“When you are sitting at breakfast over looking the crystal clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean, a baby shark glides past whilst you sip on your hot fresh cup of coffee (with soy milk I might add).  You feel a gentle cool breeze on your warm skin… you cant help but take a mindful deep breath and feel 100% relaxed…”

I am talking about the most wonderful tropical place that I have ever been… Kuramathi Island in the Ari Atol of The Maldives…

ARRIVING IN PARADISE…

The Maldives have always been on my “bucket list” of places I really wish to experience in the world, alongside Bora Bora, Thailand & Boracay (Excuse me whilst I take a second to manifest those into existence!).  So when we began to plan our trip, I just wanted every single moment to be special, not only because i’ve always wanted to visit The Maldives but also because the occasion was to celebrate our 10 year anniversary….. (Shout out to Tony for putting up with me that long!)

In fact I was so overly excited about this holiday that I began to get a little worried that I might of idealised The Maldives so much in my mind that I might even be underwhelmed when it came to actually being there. But thankfully, within moments of arriving at Kuramathi Island I could tell that this wasn’t the case.

We planned the trip to include a 4 day stop off in Singapore on route to The Maldives. The other two popular lay overs on route to The Maldives from the UK are Dubai & Sri Lanka. Dubai is the most straight forward route to get there & back however i’ve been to Dubai before and Singapore really appealed to us as it’s fun to have  a ‘City Break’ before changing things up and hitting the beach. We flew with Singapore Air which I would really recommend (good movies and good food, what more do ya need?). Once we reached Velana International Airport, also known as Malé International Airport we were quickly taken to the Kuramathi private lounge to wait for our seaplane transfers to the island. The private lounge provided complimentary snacks and drinks as well as bathrooms, comfy sofas & wifi which was handy whilst we waited for our onward journey. Now the seaplane transfers do cost on average an extra $600, whilst Kuramathi will transfer you via their private speedboat for free, but experiencing a seaplane was another little thing on our bucket list that we were really keen to try so we went for it! On top of that the seaplane transfer times meant we had much longer on the island during our last day which was another bonus.

I have to say the seaplane journey on the way out was amazing, 20 minutes journey time to the island and amazing views with a smooth take off and landing, but travelling home during a tropical storm made the journey back to Male a little more scary so if you are a nervous flyer I would say you should definitely opt for the speed boat and save yourself a few quid whilst your at it.

Arriving in Kuramathi was such a “pinch me” moment, firstly you are struck by the lush green palms and thick greenery, I even whispered to Tony that it  felt like we had just arrived in Madagascar the movie Lol….

We were greeted in the lofty reception area with refreshing ice cold towels to cool off and a fresh glass of tropical smoothie. We were then checked in super quickly and Becky our guest services manager took us to an island buggy where we set off for a brief island tour, this was so we could get the lay of the land before she escorted us to our chosen reef side water villa with pool. The Island was much bigger than we had imagined but this was one of the reasons why we chose Kuramathi for our first trip to the Maldives. Tony can only sunbathe for so long before he needs to be active, so knowing there was plenty to do on the island meant there was no concerns with either of us getting bored on the trip. Kuramathi being such a large island means there is space for a games area, a spa, beach cinema, tennis courts, a water sports jetty, a dive centre, 10 restaurants, 3 bars, 3 pools 4 nature trail walks, a gym, a football field, medical centre, boutique and don’t forget the most picturesque sandbank you have ever seen.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME…

In my experience picking a room where ever you go in the world is usually a budget dependant decision. Lets face it, I am sure we would all love the very best room whenever we travel, but in a location as stunning as The Maldives and on an island as beautiful as Kuramathi I feel that any room type would be lovely. Its such a beautiful place I would say; don’t worry about saving for years to get the best room possible, just get there if you can. You won’t spend much time in your room anyway with white sandy beaches and clear waters on your doorstep. Plus, I must say some of the simpler beach villas felt a little more nestled into nature and authentically tropical accommodations anyway. Being that Tony and I are avid snorkeller’s, we wanted to be as close to the ocean and the house coral reef as possible so we requested a reef side water villa with pool ( Click Here: Water Villa with Pool ). This type of villa meant we were situated where there is plenty of coral, fish, sharks and if you are lucky like we were, you may even spot the odd sea turtle or stingray too. The other water villas are situated lagoon side of the island where the water is more picture post card blue however with very little coral there isn’t a huge amount to see in terms of marine life, however the water is so pretty there.

