A Week in Paradise at Komandoo Resort in the Maldives

It’s been far too long since my last blog post, but I hope that this one will have been well worth the wait. Beth and I just returned from a week in the Maldives, and if you’re looking for a romantic beach getaway, look no further than Komandoo Resort. We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in a beautiful beach paradise surrounded by warm weather, crystal clear water, and sharks!

When we started planning our vacation several people initially suggested the Maldives. We loved the idea of a tropical beach holiday to escape the heat of Abu Dhabi, but were concerned about travelling a long distance for only a short trip. Our original plan was to only take a long weekend as we weren’t sure we could take much time away from work. At one point we even ditched the Maldives entirely and looked at substituting a resort in the UAE or Oman instead. Eventually, however, the good advice of our friends won out and we decided to take a few extra days to really enjoy ourselves.

I found Komandoo Resort on Trip Advisor and it got a lot of very good reviews. I particularly liked it for its small size (only about 60 rooms) and focus as a quiet couples’ getaway. It also seemed to run a high-quality scuba diving operation which was important to me. Beth was more concerned with their spa, which was also important to me because the more massages she got, the more times I got to go diving.

When planning a trip to the Maldives, the most important things to take into consideration are your flight arrival and departure times. Many island resorts (like Komandoo) are only accessible by sea plane, and these are only capable of flying during daylight and in good weather conditions. If you land in Male at the wrong time, you’re liable to wind up twiddling your thumbs until the sun comes up/out again. Our direct flight from Dubai (only 4 hours) landed at 8:30am, so we came right through customs and jumped on a plane for the 35 minute flight to paradise.

Flying over the Maldives was a really cool experience. This nation of atolls (not to be confused with assholes) is made up of over 1000 different islands, many of them only a few square feet in size. A quick scan of the magazine in seat pocket infront of me informed me that islands in the Maldives actually grew on top of ancient coral reefs. As a result, you also have submerged islands and modern coral reefs everywhere you look out your window.

There’s no “airport” at Komandoo. There’s not even a runway. The sea planes land directly on the water and in our case simply pull up to a dock anchored in the open ocean in order to deposit disembarking passengers before turning around and taking off again. We were quickly picked up by one of Komandoo’s dhoni boats and brought back to land for our official welcome. As we walked down the wooden pier, we heard drumming and people singing. We were informed that this was the Komandoo Welcome song, the lyrics to which are:

Wel-come to
Ko-man-doo
Have a nice hol-i-day

The tune really isn’t important, because there wasn’t one. It’s just a simple rhythmic chant that Beth and I found ourselves compulsively repeating throughout our vacation. We might be at dinner or laying on the beach, but we’d look at each other and almost simultaneously break into “Welcome to Komandoo.”

Once the welcome song was complete were we given a coconut to drink from and a bowl of delicious coconut ice cream. Having recently located an ice cream maker in Abu Dhabi, Beth immediately went to work on planning a recipe to try out when we returned home. We got the quick introduction to Komandoo resort which covered all the basics like meal times, facilities, etc, and the local time. Komandoo must hold the Guinness record for World’s Smallest Time Zone. From Dubai to Male is only one hour’s difference. From Male to Komandoo (a journey which takes you directly north no more than 30 miles) is another hour. I never actually got confirmation from hotel staff that they made up their own timezone, but I can’t imagine any other excuse for them to have local “Komandoo Time.”

The island offers three types of rooms: Beach Villas, Jacuzzi Beach Villas, and Water Jacuzzi Villas. Since Beth had ruled out a villa build on stilts over the ocean, the only question for us which of the built-on-land options we would choose. Physically, it’s only the addition of a jacuzzi tub which sets the two units apart, but all of the standard beach villas are on the sunset side of the island. Watching the sunset from our porch sounded really romantic, but I learned from Trip Advisor that that side of the island faces a nearby developed island and so the views are a bit spoiled. The jacuzzi villas, however, are on the sunrise side of the island and have unobstructed views of the ocean. Even though we only used the jacuzzi for a total of about 10 minutes all week, it was well worth the small upgrade. The room was quite nice and featured a four poster bed and chaise lounge for two inside with beach loungers and chairs outside as well.

Do you know what else was outside? The bathroom. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the outdoor shower. For one, it was significantly larger than our tiny shower in Abu Dhabi, but it’s also kind of exciting. Having your toilet completely outdoors (enclosed behind a fence, of course), however, is a little less idyllic.

But, the main highlight of our room was the family of baby gray reef sharks that lived outside our villa. Anytime you stepped out onto the deck, you could look into the water and see between 3 and 6 baby sharks swimming around. For our entire visit they never once left, simply swimming circles in our little lagoon. There were also schools of small fish that lived in the same place. As the sharks swam amongst the fish, the school would react like oil to water or oppositely charged magnets by breaking apart just enough to let the shark pass through before reforming into the original group. Whether it was one shark or all six cutting through the school of fish simultaneously, it always happened fluidly and in perfect synchronization. A couple of times we saw the sharks get a bit energetic and we assumed they were hunting, but we never saw them actually catch/eat anything.

