HomeBlogIs the Maldives family friendly? Nathan puts the islands to the ultimate test…
Is the Maldives family friendly? Nathan puts the islands to the ultimate test…
23.01.15 | Nathan Collins
When I suggested to my wife that it might be time for our first holiday as a family, I saw her face light up with excitement. I then gave the news that I was thinking we should go to the Maldives, which is a place we had always dreamed of travelling to! The look on her face changed to more a look of, “Are you crazy?”
For this trip I wanted to try and push the boundaries of the more ‘traditional’ first family holiday and was fascinated to explore whether our passion for exotic holidays could still continue now we have Harry, who has just turned one.
I started my research, as I do for every client, to see which island would suit us best, what facilities they would offer us as a family and how the travel would work for us. I looked into everything with meticulous detail as I do with every holiday I design. I noted that some potential flights travelled through the night, which could help with Harry’s sleep pattern. I then noticed that the Maldives offered some of the best family facilities anywhere in the world. I could now start to convince my wife that this may be possible!
I opted to visit three different islands and was fascinated to find that each island offered a different feel, very much like in the Caribbean. Internal travel within the Maldives can be expensive, so you don’t have to island hop, but I would recommend experiencing two different islands to give you some diversity.
Our first point of call was the Four Seasons Landaa Giraravu in the beautiful Baa Atoll. We travelled by seaplane for the 40 minute journey and I was immediately hit by the natural beauty and isolated feel to the resort. Landaa Giraravu is a larger island, but still only offering 102 spacious villas. The little touches for families here were superb. On arrival we were met by the head chef who discussed Harry’s dietary needs and checked his food preferences, so he could prepare some of his favourite dishes. Food was a major concern for us, but the team at Landaa made it extremely easy. Breakfast was prepared every day in the main dining room, using the milk and items we specified and then Harry enjoyed lunch and dinner in our villa. All we had to do was give 30 minutes’ notice and decide on the dish and it was sent to our room on a complimentary basis for all under-twos.
All of the facilities you require when travelling with a baby were on offer at Landaa. Things like sterilisers and nappies were provided in your room, along with a selection of toys for Harry to enjoy.
We opted for the resorts lead in accommodation, which was a beach villa with private pool. The resorts in the Maldives do not suggest that families with small children stay in water villas, which the Maldives are famous for, but we were extremely pleased with our choice of beach villa. It gave us the privacy we required in the day and also allowed us to enjoy the sun while Harry took his daytime sleeps, safe in the knowledge we were only a few feet away from his cot.
During our three-night stay we enjoyed many different experiences. One of the main attractions at Landaa Girarvaru is the island’s marine discovery centre which entertains adults and children of all ages. It is the base for pioneering research on manta rays and coral reefscaping, leading to knowledge that will help preserve these at-risk species.The marine discovery centre’s dedicated children’s section allows little ones to immerse themselves in fun displays and a range of activities, including helping the marine biologists transplant coral frames, visiting the Fish Lab, and learning to snorkel in the Coral Garden amongst the work of the reefscapers. A large touch tank offers opportunities to interact with a number of species including sea turtles.
But the highlight of our stay was a magical sunset trip on a traditional Maldivian dhoni fishing boat, which allowed us the chance to spend a few hours out on the ocean watching one of the most amazing sunsets you could ever wish to see, accompanied with some very tasty canapés!
It was now time for our adventure to continue and on to our next island, so we took to the skies again by seaplane, on the 35-minute journey to North Male Atoll to stay at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. The seaplane journeys are very special. They give you the chance to really appreciate the beauty of the Maldives as you fly at low level over the stunning islands. Yes, they are very hot and noisy, but where else in the world can you land on water just metres away from your tropical desert island? For those keen photographers amongst you, the photo opportunities from the seaplanes are extra special!
On our arrival we were greeted with a warm Maldivian welcome by Randy and his team and given the most delicious coconut punch which really quenched our thirst after our journey. The service that we had become accustomed to following at stay at our previous resort continued at Kuda Huraa. The team immediately knew Harry’s name and he was given another little gift to welcome him to the island. We were then whisked off by buggy on a little tour of the island before settling in to our accommodation.
Kuda Huraa was a smaller island in comparison to Landaa and had a charming intimate village feel to it, but still with fabulous facilities and 96 villas and suites. We opted for a sunrise beach bungalow with pool and even though our room was a little smaller than at Landaa, it was extremely well appointed with plenty of outdoor space and steps away from the soft white sandy beach. The new luxurious bathrooms with outdoor shower were very special. Harry was again looked after well and was provided with a personal laminated menu and had the lovely touch of his very own toiletry set for use at bath time!
