Where: Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives
Who: Mr & Mrs Wanderlust
When: Feb 2020
What: Going off the grid in Maldives for a Special Date
After being busy the final days of 2019, once again we are back with a blog entry, this time, we go further away from any land and just in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Always dreamt and saw it in the photos, and we are so lucky to be able to get here in this beautiful beach destination. We are already living in a beautiful island nation of Philippines, but of course we would like to see and experience other beautiful beach destinations and how it would compare to our own beaches (You'll find out the verdict below, keep reading!)
How To Get There:
Getting to Maldives from our home country in Manila, Philippines consisted of 2 International Flights (MNL - KL) a 3 hour layover at KL International Airport then (KL - MLE) another int'l flight from Kuala Lumpur to Male.
NOTE: Maldives is a Muslim country, meaning they are conservative with clothing and in some local islands / accommodation there are beaches where proper dress code is required wherein tourists may get arrested or fined when swimming in bikini / scantily clad. Check with your resort to be sure.
We Decided to book to an island resort a bit far away from the city to really feel the Maldivian vibe in the middle of the Indian Ocean, near the Equator and totally away from any light/city pollution. This means we have to take another flight from Male international airport to a local airport in Dhaalu Atoll then another boat from airport to our resort, or if you have more money, you can choose a seaplane, direct flight from the domestic airport then touching down to the shore of your island resort.
Where To Stay:
Maldives is divided into Atolls which are group of Islands. Depending on your preferences and budget (we must tell you this is a big factor). You have options to either stay in 5 to 7 star Luxury Island Resorts, Private Island Resorts, City Inns & Guesthouses and even in a small yacht.
Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives
Reservation - payment was confusing, good thing we checked before paying as the first invoice that was given is wrong and could've paid double. We also mentioned on special requests on booking that we will be spending anniversary and birthday, but didn't see anything at first, so I reminded again the staff on our 2nd day
+ But they made up for it and put up petals on the bed, and other simple gestures that made wife happy.
+ We got full board so food was really good and loved their choices, together with the friendly and helpful staff, Jakanda and Roju were very friendly and helpful.
- Getting around the island is hard as they only have a buggy and waiting is a pain, so other choice is to RENT a bike (take note, we already spent a lot of $$$ for full board and a big villa with pool, so we kinda expected a 5 star resort to provide means to get around on a big island - as other 5 star island resort experience we had been provided with golf carts / ebikes for free).
- Also I hope they advertise their rooms better and explain differences, because we always thought our ocean pool beach villa have also access to the beach, but apparently it is a totally different set of rooms on the other side of the island, that can access the beach and have we known, we would've booked a night on those rooms too.
+ On another note, our villa was modern, stylish beautiful and most of all relaxing. We enjoyed our private pool with the sound of ocean waves. The bed was soft and nice to sleep on, the shower had no leaks and bath tub view was awesome.
- Minor issues in the room were with ants that always gets to the food on the coffee table, and also the smell of sewer coming from the shower drain at night; also wished they provide a beach bag in their rooms for a more 5 star feel
+ Staff were all helpful and friendly but sometimes takes too long to request/order something but to be fair because of too many guests as well
+ As a couple with kids that we didn't bring, we still enjoyed the kid friendly vibe and had no problems with that, people complaining about the kids, probably hates kids and shouldve booked an adult only resort, because we see the kids lively and fun to see even on a bar dancing around with the good live band.
- Also thought that we supposed to have complimentary snorkeling, however still charged $100 for (renting gear?) and also the place/platform we wanted to snorkel had wedding taking place so we were put in an area where waves are stronger and not the best place for snorkeling but on the positive note, the guides help us find and take photo of a sea turtle, but aside some fish, nothing really special on that alternative snorkeling spot, we also missed to get a photo on that platform with the net which we always wanted.
+ Enjoyed the dolphin watching, everything went smoothly and staff were all helpful
+ The staff in the airport does the extra mile in helping you from arrival to departure, they even assisted us with free taxi to Male to our Hotel which we honestly didn't know about. Kudos
Nice facilities and amenities totally cool, hip, modern and kid friendly like how they market it, still room for more improvement, considering to bring my kids in the future. Thanks
In Male City, the capital of Maldives which is a really small city that you can walk around we decided to stay for a few nights before our flight, to at least get to know the city at a relaxed pace.
