For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of The Maldives is global warming. I know, not the happiest thought for a country made up of a series of tropical islands known for blue water and tourist resorts. But it is true. The islands are, on average, only a few feet above ocean level and at the forefront of rising sea levels. The Maldivian government has held press conferences and meetings while standing in the ocean, and wearing scuba gear underwater, to publicize the issue for the world. It has also forced the government to spend a large portion of the money they take in from tourism on planning for the inevitable loss of land and country.
Next to Malé, the capitol and most populated island, they are reclaiming land by building up an attached island. They are also setting aside money into an account specifically for relocating the citizens. Someday, the islands that make up The Maldives might become completely unlivable, forcing the approximately 560,000 people from the country to move and live in another country. Assuming other countries will take the climate immigrants.
But let us forget about that, and focus on the reason people care about The Maldives, the island resorts.
Arriving at the airport in the capital city of Malé, we quickly moved through immigration and collected our luggage. With a country that has its primary source of income coming from tourism, there were a lot of guys waiting near the exits to lead the tourists to their final destinations. They had branded shirts or held signs, so the arrivals knew who to flag down and get led to their form of transportation to the resort. Either by air or boat. In our case, it was by air. The guy checked our names with his list and walked us over to a truck that was loading luggage and a van that took us to the waiting area for the seaplane we were going to be boarding.
This was my first time flying a seaplane, which sat around 12 people. Seats of two on the right and one on the left. We were whisked to the first island where they dropped off the first set of passengers, then to the island we were staying. Flying overhead, we could see the beautiful blue waters below, along with the white sand covered atolls that make up most of The Maldives.
Landing on the water around 45 minutes after leaving Malé, we taxied to a small square dock. The guys then led us to a boat that took us to the island. Stepping off the boat, they welcomed us with the steady beat of a bongo drum. Also waiting was a group of people to take our luggage and show us to the bar where a cold glass of tea was waiting. We were introduced to Mohammad, who would be our point of contact on the island with questions or help us arrange things. He and I connected on WhatsApp. He also instructed us to download the app for the resort as that would allow us to view the bar menu, book massages, the restaurant, and other items offered, such as cocktail making or cooking demonstrations.
The bar was setup perfectly for the environment. It had low to the ground seating, and they covered the floor in soft white sand. After that, we were shown to our bungalow on the beach. The first week of our stay, the plan was for a beach bungalow then moving to an over the water one for our second week. This way we could get the full island experience. The room was cool with the air-conditioning turned on. It had a large four post bed with a mosquito net tied to the posts. The net wasn’t needed, since the room was plenty cold and maintained to keep any bugs away. Presumably it was more for decorative purposes. The porter showed us the all-inclusive bar in the room with the standard bottles of whiskey, rum, gin, and vodka. Through the door in the back, their was an outdoor bathroom and shower.
A quick shower to clean the sweat and stench of 16 hours of travel, then changing into shorts and a t-shirt, we were ready to experience the resort. We also left our shoes in the room, as we did not need them throughout our stay. They provided flip-flops for anyone who wanted them. We had little use for them at this point in the visit, with the paths being maintained with the same soft sand as in the bar and beach. The flip-flops came in handy when we moved to the over water villa. The wood that made up the dock got hot in The Maldivian sun.
The country is 100% Islamic, as in if you want to live there you need to convert. Which of course means following Islamic law such as Ramazan, the month of fasting during daylight. This happened to co-inside with part of the time we were there. So, as we were sitting down for breakfast or lunch stuffing our faces with food, the people waiting on us could not eat or drink. Which, to be honest, in that heat must have been a challenge.
Another interesting aspect of this was the lack of a moon. Ramazan begins when the new moon ends and goes until the sighting of the next new moon. For us, it was fascinating to look up to the dark sky full of stars we don’t normally see in London, while not being able to view the moon reflecting off the water.
Ramazan ends with a big party, full of dancing and music. So, on that night after work, the staff who could leave took a boat over to an island across from ours where we could hear the beat of the drums and dancing going until late into the night.
The beaches that make up the island are some of the most beautiful white sand I have ever seen. When walking along the beach, it was a pleasure to sink our feet into it as the waves continue to pull the sand into the ocean. They have a series of breaks made from cement and stone, to prevent as much erosion and possible. We could see the stones and cement that had fallen into the water, as the crashing waves never stop wearing on them.
During most of our visit, the weather was perfect blue skies, and occasional thin clouds to offer a bit of relief from the sun’s rays. We had a few nights of lovely tropical rain as well, which meant the next morning we could see where portions of the island had been washed away, that the staff had to rebuild and replace. A never ending battle with the ocean to maintain the beaches for the tourists. This included someone who each day would go along to rake up the seaweed and garbage that washed ashore.
There was a lot of dead coral washing up on the beaches, which made me wonder how much of that was natural and how much resulted from climate change destroying coral reefs.
Komandoo Island Resort Spa
We planned this trip as a nice, relaxing, romantic getaway. So, we chose an adults only resort on one of the smaller islands. We didn’t want to listen to children running, screaming, or interfering with that relaxation. And Komandoo delivered. Even though they were 90% fully booked during our visit, we didn’t feel crowded. There were often times in the evening when walking on the beach we could imagine we were the only ones there.
