Tag Archives: Maldives

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Makunudu Island Paradise, Maldives

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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.

Speedboat from Male to Makunudu Island

Speedboat from Male to Makunudu Island

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.

The Makunudu Island Express - Makunudu Island Paradise

The Makunudu Island Express

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).

Makunudu Island Paradise

Arrival at Makunudu island – Welcome to Paradise

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.

Makunudu Island Paradise

Makunudu Island Paradise – Sunset from bungalow

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.

The Maldives - Makunundu


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

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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.

Makunudu Island Paradise - The Sand Bar - Aptly Named

Makunudu Island – The Sand Bar – Aptly named

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.

Makunudu Island Paradise

Careful! That’s a viciously sharp piece of pineapple…

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).

Makunudu Island Paradise

Bodu Beru – Sounds more exciting than it looks

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.

Makunudu Island Paradise - Relaxing on the veranda

Makunudu Island Paradise- Relaxing on the veranda

Check out our unforgettable Sandbank Affaire.

If you enjoyed Makunudu Island Paradise, check out some other Short Breaks & City Stops. You may also like:


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Maldives Under the Reef

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Your first underwater experience of the Maldives is likely to be your local house reef. All the islands have their own unique house reefs, and Makunudu is no exception. For many people, this is all you actually need. Just put on a mask and step into the shallows. You don’t have to go further than a few yards to enjoy this other world under water.

Immediately you are greeted with colorful corals and an abundance of small vibrant tropical fish. Typical are the ubiquitous Powder Blue SurgeonSaddleback Butterfly fish and Oriental Reeftips, lazily feeding on the coral polyps.

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under the reef 6
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under the reef 9
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Slip on some fins in the shallows, then head out a little further. As the water gradually deepens, you get to see larger, more graceful coral formations and shoals of small fish.

Of course you need to avoid touching the coral. Apart from everything else, the coral is the natural habitat for many small fish. You can even see how defensive the little fish become when you get too close (see video below). You can also get some nasty cuts from some types of coral.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Shallow Coral Formations

Maldives Under the Reef

As you gently paddle out to the reef edge, normally 20 or 30 meters from the beach, the colors start to change. Instead of the brightly-lit tones of the shallows, you begin to see the darker blue shades of the deep, stretching down to the much darker depths of the reef wall.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Blue Surgeon Fish

The reef edge is usually a great place for spotting the larger species. With a little patience, you can encounter Turtles and some of the smaller Blacktip or Whitetip Reef Sharks.

At Makunudu, they actually feed their community of sharks in the evenings from the end of the jetty.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Saddleback Butterfly Fish

If you’re spending several days or longer on your island, you will quickly become familiar with the layout and landmarks of your underwater environment. You can then quickly navigate to places of interest at different times.

The same hideouts may be regularly inhabited by different species at different times of the day/evening.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef Landmarks

Manta Point

From the Makunudu Island Resort there are four organized snorkeling trips each week. These are morning trips by dhoni to nearby ‘thilas’ (underwater reefs). We were told there was a good chance of spotting Manta Rays, so we didn’t need any more encouragement to join the trip.

We boarded the dhoni with about a dozen other keen snorkelers, and headed off into the blue. We were accompanied by 2 Maldivian divers who knew exactly where to moor the boat and lead our group. Even before we got into the water, we could see 2 Manta Rays passing by close to our dhoni, occasionally breaking the surface.

Maldives Under the Reef

Snorkeler’s Day Out

The reef we were visiting wasn’t visible from the surface – we just appeared to be somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Once we got into the water, however, we could see clearly the undulating form of the coral. In some areas it was quite shallow, and the visibility was very good.

I had my camera ready, and was hoping for some decent footage.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Parrot fish

With such a large group of people, I wanted to maintain a distance from the others while keeping an eye on the Maldivian group leader. The excitement level rose a few degrees when the first manta ray came into sight. It seemed curious, almost playful, as it gracefully glided in close to take a good look at us.

Then, like a stealth bomber, it drifted past only to turn again for a second pass.

Around the same time I noticed some commotion out of the corner of my eye, and turned to see our Maldivian Guide in determined pursuit of a large turtle. When he actually tried to grab it, the startled turtle suddenly switched gear, deftly evading his pursuer and the other snorkelers.

Lucky for me, he headed in my direction. I managed to get some decent images before the turtle had enough and slipped away through the rocks.

Maldives Under the Reef

Post-snorkel: Wet and Happy

All the excitement attracted a White tip shark, but he didn’t hang around for the photo shoot. In all, we spent an hour or so in the water, though it felt more like 10 minutes. It was a great way to start the day. On the boat trip back we drank water and dried off in the sun.

This is really what the Maldives is all about.

If you enjoyed Maldives Under the Reef, check out our other Asian Short Breaks. You may also like:

Maldives Under the Reef
Maldives: Under the Reef


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Sandbank Affaire
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Maldives Under the Reef
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