Matchless Maldives

Hello, and MANY apologies for the sheer lack of posts. I’ve actually not posted once in 2021 but if I’m honest, with everything going on and not being allowed to leave our hotels at all I’ve felt very uninspired and demotivated to post. Most of the time our rosters haven’t been what I have received with a lot of cancellations and changes so I just felt I would post when there was a positive change and something actually interesting to write about. Anyway, things have started to take a turn for the better (work wise) and I have a few things to finally share!

Back in March I was given twenty days of annual leave to use, as for the past year we’ve barely used any days up due to COVID-19. Then even when I did have the odd set of annual leave days here and there I wasn’t able to do anything with them or go anywhere. So with this big set of leave coming up, my boyfriend Alex and I decided it was finally time to head away and looking at our options where we could fly that didn’t require a quarantine, had direct flights and was going to provide a holiday that wasn’t surrounded by people and we could just relax away from others.

We decided on The Maldives as this was somewhere neither of us had been before, it was a new country to tick off and they had some great deals on now the country was reopening up once more to tourism. We had to complete and provide a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours to arriving into The Maldives and fill out an extensive health declaration prior to checking in to the flight. Once in The Maldives you must stay in your resort for ten days before you can change, however we were only heading away for five nights although I wish we could afford more than ten days there and multiple resorts!

We flew out of Dubai at 2:30am, not before having a mandatory pre flight beverage of course and over to Malé International Airport in The Maldives landing at 07:40am. The flight was four hours and five minutes and had just an hour time difference ahead of Dubai. I slept the entire way, as I usually do whenever I travel through the night. See the eye mask on my head above! Once we landed and made our way through immigration, we actually had to take another domestic sea plane flight over to our resort which was an additional 45 minutes. So we searched through the absolute sea of hotel and resort stands to find the Cinnamon Hotels counter and we were escorted over to the check in for our flight. Once checked in and boarding cards received, we were taken on a bus over to the domestic terminal where we waited in the lounge for our flight.

Some tired eyes here, but I was SO excited to go on a seaplane for the first time. It’s been on my bucket list for the longest time and it was an added reason why we picked this resort over others who only offered speed boat transfer. Sea sickness? No thank you!

Just look at the water already! And this is around the main island of Malé, I couldn’t wait to see how much better it got the further we flew out around the abundance of islands that make up The Maldives.

The sun was shining, the weather was hot yet so much more bearable than Dubai and we stopped onto the smallest plane I’ve ever been on in my entire life. It was a lot different from what I’m used to experiencing at work that’s for sure. We were sat directly behind the two pilots and there was no door either so we had a great view into the flight deck and could see everything they were doing as well as admiring the impressive views from the window! I loved how casual and adaptable the uniform was, tailored shorts and bare feet! One thing about the journey though was it was SO noisy on the seaplane, both our ears were ringing when we landed.

I can only describe it as landing into paradise when the plane touched back down onto the water at Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa. I have never witnessed ANYTHING like it. I have done the Maldives turnaround apparently thirteen times according to my flight stats and every single time I’ve looked staring out the window and one day wondering if I would get to visit such a beautiful place. And already it was taking my breath away. As we slowly descended into Hakuraa Huraa I could see dolphins jumping in and out of the water, the whitest sands surroundings the two islands and the infamous overwater villas that The Maldives are known for. I just couldn’t wait to enjoy my holiday and we both kept saying over and over that we just couldn’t believe we were here!

We were honestly welcomed with open arms, the friendliest welcome to a hotel I have ever received. There was a huge banner held open, all the staff were out to greet us waving, music was being played, a wreath made out of the local leaves and flowers was placed around our necks.

I mean look at that for a welcome with a view. The waters, the sand and the staff were incredible! We were taken inside to reception to check in and offered welcome drinks. One of the best iced coffees I had tasted before we were taken on a quick tour of the resort prior to being shown our room.

The island was amazing from what we could see and we just couldn’t wait to throw on our swimwear and explore, but before that it was time to see our room. We had booked an overwater villa with an all inclusive package so that once we were there we had nothing to worry about. Everything was there for us at any given point. On the way over, our wonderful tour guide Hazel informed us there was only thirteen guests in the resort at the moment so we would feel like we have the island to ourselves. To me this was absolutely perfect. With everything going on with COVID this to me was a dream.

