Kuramathi is one of the oldest resorts in the Maldives and also one of the largest. It has a capacity of over 600 guests on an island almost 2 kilometres long. There are various restaurants, villas, bars, and cafes. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a day and a night there, so here’s a few of my observations.
I arrived to Kuramathi from Hulhumale on the resort’s own boat, which is used mostly by employees and those few guests who don’t feel like paying $280 for a plane ticket or want to enjoy riding the waves at high speed. The boat journey took about an hour and fifteen minutes. I tried to take a nap on the boat like everyone else but I found that difficult due to the bumpy ride. Next time I would recommend taking one of the rear seats, which don’t jolt around quite as much, though on the flip side that puts you closer to the three roaring engines. I was given a small, moist, mint-scented towel and some chilled water when I came aboard, which was a pleasant refreshment in the hot weather.
Upon arriving in the Kuramathi resort we were greeted by a group of employees, who smiled and showed us to the reception. In most resorts you get a glass of chilled juice and this was no exception. I just love this refreshment you get when you arrive.
Since I had a meeting arranged with the chef, he came to welcome me personally and he had someone drive me to the villa that I would have all to myself for the night. It would house two and was very spacious and simply designed. It had a beautiful bathroom with a shower, and outside there was a small jacuzzi for two. The bed was far too comfortable for only sleeping until 5 AM, as I would. There was also a couch, a refrigerator, a television, and a stereo. Outside there was a porch with two recliners and a large couch. A path led from the villa to a beach with more recliners.
At noon I went to the reception, where I met Michel, a well-traveled and experienced French chef who’s been working at the resort for 10 years now. We rode around the island on a motorcycle, and he showed me everything the island has to offer, what goes on where, and what food there is to be had (about 11 restaurants in total).
Then we made our way to the Palm restaurant, which offers various kinds of pasta, salad, and pizza for lunch. I had mozzarella with tomatoes wrapped in Parma ham with basil pesto and locally-grown salad for starters; an excellent combination. I know what I’m going to make for myself at home. For the main course I had spinach ravioli and a taste of homemade milk, sugar, and raspberry sorbet for dessert. I highly recommend it, it was just unreal.
I spent the afternoon lounging around on the beach to digest my food in peace and get a bit of a tan. There aren’t that many opportunities for sunbathing in Male unless you spend your only day off riding around on a boat and snorkeling or lying by a hotel’s pool at $22 per hour. Finally, since I didn’t have any snorkeling equipment with me, I went to the pool, which was pretty much right next to the beach, and spent about two hours there, from 3 PM. to 5 PM. In the evening my face was as red as a poppy. That’s with an SPF 50 sunscreen on, mind you. I have no idea what went wrong. But the pool with its whirlpool and the local birds joining in the bathing was a great experience.
Later, I went on a trip around the Kuramathi island to take some pictures and videos and watch the sunset, which was truly gorgeous, though I have to add it hardly ever isn’t at the seaside. The middle of the island is covered in some genuine jungle untouched by people, full of palm trees, bushes, flowers, and giving off the most wonderful, permeating scent. Walking barefoot along the path that circles the island is a joyous experience, even more so if you live in Male, which is all concrete buildings and scooters. The island is almost two kilometres long, so you don’t have to worry about meeting other resort guests. I hardly saw any – only a few exhausted individuals on their way from the beach to their villas.
I had a bit of trouble taking the pictures since all of my lenses had fogged up. So if you’re taking a camera with you, better leave it in the outside bathroom. Otherwise your pictures are going to be a bit foggy for the next half hour or so. Then the inside lens fogged up as well, and I had to wait for it to clear up.
For dinner, we went to a Thai restaurant that happened to be having a buffet. The chef prepared a Thai soup for me (the name of which escapes me) from whatever I chose from a wide variety of ingredients. Though truth be told I’m not entirely certain what it was I had him put in it. The only things I recognised were noodles and shrimp.
A word of warning for those wanting to order their food in Thai. The word for noodles also has about five other meanings that are distinguished by intonation. If you’re not careful, you could order dog or banana soup instead of shrimp. Luckily that wasn’t the case for me, but I’ve heard stories.
Then I had a few appetizers, such as spring rolls, more shrimp, coconut pancakes, and some kind of seafood wrapped in dough and fried. There was a lot to choose from for the main course. I fell in love with Pad Thai Gai here, so that was a clear choice for me, and after about 4 months I also had some peppered pork! Finally! Then I had a little taste of duck with pineapple and beef with beans and shrimp with a vegetable mix. Finally a bit of fruit, guava ice cream, and cookies.
To finish off the evening, Michel and I went to the beach bar, where I washed it all down with Corona. We talked about his travels in Asia, and during our conversation it became fairly clear to me that I would very much like to see Asia in this way as well. Now I’m just waiting for a list of places that are really worth it. For example, at the northern border of Laos there’s supposedly an area that resembles the lunar landscape more than anything due to all the bombs that were dropped there during the wars. It sounds unbelievable.
While we were talking, a live band played some dance music hits, such as Happy, David Guetta, and such. I found that funny.
I stumbled into my room around 11 PM and found that the jacuzzi had finally managed to heat up to the 40 degrees I set it to three hours ago, which I found a little too hot after all when I slumped in. I got used to it after a while, but I still couldn’t stand it for more than 20 minutes or so. So consider yourselves warned, 36 – 37 degrees Celsius is more than enough.
After midnight I put on a light bathrobe and ran to the beach one last time to try taking some pictures of the stars and play around with the camera some more. It would have been great to have a tripod, but getting one in Male is all but impossible. The brands they have in stock are weird, I couldn’t find one that would fit my camera, and they’re overpriced too. I’ll just open a bank account and order some equipment from the US sometime in the week. Even with the taxes and shipping costs it’s still going to be cheaper than buying it here. It’s just the one- or two-hour queues at the bank that terrify me, and I keep putting off opening that bank account because of them. I really have to do it, though.
At about half past one in the morning I was in bed sleeping like a baby to the sound of waves crashing on the beach. What a difference compared to the hum of air conditioning units and the buzzing of scooters in the street. What a shame I had to get up at 5 AM, even though the breakfast made the morning a little more bearable. A wide variety of pastry to choose from, and after four months I could finally sink my teeth into some proper bread with salami! At 6 AM I was on the boat again, watching the beautiful sunrise on my way back to Male. I hope to visit Kuramathi again sometime soon.