This unforgettable tropical island vacation is a paradise to be discovered for honeymooners as recounted by property princess Jojo Gwee
Travelling is my passion. And, topmost on my favourite type of vacation is a tropical island vacation. Not only does this provide me with Vitamin-Sea, but it allows me to relax, refresh, recharge and rejuvenate beautifully.
Not being able to travel to overseas due to the pandemic, I’ve started to miss the sun, sea breeze, blue ocean and fine sand so prevalent in the Maldives Island.
Maldives is a country comprised of 1,192 islands that stretch along a length of 871 kilometers. The Maldives Island is always being promoted as a honeymoon destination with many five-star hotels operating the uninhabited islands, which they are mostly referred to as “Resorts”.
In recent years, the Maldives government also started promoting economic growth for the local residents; branding the island in a new light new to attract tourist arrivals.
For our honeymoon, my husband and I decided to explore the local island Maafushi and an island resort named Hurawalhi Resort.
Maafushi is a beautiful island in the Maldives with a total population of approximately 3,000 people. This island is renowned for its sandy white beaches, blue oceans and coral reefs. Since the tsunami in 2004, this area has been radically transformed from a fishing to tourism industry after the government regulations allowing the opening of guest houses at the island.
We arrived at the Male Airport from Kuala Lumpur after the air flight of taking up about 4.5 hours. The journey from Male Airport to Maafushi makes up a distance of about 28km in which one may opt to journey via public ferry which takes a further two hours or one may get to Maafushi by private speedboat which costs around USD 20 (RM84). Incidentally, there are many water activities at Maafushi island such as snorkeling, fishing, dolphin watching and at the same time, we got to experience the local lifestyle at Maldives.
As adventurous ocean lovers, we decided to sign up for the “swim with whale sharks” discovery trip. The tour was made up of approximately 10 of us and a few of the local guides. We took the speedboat and travelled to South Ari Atoll to try and experiene meeting one of the largest marine creatures. Meeting whale sharks is very dependable on luck we were told.
It took four hours journey bobbing up and down the ocean to search for the elusive whale sharks which seemed to be playing a game of hide and seek with us. Finally though, after the fourth dive into the Indian Ocean, we were fortunate enough to meet the majestic whale shark. We also did some snorkelling and spotted beautiful coral reefs and fishes.
During our journey back from South Ari Atoll to Maafushi, we basked in the view of the majestic sunset and even spotted many playful dolphins that swam along side our speed boat.
During dinner at Maafushi, we had the chance to indulge in local Maldivian cuisine, also known as Dhivehi cuisine. Maldivian cuisine features more distinct and stronger flavours whereby the influences stem from the island’s neighbouring countries such as India and Sri Lanka whose essential ingredients include coconut, fishes and curries. We thoroughly enjoyed the local cuisine and the laid-back life of Maldivian in Maafushi local island.
Leaving Maafushi with sun-kissed skin, we made our back to Male Airport to embark on our next journey to Hurawalhi Resort. This tropical paradise can be reached by a scenic 40 minutes’ seaplane flight.
Hurawalhi Resort is located at pristine Lhaviyani Atoll, a private coral island measuring a lenghth of 400 metres by a width of 165 metres which occupies an area spanning around 16 acres. This five-star luxury resort was designed by Japanese architect Yuji Yamazaki of YYA New York, and is owned by Crown & Champa Resorts.
The adults-only resort features 90 villas comprising Ocean Pool Villas, Romantic Ocean Villas, Ocean Villas, Beach Sunset Pool Villas and Beach Pool Villas. Hurawalhi welcomes guests above the age of 15. It is a perfect honeymoon or gateaway holiday for couples.
Upon arrival at the resort, we were welcomed by the hotel staffs feted by the the traditional Maldivian drum greetings complete with refreshing drinks. This was followed by a guided tour around the island riding the buggy, where we were whisked away to our romantic Ocean Villa. The villas are built on the water which offers generous, undisturbed views of the Indian Ocean from the vantage point of the sun deck. Each Ocean Villa also comes with a soaking bath tub at the sun deck area. The contemporary design of the villa bring comfort as well as privacy and exclusivity to guests.
The main highlight during the stay is definitely the dining experience situated 5.8 metres below Hurawalhi Maldives, at the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant. Incidentally,the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant got it name from the depth at which the restaurant sits – 5.8 metres (about 19 feet) below the surface. The glass wall was constructed in New Zealand and was shipped in one entire piece which was then lowered down with a special crane.
The restaurant weighs 400 metric tonnes and spans 90 square metres, capable of holding 10 tables with a maximum capacity of 20 people at any one time. The dining experience was cosy, intimate and romantic all at once. As we walk down the spiral staircase, we were mesmerised too by the sight of beautiful coral reefs and colourful fishes. It was definitely an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
The food served at the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant was nothing short of amazing. We opted for a five-course lunch with wine pairing. Wasting no time, we dived straight into the gastronomic pleasures ranging from appetisers to the main course and desserts. Besides this, the other restaurants at the Resort are Kashibo also serves Chinese, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisine while the Canneli Restaurant serves delicious buffet style meals on the beach. The newest eatery JFK (Junk Food Kitchen) opened recently
serving vegan options. We also enjoyed unlimited free flow of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the bars, including Coco Bar, Kashibo and Champagne Pavilion. Sipping cocktails and watching the sunset at Champagne Pavilion is a must when at Hurawalhi.
Many other activities are available such as Sunset Dolphin Cruise, Sandbank Visit, Snorkelling, Yoga session, Spa, Water sports plus other entertainment activities. We were lucky enough to spot many sea creatures like stingrays, blacktip reef sharks, parrotfishes, pufferfishes, lionfishes and many other creatures at this marine paradise.
One thing to mention is that Hurawalhi takes pride in a series of environmentally friendly undertakings. Approximately 30 per cent of the resort’s energy needs are met by renewable energy. The 4102.5 metre square of solar panels, which is approximately the size of 26 volleyball courts are well installed at the roofs of the team village, arrival jetty and the overwater bridge that leads to Kashibo and the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. Besides that, to ensure guests eat well at Hurawalhi, they also grow a variety of produce in its hydroponic greenhouse and open areas. It was truly a unique experience at Maldives. By exploring the two local resident island and resort private island, I got to enjoy the best of both worlds. I definitely will come back one day soon to meet my little friends at the underwater paradise.