When you start calling your villa “home” and pull a face like a child having its sweets taken away, you know you’re going to miss it. I spent a week in Maldives at Meeru Island Resort and I miss it, a lot! I was torn between a few countries for this trip but settled on Maldives. White sandy beaches, blue lagoons, world class diving and sea food were enough to make it a clear winner.
Where Is the Maldives?
The Maldives, more specifically the Republic of Maldives, is an island country located in the Indian Ocean. It’s just south west of India and Sri Lanka. It is one of the most dispersed countries on the planet with 1192 islands spread across 26 coral atolls.
What Is the Weather in Maldives Like? Best Time to Visit Maldives?
The short answer here is: glorious! Being in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is susceptible to two seasons a dry season and a wet season. These aren’t exactly clear cut, nor are they predictable.
High/Dry Season: Dec – Mar
Low/Wet Season: May – Nov
Seasonally lower hotel rates are available during low season but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the weather will be worse. For example, I went in May, typically low season but it rained once (for five minutes) and only one day out of the week was it too windy to kayak. For low season, I felt that was pretty good. The temperature in Maldives hovers around the 30 degree mark year round so I hope you’re good with the heat.
If possible be sure to avoid Easter Holidays and the winter months when European holiday makers are trying to escape the dreary weather back home. Christmas and New Year rates are particularly high also.
Finally, the surf season runs from March to October and for divers Whale sharks are typically seen during May to November on the western side of Maldives.
Good news here. Tourists of any nationality do not need a pre-arrival visa to enter Maldives. Provided you have funds and a return ticket you are granted a 30 day free visa on arrival.
The national currency in the Maldives is the Rufiyaa. However, nearly every resort and travel expense can be paid for in US dollars and having Rufiyaa is unnecessary. There is an ATM at Male airport where you can withdraw USD as well as a currency exchange.
Tipping is generally accepted in Maldives and it is customary to tip your waiter, cleaner and perhaps excursion crew. This would work out to approximately a dollar per day or $10 for the week per person.
Flights to Maldives
There are currently no direct flights to Maldives from the United Kingdom but there are several airlines that can accommodate you and some exciting potential stop over’s to consider breaking up your journey or extending your trip.
Airlines that fly to the Maldives:
- Qatar Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
- Etihad Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Eastern
- Korean Air
- China Sothern
- Air Berlin
- Air France
- Malaysia Airlines
- Kuala Lumpur
- Abu Dhabi
- Hong Kong
Meeru Island Resort & Spa
Meeru Island is the only resort on the Island of Meerufenfushi in the North Male’ Atoll. Getting to Meeru Island takes less than an hour by boat transfer from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. You just head to the Crown & Champa Resorts Booth #59 where a representative will give you further instructions regarding the transfer. The wait was pretty short, probably around 20-60 minutes which was enough time to go get some dollars.
Image: Meeru Island Resort & Spa
Meeru Island is a tropical paradise that is approximately 1200 metres long and 350 metres wide. I felt that it was big enough that you never felt crowded and finding a space just for yourself was easy. On the other hand it’s small enough that you can comfortably walk around the island which is a feeling I’m fond of. If mobility is an issue, any of the receptions can call upon a golf buggy to get you around. I must admit I did this once just to try it out. Lazy, I know.
Meeru Island Resort has 284 rooms in total:
- 77 Jacuzzi Water Villas – 85 sqm
- 27 Water Villas – 60 sqm
- 83 Jacuzzi Beach Villas – 80 sqm
- 77 Beach Villas – 56 sqm
- 20 Garden Rooms – 50 sqm
I stayed in two room types; Jacuzzi Water Villa and a Jacuzzi Beach Villa. The rooms were exactly what you would expect from a luxury resort like Meeru; exceptionally clean, modern and a whole host of amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
It’s really hard to say which of the two villas I preferred. On the one hand the Jacuzzi beach villa had a private walled in garden area with an outdoor shower, Jacuzzi and wooden decking. This was perfect for a pre-dinner chill out after sunset when the island starts to cool down.
On the other hand the Jacuzzi water villas are over the water. How cool is that! The villas on the north end of the island directly face either the sunrise or the sunset. The feature I was particularly fond of was the Jacuzzi area which has steps that lead straight into the sea. The balcony is also a great spot to watch fish and sharks go by. The lights at night give a really clear view of the sea life passing underneath your villa.
I have zero complaints about the accommodation on Meeru Island. They’ve literally thought of everything down to the coconut do not disturb signs. The question is; beach or water villa?
Food and Drink
I don’t even know where to start with how impressed I was with the food here!
Depending on the location of your room, you will be assigned one of two restaurants both of which have the same menu each day. There is a huge variety of regional and international meals available at each buffet meal. Don’t think that by having a buffet that this diminishes the quality of the food. Oh no, the food is incredible.
