There aren’t enough superlatives to fully and accurately describe the staggering natural beauty of the Maldives. From the air, nothing prepared me for the extraordinary glimpse of the turquoise seas, the oval halo of atolls and islands, in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, crystal clear seas in a thousand shades of indigo, accented by white sugar sandy beaches…it was breathtaking! Color is fundamental to our experience of the world around us, you may have seen glossy photos or films, but the wonder of the Maldives is awe inspiring, nothing prepares you for the beauty.
You may not be on Facebook or Instagram to enjoy the colorful photos of my visit… if this destination seems far, I agree it is a bit of a Journey, however I will share why it is worth the distance to reach the luxury properties surrounded by the pristine gin clear waters. Two routings from the west coast either via Dubai or Singapore, I would advise an overnight or two and depart in the morning to Male, the capital city and gateway to the Maldives. To reach some of the resorts you then need to take an additional local flight on Maldivian airlines, who keep their own schedule i.e.- don’t count on timely flights. Seaplanes are available to some locations. Not all the resorts require an additional flight.
Like our unique fingerprints, there is a property for each of us.
The simple elegant solution: arrive at Male and in my case, met by a dazzling Four Seasons motor yacht, Ahoy, Captain! Leave a trailing foamy white wake behind as you are whisked a mere 30 minutes to the very elegant paradise of Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Resort. One barely has a minute to sip a glass of bubbly or refresh with the scented towel! Rarefied Luxury awaits! The nation of the Maldives stretches a thin 510 miles and the footprint of Kuda Huraa is not as large as their adjacent property Landaa Giraavaru, yet the grounds are a beautifully landscaped utopia; imagine fragrant plumeria, bright blooming bougainvillea and towering date and banana trees. A quiet breeze ruffles the leafy fronds all day.
Did I mention the luminous seas?
The arrival of course sets the stage for every visit, I was duly impressed by the genial GM meeting my plane, I was a bit bedraggled, but then, the yacht transfer…is there more? Yes! The arrival jetty was crowded with singers and drum players, I thought a wedding was in progress – no, it was my arrival team…the mood was set!
Escorted to the beautiful open-air reception pavilion, chilled drink in hand, a brief introduction and then whisked to an overwater bungalow or beach Villa for registration and settling in. My bags had already been delivered to my bungalow. Spectacular welcome notes and gifts – a bakery montage of my upcoming activities surprised me. It’s the details, darling!
The resort feels like a small chic village, it hums along with impeccable service and very friendly staff, multiple restaurants for dining pleasure. Choose to snooze and chill, or if you prefer action, I can attest to being slightly exhausted trying almost every activity during my visit!
Sunrise yoga to sunset fishing by hand using the traditional line and sinker, reel in that dusk nibbler by hand. In my case, my ‘fish whisperer’, Ayaa, reeled in our fish; I was content to feed any nibbler a lovely bite of fresh bait and savor a spectacular sea sunset despite my lack of luck. Dancing Dolphins may also grace you with their dizzying spinning across the bow, honestly, even if you don’t fish, you must go out for the experience! Weary travelers will be renewed by Spa retreats, a healthy diet of fresh fish and lagoon dips. SUP Yoga, I managed, give it a try! Weary travelers will be renewed by Spa retreats, a healthy diet of fresh fish and lagoon dips.
If you prefer to snooze and catch up with your reading, might as well be in the lap of luxury, wouldn’t you agree? Contemplate Bliss.
ACTIVITIES A maze of reefs passing through the Maldives provides Surfing Nirvana for the most experienced surfer devotee. Kuda Huraa is the ultimate Surf Spot, hosting the world class surf breaks of Sultans, Jails and Honkeys just a 5-10-minute boat ride away. Four Seasons has its own surf school run by Tropicsurf, an Australian company, offering surfing, sailing and SUP boards. Seaplane Surfing on your list? Endless Safari, sign up for daily surfing safari in search of mechanically peeling walls and double overhead tubes – surf lingo for waves that rise upwards to form sheer cliffs of water, you knew that, right? Or Mingle with the Masters at the annual Four Seasons Surfing Champions Trophy. Gentler waves are close by, with easy take-offs and long rides for beginners.
Internationally known as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with one thrilling dive opportunity after another. The waters surrounding Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, home to Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, have consistently warm waters with outstanding clear visibility.
The Wonders of Nature can be found in abundance! Snorkeling can be enjoyed in the lagoon or motor out with their charming very skilled team of divers. Scuba is also offered, and I took my beginner dive in the lagoon packed with manmade coral cages, embedded in rows, stimulating coral growth. An excellent area for kids to snorkel or learn to dive and understand coral reforestation. Later in the afternoon, we motored out to sea for deeper snorkeling and diving near a tuna factory, it was teeming with hundreds of fish: gliding, hovering rays shrouded by schools of bright yellow and blue surgeon fish, a very curious and friendly turtle, cautious clown fish, moray eels slinking along the sandy bottom amid the coral towers. Warm water, gentle seas and a myriad of tropical fish, I could have been under water all day! Menu not limited to these additional offerings: Parasailing (solo or tandem); Jet Skiing; Wakeboarding; Wakeskating; Waterskiing; Kneeboarding; Fun tubes; Banana rides.Big Game fishing. Sea plane off island adventures, cooking class with famed chef in the Indian Kitchen, seaplane photo odyssey, perhaps a month stay might be on your horizon!?
