The Great Maldives Love Affair

Densely vegetated Islands with picturesque beaches and surrounded by turquoise blue water lagoons – that’s the picture which comes to mind when I think about Maldives . Paradise – the first thought that came to mind on hearing Maldives, and when I further realized that I would be spending my birthday on the largest island resort in the Maldives, I was literally transcended into an ecstatic state of mind. This is how 2017 started for me, with a month long trip to Sun Island Resort and Spa – Maldives, from mid Jan to mid Feb.
 

The moment I stepped out of Velana International Airport, I was greeted with soothing views of coconut trees lined up along the road, ferries docked up on the jetty and pristine blue waters everywhere. As my connecting flight to the resort was a couple of hours later, I immediately put my luggage in the cloak room, exchanged some USD for the local currency, Maldivian Rufiyaa and got on the ferry to Male.

Jetties near the Airport

Male, the capital city of Maldives which is a tropical island nation south of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, is barely a 20 minutes ferry ride away from Hulhule Island where Velana International Airport is built. The ferry ride costs somewhere around 20 MVR and you just need to hop onto one of the ferries scheduled for your destination.

The Presidents Office
Streets of Male

The island is 1.7 km long and 1.0 km wide, but with over 100,000 people crammed onto it, Male is by some measures the world’s densest city. Male is occasionally dismissed by travelers as a mere transit destination with “nothing to do”, and it is indeed not a party place.

However, it does have a distinctive character of its own, with narrow streets, colorful houses, graffiti and a strong communal feel, and it may be interesting to stop a little longer and soak in the atmosphere if you’ve got time on your hands.

It was time for Great #MaldivesLoveAffair the moment I saw the atoll formation #EatTravelLiveRepeatClick To Tweet

Male’s main street Boduthakurufaanu Magu, home to banks and most government buildings, runs along the north shore. Roughly in the middle is the square of Jumhooree Maidhaan, a handy reference point since it has a giant flagpole visible from far away. From the flagpole extends a series of ten jetties running eastward, with jetty #1 (the Presidential Jetty) right in front of the square and jetties #9 and #10, used by the airport ferry, at the northeastern tip of the island.

PS – Avoid going to Male on a Friday that too especially before lunch, as everything is closed down. The shops only open up post lunch on Fridays.

Republic Square in Male
Access to one of the jetties
The streets of Male

After a leisure walk in the streets of Male and some souvenir shopping, I headed back to the airport and boarded the domestic flight to Maamigilli, to reach Sun Island Resort and Spa, which is an add on cost but totally worth the extra buck as the 35 minutes flight provides an eagle eye view of the islands and the unique atoll formation. A lot of resorts charge separately for a photo flight tour to witness paradise from the sky, so a domestic connecting flight is definitely a blockbuster deal.

Fly Me VP 607 Male to Maamigili – Ready for Boarding
An Eagle eye view of one of the resorts 

Finally after first taking an International Flight, then a domestic flight followed by a speedboat, I reached my destination ‘Sun Island Resort and Spa’ which was going to be my home for the next one month. The moment I stepped out of the speed boat, it was love at first sight with the resort.

 
The Great Maldives Love Affair
Love at first sight with Sun Island Resort and Spa

A densely vegetated Island with a picturesque beach and surrounded by turquoise blue water lagoons was right there in front of my eyes, staring back at me, just as I had pictured it in my mind. I just couldn’t believe my eyes, that I was indeed in paradise and I had to take a moment to soak it all in.

Turquoise Blue Lagoons surrounding paradise
Sun Island Resort and Spa is one of the 5 luxury resorts of the Villa Group in the tropical country of Maldives, located in Nalaguraidhoo in the South Ari Atoll, 107 kilometers south of the Malé International Airport. Sun Island Resort and Spa is the biggest resort in Maldives and its scale comes with unmatchable array of facilities along with very high value for costs. 
 
Over the next one month, I discovered a new cozy little cocoon on a daily basis.
 
A 24 hour beach side coffee shop (Vani Coffee Shop) with free WiFi, adjacent to Maaniya Restaurant on one side, the reception on the other and the swimming pool on the third side accompanied by the Main bar (Meekanu Bar), ensures that majority of the guests are around these activity hubs throughout the day, giving the whole place a positive vibe.

Being the largest resort island in Maldives, Sun Island Resort and Spa has something for everyone to indulge in, starting from a 4500 sqm world class Spa – ARAAMU Spa, a mini golf course; basketball, volleyball and badminton courts. A 5 star PADI Dive center – DiveOceanus and a lively watersport centre, a shark feeding area and a sting ray feeding area.

 
When the sting rays start swimming near the beach during feeding time
Sharks fighting for their food

Read Araamu SPA – Pamper your senses here.

Araamu Spa – Pamper your senses


On the food and beverage end, the resort has an Italian specialty restaurant – Al Pontile, a Thai restaurant – Sun Star, a speciality restaurant – Southern Star, the seafood restaurant – Island BBQ, the buffet restaurant – Maaniyaa restaurant and the most unique one – Zero Restaurant – A fresh salad bar. One can get their fix of drinks at the main bar – Meekanu Bar, the beach bar and the mini golf bar.

Thai Restaurant – Sun Star
Italian Restaurant – Al Pontile
The seafood restaurant – Island BBQ
 
 
With densely vegetated cobblestone pathways running throughout the island, Sun Island Resort and Spa has designed their accommodation to cater to different types of travelers such as the Standard and Superior Beach Bungalows – for the beach lovers, Sun Villas – for the peace lovers, Sunset Villas – for the best sunset views and the Water Bungalows where you walk down the jetty to reach your room set on stilts above the tranquil turquoise lagoon.