Our water villa was truly a home away from home, It was so spacious! I would say it was the size of 1 bedroom apartment if you count the deck as your extended living room. It featured an open plan kitchenette complete with coffee machine, a fridge and a separate wine fridge, a huge comfortable super king sized bed, whilst at the foot of the bed was a small sofa & TV area. There there was an enormous bathroom which featured a rainfall shower with space for two ;-), his and hers sinks complete with the most luxurious spa scented products, a large dressing room area and a free standing bathtub with stunning views out to the pool and the ocean. The villa vibe was modern, and neutral with pops of colour in the cushions, and with daily replenishments of water & soft drinks we had everything we needed between meals. The only thing to note was that the alcohol in the room wasn’t complimentary, however a little tip is to take the remaining wine from your evening meal back to your room with you and that way you have enough for a refreshing white wine spritzer on your sun deck everyday. Maid service is twice a day so you really don’t need to lift a finger the entire time you are away.

Tony and I are natural entertainers and hosts when we are at home… so when we met a lovely couple of honeymooners; Oly & Emily on the 5th night (Shout out to Oly & Em!) we invited them back to our villa for a game of cards and a pool party as their villa came with a hot tub so they were keen to see the pool villas. The villa allowed us to be the perfects hosts, with our left over wine from dinner and so much outside space… I mean with two sun loungers, two deck chairs and a table with two dining chairs and the pool (complete with twinkly lights at night time) we had more than enough room for all of us and more than enough left over booze to keep the party going.

FOOD FOR THE FUSSY FOODIE…

I do feel sorry for anyone that travels with me, I am a vegetarian, who also favours a dairy free alternative, on top of that I am allergic to every nut except pine nuts and also allergic to all seafood & shellfish (fun date right?). For this reason travelling can be rather scary for me… I’ve been poisoned  a fair few times in the past by hotels and restaurants not taking my allergies seriously, so when I received a form prior to my arrival to Kuramathi asking me to list any dietary requirements and allergies I was instantly impressed and I spotted Tony sigh with relief as well Lol … Poor sod has picked me up of the bathroom floor many a time!

Prior to my arrival every chef & waiter had been informed that room 306 had allergies, we were also advised in advance that the Reef restaurant (A signature seafood dining experience) and Kobe (An over-water teppanyaki dining experience where fish and meat and veg are all cooked together on one grill) would not be suitable for me. But with a total of ten restaurants and 3 bars to choose from and only 8 days on the island we had plenty of choice.

There are two dining packages on the Island, ‘All Inclusive’ or ‘Select All inclusive’. ‘All inclusive’ means you can dine in the buffet restaurant closest to your accommodation for breakfast, lunch and dinner and this is included in your package, however if you wish to dine at the Al a carte options you will be charged.  ‘Select All Inclusive’ means you can dine and drink in any of the Al a carte restaurants as well as the buffet should you choose. Now as far as buffets go, this one was pretty awesome… the food was fresh & often organic, the salads are mostly grown on the island and the cooked food was full of flavour with a huge amount of choice. No two days were the same on the menu, so if budget restricts you from opting for the Select All Inclusive you will be more than happy with the quality of food in the buffet restaurant. I might also add that the service was brilliant and the seating area had beautiful views out to the ocean. We had breakfast here every morning and even though we had paid for the Select all inclusive package we still went to the buffet at least twice for lunch to add variety to visiting the Al carte lunch dining options. The al la carte lunch options were the ‘Palm’ which does the best Pizza and Pasta & salad menu EVER and also has a pretty epic ice cream parlour as well where they hand make to order waffle ice cream cones (mind blown!) and also ‘Inguru’ which serves simple salads, burgers and panini’s.

Dinner was really a lovely experience, every night we would get dressed up and either stroll or catch the buggy to dinner. Each location had its own charm and every night the chef would come out personally to approve our selections according to my allergies and he / she would make adjustments to the recipe if I really liked the sound of something that had nuts in, it was very reassuring and allowed me to just enjoy my food without fear. My favourite two restaurants on the island had to be the Indian restaurant ‘Tandoor Mahal’ as it had a large veggie selection and even Tony who doesn’t normally like Indian food in the UK said it was absolutely delicious so we went twice in the end. My second favourite was the Thai restaurant ‘Siam Garden’ which had a very talented Thai chef who made the best Thai green curry I had ever tasted. But when it came to desert although the Island BBQ wasn’t the most veggie friendly for a main meal the deserts alone at the BBQ are a must try. I’d recommend the rum soaked pineapple and the crepe suzette, both were cooked live at your table were absolutely delicious and at the Island BBQ you are even in the best spot to catch the evenings Sand bar entertainment such as the live band that play twice a week.

I usually struggle to enjoy my food on holiday, after my dietary requirements are taken into account there isn’t usually much left for me to eat and i’ve often come home a skinny twig and very hungry. But thanks to the dining team at Kuramathi Island, I was well fed every day, and I enjoyed every meal. For a change I even came home a healthy few pounds heavier…. which is exactly how it should be after a good holiday 🙂

COCKTAIL ANYONE?