HOW UNBELIEVABLE IS THIS PLACE?! The most gorgeous room with our own private deck with steps down into the ocean with waters so blue and so so clear! The sun was beaming down, the only sounds we could hear was the water beneath our water villa. It felt like paradise. So we changed into our swim stuff, grabbed some drinks from the minibar and cheers’d to what we knew was going to be an amazing five days in paradise.

As much as we wanted to explore the two islands that create the Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa Resort we were also tired from travelling through the night and just wanted to lay in the heat rather than walk around in it. So we spent an hour or so unpacking and just relaxing out on the deck, before we headed to the restaurant for some lunch.

The walk from the water villa to the restaurant took about five minutes and was such a lovely walk over the stilted decking, onto the sandy beach side and then through the greenery of the island. We grabbed a table right by the beach front and I ordered a piña colada (kind of an essential when you’re on your holidays) and Alex a beer and opted for the chicken burger and fajitas. We met our server Naja for the week who was so lovely and accommodating. He was a local man who lived just a short boat ride away on a different island and it was nice to have the same familiar face for our meals across the week. Also look at that for lunch with a view. Have you ever seen such white sand?! We thanked Naja for lunch and strolled back to the room ready to lay and tan until it was time for dinner.

The rest of the afternoon I was taking approximately one thousand pictures, going in and out of the sea, blowing up the lilo, drinking beers, swimming under the water villa and asking Alex to watch me all the while Alex sat and napped in the sun! I just can never sit still on holiday and since it had been so long since I’d been on one I wanted to just soak up every single second of it. Alex on the other hand has been flat out with work for months and couldn’t wait to use this time to also recharge his batteries.

As the sun began to set, we got ready for dinner and walked over to the restaurant. As I’m writing this post over two months later, I genuinely can’t remember what it was we were eating for dinner but I do have the photos to hazard a guess at! Every night we were served starters, main course and desert. Here for main I had fish and Alex had the pork belly. The food every night was so great and super tasty and usually washed down with a few beverages in the restaurant and then in the bar afterwards.

The hotel bar had a pool table, table tennis table and and other array of activities for guests too which were signed for and sanitised in between each use. Quite often we would end our night enjoying cocktails and playing pool before heading to bed.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to make the very most of the day only to find out that is was raining which was breaking my heart but also for anyone that keeps up with my blog you’ll now that the rain just absolutely loves to follow me wherever I go, especially in tropical destinations. Trying not to let it dishearten us, we waited for the rain to calm ever so slightly as when it rains in the Maldives it absolutely pours and when it was possible we made a run to the restaurant for coffee and breakfast.

Breakfast was buffet style and they had a whole assortment of dishes, but every single day I opted to have fried eggs, beans, bacon and hash browns cause it’s the absolute best and I’m on my holidays! Washed down with a latte and some freshly squeezed orange juice. They cooked the eggs fresh to order for me every morning and the chef always drew a smiley face for me which was just so cute!

It didn’t seem like the rain was stopping though, which we knew was going to happen one of the days of our holiday so we spent the morning playing games, we’d brought with us Uno, Monopology Go and Top Trumps until it was time to head back across to the restaurant for lunch.

May as well sit and eat and drink in the shelter from the rain until it stops and we continued to play cards, drink cocktails and make the most of the unbelievable place until the weather started to behave!

One thing I have to commend the resort on is just how attentive the staff were. Every day we were checked in on to make sure we were having a great holiday and was there anything they could do to help or assist with. Anytime we were walking anywhere and a member of staff would drive past on a golf buggy they would ask if we wanted to hop on the back for a ride to our destination. Most of the time we were more than happy to be wandering around and soaking up the nature and tranquility of the island. We had barely seen anyone in our two days of being here, only when we came to the restaurant to eat would we see others.

Usually it isn’t like this, we were in a position where a lot of other countries had quarantines in place so this worked in our favour, but as I have previously mentioned the peacefulness of the resort was everything we wanted and more especially with the current pandemic.