Every night there are various themes to the food but there is still enough variety to keep everyone interested. One feature I did really like is the live action cooking stations. In the morning this is usually eggs cooked however you like. Just ask the chef who will prepare them any way you like right there and then. For other meals it could be anything from fresh steak to lamb or fish.
Thankfully the dress code is relaxed but I still liked to wear a shirt with shorts at dinner just to class things up, a little bit anyway.
A La Carte
There are three A La Carte restaurants not included in the full board or all inclusive packages.
- Asian Wok
- Hot Rock Restaurant & Bar
- Meeru Cafe
Asian Wok, as the name suggests, does Asian and Teppanyaki dishes. Meeru Cafe has sandwiches, pastries and of course ice cream. The Hot Rock restaurant was by far the best meal I had on the island. You’re each given a volcanic rock that is heated to 400 degrees. You can then choose from a selection of seafood, steak, chicken or even exotic animals like kangaroo or ostrich. You then effectively cook your own meal at the table to your own liking. This intriguing concept, coupled with the fact that the Hot Rock restaurant is next to the infinity pool, means this dining option is really not to be missed.
There are three main bars (not including Hot Rock) where you can get drinks and snacks all day.
- Dhoni Bar – Next to one of the pools, the Dhoni bar has the best beach bar vibe during the day and longue bar vibe in the evening.
- Uthuru Bar – Beside the restaurant on the northern tip of the island. This is a great spot for watching the sunset.
There is also the Kakuni Bar which is the biggest bar on the island, most evening activities happen here and this is where you can find the games room. All inclusive snacks aren’t available at this bar however.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bars. The Hot Rock bar gives a great view of sunrise over the infinity pool and the other three bars all face sunset. I found the Uthuru bar to be the quietest bar and my personal favourite for watching the sunset with a drink in hand.
There is also a bunch of other amenities on the island that add an extra layer of convenience. There’s a doctor’s surgery on the island which sadly I needed to use to get antibiotics. There’s also a shop with things like souvenirs and clothes. If you can’t take a break from the gym there is a fitness centre and also an air conditioned games room with pool tables, games and a darts board. Finally, the giant whale skeleton is worth a look along with the quaint museum.
Staff at Meeru Island
One thing that is worth a mention was the staff and the incredible level of customer service. From our waiter who always put us on our favourite table to the bar staff who got pretty good at guessing what drinks and snacks we liked. From the moment you arrive on the island to the time you get on the boat to leave, everyone is friendly, courteous and couldn’t do more to be helpful. The staff at Meeru did everything to take any stresses away. Coming from a non-tipping culture, I was still very happy to tip the staff for how well we were treated.
Things To Do on Meeru Island
Maldives is a snorkelers dream due to the abundance of marine life, coral reefs and clear water. The best thing is that you don’t have to go far to snorkel.
You can rent snorkel gear from the dive centre but my advice would be to buy a set before you go because chances are you’ll want to go snorkelling every day. Around the north tip of the island, particularly between the water villas and the spa, the channel and coral there are teeming with marine life. I regularly liked to go for a dip to cool off, and with it being so close, I would just grab my snorkel gear and go exploring pre-breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks/any time I felt like it.
There is a free snorkel trip that leaves daily to go to the house reef which is a short boat ride away. Personally, I’d say the snorkelling here was on par with what could be found just off Meeru Island. Still, it was worth doing on the first day to go out on a boat, acclimatise and dust off my snorkelling cobwebs.
Despite how good the other snorkelling was, the Kagi Island Excursion is a must if you’re staying on Meeru Island. The excursion is a full day which starts with a boat trip out to Turtle Reef where you will swim with, you guessed it, turtles. Five of the seven species of sea turtle can be found in the Maldives and the chances of seeing Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles are high. The group had a varying degree in proficiency with swimming and the guide did a great job in keeping us together whilst also setting a pace where we got to explore the reef. We saw a total of six turtles and some were at a depth where it was possible to dive down and get a closer look.
Image: Euro Divers
After all the turtle excitement you head to Kagi Island for a BBQ. There’s a well to wash off the sea and sun loungers to tan up before lunch. The snorkelling around Kagi Island is also pretty magnificent. Your guide will take you on a route on one side of the island. Take note of the course as the current is strong so be mindful not to stray. After lunch the time is yours. Relax on the beach or snorkel until it’s time to go (you guessed it, that’s what I did).
In summary, sign up to the Kagi Excursion and get your own snorkel equipment so you can snorkel every day at the northern tip of the island. You won’t regret it.
With the average water temperature being 28 degrees and the ridiculous amounts of things to see, scuba diving in the Maldives is a great place to dive or get your PADI. Visibility in January to May is approximately 20m – 50m and April to December is 15-25m. I also really enjoy diving without a wet suit and the great water temperature makes this possible in Maldives.