Even on the Select All inclusive package you are limited to wine, beer and soft drinks with your dinner… but you can always head to one of the 3 bars on the island to grab yourself a cheeky cocktail or ten once you’ve finished your meal.

Let me tell you….. The Kuramathi bar staff sure know how to shake a cocktail… I tried a few of my favourite classics tipples such as a Mojito, a Daiquiri, a Pina Colada and a Cuba Libre and all of them we made perfectly! BUT lets talk about the good stuff, the islands cocktail menu is vast! So vast I couldn’t drink my way through it, I mean believe me I tried but there is so much choice i’d of been permanently drunk had I of tasted them all!

Love a creamy cocktail? They’ve got you covered! If spicy is your thing? then Tony tried a tall glass of something that practically put hairs on his chest, maybe super sweet is more your tipple? They have plenty for you try. To put it simply Kuramathi does awesome cocktails! My favourite bar on the Island was the Laguna bar, it is open all day and most of the night (they said until the last person leaves), the entertainment was nice with a singing duo performing on one night and a DJ playing chilled house vibes on our second visit. Its a nice place to grab a post lunch cocktail and take a swim during the day but equally a cool night time hang out for a game of cards, a good chat or to relax on the swing seat. (Tip: Try the coconut lips mocktail or add a shot of rum to liven it up… your welcome!)

THE SPA WITH SUBSTANCE…

The spa on Kuramathi Island is it’s own little oasis, a beautiful peaceful place with a picturesque outdoor pool framed by stunning pink flowers and tall green palms bordering the waters edge. A small bar provides poolside service and the menu has a focus more on tropical smoothies and mock-tails than liquor.

The spa area is tranquil with a comfortable central reception, a gym and separate treatment villas. The spa isn’t what you would expect on a tropical island, they have a total of 13 treatment rooms, consisting of 1 couples’ water pavilion massage room, 2 couples’ beach pavilion massage and tatami rooms, 1 aesthetic beauty care couples’ room, 1 manicure and couples’ pedicure room, 7 beach side couples’ treatment rooms and 1 private herbal bath treatment room. If that wasn’t enough there is also charming separate male and female wet areas which offer a peaceful moment alone where I sampled their rain showers, herbal essence steam bath, Finnish Sauna, cool dip pool and bubbling Jacuzzi. Even though I only spent a maximum of three hours in the spa area including my 60 minute treatment, all the extra facilities available made me feel like i’d had an entire spa day experience. Following your treatment they encourage you too take a moment to relax in the outdoor Spa Lounge to enjoy the warm breeze and sound of the ocean  lapping by your toes as you savour a special blended herbal tea or ice cold fruit water. It really was total bliss.

THE TREATMENT THAT ACTUALLY TREATS YOU…

We opted for a 60 minute couples deep tissue massage, Tony can be hard to satisfy when it comes to massage treatments as the poor guy always seems to end up with the “not so good” masseuse when we book these couples treatments. Often the therapist is not strong enough to actually have an effect on his masculine muscles, but both of us were so impressed with not only the professional manner of the therapists and the luxurious relaxing little touches during our treatments but also how good the massage itself was, these women were so strong. They were clearly experienced and very well trained as they knew all the techniques to actually work out knots and spasms within your muscles. The treatment was more than just ” fluff & relaxation” it was physically enhancing and totally worth it. In fact they were so good I snuck back to the spa on our last day for a cheeky  back neck and shoulder deep tissue before our long journey home.

AN ECO FRIENDLY ISLAND…

Being Veggies aka Vegans in training and planet loving tree huggers… Okay i’m lying we aren’t that good YET! But we do love our planet and are very keen on doing what we can to stop climate change and help this planet that we call home. Kuramathi Island is an Eco friendly island who are doing their upmost to be a sustainable resort. This isn’t the first time Tony and I have opted for an Eco hotel or resort but Kuramathi really took it too another level by comparison. From the on site Marine Biologists who work on the island offering guests educational talks on how too protect the marine life, to the hydroponic garden where an incredible team of botanists grow every type of fruit and vegetable possible to provide guests with fresh organic homegrown food to eat. To the restaurants only serving purified island collected rain water served in reusable glass bottles saving the island 400,000 plastic bottles to dispose of every year, to the specially marked out “safe channels” to enter the house reefs therefore ensuring guests aren’t damaging the corals on the ocean floor. If that wasn’t enough they also aim to use mostly electric vehicles on the island and they take part in Eco week. This is where all the workers donate some of there “time off” to help man a huge island clean up (not that there is much to clean up mostly storm debris or the odd washed up plastic bottle swept in from the sea ect). But this resort is giving 100% effort into not destroying the planet and for that I felt good staying there and felt a lot of love for the workers too.

