The Maldives: a bucket list trip

After the last two years of no travel and some tough personal times, I decided it was time for a very special holiday. So this grey January, I took a dream trip to the Maldives; an incredible tropical paradise…

Where I stayed…

The Hotel Rui Atoll is situated on the Dhaalu Atoll on the exclusive private island of Maafushi, which is about 200km from the main island of Male (where the international airport island is). You reach the hotel via a 35 mins domestic flight, then a short bus ride to a boat, which takes you to your final destination in about 30 mins. There is some waiting around during the transfer, but the TUI rep was always present and explained what was happening throughout.

After check-in and a resort tour, it was time to see the room – a water bungalow overlooking the sea. You can watch my room tour on my Instagram Maldives Highlight.

What I did…

Being surrounded by the ocean, it shouldn’t surprise you that water sports are big here. There are a number that are inclusive, such as snorkeling and kayaking and then bigger excursions are available at extra cost. If you hire the snorkels, then you are limited to a certain area so I bought a set in the shop which meant I could go wherever, including outside the water bungalow and around the house reef on the resort. I also did a boat trip further out for snorkeling, but unfortunately I got a bit sea sick and grazed my leg on some coral so it wasn’t my finest hour. But, I did do another trip which was out my first time on jet ski! This was so much fun and the guide took us to an uninhabited island, which was cool to see.

Getting ready to snorkel outside the water bungalow

If you prefer to stay on the resort, around the main pool through the day there are lots of activities; from bowling, volleyball or bingo which were fun to take part in. I especially liked the dance aerobics class in the sea and the swim-up pool bar!

In the evenings, there was always something on in the main bar area, half of which was under cover and the other tables were all outside on the sand, surrounded by palm tress, under the stars! You can keep track of all the entertainment via the app or on the board in the buffet restaurant. There was an interactive quiz, karaoke, a live band and even a cinema night with popcorn. Later on there was a DJ and weekly there is a ‘White Party’ disco.

If you want something a little quieter, there is a Sports Bar with pool tables and seats outside, or you can enjoy the outdoor space with your room. For me, this was the decking looking out onto the sea, which was just so peaceful.

I managed to fit in not 1 but 4 spa treatments at the outstanding Renova Spa on site. Honestly, every single treatments I had here was excellent – some of the best I’ve ever had. I started off with a full Body Scrub so my skin was prepped for tanning! Then I had a Luminous Skin facial which left my skin smooth and glowing. They have such a wide range of massages, with traditional Oriental style being their specialty. For my final treatment, I was a little sunburnt, so they were really flexible and created a package for me that included an After Sun body treatment, a Flash Facial and then a Head Massage.

What I ate…

As a vegan, I’m always a little wary of a buffet and as this was only my second all-inclusive holiday, I wasn’t too experienced in terms of what to expect, either!

The main restaurant ‘Dhoni’ serves international buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staff were helpful and the Restaurant Manager introduced me to the chefs who were happy to alter dishes or cook something fresh. Overall, the food quality was great and there was lots available. If you have dietary restrictions, then your choice may be a little more limited. I did start to miss some sort of meat substitute like tofu or seitan and having some dairy free alternatives, but it was no problem for 10 days.

My breakfast was usually cereal with soya milk, fresh juice, watermelon and some bread with peanut butter. For lunch, there was also a big range of salads so I’d have that with some fries, bread or rice, depending what was on that day. At dinner, there was always at least a couple of vegan curries, some Chinese dishes and pasta along with around 5 or 6 vegetable side dishes. They would also make a fresh pizza without cheese on request.

The best meal I had there was in one of the two resort restaurants. At Sofia, they serve Italian cuisine and usually you choose a starter and dessert from the buffet and then choose a main from the menu. I let them know of my requirements via the app when I booked and they couldn’t have been more helpful. They prepared a fresh salad with focaccia to start and then a fresh pasta dish with olive oil, garlic and mushrooms, followed by a fruit salad.

What I wore…

Enjoying the warm Indian ocean

Maldives sits in the Tropical temperate zone, which means it’s a pretty constant temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius year-round. So, the main things I wore, were very little!

Obviously, you need lots of swimwear; I took a swimsuit and 3 bikinis for the 10 days, which I think was the right amount. I’d say a suit is good for snorkeling and water sports and if you’re going to go to the spa a few times, keep a bikini for that (mine got some mud body wrap on it!) Which then left me two bikinis for sunbathing, the beach and the pool. I only took one beach cover-up which I found fine as for breakfast and lunch I’d usually throw on some comfy shorts or a cotton dress.

The dress code at the hotel is casual. For dinner, it’s no sleeveless shirts at the restaurants, but otherwise, pretty much anything else goes. You can absolutely dress up and wear heels, but you’d also be completely fine in a shift dress and flip flops.

I packed a few cotton day dresses that I wore in the evening and then re-wore in the days. Along with two pairs of shorts and a lots of loose tees. I took a different dress for each evening, which might have been too many, but that’s just me! I didn’t take any heels though, just two pairs of flat sandals and two pairs of flip flops.

What I thought…

Honestly, it was just a complete dream come true. The warm sea, the sunshine, the snorkeling, the pina coladas, the white sands: just incredible.

Would I go back? In a heartbeat.

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