SPA There’s an amazing spa on its own little island, reached by an authentic wooden dhoni, the spa has seven treatment salons, all open to the lagoon and stunning vistas, gentle waves lap at the piers as a breeze wafts through the wide-open floor to ceiling doors. Private night massages on the island can be reserved, just you, the night sky and the symphony of the sea. Separate spa post can be found here: https://www.gwenbooks.com/2018/02/tribe-of-the-spa-girl-kuda-huraa-four-seaons/
ROOMS Built in the style of a traditional Maldivian village, Kuda Huraa Four Seasons resort has 96 thatched villas scattered around the gorgeously landscaped island or chic bungalows built on stilts languidly rising from the lagoon. One aspect I loved about the over water bungalows is the ladder to the crystal clear water is a mere 4-feet, easy access to the pristine white beach or turquoise sea depending on the ebb and flow of the tide. The magnificent view from my bed was breathtaking, the outdoor deck space is grand, spacious enough to entertain a family, including hammocks that stretch above the slapping water and a plunge pool. The Ocean Villas are close to the beach and surf, intimate walled gardens provide privacy, a plunge pool and covered deck for dining or lounge reading, and of course a rainforest shower outside – I am sure you will contemplate adding one at home, after you’ve been dried by a breeze! Suite closets are enormous as are the bathrooms. I stayed in both over water and beach villa and couldn’t decide which I adored more; the water view was very enticing from the elevated sea bungalow. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the incredible hues of the water and the distant horizon.
DINING Definitely order room service to enjoy the amazing views from your terrace. I loved the fine Indian cuisine at Baraabaru prepared by Chef Kapil Sharma – a Punjabi-born culinarian with a particular prowess for Sattvic, Jain, vegan and organic fare. Many of the recipes are inspired by the chef’s family. Dine on the spectacular torch lit deck over the sea or inside the beautiful dining room inspired by the architecture of Kerala.
Kandu Grill was also one my favorites for fresh fish grilled outdoors – lit by torches reflecting in a small pool and the brilliant black sky pierced by starlight. I bumped into the fun chef every day, I think he assumed I was stalking him for fresh lobster!
Café Huraa was my favorite for breakfast, the buffet has something for everyone: Asian inspired, fresh fruit, omelets made to order, honestly you could graze here for hours! They also serve all day dining and dinner.
Reef Club features classic Italian food. I enjoyed a lovely breakfast here one morning, it is peaceful and offers an al fresco ocean side deck.
Part of the flawless experience lies with the hotel staff, I have honestly never met such a delightfully friendly family of staff at a hotel property. I hadn’t snorkeled in a while and Nooman, my marine guide, realized using my new underwater camera would be a distraction, he generously offered to shoot photos of me with the fish and since he is an experienced free diver, he could swim to the bottom of the reef and take shots I would never have achieved, a perceptive marine guide made my experience more than perfect…this wasn’t a singular experience at the Four Seasons. Most of my brilliant photos at Kuda Huraa should all be attributed to Nooman! He boosted my dive confidence and filled my albums full of excellent fish photos with me in the background!
Taking along the kiddos? Typical Four Seasons Kids Program doesn’t disappoint the little ones, a great Children’s Club with painting classes, table-tennis games and snorkeling. Most evenings they also have a hermit crab race at Sunset Bar, which is terrific fun, the kids and adults love cheering on the little shelled crabs as they ponderously race to the edge of the sandy circle. You will win a complimentary cocktail if your little crab heeds your cheers!
The island has a Marine Discovery Center with several friendly marine biologists, a turtle sanctuary with pools of rescued ailing turtles and a program to restore the bleached coral. Send the kids to build and adopt a coral cage, I can’t wait to see the coral growth of my sponsored cage, photos are sent by the resort. Help the marine biologist drop the cage into the sea; and after acclimatization, it will be moved to the reef scape.
I also took a visit to a neighbor island to see the local village. Many of the staff grew up here, and some live in a hotel sponsored staff apartment. I love seeing how the locals live, see the schools and visit small shops. Remember there aren’t cars on most of these islands, motorbikes and walking are the main forms of transportation.
A stay at Kudaa Huraa can easily be combined with a few days on the resort’s 129 foot catamaran, Explorer. In fact, we would love to help you plan the ultimate Four Seasons trifecta – arrive to Kuda Huraa, chill and adjust to the time zone for 4 or 5 nights or longer, board the luxury catamaran and motor for 4 days or more to the other Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru. The Explorer is a fully staffed luxury catamaran with 10 spacious staterooms, accommodating up to 22 guests…laze about the seas to swim, snorkel, surf – whatever your mood, Captain and crew at your beck and call. Full post coming soon to my website.
Idyllic Island experience, the days fly by and I would encourage you to add more time rather than less…paradise is far, but worth the Journey! I was beyond spoiled, imagine when we reserve for our VIP Clients!