Water Bungalows – The Ultimate Maldivian Experience


The true definition of luxury – Staying in a room built on silts with a private entrance to the water lagoon
Densely Vegetated Cobblestone Pathways
Early Morning View from my room – Always a good start to the day
 
Majority of my time during the day was spent at the dive center, diveOceanus till where I used to go for a walk thrice a day, to relax and connect with the instructors and fellow divers. Over the period of one month, I started my underwater journey first through the Discover Scuba Diving programme and then the went on to complete my PADI Open Water Diver Certification.
 

 

The location of the resort in the South Ari Atoll is a big plus point as the South Ari Atoll has something to offer for every diver no matter of how experienced they are. Starting from completely protected reefs with no current at all up to thrilling drift dives with extremely strong currents. Unique reef formations and wide range of marine life biodiversity lets you embark on unending series of adventures to more than 50 different dive sites.

It was time for Great #MaldivesLoveAffair the moment I saw the atoll formation #EatTravelLiveRepeatClick To Tweet

Whale Sharks – The gentle giants of the oceans
Ari Atoll is renowned for its pelagic life – whale sharks and manta rays. A common misconception is that whale sharks can be found in almost any region, which is very far from the truth. There are very few places where whale sharks can be found consistently and one of them is the southernmost outside reef of Ari Atoll. Sun Island Resort and SPA – Maldives is the closest resort to the most popular whale shark point in the Maldives. Whale sharks can grow up to 18 meters in length and feed on plankton, they are completely harmless to humans.

Manta Rays
Just like I used to spend time at the dive center during the day, I used to be at the Meekanu Bar in the evenings, not for the drinks but for the variety of entertainment programmes scheduled for different days of the week such as fire and fakir show on Monday, open karaoke night on Tuesday, the crab race on Wednesday, traditional boduberu (Maldivian traditional dance) night on Friday, soft music on Saturday, Live band on Sunday and the occasional beach parties.
 
As if these activities are not enough, Sun Island Resort and Spa goes a step ahead and organizes excursions on a daily basis such as visit to the local islands, snorkeling excursions, sunrise and sunset cruises, and morning dolphin spotting boat rides. The best one of the lot which I enjoyed was the whale shark spotting trip where you are taken on a hour long boat ride to spot a whale shark and if you are not able to then you end up doing snorkeling at one of reefs and the Island Discovery excursion, where you are taken to an uninhabited island where there is a wonderful coral garden for snorkeling followed by a fresh bbq lunch prepared by the staff on the spot. All these excursions are charged extra at a very nominal rate.
 
Room Number 547 and cycle number 470 – You are missed

With a plethora of activities on offer, Sun Island Resort and Spa ensures that every guest gets the true Maldives experience and takes back memories for a lifetime.

How to reach Maldives 

Male International airport is connected to all major cities in the world. Almost all the major airlines operate regular flights to Velana International Airport (Male International airport) from all the major cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad. Mega Maldives Airlines now operates a direct flight from Delhi to Male thrice a week. Now one can have a hassle free flight experience to Maldives from Delhi. There are also direct flights from Kochi and Bangalore.

Visa  

To enter Maldives, Indian Nationals don’t require pre-arrival Visa. Maldives tourist Visa is free for Indian nationals issued on arrival at Male International airport valid for 90 days. For the tourists of other nationalities, a 30 day visa free of charge, is issued on arrival in the Maldives.

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The Great Maldives Love Affair
The Great Maldives Love Affair

   

The Great Maldives Love Affair
The Great Maldives Love Affair
 
No compensation was received for this review, however Sun Island Resort and Spa – Maldives, offered me a complimentary stay. All opinions remains my own. 
 

Comments

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  4. Suruchi

    Wow! I have already fallen for Maldives and those bungalows with a private entrance to the water lagoons are freaking awesome. The restaurants too look amazing with those views. I love your picture with the bird’s eye view. Congratulations on becoming a PADI Water Diver. I am surely gonna check this place out on my Maldives excursions.

  5. Genie Patra

    that water and the sunset are so stunning! and swimming with whale sharks! What an experience. The Maldives has been high on my list for awhile. But I have to wait til I’m in Bangkok to go cause flying from California there is way too long of a trek

  6. Chris

    I was lucky enough to visit The Maldives last year, but my trip was my resort hopping than the more in-depth look at the place you seem to have had.

    I definitely want to get back there someday. Not just for the luxury, but also so I can learn a little more about the soul of the place.

    1. theETLRblog

      I would have loved to do some resort hopping to, but am glad, I got this wonderful opportunity of experiencing firsthand hospitality over a considerable period of time.

    1. theETLRblog

      They have got a daily shark feeding and sting ray feeding show, and the best thing is you can see the sting rays hovering around the feeding area, much before the feeding time too.

  7. Ryazan

    Thanks for sharing this guide to Maldives. One of the destinations that I really wanted to visit! Looks soooo beautiful!!

    Seems like you really had a great time! 🙂

  8. RaW | Ramble and Wander

    Phwoar! I’m not really a beach/island holiday kind of person (mostly because I spent my growing up years by a beach) but I still feel envious of you being able to not just spend a month in Maldives but at Sun Island Resort and Spa at that! *turning green* As it is, I wouldn’t mind having a week in Maldives now! 🙂
    RaW | Ramble and Wander recently posted…Malaysia: Hey, Bohey Dulang! I’m in Love!My Profile

  9. Jean

    Oh what an epic place to celebrate your birthday! Looks like you had an amazing adventure. Oh and by the way HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

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  11. Kristina

    I have heard so much about the Maldives, I’m really hoping to get there sometime soon. Your photos, as always, are simply gorgeous.Gosh… I need the South Ari Atoll in my life and fast!

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