Flying direct from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Male, Maldives; taking just over an hour. The airport was small, hectic and you instantly got a tropical feeling from the place. The airport is based on Male the Capital of the Maldives, The Island is 1.7km long and 1.0km wide but with over 100,000 people crammed onto it, measured as the densest city in the world.
Located in the Indian Ocean; consisting of 1,192 coral islands, grouped in a double chain of twenty six atolls. Maldives has bounced back in recent years after being affected by the 2004 tsunami and serious coral bleaching. Life here is stripped right back to simplicity – bright blue skies, white sands, all year sunshine and fantastic snorkelling in bath temperature lagoons.
Most people have pre-arranged accommodation with transfers included, as we did. But there are ferries at the public dock leaving frequently for the city and islands. Most transfers are via sea plane or speedboat. We travelled via a small, speedboat as it only took about 50 minutes along with four other people to our island located in the North Male Atoll for a week’s stay. This was so exhilarating the surf was huge; the boat was flying and the views of passing islands were just idyllic. The excitement of watching the jumping fish racing with the boat through the turquoise shores was a great start to any holiday.
Weather on arrival was slightly overcast but still warm, we were aware July was the wet season, but this didn’t put us off as it remains tropically blissful all year round with an average temperature of 28 degrees, similar the water temperature stays around the 28 degrees mark too. Fabulous!
Approaching the jetty of ‘Meeru Island’ was surreal, the island was silent and calm, the boat slowly moved in through the beautiful, tranquil lagoon. Facing long stretches of white sandy beach, we were welcomed with a pretty cocktail and escorted in to the reception area to meet the hosts of the island. Luggage was taken care of for us and we didn’t see it till we arrived in our room.
They enlightened us where everything was and if we needed anything to just ring reception from the phone in our room. We were informed on arrival our room which we had booked (Jacuzzi land beach villa) was double booked and they were going to upgrade us for one night to a water villa, which we thought, great nice to see the other room and it would be rude to refuse a free upgrade! They also gave us a free visit and discount on spa products. We arrived and opened the door and it was amazing looking straight out over the horizon with steps down directly into the ocean. But then all of a sudden we heard a terrible bashing noise and realised they were refurbishing the hut next door, No Thank you upgrade or not! We called reception to complain, that we weren’t happy and suddenly our original room we had booked was now available! Weird but we were very happy regardless; they moved us with no hassle.
We opened our door to our ‘Jacuzzi land villa’ and it was breath taking, a lot more spacious than the water villa we’d previously seen. A sofa to the left with a coffee table, looking out of double, patio doors straight on to the white beach. Outside in the front was a wooden decking and two sun loungers just for us. It had a big four poster bed with fresh flowers, flat screen TV, DVD player, CD player. Walk in wardrobes, big dressing area, it was beautiful! Our bathroom was exceptional, it was a cube with one wall missing so it was open air, all the fixtures and fitting were like brand new. Was wonderful having a shower under the stars. We also had a lovely garden area full of tropical plants, Jacuzzi and a shaded wooden double sun lounger in the garden. We had a few problems getting our Jacuzzi to fill up first time, but one call to maintenance and it was fixed straight away. Impressive!
We stayed at Meeru on an all-inclusive basis which I highly recommend as it will cost a fortune otherwise. The mini bar in your room was an example of the prices you’d be paying constantly if you weren’t all inclusive. A can of coke was 5 USD about £2.50; every think has to be imported so you definitely save by going all inclusive. I asked how much it would be to call UK as you get no mobile network availability and I still to this day can’t believe how much it was, so I recommend not using the island phone. It was 25 USD for one minute!
You could not fault the food or drink included it was delicious. The dining room had a sand floor, with a perfect island feel and a thatched roof. There were two all you can eat buffet restaurants both serving the same menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner either ends of the island. Food was the best I have ever had at an all-inclusive hotel, there was live cooking stations cooking food to order, fresh bread, desserts and tropical fruits. Waiters were very quick keeping your drinks topped up too. Dress code was relaxed, barefoot chic. There were also two a la carte restaurants which cost extra, ‘Asian Wok’ and ‘The Hot Rock’, We got chance to visit the ‘Asian Wok’ one night, eating in the over water restaurant watching the sunset, it was located on the southern end of the island and had a special romantic atmosphere about it, the service and food were excellent. We both had tappanyaki dishes which were delicious. The other restaurant was a floating restaurant near the pool deck area, but unfortunately this sank in the night due to a storm whilst we were there, Scary hey!
We were situated on the west side of the island, this was the side which the wind hit and the beach had more weeds on during the morning. During the third night we were woken by fierce, howling winds and hard, driving rain against the windows the weather sounded vicious. I really did believe we were in a hurricane. The next morning we woke to destruction on this beautiful island, the floating restaurant had sunk; the roof had blown off the honeymoon suite. There had been a terrible storm cutting all electric on the island and flooding parts. If you had a choice the east side of the island would be perfect, as the sea was so calm and no breeze most days.
During the days relaxing or snorkelling were the highlights. Snorkelling at designated sights was incredible, lots of sharks and rays although very scary at first sight. They were only small so do not worry! You could walk around the island in fifteen minutes so choosing where to snorkel wasn’t difficult. Although on the ends of the islands the currents were very strong and water got deep very quickly. There was a dive club, which seemed very popular but due to the amount of sharks just whilst you were snorkelling I didn’t really fancy taking a dive! Ha ha. An interesting fact was that there had been no shark attacks since 1976, but this wasn’t enough for me. I was out snorkelling alone one afternoon and getting a little more confident in the waters, being about 500 metres from the shore looking down when I saw this gigantic ripple from the sea bed which disturbed the sand. I stayed where I was and looked closer for a few moments more. I had the fright of my life to discover the outline of three huge manta rays; they really were about 3 metres long and about 2 wide. I am aware they are meant to be incredibly peaceful creatures and pose no threat to humans, but I wasn’t hanging around to find out! I had seen enough.
There was also a golf driving range and two tennis courts. We had a game of tennis one afternoon which was 8 usd to hire the balls and rackets, great fun! There was a full, size football pitch in the centre of the island; which amused me and my husband promised he knew nothing about it being there, they held games with locals and tourists.
I would highly recommend Meeru Island to anyone after a luxurious, secluded, relaxing break in a beautiful environment, as that is exactly what you get… Bliss!