Wander-full Destination Holiday
When I started working out I said to myself that if I trained three times a week for at least three months, I’d treat myself to an island holiday.
I purposely decided to work with a personal trainer because I needed some guidance when lifting weights. In my mind I figured that one month should be enough, after which I’d know what to do in the gym by myself. Five months later I was still going at it quite diligently. I suddenly realised that I owed myself a holiday!
The destination search started. I was looking for an island with white beaches and clear waters, somewhere I’d be comfortable travelling solo (not feel awkward not being in a couple), and not need to be shy walking around in a swimsuit. I must have googled for about two weeks when I realised that my birthday was less than a week away. The next day I called a travel agent and I said: ‘Get me to an island in the Maldives for my birthday!’.
That call took place on a Friday.
With a small list of preferences, she came back to me several times that day with options. None of the options had direct flights, but two options could get me there the day before my birthday. After quick and careful consideration, I settled on Kuredu … and I want to tell you … it was the best decision ever.
An Island birthday
I’m used to making quick decisions, but this was by far the most spontaneous one I’ve made in a long time. That Friday afternoon I signed the travel booking and received my tickets, giving me a whole two days to get ready before departing on Sunday!
I think not having a partner for so long, someone to do these things with, made me wake up to the fact that if I had to wait to be with someone, or for my friends to ‘not be busy’, I would not be going anywhere awesome anytime soon.
I’ve always said, ‘you have one life’, and on that fabulous Friday I decided to live a little.
My Travel Agent
With so many holiday deals to choose from online, I was a little overwhelmed and decided to contact an agent instead. I sort of narrowed it down to three agents, after which I settled on Thompsons, simply because their site was well structured. I called and got through to Mishka who literally got on the ball. With such limited time for her to pull it off, I can honestly say, I will book through her again.
21 April 2019 Sunday
Depart: Johannesburg International Airport for Dubai 10:30
Arrive: Dubai Airport 20:35
It was a long flight, and I had a layover in Dubai of six hours. But this is what happens when you book spur of the moment…. all the direct flights get taken up!
I managed to book a sleeping pod in the Marhaba lounge. The connecting flight was at half past crazy hour in the early morning, so I was happy that they offered to wake me at my requested time, and lucky for me the boarding gate was only about 200m away.
Random thought: I expected to be hit by unbearable heat walking off the plane, but that airport was so well air conditioned, I was actually freezing.
Arrival in the Maldives
22 April 2019 Monday
Depart: Dubai Airport for Male 03:15
Arrive: Male International 08:25
Depart: Male Airport – short 10 minute drive by bus to catch a Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane transfer
from Velana International Airport for Kuredu Island.
Arrive: Kuredu Island 11:00ish (the flight itself is about 45 minutes)
I was so happy to arrive in Male. From the moment of landing everything moved along quite quickly. All the travelers who arrived with me sort of scattered to their various transfer points and that’s when I realised that the Maldives really have many many little islands. I later learnt that there are about 1200 islands making up the Maldives. Bloody hell. Out of 1200 islands, I managed to pick one. Right about then I started hoping to God that I had picked well.
Walking to my seaplane
I have arrived!
Pilots have the best view
Welcome to Kuredu
From the air I could see that Kuredu looks exactly like what you see in the pictures and on their website. You are escorted from the jetty to the reception where you pass by a welcoming group of hosts drumming and clapping. Your luggage is taken and will be in your room when you arrive there. At the reception you receive an arrival mocktail and you are assigned with your personal host.
Adam came up to me and introduced himself and from the get go was full of puns. He was proper funny, a real character and I felt immediately at ease. At first there was so much information to take in, that I must admit much of what he said went in one ear and right out the other. But that was not a problem since he was available for any queries, or ready to book any excursions, even to just make sure you are still happy.
I have to say, the service from every staff member was impeccable. Everyone is eager to assist, friendly and chatty and once they’ve met you they literally remember who you are. I mean there are so many people who come and go and yet they remember everyone’s names, where they like to sit, who they mingle with. It was mind-boggling and amazing.
'Home', for the next 5 days
Adam called a golf-cart and drove me to my room. He said at any time if I’d like a cart, I must just buzz him, and he’d organise. I opted to walk my way around most of the time though (get in some exercise). When I arrived at my room I was pleasantly surprised and had a giggle at the bathroom which is outside of the rooms. Obviously closed off, but outside. Well kitted, but outside, with a little garden! This was new to me. Smell the flowers. 😀
The whole island is on sand. Some of the islands apparently are tiled in areas, but Kuredu is au-natural. I loved that. It was exactly what I wanted. To walk out of my room onto white soft sand, and into the clear waters. I was in the beach bungalow, which is on the skirt of the island, so you are literally within meters from water. I did have some trees in front which gave some privacy if I wanted. Not that I was much in my room, there was to much to see and do.