It seemed as though the rain was FINALLY stopping, it had been raining all morning and most of the afternoon and it looked like the sun was trying its hardest to creep through the clouds so we threw our swim stuff on jumped into the water for a swim. The water temperature here was sublime. There’s nothing worse than running into the sea and it being so cold that it actually takes your breath away. Here was like the perfect temperature of a warm bath, but not so warm that it wasn’t refreshing. I’m guessing such shallow waters and the strong sun are a great combination for water temperature.

It looks incredibly overcast but the temperature was so nice after dips in and out of the ocean. We loved walked along the decking that stretched so far! You wouldn’t believe how many overwater villas there were. Soon enough we decided to start getting ready for dinner and up on the menu tonight we decided on a rare beef fillet for Alex and I think mine was surf and turf?

As always presentation was on point and the food was delicious before we moved over to the bar. Also how awesome are these chairs they had hanging all around the bar!

Once more we ended our evening with cocktails and games of pool before a relatively early night as I wanted to wake up early and try and catch the sunrise.

I woke up at 5:50am or should I say Alex did and woke me to tell me the sunrise probably wasn’t worth waking up this early for, but nonetheless I grabbed a robe, made myself a coffee and went to sit with my legs hanging over the edge of the deck with my tripod set up holding out for a gorgeous time lapse of the sunrise. It seems the weather wasn’t in my favour as this was the best I got, but I still had the most serene morning taking in the view and enjoying a hot coffee. Who knew 5:50am felt this good?

As the sun continued to rise it was proving to be an absolutely stellar day and we couldn’t wait to get out and explore the island properly, not before stopping for breakfast of course! One thing that was great, every morning on our walk to breakfast, as the tide was low, we would see a whole array of different crabs sitting on the rocks below the decking. We used to love seeing how many we could spot!

As someone who never eats breakfast (it’s usually only a coffee for myself) it was slowly becoming my favourite part of the holiday. As soon as we were done, we decided to change into swimsuits and we walked out into the shallow waters across to the sandbank that was around 100m out past the hotel. It looked really beautiful and the sun was shining down and we wanted to just check the view out from there especially when the tide was lower, the highest the water came at any point was half way up my leg!

I mean look at the water here, so shallow you see the pristine white sand under my feet yet when it gets ever so slightly deeper those gorgeous tropical blue waters behind. It just didn’t feel real as we walked away from the resort and the further we got it just didn’t get much deeper. The wind blowing in our hair, the warm waters around our ankles and the soft sand in between our toes as we waded through. It’s a gorgeous memory I’ll never forget.

I think we spent around an hour just exploring the sandbank, taking some photos and sat there chatting away into the afternoon before we realised the tide was coming in and the water getting deeper. I didn’t particularly want to swim back so we headed back to the main island before that was the case.

Also please excuse Alex’s terrible tan, as a golfer he’s always in shorts and t-shirts, and in the heat of Dubai develops such a gorgeous tan line half way up his arms and legs. We tried working on it in the Maldives and unfortunately he just burnt! Which brings me on to mentioning just how strong the sun is here! It is MUCH stronger than you expect and I had been messaging a girl on Instagram prior to heading away on holiday who was currently in the resort and she said to bring a much higher factor than you usually would and I’m SO glad we did because we both caught the sun in one way or another!

From here we decided to visit the other island on the resort. Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa has two islands, the main island which we stayed on that has beach bungalows and the infamous over water villas, and then a second island which is adults only with a selection of private and secluded beach villas that have immediate access to the ocean. We were completely set on our decision for an overwater villa as it is something that the both of us had wanted to do for a long time but we were eager to see what the other island had to offer and so we set off to check it out, and I’m so glad we did!

We walked across the wooden deck and headed around the island and came across the most picturesque swing you ever did see. It was like something from a postcard or a travel brochure, something that you never think is actually that real or beautiful until you actually set your eyes on it. It was yet another ‘pinch me’ moment.

I could have easily spent the rest of the day swaying and swinging in the breeze, drinking cocktails, listening to music, soaking up that sun! But it was so warm and we wanted nothing more than the comfort of our own private deck with a well stocked minibar, those steps down into the ocean ready to dive onto our lilos before we would get ready for our evening meal.

