The Maldives has been a dream destination for me for years now – somewhere I imagined I’d go to for my honeymoon but instead I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to go this month and spend 10 nights at Vakkaru Maldives.
With it’s white sandy beaches, crystal clear sea, over water villas and an array of incredible sea life – the Maldives most certainly has a feeling of paradise. But was this just social media once again making something look so perfect, when in reality it was not quite as it seemed? I was ready to find out for myself.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the ‘dream’ holiday destination including how to travel to the island.
The Maldives is made up of Atoll’s in which there are 22 in total. Together, they are built up of around 1,200 islands. Not all of these islands have people living on them however.
There are around 130 different resorts in the Maldives. Each resort occupies its own island. The hotels can be quite similar and most are of a very high standard. They all have unique points to them therefore it is worth researching which one suits you the best before booking. Once you are in your resort, you will spend all your time here so make sure you choose one that is based on a big enough island with plenty to do! When you are spending this much money on a holiday, I definitely think it is worth spending that little extra to get the nicer room or the slightly better hotel.
HOW TO ARRIVE AT YOUR RESORT
Getting to the Maldives can be a very long journey, so if you’re planning a trip here I’d recommend finding a good book or two.
I started my journey from London Heathrow at around 1:50pm. My first flight was headed to Doha, Qatar which took around 6 hours. When I arrived here, I had a 2 hour layover before boarding my next flight to Male which is the main island in the Maldives. This flight was around 7 hours.
Once arriving in Male, depending on your hotel, you have a choice of transfer to the island you will be staying on. Vakkaru had two options. Option 1 was to get another domestic flight to another island closer to the hotel followed by a boat trip. Option 2 was a sea plane direct from Male to the Vakkaru resort. This was the option I took. I was collected by Vakkaru staff at the arrivals point and taken from the airport to where the sea planes were located.
The 30 minute flight was an incredible experience and actually a highlight of the whole trip for me. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t very small and somewhat claustrophobic, especially in current times having to wear a mask, but gives you the most fantastic views. The plane starts off by gliding along the water before taking off and flying over the atolls. Being able to see an array of blue colours in the sea was just amazing. If you do this – make sure to get a window seat!
All together, the journey was around 20 hours before finally arriving at the resort. This sounds like a very long time, however with the layovers and the excitement, it all goes in very fast and before you know it – you are in over 30 degrees of heaven.
WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS BEST TO VISIT?
The question everyone wants to know when visiting the Maldives. And the answer is, I don’t really know if there is a ‘best time’. November to April is said to be the best time to visit and the safest in terms of getting good weather. However, this does come at a cost – literally. November to April is significantly more expensive and much busier.
I stayed in the Maldives for 11 days during the rainy season. Before I went, I checked the weather forecast every day (as you do). It was forecast to thunderstorm and rain every single day – I was devastated.
The first day I arrived, it was slightly cloudy but still sunny and VERY hot. Surprised that it wasn’t anything like the forecast, I spoke to one of the staff who told me to NEVER look because it’s always wrong.
Over the 11 days of my stay, it rained on only 2 of them! I was so surprised by this as I have heard a lot of people being put off by this time of year. Most days were sunny with blue skies and only a couple of clouds, and one or two days were slightly grey yet still very hot. Sometimes in the evening it rained, but by the morning it had all dried up.
Vakkaru Maldives is a beautiful resort located in the Baa Atoll. The island is large which is definitely important, especially when staying for more than a week. Once you are on the island, you are there until you leave so it is important that the resort has a lot to offer – and Vakkaru certainly does.
From the moment I stepped off the sea plane, I was made to feel so welcome by all the amazing staff. Greeted by around 8 staff members including the owner and manager of the hotel, there was someone playing the bongos and everyone else clapping to welcome myself and the other new arrivals onto the island.
Whilst my luggage was delivered to the villa, the staff gave us all individual tours of the island and a coconut to give us the true Maldives feels.
At Vakkaru Maldives there are many different types of villas available to suit everyone – it just completely depends what type of person you are!
