When you think about heaven on earth, what do you think of?
For me, the Maldives is what comes to mind, with its crystal clear aquarium-like lagoons & palm tree fringed islands. There is no doubt, if you are an ocean, summer, beach lover like me, you are either dreaming of the Maldives OR since visiting, that’s all you can dream about.
Another thing I really wanted to mention before getting into the detail is that as a destination, the Maldives is for everyone. Although it’s perfect for honeymoons / special occasions, it’s also an epicentre for epic adventures, unforgettable moments with marine life, so so good for solo travellers looking to unwind & connect with other adventurous souls & couples who just want to do something rad together. I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice, once with Chesh (my partner) & once on a Mumma / daughter trip with my beautiful mum. Both were equally as good, for different reasons & experiences.
Although remote, the Maldives is easily accessible from anywhere in the world.
No matter where you are coming from, you’ll arrive into the capital, Male. If you are coming from Australia, the trip takes about 13 hours (with a stop over in Singapore) & if you are coming from US / EU expect a little longer with a stopover in Dubai or Singapore. Book in advance & save on flights, as usual.
When To Go:
Honestly, I don’t think you’ll find a bad time to visit the Maldives. Of course there is a dominating wet (April -November) & dry (Dec – April) season, but each season brings beauty & depending what you are looking for, your ideal season might be different to what you might think… I’m actually all about shoulder season, which equals less crowds, variable weather conditions (which makes for beautiful experiences) & cost effective travel.
‘Wet’ season is actually the best time to spot whale sharks & manta rays, being mating season. This is a bucket list experience not to be missed & a small bit of rain each day is worth every second for this incredible opportunity (trust me). Generally in wet season you’ll experience down pours & lots of sunshine otherwise.
Dry season is ideal for the perfect beach holiday if you don’t want a little weather to rain on your parade. Expect sunshine 24/7!
I have been in both dry / peak season (January) as well as shoulder season (April) – I genuinely loved both equally for different reasons.
Where To Stay:
Four Seasons is next level, they offer meaningful experiences, incredible service & some of the best geographical locations in the Maldives. They actually have 4 offerings, Kuda Huraa (a speed boat trip away from Male & a beyond beautiful layover), Landaa Giraavaru (a short 30 minute seaplane ride direct from Male), Four Seasons Private Island (we visited & I’m telling you this is one of the most beautiful paces I have EVER seen) & Four Seasons Explorer (an intimate boat with 12 rooms only / an insanely cool & unique way to experience the Maldives).
Beyond endless beauty & exceptional experiences, there was a deep love for the ocean & the natural ecosystem, which I found to be so humbling & beautiful from such a huge International brand. Both Kuda Huraa & Landaa Giraavaru have a Marine Research Centre with researchers, conservationists & marine biologists working around the clock to address key issues of coral bleaching, turtle & manta ray conservation & general ocean health. They are doing so much in the way of rehabilitating / releasing sea turtles, amputating their poor limbs (this is so sad, but I learned that many sea turtles loose their limbs due to getting tangled in netting), & taking care of some of these sea turtles for the rest of their lives due to their irreparable injuries. The Marine Centres are also working hard to breed & release native Maldivian fish to boost marine numbers & marine health. I was so so blown away by their efforts & you can check out more here.
Of course if you are into diving & experiencing marine life up close, there is so much on offer, from an on-call manta service, whereby guests will be notified of manta sightings & immediately taken out to see / swim with these majestic creatures. Whale shark & turtle experiences + snorkelling the home reef is insanely amazing – you can check out the coral planting project (*& even sponsor a coral frame which will be planted on your behalf) which both Kuda Huraa & Landaa Giraavaru are working hard on (for more info on Four Seasons Coral Planting, click here).
If you are into a day at the spa, all property options have you covered, but one really stood out for us (& I have never experienced this anywhere else!) At Kuda Huraa, when visiting the spa, you are whisked away in a traditional sailing boat to a private island… its only a 2 minute boat ride away from the main island, but you feel worlds away while on this tranquil mini paradise.
All properties offer water sports, including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling etc – but if you want to surf, Kuda Huraa or the Explorer are for you. Landaa Giraavaru is nestled in a magical calm lagoon surrounded by turquoise, clear, shallow water which almost feels more like a natural pool for miles, than anything else. So incredible!
Some of our fav experiences during our time with Four Seasons are below…
Completely in awe of this fresh new resorts location & top notch service. The staff – WOW, you were always treated like family, greeted by name & everyone just seems so happy to be there (this makes your experience SO memorable & was one of the key things I took away from our stay).
The property is in one of the best locations in the Maldives being in striking distance to Hanifaru Bay. This area is a UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Maldives & it is legally designated as a Marine Protected Area. There are strict regulations in place to protect and preserve this amazing wonder, which is why it is so incredibly pristine & booming with marine life.
FYI whale shark season is from May to December. In this period, plankton gets trapped in the funnel-like reef, attracting whale sharks and schools of manta ray. Hanifaru Bay is the world’s largest feeding station known to exist & if that alone isn’t a reason enough to immediately book your stay at The Westin, I don’t know what is!
It’s always interesting to visit BRAND NEW properties, often there is unfinished business & sometimes, things are in shambles. This was absolutely not the case at the Westin – I could not believe their attention to detail – they had preserved so much of the natural ecosystem & so the island was flourishing & wrapped up in lush greenery. Around every corner you were greeted by blooming tropical flowers, pristine palms & endless palm trees.
The food was out of control INCREDIBLE. The property has 4 eateries, including high end Japanese overwater dining, relaxed rooftop hangs, casual breakfast / dinner dining & my absolute fav, the Hawker Market, a sand floor asian infused, ocean front, open air restaurant.
Finally the rooms are just soooo good, pristine & new. They have thought of everything – the bedding is extremely comfy (with lavender oil available for a heavenly sleep), dip pools (in overwater villas & beach villas) & thoughtful spaces to just unwind & melt into your dreamy vacay.
If you are thinking of visiting The Westin, I highly recommend!
Some of our fav moments below…
We stopped in Singapore & stayed at Lloyds Inn. I stayed here many years ago when coming home from another big trip & genuinely loved it / had to go back. It’s super tranquil, set amongst lush greenery & the property has a pool + garden area to lounge your jet lag away.
Happy travels my friends xxx