TO DIVE OR TO SNORKEL? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Full disclaimer neither Tony or I are PADI or SSI qualified divers. However we have got some experience having completed 3 dives to 12 meters whilst in Cuba just over a year ago. We were tempted to complete our Padi licence on this trip as that is something available to do on the island, but the thought of spending one minute studying in a classroom whilst in this wonderful place made us decide not to do it. But thanks to Kuramathi offering a “try dive” where you can book to do a 2  hour dive session up to 12 meters with your very own Dive instructor we still managed to experience below sea level in the Maldives.

For those more experienced divers they also provide nitrox for free as additional safety for certified Nitrox divers and you are well-supported by the Kuramathi Medical Centre and its one of the only islands with Hyperbaric Chamber which gives deep sea divers a real peace of mind. Our instructor Silvia from the The Rasdhoo Divers team was so lovely, she was very clear in her briefing and her demos so it all came flooding back easily from Cuba. She guided us around the house reef and pointed out Sharks and Lion fish that we otherwise wouldn’t have spotted, she also takes a great underwater picture for you too! We were so relaxed with Silvia and felt so safe that we were able to dive a full 53 minutes with out getting close to our oxygen reserve (which is pretty impressive from us non qualified divers by the way).

What I will say though, is as of 3 years ago due to climate change around 60% of the coral in the Maldives has devastatingly died or been ‘bleached’ much like the rest of the worlds reefs. We had hoped to see the incredible colourful corals that we witnessed seven years ago in Mexico but sadly we were too late. However the marine life is abundant and lively and the reef just off of our water villa had so many incredible beautiful fish and sea creatures to experience that  the dive didn’t actually show us many more species that we hadn’t already seen a stones throw from our villa. Just heading out from our villa  for an afternoon snorkel we saw a Hawksbill turtle, black tip shark, barracuda’s, various stingrays, a moray eel along with many other beautiful fish. My point being you don’t need to be a diver to enjoy the underwater world at Kuramathi.

WE FOUND NEMO! In this beautiful sea anemone which is home to the Maldivian Anemone fish.

We also sampled the Turtle Snorkel trip where we visited a reef a mere 15 minutes from the island which is notorious for seeing a mixture of green sea turtles and Hawksbill turtles and we saw at least 5 so that was a fun and successful excursion. We also did the Snorkel safari which was a really nice half day trip however being that we had already seen lots of the fish already, we were most excited by the pod of dolphins that came to say hello whilst we were on the boat heading out to the snorkel site. The guys were great and stopped the boat so we could all enjoy and take photos.

GIVE ME ALL THE ROMANCE…

I have to admit i’m a hopeless romantic, I just LOVE a “romantic moment” and Kuramathi Island helped provide plenty of them. From naturally occurring romance; like the moment when a pod of dolphins swam past our water villa at sunset whilst we took a dip in our private pool, to the romantic beach dinner for two that we had on our last night complete with colour changing beach lanterns, a floral heart shaped table setting and a private waiter.

There was also the hand in hand stroll along the famous Kuramathi sand bank, we picked lunch time for our stroll on purpose as this meant it was practically abandoned with only us and another lady on the entire sand bank (She came in handy for photos to be fair). It was breathtakingly beautiful, and to look directly at and the sand was so bright you had to have sunglasses on to even see straight.

One of my favourite romanic moments on the trip has to be the ‘Sunset Cruise’ (Tip: try to go on the boat with the roof deck that you can sit on, its less crowded and you get better photos!) The sunset cruise sets off at 5.30pm and takes around an hour, a boat takes you and other guests for a sail to the perfect spot to watch the sun set and slip away into the sea whilst you drink a chilled glass of Champagne and take the most romantic and Instagramable photos ever!

THE ROUND UP…

In summery I will definitely be going back to the Maldives, I would be more than happy to visit Kuramathi Island again… But being that there are so many beautiful islands to see I might just have to try one of the other universal resorts such as Kandolhu, Baros or Karumba.

I would be confident enough to say that Kuramathi is an island that has something for everyone and anyone… Honeymooners, families, small groups of friends as well as couples young and mature. Kuramathi accommodates everyone whether you wish to laze by the beach and relax at the spa or if your idea of a great holiday is more active involving a game of tennis, diving  followed by kayaking. Its a resort where no one will be bored and everyone can be entertained even the little ones with an amazing kids club on site. If its your first time in the Maldives and you can’t decide where to go, Kuramathi is a safe bet and you are bound to love it!

To see more photos from my trip check out my Instagram page @Shanie_Ryan and check out my ‘Maldives’ highlights. Have you been to Kuramathi or are you going? Let me know what you thought of this blog post and comment below or subscribe!

This post has been sponsored as part of a content collaboration with Kuramathi Island.

All views are my own.

To experience Kuramathi Island for yourself check out the website and rates here: https://www.kuramathi.com/

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