Travelling with Emirates from Europe to Makunudu Island, we had an initial stop in Cyprus. We then had another stop in Dubai for our connecting flight to Male – The Maldives capital.
We had a couple of hours to kill in Dubai, so spent most of it queuing up to spend a penny in a toilet not big enough to swing a cat. We were dying for a pee after overdoing it a bit on Emirates courtesy booze. We would be returning to Dubai for a proper visit at the end of our trip.
We arrived at Male around 8 am local time. The small airport arrival area was calm and organized. After the small group destined for our island were gathered together (just the two of us with a Japanese couple and their child), we headed for the jetty.
Our speed boat was prepped and waiting. We took our seats, donned our life jackets, and enjoyed the 55-minute ride through the islands of the North Male’ Atoll.
Arrival at Makunudu Island
As our boat arrived at the wooden jetty, we were warmly greeted by our hosts. We then walked along the jetty through to the reception area where we enjoyed a welcome cocktail. Before showing us to our accommodation, our host gave us a full briefing on the island, events and facilities.
We also set our watches to Makunudu’s unique “Time Zone” (around an hour or so ahead of Male).
It was now around 11 am local time and we hadn’t slept for 22 hours: Too busy playing Tetris on Emirates – We were both cream-crackered… but sleep’s for wimps, right? The warm air, dazzling blue of the sea and sky, and the effects of the cocktail did a lot to revive us.
We were not going to hit the sack anytime soon.
The Makunudu Island Resort is a miniature island paradise, six acres in all, hosting just 36 unique bungalows. We were given a great location on the south-western side of the island, with our own stretch of beach and garden area. We were looking forward to some spectacular sunsets.
All of the bungalows blend into the lush environment in perfect harmony, providing peace and privacy. Each has an attached bathroom in a refreshing open-area garden, equipped with hot and cold desalinated water.
Concessions to the modern age include a mini bar, personal safe, and telephone. For the rest, it’s pure nature with a fresh breeze wafting from the sea and the gentle swaying of coconut palms.
Waiting for us in our bungalow was a complimentary bottle of wine and a sumptuous bowl of tropical fruit. Our introduction to Makunudu all felt rather special.
The first thing we wanted to do was to get into that azure, crystal-clear water. Actually, the very first thing we wanted to do was shower and apply heavy doses of sunblock. Coming straight from a cold and wet northern climate, we were prime candidates for a nasty case of sunburn, and we had little time to acclimatize.
We also needed to plan our limited stay on Makunudu island – 3 days goes real fast in a place like this. The first item on our agenda was to get hold of the complimentary snorkeling gear and check out our house reef.
Around the Island
Just a few meters in front of our bungalow, we donned our masks and fins in the shallows, then headed out to the reef drop-off: about 80 meters out. The visibility underwater was the best I’ve seen anywhere, as were the number and variety of tropical fish.
The area around Makunudu was hit badly in the tsunami of 2004, and there has been damage to the reefs. 10 years later however, the reefs are recovering and the marine life seems to be as active as ever.
After a few hours swimming around the reef, we tidied up and wandered over to the Reception area. There we enjoyed some afternoon tea, which is served every day in the Sand Bar around 4 pm. We then signed up for the Night Fishing, leaving the jetty at 6 pm and returning (hopefully with some fish) around 8 pm.
It was one of the larger traditional dhonis that picked us up from the jetty for our fishing expedition. Around 10 other guests joined us for this treat. When we reached the fishing area, we were all given individual hooks and bait. Once our lines were in the water, it was a waiting game to see who got the first catch.
We caught precisely zilch, while everyone else were reeling them in. I put this down to our advanced state of fatigue, certainly not a lack of angling skills 😉
While the other lucky punters managed to pull in some smaller fish, we enjoyed just being on the boat at sunset (despite getting no bites on our lines).
It was dark when we got back to the island, and we were looking forward to dinner before crashing out in our bungalow to get some truly welcome sleep (the bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in). The dinner, by the way, was an excellent high-quality affair with impeccable service from Ibrahim, our waiter. Wine and alcoholic drinks are charged separately.
Our second day was mainly devoted to more snorkeling around the island reef. We packed a camera in a watertight sleeve and took underwater pictures and film. We also enjoyed more quality food starting with breakfast in the restaurant, and ending with a barbecue on the beach.
This was followed by entertainment in the Sand Bar.
Once a week the staff get dressed up and perform traditional bodu beru music and dancing. We joined in, as did some other guests who had also been enjoying the ‘refreshments’ (everything is free until you leave… and yes, our booze bill was going to sting).
The following day we joined the popular weekly snorkeling trip. This was to a reef about 40 minutes boat-ride away from Makunudu. Here we spent an hour or so in the water, snorkeling with turtles and manta rays.
In the evening we asked the management to arrange a Sandbank Affaire for us. This was our final evening, so we would spend it far out in the ocean on a lonely sandbank. We would be accompanied by just our waiter Ibrahim and a chef, who would serve us a special steak and lobster meal.
Check out our unforgettable Sandbank Affaire.
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