During our three-night stay we enjoyed some more lovely family experiences. With the Maldives being surrounded by water a lot of the activities are based around marine life which is great for children’s development, especially for us here in the UK. We went out on a dolphin cruise on one of the Four Seasons boats and even though Harry was too young to appreciate what we were looking for he seemed to enjoy it all the same. We also attended fish feeding sessions on the jetty which were really fun.
Even though this holiday was very much about Harry, one of our favourite experiences at Kuda Huraa was the island spa. It was a very unique spa built on a separate island, reached in a few minutes by Maldivian dhoni. It was a really great way to start a little bit of ‘me time’ that we all deserve. Treatments were taken in one of seven over water pavilions with views out across the Indian Ocean, which made for a very relaxing experience and we left feeling rejuvenated.
It was now time to move on to our final island, so this time we transferred by speed boat on the 40-minute journey to Per Aquum’s Huvafen Fushi, which was again located in the North Male Atoll. The speedboat transfer was the first of our trip and gave us chance to see the islands from a different perspective as we sped through the waters on our way to Huvafen Fushi.
I personally fell in love with Huvafen Fushi from the moment I arrived. The translation of Huvafen Fushi means ‘Dream Island’ and this was certainly the case for me. The island was our smallest yet, with only 43 rooms, but it had a wonderful style, which could only be best described as designer chic. It a had a very laidback rustic feel, but offered some fabulous choices of accommodation, personal butler service and the most amazing house reef that I came across during my time in the Maldives. My personal favourite accommodation was the Ocean Bungalow with pool. There are only 12 of them, but they really have the ‘wow’ factor at 160 sqm in space, and the state of the art living room is fitted with glass floors, so you can sit and view the pristine waters passing under your bungalow – a really great touch!
If you love snorkelling or just wish to give it a try then look no further than the Maldives – it is by far the best place in the world that I snorkelled. All of the islands I visited during my trip offered interesting reefs and an abundance of species, but the house reef, which was located just metres from the shoreline at Huvafen, was just out of this world. The variety and sheer number of fish was jaw dropping. Reef sharks swam under me (they are perfectly safe to swim with!) and schools of fish just circled around me and my hour away from my family passed away in a blink of an eye.
I wouldn’t suggest Huvafen was quite as well suited for families as the previous two resorts I visited, but it’s not their main target market. They were still extremely accommodating with Harry and had an enjoyable activity programme – the highlight for us was stingray feeding time. Every evening at 5pm a number a stingray come to shore and entertain the guests as they get fed by the resorts marine biologist who explains all about these fascinating creatures. Harry wasn’t sure quite what to make of them, but hopefully it will be an experience we can look back on as a family in years to come.
The Maldives are an extremely unique part of the world and a place that really needs to be seen to appreciate the natural beauty. A lot of clients say to me what would I do? Would I get bored? But as long as you enjoy the sand and the sea and that little bit of down time, then there will be plenty to keep the majority of us entertained. There is a lot to consider when planning a trip to the Maldives, especially as a family, but for the many couples that travel too. There are so many islands to choose from, all varying in size and all offering different facilities – it is very difficult to know where to start. Hopefully that’s where the advice of a good travel professional will come in.
Our holiday was filled with lots of lasting memories and lots of first-time experiences as new parents. It was very daunting at times, especially considering all the extra items we had to travel with, but I can definitely say with some careful planning and good advice, young families who enjoy travelling can still very much enjoy visiting exotic parts of globe.
Maldives fact box
With 1,190 coral islands spread across 100,000 square kilometres (38,610 square miles), the Maldives is a sprawling archipelago of pristine tropical beauty.
Flying time: approx 10 hrs 30 mins direct from London or indirect from regional airports including Birmingham via Dubai.
Best time to visit: December through to April. Even though temperatures are constant all year round, the wetter season is from May to November, with the highest rainfall expected in May and June.
Example cost: seven nights at 5-star Huvafen Fushi or 5-star Four Seasons Kuda Huraa inclusive of flights and transfers from £2,760 per person based on two sharing in low season. Children’s price available on request. Lower-priced accommodation also available, do ask for details.
Currency: rufiyah, which is linked to the US$. Most islands and local shops except US$, so this would be our suggestion to take with you.
Time difference: GMT + 5 hours, but some of islands operate an hour ahead to make most of daylight hours.
Must do: snorkelling in one of the island’s house reefs to appreciate the natural beauty of the marine life. Or for those who prefer to keep their heads above water, a private sunset trip on a Maldivian dhoni was an extra special experience.