Walking around the island in the shallow water, can you spot the fishi
After settling in I went strolling about the shops to see what swimsuits they have and while not very hungry, decided to go check out the Bonthi restaurant for lunch. Now obviously being on my own, my first instinct was to spot any other loners. There were many, but it was quite deceiving because their partners would show up eventually or you’d see them later with their respective other. I didn’t want to approach anyone, be all friendly and in the process offend someone. So I just enjoyed my lunch, taking in the scenery.
Now remember, I have just arrived. I am on DAY 1, lunching on my own when a tall chap walks past and greets me with a big smile. He went and sat behind me, also on his own. I mean it was the kind of a big smile that made me feel like, ‘hey, everything’s gonna be alright’. I did imagine that he’d have his wife following past soon, but no-one joined him.
I finished lunch and went to sit at the Babuna bar for a beer. Yes, beer. It was hot and I needed a quenchy drink.
The tall smily man walked in a bit later to have an espresso, which evidently he did after every meal. We chatted from afar and then moved closer to meet properly. Turned out he was also travelling alone, and just like that on DAY 1 I had made a friend on an island in the Maldives.
That night we met up again at the Babuna bar where a band was playing old school music like Eagles, Led Zeppelin. They were really good, and I was loving the atmosphere. We popped some champagne and well, in true Heidi style, next I was friends with the band members when they had their break, and getting to know some of the couples. There was a girl from the UK who is married but likes to travel alone (she essentially became my dancing partner), and a couple also from South Africa. Mostly everyone enjoyed meeting their fellow vacationers.
I had the time of my life, right from my first day.
Happy Heidi day!
It’s my day of birth, and I’m on an island in the Maldives, yay!
I couldn’t stop saying “I’m in the Maldives”. I woke up feeling like death, but had a smile on my face. I received a message to my room to confirm the birthday dinner Guido (Mr. Tall & Smily) had planned at the Far East restaurant. Now I remembered EVERYONE after midnight singing Happy Birthday along to the band’s rendition, and I vaguely remembered saying we would meet at 6pm.
I leaped out of bed and pushed open my doors and took in the island air. I was the happiest 43 year old in the world.
I booked a massage treatment at the O-resort’s Duniye Spa. If you go back to the map, you will find it on the north edge. My Kuredu stay was booked all-inclusive, so this was one of the vouchers I used for a free massage, but I topped it up for a Balinese Massage which is a gentle and calming massage using acupressure, skin rolling and relaxing strokes to sooth, restore and calm the mind and body.
When you arrive you are introduced to your masseuse who offers some ginger and lemongrass tea, after which she lets you select your oil of choice and presents you with a bowl of stones.
She says to pick one stone, ‘pick any stone you feel like picking’. I was kind of staring her down wondering if this was a trick, and while the stones looked almost the same, one did stand out to me. I picked it up, turned it over and it had the word ‘love’ carved into it.
Ah, ya! Of course it says love, I’m on an island, I bet all the stones say ‘love’. But no, she showed me and there were various other words ‘peace’, ‘happiness’, etc. I picked love. I thought it was kind of funny… being single for so long ‘n all…
When entering the massage room, you are told to lie face-down where a window in the floor lets you see the fish swimming underneath. She placed the stone ‘love’ facing up in the middle of the window.
SO for the whole time your back is being massaged you are faced with this message of love! It started wondering if the universe is trying to tell me something…
But no, I quickly came back down to earth when she asked me to turn around.
After the massage I walked to the pool bar and tried a Caipirinha and a Margarita and then Guido showed up .
He reminded me of our ‘date’ at 6pm before I went back to my bungalow.
I wanted to go try on my new bikini, just get some colour and relax in the water near my room.
The water villas are not far from my room. They are pretty much the same as the other villas, just on stilts over the water.
Birthday dinner at The Far East
I saw Guido nod his head at our waitress, who promptly came walking in with a birthday cake. They baked me a cake! I had a moment of absolute speechlessness. I couldn’t find words. My mouth literally hung open with the look of true surprise. I didn’t expect this. I especially didn’t expect it from someone who just met me. I felt so blessed. Like in the middle of the Indian Ocean where I traveled alone, someone cared enough to make it special for me.
The Far East Restaurant is known for its Teppanyaki, a journey of Japanese flavour cuisine. The course consists of an appetizer, Miso soup, vegetables, fried rice and then your chosen main, followed by desert.
This would be my first time trying scallops and it was heavenly with a ginger soy based sauce. Guido had prawns, while our UK friends had the lobster and steak if I remember correctly. The desert was to die for. A coconut herb infused ice-cream that was as refreshing as it was decadent.
Our chef was from Sri Lanka originally, and I was flying out via Sri Lanka this time, so over and above his awesome theatricals we had great chats.
Back 'home' for the night, and more surprises....
Sangu beach side, snorkeling, and the Retro party
I’m a happy woman, just saying. Woke up on DAY 3 again with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart and too much excitement, cause this would be another day of firsts! It was snorkeling day. I’ve never gone snorkling before. I’ve literally lived by the sea all my life, and never been snorkeling… I’ve done almost every other beachy thing, but snorkeling.