Komandoo is a very small island. It’s certainly no more than a standard block long and narrow enough that you could easily throw a rock from one side to the other. The owners did a really good job of laying things out, however, because every villa feels totally private and the buildings have a natural character to them that blends into the surrounding landscape. The island definitely wasn’t full during our visit but at certain times it could feel practically deserted—something we welcomed.

In fact the only time you ever had to interact with other people was at meal times. We signed up for half-board which included breakfast and dinner at the main buffet restaurant and chose to do lunch on our own at the a la carte restaurant. Breakfast featured mostly the same fare every day, but dinners changed thematically every day. We had Indian, Maldivian, Tex-Mex, Seafood, Arabic, and Chef’s Gala nights with lots of tasty choices for appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts.

Because we gorged ourselves so thoroughly at the start and end of the day we only needed a small lunch. The folks at Aqua took very good care of us. We might have been the only couple on the island who didn’t have a full board package, because we never saw another person when we ate lunch. At each meal, we got a free glass of champagne as well as a two or three bite appetizer specially prepared by the chef. The menu for lunch wasn’t very expansive, but we did quite well with the garden salad with watermelon, gaspacho soup, tomato and mozzarella sandwich, and the occasional cheese burger.

While most of our time was spent just relaxing we did manage to find time for a few organized activities. Our second day at Komandoo we went on the free sunset cruise, which that day didn’t quite live up to it’s name because it was too cloudy to see the sun and the sun was still so high that it never actually set. On the third day we did a snorkel excursion to a nearby coral reef. Another day we got a 2-hour couples’ massage. We had planned to do another excursion to a “deserted island” which included lunch and more snorkeling, but the weather turned a bit nasty and we decided to bail out.

The weather was never perfect during our visit, but it was always nice enough to keep us quite happy. Of course, compared to Abu Dhabi, almost anything would be a step in the right direction. July is technically monsoon season in the Maldives, which was quite a cause for concern when we first heard that. Much like Hawaii, however, the “rainy season” in the Maldives just means that it’s a little extra cloudy and that it’s more likely to rain for 30 minutes to an hour at some point during the day. Once the rain shower du jour blew over it was back to blue skies and clear, calm waters.

For us, one week was just the right amount of time. When it came time to go home, we were sad to go, but felt like we’d had a chance to do everything we want to experience. Should we find our way back to Komandoo at least three more times, the island will even make a special sign with our names on it to hang on our villa.

The return trip to Male for our flight to Dubai wasn’t quite as seamless as our arrival. Our flight left Male at midnight, but we because of the unpredictable weather, we had to leave Komandoo at 2pm. With the hour time difference in Male, it was still only 2pm when we arrived at the airport, so we had a whole 10 hours to kill. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, Hulhule Hotel is located literally next door to the airport and, for only a small fee, will let you hang out by their pool while you wait for your plane. We tried that for a while, but Beth had the brilliant idea to use it as an excuse to go to the spa and get another massage.

If just reading about the Maldives hasn’t already convinced you to book a vacation, I expect the pictures will…

  • Crowded Sea Plane
  • Maldives Atoll from the Air
  • Maldives Atoll from the Air
  • Beth Steps Off the Seaplane
  • A Delicious Welcome Drink and Coconut Ice Cream
  • Beach Villas
  • Bedroom in Our Beach Villa
  • Outdoor Bathroom
  • Outdoor Shower
  • Outdoor Jacuzzi and Lounge Area
  • Romantic Decoration for Our Anniversary
  • Beth Is Thrilled About the Sunshine
  • Vic is Happy to Be on Vacation
  • Step Out the Door and Right Into the Water
  • Wash the Sand Off Your Feet
  • Step Outside Our Door
  • Stretch of Beach on Our Doorstep
  • Our Beach Villa
  • Our Breach at Low Tide
  • Blue Skies and Palm Trees
  • Komandoo Water Villas
  • Komandoo Island and Breakers
  • Thundi Beach Bar
  • Crystal Clear Water
  • Northern Edge of Komandoo
  • Beth Walking Down the Jetty
  • Looking Back at Acqua Restaurant
  • Baby Grey Reef Sharks
  • Baby Grey Reef Shark
  • Baby Gray Reef Sharks
  • Baby Gray Reef Shark
  • A Crane on the Beach
  • A Crane Hunts Outside Our Door
  • A Sunset Cruise With Lots of Sun
  • Vacation over. Time to go home. :(

One Response to “A Week in Paradise at Komandoo Resort in the Maldives”

  1. Wow, Komandoo island really looks like paradise! Flying in on the seaplane must be a lot of fun.

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