We have just come back from a wonderful trip to the Maldives. A friend once asked why we have gone there so often, when there are more than 200 countries in the world. It is a very good question, which is hard to answer. Anyone who has been here before (unless you hate the beach and marine life) will probably understand just how amazing it is.
Here are some of my previous posts on the Maldives:
- Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
- Getting to a Maldivian resort
- Tips and information about travelling to the Maldives
- A little about the Anantara Dhigu, Maldives
- Or you can just load all the Maldives posts using this tag here.
So after gushing so many times about why we love the Maldives, I shall try not to gush again (too much) here.
This trip we returned to the Angsana Ihuru. We had previously snorkelled here 4 years ago (I think?) when we stayed at the sister and neighborhood resort of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. The Angsana Ihuru, not to be confused with the Angsana Velavaru, is touted to have one of the best house reefs in the Maldives (don’t take my word for it, google and see for yourself), and it was our “mistake” to have stayed at the Banyan Tree on our second trip to the Maldives (the first was to Club Med Kani, which in those days were pretty impressive in terms of marine life too, not sure about now), because in the subsequent resorts we tried, we have been quite sorely disappointed with the marine life. And I am not exaggerating!
If the coral reef is located too far away, chances are there won’t be many fish. Some resorts will have a house reef somewhere near the resort, and sometimes you need to take a boat out to snorkel, but usually kids below 8 are not allowed on snorkeling “excursions”. We are not the kind of people who need a kids club, jet skis, banana boats, a full day’s list of activities, or nightly entertainment. We are just there for the sun, the sea, the sand, and of course, lots and lots of fish. So to us, a very good house reef that is close to the resort is one of our top priorities.
Both the Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and have a “faru” topography, which means coral reef surrounding the island. Some of this reef starts a mere 10 meters from your villa doorstep! And this is one of the main reasons we chose to return here. One of our friends with us said she loved that she could be snorkelling, and look up to check on the kids playing at the beach. And we had access to the reef from our rooms 24/7.
Just from the jetties we saw black tip and nurse sharks (please see my previous post on how these sharks are not dangerous), triggerfish, squid, unicorn fish, needle fish, parrot fish, zebra fish, and a whole load of other fish. Snorkeling we spotted more fish, including puffers, gobies, clams, and Mittens saw a spotted eagle ray and was nipped by an over enthusiastic juvenile triggerfish. He was a little shaken, but he now has a pretty awesome story to tell for a while. I wouldn’t have minded spotting some turtles! But we did get to see baby Green Sea turtles at the Banyan Tree Marine Lab, as well as see a real nest (although it just looks like a bump in the sand). The baby turtles are kept until they’re older and their shell is harder, before they are released into the wild. They’ve only had this programme for around 5 years and already tracked some of their turtles to Australia!
One of the other highlights was also the sting ray feeding at the Banyan Tree, which happens every afternoon, and the greedy buggers, who are apparently even more intelligent than sharks, will congregate before feeding time every day for a bit of fish. It is an amazing site to see, and even more amazing to see them in the wild as opposed to an aquarium tank. We definitely learnt a lot from the marine lab.
As part of our package, each room was given 2 free night fishing trips (more like dusk rather than night), so all of the 9 boys went, from age 5 to 45 years old. They had a lot of fun, and I’m so happy that my boys caught at least 2-3 fish each, especially since they have been asking me to bring them fishing! I’m crap at prawning, so I’ve been trying to evade their requests. We had the fish for dinner and lunch the next day, grilled with just salt and pepper.
We spent most of our time snorkeling or playing at the beach, kayaking, and hanging out with cousins. I’m thankful that we had such wonderful blistering weather that I didn’t need to figure out how to work the TV, although I did come prepared with some wet weather entertainment. We came in a group of 18 people, so there were always kids around to play with, and babysitters when we needed.
The villas here are not the most luxurious, but they are very comfortable, and one of the few resorts that I know of that can accommodate a maximum of 4 people, and didn’t mind that we squeezed in 5 in ours (since 3 are little people). There are only 45 villas so it is very cosy and intimate, unlike the mass hysteria that you get at larger resorts, which we now prefer to avoid. The island is only something like 600metres in circumference (our friend jogged and logged that), so it’s easy to get around.
- We went on a half board plan which includes breakfast and dinner, because usually the oldies like myself don’t have the metabolism for 3 big meals, and we would just order food for the kids.
- There is no swimming pool, but who needs one when you have the vast Indian Ocean to swim in?
- There is no kids club, but I prefer the kids spend more time with us and Mother Nature anyhow.
- Tap water is potable after boiling so you don’t have to pay or lug a week’s worth of water over.
- The breakfast spread is limited, but pretty good quality. We liked the buffet dinners (and their curries!) better than the a la carte menu.
- We usually visit from May, as prices drop from 1 May for the start of the low season, but since Mittens is now in primary school, we came in June and had only days of blistering heat and no rain. Do note though that the weather is unpredictable and some rain in low seasons should be expected.
- Snorkeling equipment is free for rental.
- We often book with agents instead of with the resorts direct because they often get better package deals which include the transfer, promotions (pay 3 stay 4, or spa promotions), and meal options. All 18 of us booked with Holiday Tours, whom I received great service and promotions from for this trip. This is not a sponsored post!
Undoubtedly, this resort would be the one resort that I would recommend to anyone, well this and the Banyan Tree. I would of course love to visit more resorts to have a good range of comparison, but it has been our favorite so far. After 5 full days at the resort, we were still reluctant to leave.