Image: Euro Divers
The dive centre on Meeru Island is run by Euro Divers who operate dive centres all around the world. The staff here were super helpful and always keen help you get the best from your dives. As for what you can see? Turtles, sharks and manta rays are just some of the options! I’ve been blessed enough to dive all over the world and the diving in the Maldives is some of the best, on par with Galapagos and the Bay Islands in my opinion.
For more information about diving in Maldives click here.
I figured that a Golf lesson and the driving range would be an activity for a “bad weather day” but frankly we didn’t have any! Nevertheless I wanted to give it a go and I even went as far as to put together a golf outfit because, why not? An hour on the driving range was more than enough given the heat but it was good to see me go from complete novice to hitting the ball pretty well in that time with help from the golf pro.
Sunset Punch Cruise
Every sunset on Meeru Island was particularly spectacular but the sunset punch cruise brought a different viewpoint to nature’s daily light show. Sitting on top of the boat, drink in hand, gently rocking (from the waves, not the drink) I hear a shout from below. I scan the horizon to see numerous disturbances breaking the waves and finally come to the realisation that they are dolphins!
The waters around Meeru Island are teeming with lots of dolphin pods (yes I had to look up what a group of dolphins are called). A boat, drink, sunset and now dolphins, could this cruise get any better? Whether the dolphins are aware they have an audience or not, they seem to put on a performance as they go by. Lots of the dolphins propel themselves out of the water as they spin and expertly land and carry on. Against the backdrop of a Maldivian sunset I can’t say I was unimpressed!
Dhiffushi Island is the closest island to Meeru Island. With low current I’m sure they are close enough to swim to. As perfect and pristine as Meeru Island is, Dhiffushi Island is a stark contrast and reminder of how different life can be outside of a resort, even in paradise. The tour of the local island was informative particularly with regards to what life is like for the locals. One woman in our group was a teacher who had written ahead and asked to visit the local school. She had brought gifts for the children which I thought was a really nice touch.
One interesting aspect of local island life was what buildings used to be made out of. Up until 1992 it was common practice to mine coral reef and buildings were made out of coral.
This has since been banned and as a further measure the government reduced import duties on construction materials. Some of these coral buildings are still standing today and although it is sad this practice used to exist, the buildings are rather intriguing to see.
After a rather aggressive pummeling in a Moroccan Hammam one time, and the fact I am pretty hairy, I’ve never been a fan of massages. In the past it’s been enough to put me off having them but when I found out the spa on Meeru Island is over the water with a glass floor so you can watch fishes go by, I thought I would try again.
The spa on Meeru Island is run by Duniye Spa with locations throughout the Maldives and Seychelles. The choice of spa treatments and massages are exceptional including Indian, Oriental, Balinese and Thai styles.
I opted for the stress reliever back massage with traditional herbal poultices. As I lay on the massage table, with my head in the face cradle, I can see through the floor and watch swim fish idly by. The very sweet lady laid a tiny stone on the floor with the word “smile” painted on it. Then she began. It was incredibly tranquil and relaxing (Apparently I even nodded off for a little bit).
One tip for you; book your spa treatment at the start of your visit to Meeru Island to avoid sun burn being an issue!
It would be hard to choose a favourite out of all of the excursions but if I had to pick one, this would be. If you want to truly feel what it’s like to be on a deserted island the Robinson Crusoe experience delivers in spades.
Imagine this; You’re left on a tiny slip of sand bank in the ocean. Other islands are specks in the distance. The crescent shaped sand bank is about 5 meters wide, and 25 metres long with nothing on it except washed up coral and a flock of birds.
You’re left with chairs, a table and parasol for shade. On top of that you have two cooler boxes; one filled with a picnic lunch, the other with chilled drinks. There you have it, your very own deserted island! I’ve been to some remote places in the world but this was quite an experience to feel so abandoned. They do give you a phone in case of emergencies but other than that, you are left alone to enjoy your few hours of seclusion.
If you’re a water baby there is plenty to do on Meeru Island. Some of the options are:
- Windsurfing lessons and rental
- Catamaran lesson, rental and snorkelling trips
- Kayak rental
- Stand up paddle board rental
- Glass bottom boat
Image: Meeru Island Resort & Spa
On a peaceful day it is possible to kayak or paddle board around the island. If it is windy it can be quite a challenge but that makes it perfect for windsurfing. On the day I opted for kayaking I was just metres off the shore when a turtle swam under me!
As you can gather there is a lot to do on Meeru Island and it would take weeks to do. You are spoilt for choice and could never say you were bored here.
Final Thoughts on Meeru Island
For anyone who obsessively looks travel content as much as I do, you will always be confronted with a visage of what paradise looks like; white beaches, clear skies, palm trees, dolphins, sunsets, cocktails and villas suspended above the water. Meeru Island just happens to be all of that and more. Would I go back? In a heartbeat.
Amar was born and raised in England and embarked on an 11-country round-the-world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second, which ended up being a 23-country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then, Amar has spent the last 14 years traveling the 7 continents.