A visit to the Maldives wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous luxurious resorts that the islands are known for. We had considered spending a night in a water bungalow (still a dream!), but at USD 600 to USD 1500 per night, it was completely out of the question (that’s how much we spend in a month!). But when we found out some resorts offer day trip excursions, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least check out a five-star resort in the Maldives.
The best day trip excursion to a five-star resort available from Maafushi was to the Andaaran Prestige Vadoo, also on an island in the South Male Atoll. Even though the excursion was a bit pricey (USD 93 per person, USD 25 for the roundtrip boat transfer), it was still way cheaper than staying overnight. Besides actually sleeping there, we had a chance to experience everything else the resort had to offer, including lunch.
Starting our day early, we hopped on a speedboat for the half hour journey to the resort island. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the staff and directed to the floating bar for a welcoming drink. While we sipped, we enjoyed the view from the floor to ceiling windows at the bar. In the distance, a boardwalk led the way to the water bungalows that graciously floated over the azure blue waters.
After welcome drinks, the butler personally walked us through the resort facilities, giving a brief introduction of the island and some house rules. We began by walking through the beautiful gardens that ran parallel to the beach. At the end of the path, the infinity pool awaited us with glass-like waters and an amazing view of the ocean. Beyond the pool, the wide stripe of white powdery sand beach overlooking the water bungalows ended the introduction.
The walk around the entire island took less than five minutes and we decided to go back to start with the pool. With quite a few restrictions, the staff called for our attention multiple few times, either because we had something that wasn’t allowed in the pool area or because the shower we took before entering the pool didn’t make our hair wet enough (apparently other guests complain about this kind of stuff while on vacation)… It made us miss Maafushi a bit, where there weren’t so many rules or people complaining about mundane things.
Aside from all the rules, we had a pleasant time in the pool and gazing at the ocean. It certainly made us feel that our budget travels were in a distant past and nothing else but luxury awaited us for the rest of the day. When we got tired of doing nothing in the pool, we headed for the beach to snorkel. What the Vadoo Resort lacked in smooth and sandy areas to lounge in the water, it more than made up for in one of the best house reefs.
With our gear on, we slowly and carefully swam away from the shore. It was low tide and the corals next to the shore were only submerged by a thin layer of water, barely having any room for us to hover over it. Further away, the seabed had a sharp slope down and that’s where the best part of the reef was.
Having snorkeled in quite a few world class sites, the reef at the Vadoo Resort still managed to impress us. It was by far the most beautiful reef that we had seen, filled with marine life, from picasso triggerfish to moray eels. We were dazzled by the colors and shapes found in the reef and spent a good hour swimming around.
As the tide receded and the water level became even shallower, we headed back to the beach and settled on the chairs on the beach. Under the shade, with the cool breeze and the sound of the waves, it was so calming. I had a nice nap on the soft chairs.
Around noon, we sat down at the resort restaurant for our four-course lunch. We had a set menu with options to choose from and ended up picking different dishes to try. From the soups and salads to the main courses and dessert, everything was delicious and finely prepared. It was the fanciest meal we had had in a while.
There was just one more thing that we wanted to make sure we did before the day ended. While we couldn’t afford to actually sleep in a water bungalow, it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t sneak a peek of the room. We had heard of resorts giving brief tours of water bungalows to visitors so we asked the reception to visit one of the free water bungalows they had for that day. The same butler as this morning was happy to take us to the beginning of the boardwalk that led the way to the villas as a golf cart came to pick us up.
Driving along the way, we passed by a few of its 50 villas. The boardwalk was surprisingly long and I imagine guests staying here must regularly make use of the golf cart. We were dropped off in front of the sunrise water villa, where we stepped into the gated, enclosed area. The first thing we saw was the little “backyard” of the water bungalow, where there was a private infinity pool with an ocean view.
Beside the pool, stairs led the way directly down to the sea.
Inside the room, a king size bed was centrally positioned, facing the running doors for a nice view of the ocean.
In the bathroom, a jacuzzi and a glass floor to the impossibly blue waters completed the luxury accommodations.
No wonder we hadn’t seen anybody in the common areas of the resort even though it was almost fully booked. If we had rooms like that, there would be no incentive to leave and share a pool or a part of the beach with anybody else! We could stay in, relax and do whatever we wanted in the privacy of our bungalow! Luckily for us, that meant as day visitors, we had most of the common areas to ourselves.
I’m glad we had the chance to visit a water bungalow in person and see what the fuss was all about. Admittedly, it was very, very nice, but USD 1000 per night worthy nice? We’re not sure about that answer. For the rest of the afternoon, we repeated the morning activities – pool, snorkel, beach – until sunset, when we were invited to the floating bar for the shark feeding!
Standing at the bar’s platform, one of the staff threw leftovers of fish into the water. The second the fish pieces fell into the water, they were immediately devoured, just as the splash drops disappeared. At first, some bigger version of the reef fish that we had seen earlier came in for the feast. After some more time, a big stingray joined the party.
As more and more fish were thrown into the water, the blacktip fin popped out of the water in the distance, coming at full speed towards the carcasses. The sharks were finally here! They soon dominated the feeding, taking all the fish for themselves.
We all watched with amusement as they violently swallowed their prey, leaving nothing behind. After the last fish, the blacktip fins swam into the distance and vanished from our sights. It was our first wild shark sighting and I can’t wait to see more of these beasts in the future.
Just like that, our day at the resort was over. As we waited for our boat back, we were left with one last look of the water bungalows – lit by soft glowing lights as the sun set in the distance.
Our ride back was a journey back to reality… but that wasn’t bad at all because after all, we were still in the Maldives! We had a wonderfully relaxing day at the resort island and soaked in all the luxury offered in these romantic getaways. It definitely doesn’t get more “luxury resort” than five-star water villas in a private island in the Maldives. Nonetheless, we’re still not sure the whole thing was worth its price tag. As we have learned firsthand, there are way better ways of spending our money in the Maldives while enjoying every aspect of this paradise.
For more pictures from our day in Vadoo Resort in the Maldives, please visit the gallery!