First time snorkeler
So I was able to rent a GoPro camera at the Prodivers desk for my half-day snorkeling outing.
In hindsight it was maybe not the best idea considering I was not a master of breathing with the mask yet. It took a while for me to NOT breath through my nose, cause it just steams up your mask, and that’s why there is a dangly mouthpiece!!! Haha, trying to get to used to the mask in deep water AND take pictures was a bit challenging, but I managed. A little bit.
Our diving instructor Birgit (also from South Africa) was great and helped out here and there.
So when spotting a shark, what do you do?
I get a fright, swallow water, steam up my mask, take a blurry picture and go up for air.
Sadly those were my best photos while snorkeling. But, … it is better than nothing!
There are so many different sites to go snorkeling, I wish I had more time.
For this outing we went to the ‘Aquarium’ first where you can spot:
parrot fish, oriental sweet lips, snappers, damsel fish, clown fish, fusiliers and jack fish.
Second site was called ‘Reethi Faru’ where you look out for:
puffer fish, angel fish, moray eels, clown fish and hawksbill turtles, and sharks.
I do want to return to Kuredu and see the Manta Rays. Everyone I spoke to was raving about the Cave site, but the available dates was after my departure date.
On a totally different note: there is also an all-glass undersea restaurant (that needs booking way in advance), that I couldn’t get in time.
The 5.8 Underwater Restaurant. It is 5.8m below Hurawalhi. There is a choice between a 5-course lunch or 7-course sunset dinner that holds just 20 seats serving exquisite dishes.
I definitely have to go back.
The Retro party
There is a theme board at the front of the island opposite reception, where you can see the events and food themes coming up. This evenings event was a Retro party around the pool. When I got back from our trip, I walked past the pool to see ‘what was happening’. They were busy setting up the deco and I was intrigued. ‘Definitely going to check out the Retro party later on’.
I showered, changed and after dinner went and sat at the pool bar. I took the above short video and within no time the venue filled up. One of the things I enjoyed while on the island, was people watching.
Guessing where some were from, what nationalities and so on. There was this one particular guy, a bit eccentric and sassy. At first I said to Guido that he must be from Brazil, or Mexico. Anyway, he LOVED the retro music, Michael Jackson in particular. But he had a woman and a 20-something guy ‘looking over him’. At first I thought family, later I thought body-guard and manager. He must be some entertainer!
Well, we later learnt that he was from a European country that I cant remember. Something like Bosnia and Herzegovina, or was it Montenegro. I really cant remember. He turned up at the White Night party (later in the week) AS Michael Jackson. Some useless information ;D
But I really enjoyed watching him. He was a busy body, up and down, and when I danced, he came dancing. and the ‘bodyguard’ in tow. Lol.
The Retro party rocked! It was proper. People danced till the music stopped and unfortunately it did stop just after midnight.
I knew I had to get to breakfast before they close but I really struggled to get up. I knew that after breakfast it would be a horisontal day. Horisontal sun-tanning, horisontal in the water, didn’t matter where or what, as long as I could be horizontal. I used the day to upload photos and videos to facebook and insta, and cleared some space on my phone for more photos.
Guido had some friends arrive from Belgium and while he was excited to introduce us, I had to remind him that I had my Sunset Cruise on this evening. We did have some language barrier, as his English wasn’t great. It was good enough! But I couldn’t understand French that well, and when it came to time, we got it wrong on this day. Haha. I kept explaining that my cruise is at 5PM and I would be back at about 9PM. He kept saying he will see me at 5PM. I said no, I leave at 5. Anyway, he was waiting for me at 5PM. I was on a boat dolphin spotting.
Wind surfing, relaxing and White Night
and a little bit later...
Going home, the sad departure.
On the night before your departure they inform you when your seaplane will arrive in the morning for your transfer to Male. So it was during the White Night that I heard my flight would leave Kuredu at 11AM. I was already starting to feel sad that I had to leave. I mean it is just such a different world at Kuredu.
So many people who have been to Kuredu have returned again and again, and I see myself becoming one of them. Already Guido has plans for an October visit and asked me to come back then too. His girlfriend passed away a few years ago, and she loved diving and was so happy in the Maldives, so he returns every year in October in honour of her.
My sea transfer has arrived
I’ve said my goodbyes and looking back to the island from the jetty as I walk to the plane, I think to myself, ‘best holiday ever’.
27 April 2019 Saturday
Depart: Kuredu Island for Male 11:00
Arrive: Male International 11:45 My plane was delayed an hour
Depart: Male Airport for Colombo, Sri Lanka 16:30
Arrive: Bandaranaike Airport 18:30
Depart: Bandaranaike Airport for Dubai 23:10
28 April 2019 Sunday
Arrive: Dubai airport 02:00
Depart: Dubai airport for Johannesburg 04:10
Arrive: Johannesburg, OR Tambo International 10:15
Get in car and arrive at home 11AM.
Kick off shoes (feet swollen from the flights)
Bath, eat, sleepzzzzz