabbedoo.com. Here she writes about her friend Andra’s wonderful honeymoon in Maldives.

Seaplane

How it all started

I wasn’t the type of girl obsessively planning since childhood the perfect wedding followed by the perfect honeymoon. But surprisingly, when it happened, I found myself giving A LOT of thought to the ideal destination for this once in a lifetime vacation, simply because in my head it was the one time you could actually wish for any place in the world.

It may not have to be perfect, it may not have to be a “one-time” visit, but it definitely has to be special, beyond your own wildest dreams, whatever those may be.

And my dreams took me to this little house on the water, with an open deck & stairs going all the way down into this clear blue ocean.

No 6* all-inclusive luxury hotel, no around-the-world cruise, no adventurous African safari, but this secluded, worries-free, escape place at the edge of the world surrounded by the most serene waters with nothing to do but love, love and love.

I had this picture in my head, but with absolutely no idea where or even if it exists, so I started searching through all the exotic holiday destinations I could find – from the Caribbean, to Tahiti, to Fiji going through Bora-Bora.

These were just names of places I heard of, but with no clear image of how they look or even where they are exactly on the world map (not to mention if I could actually afford at least the trip there).

Then I stumbled over a resort website with a cover photo of my dream place, in every single detail I had ever pictured in my mind. The name was Medhufushi Island Resort, Maldives and it was heaven on earth in the Indian Ocean.

“Talk about love at first sight…”

We arrived in the Maldives on a hot day of end August, looking forward like crazy to our 8 days honeymoon in what was by all signs simply paradise.

Reaching the resort however was no easy task, as from the airport in the capital city of Male we were still looking at a 45-minutes journey by sea plane to our own private atoll, a small island that was the resort itself.

The Maldives are an archipelago of islands called atolls, each representing another resort that you could reach from Male either by speed boat or sea plane, depending on the distance.

When we landed at our final destination, we were welcomed by an army of staff, each offering to fulfill our every need or even propose new needs we didn’t know we had, just to suggest a way to meet them afterwards.

From the moment we stepped into the water villa, we were impressed by the efforts made to make us feel as comfortable and as welcomed as possible: “Happy honeymoon” message on the bed written in bamboo sticks and flower petals, heart-shaped folded sheets, special welcoming cakes on the table, a huge fruit basket with a warm note having our new name on it and a chilled champagne bottle in the fridge.

 “Is this place for real?”

Our days there usually started at 6am the latest, because the sun rose at 5.15 every morning from the ocean and we were right there to greet it: our glass fronted bedroom had a spectacular view of the ocean and every sunrise was breathtaking.

The way to breakfast was a delight in itself, as there were only two ways to reach the main restaurant on the island: down the stairs from our deck and swimming through the lagoon till the beach (too adventurous for early mornings) or walking on the pontoon that connected the water villas to the island.

The view each morning was just incredible and each time we walked on that pontoon we thought: “Is this place for real?”.

The restaurant – yummy food all day long

There was a main restaurant on the island where all meals were served and guests of the resort usually had an all-inclusive package, or in our case, a half board.

But that was more than enough for us, giving that the selection, variety & abundance of dishes served at the open buffet was huge.

For 8 days we did not once see the same dish twice and we could never manage to taste everything served at one meal, even though they were all so appealing and so very tasty.

Breakfast always had tons of exotic fresh fruit: litchi, pomegranate, figs, freshly picked baby bananas, papaya, mango, melons of all shapes and sizes and many other I didn’t recognized.

Then there were pastries with all kinds of fillings, more than 20 choices of homemade yogurt and jams, the traditional milk & cereals, many types of breads. And of course, there was the more serious menu for heavy eaters with fried eggs & bacon, omelettes, sausages & beans, french toast, rice milk and I could go on and on.

Dinner was even richer and had dishes from the majority of international cuisines to satisfy any taste: from Italian pasta & salads made on the spot to Thai chicken recipes, a wide selection of Japanese sushi and French cheeses, not to mention at least 10 choices of deserts to-die-for (from buttermilk ice cream with whiskey cream sauce to tons of cakes & cookies you couldn’t resist).

The traditional Maldivian dishes were always part of the menu as well, interesting combinations to say the least: pineapple soup, some type of baked rice & eggs, coconut & chicken stew among the few I tested .

The staff deserved every penny

For the duration of our stay there, we had our own private waiter, welcoming us at every meal, pulling my seat & setting our napkins, remembering our drinks and bringing them without ordering, friendly and polite.

We also had a private waiter at the pub & bar of the resort and our own bell boy in case we needed anything anytime. To be perfectly honest, we have never been treated anywhere with such respect, diligence and care as we did by the staff of the Medhufushi resort and it wasn’t simply due to the stars at the front entrance.