At the pool, we did occasionally walk over to spend a few hours relaxing, reading a book, and swimming to find that several chairs had towels on them with no people anywhere near the pool. The curse of many resorts are those people who go down and place towels on chairs to claim them, then leave to get food or do whatever it is they do as they leave chairs unusable to others for extended periods of time.
As a note to Komandoo or other resorts reading this, start a policy that if people leave towels on chairs and are away from the pool for longer than 15 minutes, the towel will be removed so that others can use that chair.
As for the pool itself, it is not a large one, but never felt crowded. A positive of people claiming chairs and leaving, I guess, is fewer people in the actual pool. The infinity pool was nice and warm thanks to the lovely warm weather, and a great way to spend the day relaxing when not spending the day relaxing at the beach or getting a massage.
During our stay, we got three messages of different varieties. All were amazing, relaxing, and highly recommended.
For food, they have the buffet that runs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have a small restaurant that sits over the water and can be booked for dinner. The reservations at the restaurant book quick, so they recommended booking in advance. However, we never felt that was an issue, as the buffet was fantastic. We only ate at the restaurant twice during our visit. And both times were delicious. I’ve stayed at several so-called all-inclusive resorts with buffets, and this by far was the best. It never felt like it was repetitive after two weeks. They had a nice variety of themes, such as Thai food themed or Indian themed. They also occasionally cranked up the outside barbeque. Of course, since this was the Maldives meals had excellent fish choices.
We had the all-inclusive gold package, which gave us the option of ordering food from the bar when we wanted, and a selection of drinks. We never really needed to order food from the bar as the all-inclusive kept us well fed. In general, the food we ate at the bar wasn’t the best compared to the buffet or restaurant. The drinks, however, were delicious.
The service of the resort was top-notch. At the buffet, we had the same server, Annis, for each meal, who was amazing. He put up with us asking him questions about The Maldives, about the island he lived on, and more. He paid attention to what we ordered for drinks to remember our orders for next time, although we often changed. And the other staff as well were absolutely friendly as well. A girl who worked at the restaurant and buffet whose name I can’t remember always welcomed us with a smile and went towel to wipe or faces and hands before we ate.
5.8 Undersea Restaurant
The Maldives have a few resorts with underwater restaurants, and since we don’t know if or when we would ever visit again, we made a reservation for dinner at the 5.8 Undersea restaurant. This, as the name describes, is a glass restaurant 5.8 meters under the water. The small restaurant, with limited seating, is all about the experience. No shoes necessary, however they want people to arrive dressed somewhat well. No jeans cutoff shorts and try to wear a nice shirt if you go.
The service was fantastic, as was the experience of the fish swimming around us while we took our time to eat the multi-course meal. However, I was a bit unimpressed with the food overall. Maybe my pallet isn’t developed enough for posh places like this, but sometimes simple is better and the dishes served did not follow that policy. The ingredients were top-notch. It seemed the chef was trying to impress the patrons by mixing things on a plate that shouldn’t be mixed.
5.8 is like the Space Needle in Seattle. You go more for the experience than the food.
Leaving The Resort
All good things must come to an end, as they say, and so did our trip to The Maldives. During our stay at the resort we met numerous people who visited regularly, one couple that goes twice a year, (wish I had that kind of money) and it makes sense why because the quality of service, the location, the food, were all well worth the cost. We can’t do twice a year like that couple, but we would definitely like to visit again.
“These things are so tight on my feet,” I said after walking from our room to the bar where someone would provide us with our final drink as we waited for the boat to take us to the seaplane then to the airport for the flight home. After two weeks of going barefoot in the sand, shoes suck!
We boarded our seaplane to be taken to the airport, where the quality of service ended. At the airport, there were signs above check-in stations that weren’t clear as to which flight was being checked in. We at one point were told to change lines, then had to wait even longer, because the people in front of us were super slow at checking in, didn’t have all the required documents, or something else. We stood for what felt like hours in the heat, but probably wasn’t that long. At the airport, waiting for the flight wasn’t all that great either, so we splurged for the lounge, which was a little better. At least it had better chairs and cold bottles of water.
The Flight and Home
I guess I should mention the flights as well. We flew from London on Qatar Airways. This was might first time flying them, and overall found it a pleasurable airline to fly. We were on one of the large Airbus A380 airplanes. Since flying so long, we paid a bit extra for the seats on the upper deck. We could see the first-class bar when the curtain was open, but unfortunately weren’t invited for an upgrade. However, the seats we had were pleasant enough, on the side so it was just the two of us, and no kids behind our seats kicking and making noise. Overall, I’d fly them again.
And then back in London, we arrived home where my nice tan began to fade and all we could do was look with fondness at the pictures we took of the trip, dreaming of the day we would visit again. Same resort or one of the others? I don’t think it matters all that much as it is the lovely weather, the beautiful blue seas, and quality service from the kind people who populate The Maldives.
Fingers crossed that people around the world will get their heads out of their asses and start doing something about global warming. Assuming it isn’t too late already.