+ We didn't know we had a complimentary boat taxi ride from airport to the Hotel, good things Kandima staff informed us from the airport and endorsed us to Hotel Jen staff.
+ Smooth and stylish boat taxi ride from Male airport to the city proper.
+ Carries the Shangrila brand so has reputation and we don't want to risk a good night stay in Male before a long flight home.
+ Rooms are spacious and cozy, beds are good to sleep in, toilet and shower clean and no leak.
+ Breakfast was nice though a bit less options, it was satisfactory
+ Staff were all welcoming and helpful from the lady & gentleman at the reception, and breakfast reception guy
+ nice pool and restaurant as well as small gym on the top floor
+- Complimentary day tour, but beware of souvenir traps
What To Do:
1. Dip at the private pool in our Villa
This was literally the first thing we did after 2 tiring red eye flights from PH-KL-MLE then another local flight and a 30 minute boat ride, we just checked in like zombies that we were and after being wowed by our room we just took off all our clothes and jumped in the private pool with the loud sounds of the ocean waves crashing below. Totally relaxing.
2. Check out the Beach
Next thing in order after taking a quick dip in our private pool villa and taking all the views in our room internally, and maybe a couple shots of espresso from the machine, we went out of our villa and checked out the beach, how white it was, and how soft the sand was.
3. Happy Hour with Sunset
While enjoying a bit much, time suddenly sped so quick that next thing we knew it was almost sunset, having to look for something to sit on, as well as maybe a drink or 2, the resort has a happy hour promo, so that definitely made us order cool cocktail drinks for a nice warm sunset with my love.
4. Spend the Night at their Restaurant & Bars
We wouldnt let the night pass away and just sleep when the Island resort serve alcohol (Note that only Island resorts in Maldives have permit to serve alcohol , while the rest of the capital city is forbidden)
The vibe of the restaurant and bars of Kandima are nice, still maintaining kid friendly status, on their restaurant with live band, you see kids dancing around to lights and music while their parents can have a drink or 2.
Another place is the forbidden bar which has a different vibe to it, indoor has asian style while outdoor has large ocean waves and cool, both are equally beautiful places to have a drink - but for this bar, kids aren;t allowed.
5. Morning Exercise
Woke up early and excited to start the day even as the sun isn;t up yet, so first we setup a timelapse camera pointing to the east to make sure we catch the sunrise on our camera, then we head out and jog around the island to get to know the places of the resort as well as see the other overwater villas on the south of the island.
What better way to do that than to jog, we get to see the sunrise, other parts of the resort, and we also got moving and a dose of exercise to keep us moving.
The resort also has a gym with instructor, thai boxing, tennis courts, and even a football pitch, so you won't get bored.
6. Snorkel with Sea Turtles & Dolphins
We had a great time snorkeling, we saw many different varieties of small and big fishes, corals, and the swimming with a sea turtles, though as an islander we can't help but get a bit underwhelmed compared to snorkel areas in Philippines.
Another thing we totally enjoyed was that we were lucky enough to have dolphins show up and jump around our boat like its trying to play with us. The best thing was this was just a bit outside of the island and didn't have to go to open waters with dizzying waves to see the dolphins.
7. Sunset Photo Sessions
At the "busyness" of our own business we always forget the most basic things in our lives that we should be thankful for. One of it are the daily sunsets life has given us as a present. So in that present, we just setup a camera, then just watched the sunset.
8. Enjoy The Beach
Nothing much to be said we guess....
9. Male City Tour
We spent the total of 5 days in Maldives, 3 days in the resort then 2 more in its city, as we would like to get to know the country and its people better by spending a few nights in its capital city, as well as avoiding any hassle due to delays to be near the international airport.
10. Wander Around the Small City
The city is small, but it still offers a lot more to learn, see and experience for us, so we decided to walk around and get lost in its very small city. It is hard to get lost actually as they have a main road, and from there you can walk around the inside streets and see something new.
This photo was taken at the edge of our island resort in Dhaalu atoll, we biked early morning then walked to get to the sandbank which was only seen every lowtide.
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