They were educated this way, always helpful and always discreet, not being in the way at any time or making you feel uncomfortable with their servitude. We left tips to all the staff assigned to us and it never felt more earned.

 Adventurous island activities

Besides lying in the sun under the palm trees, enjoying watermelon juice and bathing in the clearest, warmest, most amazing water you’ve ever touched all day long, we enjoyed other treats of the islands as well.

divers, couple

Scuba diving was one of the most thrilling of them all, as nothing compares to swimming among this live colorful reef where life pops out at every turn either in the form of a flat fish that seems run over by a truck, or as a baby catfish more scared of you than you of it.

And a one-on-one encounter with the largest “harmless” shark you’ve ever seen is not a walk in the park either.

Of course, our day to day activities were not boring either from this point of view, as our snorkeling sessions around the water villa or the beach often meant encounters with giant turtles, small catfish and lost baby sharks.

On another day we went in the nearby deeper waters for an afternoon of swimming…with the dolphins! These amazing large groups of wild dolphins, swimming right beside us, making jumps and tricks in the water as if to impress us or racing the boat.

Absolutely fantastic to see how familiar they were with the presence of people in their environment, how friendly and playful, swimming close enough to touch.

Lazy island activities

Less “interactive” than this, but definitely exciting were all the other water sports available on the island: windsurfing, canoeing & sailing. For the passionate, there were also regular fishing trips at the sunset, with a candlelight dinner on boat included, whether you caught anything or not:).

However, the most relaxing of experiences we had were definitely the spa treatments – they took absolutely every ounce of stress left out of our bodies through the magnificent hands of Balinese spa masseuses.

There is nothing a honey & milk wrap, chocolate scrub & full body massage after soaking in rose petals water won’t treat. Trust me.

Maldives resort – a place only for newlyweds?

Newlyweds had special gifts and treats throughout the stay, like the welcoming we had, complimentary feet and hands massages for two or small chocolates left on pillows every morning.

Given the facilities of the resort (restaurant, bar, infinity pool, spa center, gym and souvenir shop ), I would definitely say this is more of a couples retreat resort, as there are many romantic, relaxing things to do in two and less of an Ibiza clubs, music and vibe kinda of place, or a place where you might meet someone at a bar.

Especially since sun sets at 6pm every day sharp. However, I did notice an Asian young woman on holiday by herself, writing or reading on the beach and often walking on the shore with music in her headphones. She seemed peaceful, recovering or simply enjoying some time with herself in a place where you have nowhere to run and nowhere else to be.

Is this place unreachable, financially speaking?

This amazing treat we granted ourselves totalled up to 4000 euros for both of us, round trip flights and HB included, plus the extra expenses there: scuba, spa, trips, drinks on the beach, souvenirs, etc. which rounded up to another 1000 euro. End thought: worth every penny.

 

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Utheemu Ganduvaru: Portal to Maldives’ national freedom

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The Maldives, often celebrated for its sun-kissed beaches and turquoise waters, also offers a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be explored. Among the islands of Haa Alif Atoll lies Utheemu Island, home to Utheemu Ganduvaru, a historical treasure that invites travellers to delve into the storied past of the archipelago.

Utheemu Ganduvaru, the ancestral home of Muhammad Thakurufaanu, stands as a poignant reminder of the Maldives’ fight for independence. Thakurufaanu, revered as a national hero, led a successful campaign against Portuguese occupation in the 16th century. His childhood home, Utheemu Ganduvaru, offers a rare glimpse into the life and times of this legendary figure.

In 1558, the Portuguese invaded the Maldives, killing the Sultan in battle and establishing their rule. Muhammad Thakurufaanu and his brothers, Ali and Hassan, left for Minicoy to prepare a campaign to liberate their country. The boat they built, Kalhuohfummi, was crucial to their efforts. Thakurufaanu and his brothers fought the Portuguese for eight years, landing on different islands under cover of night to evade capture, and departing before daybreak. Eventually, they landed in Malé and defeated the Portuguese leadership in the capital. Freed from Portuguese rule, the people chose Muhammad Thakurufaanu as their Sultan.

Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu ruled the Maldives for 12 years until his death in 1585. He is remembered as a considerate and just ruler, concerned for the well-being of even the poorest citizens. He is also credited with establishing the country’s first formal military unit.

Back at Utheemu Island, visitors are immediately struck by the island’s tranquil beauty and its lush, green landscape. The journey to Utheemu Ganduvaru is a step back in time, where the echoes of history are palpable. The residence itself, a traditional wooden palace, is meticulously preserved, showcasing the architectural ingenuity and cultural richness of the period.