I think for most people the popular choice would be the over water villa. This is something so unique to the Maldives and seems to be very popular on social media. The water villas are something that I have dreamed of staying in for years – so this was an obvious choice for me, however there are other styles of villa available such as the beach villa.
The beach villas are great for families or people who love the idea of having their own private beach. You can walk out of your villa door and be in the sea within seconds. They’re very beautiful and private and each has their own pool.
The over water villas similarly all feature their own private pool and stairs into the sea. This was a perfect option for me and felt like pure luxury but families with small children might be less keen for this due to safety reasons.
WHAT TO DO AROUND THE ISLAND
The resort has so many activities available – meaning that there was no time to get bored. You have the option to either relax and stay in your villa the whole time, where your dinners can be delivered to you. Or you can take full advantage of being on the beautiful island and enjoy the many activities available before trying out the many different restaurants scattered around the island.
I believe that one of the highlights of visiting the Maldives is being able to spot some amazing sea life, therefore all the water activities available are the most popular. Vakkaru offers many different trips such as diving and snorkelling trips to explore the amazing sea life around the island. Kayaks are also free to use – so you really can explore whenever you wish.
The resort also has a spa where you have the option to use the gym, attend yoga classes and experience a massage in the most amazing rooms with glass bottoms so you can look out for the rays and the vibrant coloured fish swim beneath you as you have your massage.
If you’re the sporty type, both a tennis and badminton court are located in the centre of the island where you can play any time of the day!
The resort also features its very own wine cellar – Vakku Reserve – where you can go to enjoy a night of fine wine and cheese. Cocktail classes also take place at the main Lagoon bar in the middle of the island.
Vakkaru also offers special events that you can book – these are usually perfect for romantic holidays. They have candle lit dinners on the beach, and more recently they have introduced the sunset cinema experience where you can have a private cinema on the beach. You simply book the evening you’d like then choose any film and they will set it up to play on the beach just as the sun is setting. I was lucky enough to have this organised for me when I was there by the team and it really was one of the highlights for me.
Probably the biggest surprise for me was the standard of food. I was unsure what to expect in a country like this but it was outstanding. Possibly one of the highlights for me in fact.
The resort has one restaurant for breakfast and 4 restaurants for dinner ; each being a different cuisine. It was true fine dining with each restaurant offering a 3 course menu. You simply chose what restaurant you would like to eat at that evening and booked in a time with your butler.
BEING LGBTQ+ AND VISITING THE MALDIVES
When I started looking into the country further I discovered that being gay was illegal. This was something that definitely made me have doubts on travelling here. Being gay myself, I was worried about how safe it would be travelling here – as well as being unsure if I wanted to be spending money somewhere that people were punished for their sexuality.
As you might expect, I still feel very uncomfortable about this even after returning. To think that this is still a reality anywhere in the world is very sad.
Fortunately, I did not feel for one minute that sexuality was a problem. I felt comfortable to be myself and from the moment I arrived at the resort, I was greeted with open arms. I had conversations with the staff about being gay and there was not one moment where I felt uncomfortable. There were gay couples staying in the hotel and they were treated completely equally to everyone else staying in the resort.
If you are part of the LGBT+ community and are unsure of visiting a hotel in the Maldives, I can only say from personal experience that it does not seem to be an issue in the resort itself.
I couldn’t have enjoyed my stay in the Maldives more than I did. The whole experience was so special and unique. It’s something that may not happen again for a long time. I could not recommend this destination more for so many reasons. The weather for the most part was fantastic and the island itself was beautiful. I was able to see so much sea life – even just from my water villa!
I went for the first week of August when the prices are much lower yet the weather was still fine and the resort was so quiet that it was almost like having a private island (this was also because of Covid-19). If you want to do this trip but are struggling to afford the prices in November-April, I’d definitely recommend this time of year.
The staff were some of the friendliest people I have ever met – and despite their efforts in wanting to look after their guests the best they could, they became more like friends towards the end. So much so that when I was leaving, I became very emotional.