It’s a hard life being on holiday isn’t it?!

The thing I loved about getting ready in the villa was the glass floor. Through the day you wouldn’t see that much sea life, but on an evening it’s like it really came to life. I would grab my glass of wine and sit on the ottoman at the end of the bed and just watch all the fish swimming by. The amount we saw was crazy, a whole abundance of fish, baby nurse sharks, sting rays and manta rays. We even saw an eel and a turtle one day! It was crazy to think of everything that was going on just underneath us, but if this is what we could see, imagine what we couldn’t? I must have asked Alex one hundred times if we could get a pet baby shark. He asked me where on earth we could keep it, to which my reply was in the bath! He didn’t seem keen though. I just remember when I was in the Bahamas and I was in the water with the same kind of sharks and they were so cute! I think it would make for a real interesting pet.

Anyway, back to dinner. That evening we did our usual pre drinks in the bar with a few games of uno and tonight they made espresso martinis for us which we both love SO much. When we eventually moved over the restaurant I went for the vegetarian stuffed cannelloni with roasted garlic, I remember this dish well cause it was just SO good, and from the picture Alex had some kind of meat dish. I will not be leaving it two months to write a blog post in the future, it’s very hard to remember!

That evening on the walk back to the villa we managed to see and capture a shark and sting ray on camera! How amazing to be so at one with nature in their natural environment!

The next day when we got back from breakfast we had such a wonderful surprise waiting for us back in the room. The previous day we had bumped into the daytime manager Hazel who was asking how our stay was and for any feedback etc, off the top of my head I just casually mentioned I wish there was Prosecco or sparkling wine or something similar including in our all inclusive package because it’s my favourite! We continued chatting and Hazel said her goodbyes and neither of us thought anything more of the conversation.

Yet when we reached our room after breakfast, sat on the side for us was a bottle of champagne on ice with two glasses, compliments of the hotel. I couldn’t believe it! Such a touching and personal thought from the hotel and it put the biggest smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to pop it open and have a glass! I mean it is five o’clock somewhere right?

So we spent the late morning drinking champagne in the sun laid on the hammock that fitted into our deck. We placed all the cushions around to make it more comfortable and played our own music from the bluetooth speaker inside the room. Bliss.

The rest of the morning was honestly spent in between the hammock and like the picture below so there’s not much more I can write on that! But it was just delightful.

Following on from lunch we actually spent some time by the pool and the beach. There was the cutest swing set up and we could easily have access to cocktails, drinks and snacks here. In the time we spent here we saw one other couple who were sat at the opposite side of the pool to us.

The pool also had a swim up bar with bar stools in the water, incredibly refreshing for sipping on your piña coladas! Soon enough it was time for our nightly ritual of cocktails and uno in the bar before dinner, and once more I’m struggling to hazard a guess at we had for dinner. But the presentation of it was always so on point!

The following day was our last full day and the hotel offers a free snorkelling trip each day along with free snorkel equipment to rent for your entire stay. I had bought Alex some full faced snorkel masks for his birthday back in December however I felt more comfortable in the normal face mask and snorkel so I opted to go with that. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough for taking the boat out snorkelling as the waves would be too choppy. I was so disheartened as if we weren’t able to do it the following morning we would have missed our chance at snorkelling in these gorgeous waters and viewing all the incredible fish. For anyone who keeps up with my blog, you know that I love snorkelling with some of my favourite places having snorkelled are Oman, Zanibar and The Great Barrier Reef! So we attempted some snorkelling just out the back from our water villa which was nice but we didn’t really manage to see very much and I’m always super conscious when snorkelling solo and having no one watch over us that we could get sucked out into a current!

Oh well, it was fingers crossed for the next morning in the hope that we could get out on that snorkel trip. That afternoon we were booked in for a COVID-19 test which was a requirement to fly back out of The Maldives and also to land back into the UAE. I couldn’t possibly imagine us testing positive due to the serious lack of people we’ve been around over the last five days. The only downside of this test is that it is quite expensive in The Maldives and charges at $100 USD per person which felt crazy paying $200 for tests when we paid $60 for two back in Dubai. But needs must and we were escorted to the islands doctors surgery where we did our throat and nose swabs and we would receive our printed (hopefully) negative results the next morning to be eligible to fly back.