As you enter Utheemu Ganduvaru, the simplicity and elegance of the structure are apparent. Built from timber, the palace is a fine example of traditional Maldivian craftsmanship. The intricate woodwork, with its detailed carvings and polished surfaces, speaks volumes about the artisanship that flourished during Thakurufaanu’s time.

The main hall, with its open layout and cool, shaded interiors, offers a sense of serenity and reflection. It was within these walls that Thakurufaanu spent his formative years, and each room tells a story of his early life and the influences that shaped his destiny. The residence includes living quarters and storage spaces, all arranged in a manner that reflects the daily life of a prominent Maldivian family in the 16th century.

One of the most compelling aspects of Utheemu Ganduvaru is its connection to the larger narrative of Maldivian resistance against foreign rule. Guides at the site often recount tales of Thakurufaanu’s daring exploits and strategic brilliance. His knowledge of the archipelago’s intricate waterways and his leadership in naval battles are celebrated as key factors in the successful expulsion of the Portuguese in 1573.

Beyond its historical significance, Utheemu Ganduvaru offers visitors a deeper understanding of Maldivian culture and heritage. The site is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Maldivian people, embodying values that continue to inspire. For travellers, a visit to Utheemu Ganduvaru is an opportunity to connect with the soul of the Maldives, experiencing the essence of its history and the spirit of its people.

While on Utheemu Island, visitors can explore other points of interest, such as the island’s beaches and vibrant local community. Engaging with the locals offers additional insights into Maldivian traditions and hospitality, enriching the overall experience.

For those seeking a journey through time, Utheemu Ganduvaru in Haa Alif Atoll is a destination that should not be missed. It is a place where the past comes alive, where the legacy of a hero continues to resonate, and where the true essence of the Maldives can be discovered. As you walk through the halls of Utheemu Ganduvaru, you are not just a visitor; you are a part of a historical journey that defines the Maldivian identity.

So, when planning your next visit to the Maldives, venture beyond the beaches and dive into the rich history of these islands. Let Utheemu Ganduvaru be the highlight of your cultural exploration, offering a meaningful and memorable connection to the heart of Maldivian heritage.

Cover photo: Andreas Faessler

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Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives among the best hotels of 2024

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Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives has been named one of the world’s best hotels according to TripAdvisor, placing it among the top 10% globally.

This island paradise boasts a prime location just 13 kilometers from Malé, the capital of the Maldives. Reachable by a quick 20-minute speedboat ride, Cinnamon Dhonveli offers both accessibility and an abundance of activities.

Surfers flock to the world-famous Pasta Point break, while divers and beach lovers can also enjoy the vibrant underwater world and pristine sands. This exciting island caters to a variety of interests, making it a popular destination in the Maldives.

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts’ summer campaign is the perfect opportunity to experience this paradise. Whether you crave adventure, culinary delights, or encounters with marine life, there’s something for everyone. Bookings of four nights or more come with a complimentary transfer and your choice of two exciting benefits:

  • Explore the vibrant capital with a Malé City Excursion.
  • Embark on a Dolphin Watching trip for an unforgettable encounter.
  • Savor a romantic four-course Beach Dinner under the stars.
  • Relax and rejuvenate with a 45-minute Spa Treatment.
  • Create lasting memories with the “1 Kid Stays Free” offer.

Don’t miss your chance to tick this dream destination off your bucket list. Visit Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives and discover why it’s among the best hotels in the world!

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Nika Island Resort & Spa offers unmatched privacy with private beach villas

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Nika Island Resort & Spa is redefining the tropical getaway with its exclusive private beach villas. This luxurious resort stands out as the only one in the Maldives offering all guests who book these exquisite accommodations direct access to a secluded stretch of beach.

Nika Island Resort’s allure lies in its unwavering commitment to providing an unparalleled experience. Their private beach villas cater to the most discerning travelers, offering a sanctuary of tranquility and luxury against the stunning Maldivian backdrop.

Guests choosing these exclusive villas are treated to unparalleled privacy and personalized service. From the moment they step onto the pristine sands of their private beach, meticulous attention to detail ensures every whim and desire is catered to.

The resort’s private beaches transform into secluded havens where guests can unwind and soak in the Maldives’ natural beauty. Imagine romantic sunset strolls, refreshing dips in crystal-clear waters, or simply basking in the sun on a plush lounger – all in complete privacy.

While these private beach villas may come at a premium, the unparalleled level of luxury, exclusivity, and personalized service they offer make them a worthwhile investment for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape.

Nika Maldives sets itself apart with a truly unique experience by seamlessly blending unparalleled luxury, exclusivity, and privacy with the Maldives’ natural beauty.

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