With it being our final evening in The Maldives, I decided to dress up in a lovely frock and put on a pair of heels. Huge mistake. I kept getting stuck in the decking and was unable to walk on the sand. Alex actually ended up giving me a piggy back the whole way and I struggled to keep the shoes on for the rest of evening. Worth it though for this half decent picture of us both! I must admit though it felt nice to wear a pair of heels after being in flip flops and sandals for the last five days! We were both feeling rather somber knowing that our holiday was coming to an end in the morning. It was the first time ever I have never ever wanted to leave somewhere so badly. The thought of going back to Dubai and reality was so sad, we had had the best and most perfect holiday ever even with the insane rainfall on that first full day!

And when we got back to the room that evening the housekeeper had laid this on the bed waiting for us. There were so many wonderful gestures and personal touches that the hotel did that just make everything that little bit more special.

The next morning we woke up early, finished packing and went for an early breakfast. The snorkel trip departed at 9:30am and we wanted to fit everything in prior so that we weren’t rushing around like mad people before we had to be in reception for the sea plane. And thankfully it was going ahead and I was SO excited. So we jumped on the boat and we were taken out into the deeper waters ready to plunge in and wow, what insanely coloured fish and beautiful corals there were. I’ve never seen anything as great as this when I’ve been snorkelling in my life.

The pictures never ever do it justice, this is just what I managed to grab on the 56 minute video I captured on my GoPro but it was amazing to snorkel together in the Indian Ocean, what an experience! We thanked the crew for the trip out and went back to the room to spend our last few hours in the sunshine before it was time to get ready for the flights back and waiting for us were our negative COVID-19 results, happy days!

We had one last splash in the ocean and got changed and left our cases by the front door. We went to the restaurant for lunch, said our goodbyes and our appreciation to Naja for being our server for the last six days before a buggy was coming to collect us to take us to reception to finish check out and be ready for when the seaplane arrives.

I’ve always been sad when a holiday has ended but when I tell you I seriously did not want to leave here, I cannot say it enough. I’m unsure whether its because of a serious lack of travel which I’m used to with my job, whether or not it was mine and Alex’s first holiday after we had to cancel this trip originally back in June 2020 or whether its because this place is completely out of this world. Probably a mixture of the three. I knew The Maldives was going to be unbelievable because I’ve never known anyone say anything different. The only criticism of the place is that you can get bored easily so five days is a perfect amount if you’re wanting to visit and not spend a serious amount of cash.

I disagree, five days wasn’t enough. I wanted to extend our trip so badly, the only downside is that Alex doesn’t have airline standby privileges to be as flexible as I can be with flights and also the fact he had to get back to work. If you’re getting bored here, then as my Mum always used to say to me when I was younger “only boring people get bored”. The serenity, tranquility and undeniable beauty of this place is enough to keep anyone from being bored. Even with the rain we made the most of all our time given to us. It was the refreshing break we both really needed, breathing in that fresh ocean air each morning and just having some real quality time together.

I can’t stress enough how much everyone HAS to visit here at some point in their lives. I know it’s expensive but The Maldives CAN be done on a budget. It doesn’t have to be all inclusive water villas in five star resorts as incredible as that may be. There are guesthouses that still boast incredible natural beauty with an abundance of activities to do. I can say right now this isn’t the last time I’ll visit here. Especially with my job giving the option of discounted tickets and hotel stays paired with the short flight time and one hour difference from Dubai. Anyone living in the UAE or GCC should get this straight to the top of their bucket list. At least once every few days either myself or Alex have said to one and other, “how much do you want to go back to The Maldives” or “how insane was that holiday to The Maldives?”. What a place to tick off country seventy three!!

So once more apologies on the silence from the blog and the fact this has taken me two months to write. We’re slowly being allowed out of the hotel rooms in different locations across the globe so hopefully I’ll be able to be a bit more active on here once more!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. John Furness says:

    Good to have you back, Jess, now Keep Calm and Carry on! xx

    Like

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