Full walk around Kuredu island. - Video courtesy of Starterr Productions
This is the question, apart from the one about the weather, I get the most. People are afraid of the island being too small (Wont I get bored??? - NO!) or too big (I do not want it to feel like any other tropical destination. -You wont!). Therefore I will try to describe, and illustrate, the difference between the island sizes in the Maldives and what you might expect. Remember, each resort is surprisingly individual though, to the untrained eye, they might look much the same on the website pictures. - Do your research well, people, whatever your preferences are.
Well, what is a BIG island, really? The Maldives is such a unique country in so many ways. You should start by letting go of all your preconceived thoughts about tropical holiday destinations. Start over. The video above is a complete walkaround of Kuredu, the second largest resort in the Maldives after Kuramathi. The video is fast paced, not taxing your patience too much.
Let's start with BIG.
Kuredu was the first resort I visited, back in 1999, and the reason I fell completely in love with this fairytale destination. Since then I have been on nearly 40 resorts of all kinds, mostly high end. Despite this I will be on Kuredu in a few weeks for my 12th visit there. It is SO great! It takes about 45 minutes to walk around the entire island perimeter, not counting stops for drinks and shark watching. :-) There are roughly 350 rooms in total, still an everyday question is; Where is everybody? As you can see for yourself from this video there are very few people to be seen on the beach. During meal times peolpe gather, of course, but there are 4 main restaurants and few a la carte ones so there is never any canteen feel anywhere. Remember: even when fully occupied, Kuredu has got fewer guests than any large resort in the Caribbean on a far larger area and on its own private island.
Outside our villa #153 in the middle of the day in high season (February 2017). Not really crowded, is it?
There are a lot of positives coming with size. In the case of Kuredu, an elongated island, there has been done a very clever, invisible "division" in three parts to facilitate logistics and to give different guests and preferences the holiday they want. O resort in the southeast is for over 12 years, Sangu in the southwest for over 18, adults only, perfect for honeymooners, and the cente of the island, where most of the action is, for families and divers and funseekers. It works wonderfully!
Another thing with a large island is that you have the room to build without it feeling crowded. Like a tiny golf course with a pro and everything, or a FIFA-approved fotball pitch (Football is dead serious for Maldivians :-) ). A few wonderful a la carte and a huge gym with a direct sea view. Still there is a lot of jungle left on Kuredu - I find it stunningly beautiful - as a reminder of how relentlessly nature would take over if it was not constantly controlled. Below, a short video of my own showing some of the foliage.
Basically, if a large island is run well and is properly thought through, like Kuredu, it will give you exactly the kind of experience you want. Again, do your research beforehand! The website has got oceans of information so you will know exactly what to expect from All Inclusive and of different accomodation. There is also Tripadvisor and Youtube. How anyone can be surprised (and disappointed) nowadays is completely beyond me. 999 times out of 1000 it is due to bad research.
Any negatives? Well, if you want a really Robinsonfeel thing, you should go for a smaller island, even though Kuredu and other large islands, are 500% more Robinson than any other destination in the tropcis. In the Maldives there are no salesmen on the beaches, no abandoned dogs or children, no disease, no mountains of thrash, it is very eco conscious on the resorts with desalination plants making drinking water from the sea water for example. Genious!!!
Other examples of large (r) islands: Kuramathi, Meeru, Sun Siyam Irufushi, LUX South Ari, Vilamendhoo, Atmosphere Kanifushi
Let's continue with SMALL.
Below a drone video of Komandoo from as early as April 2013. Today it seems it is all about drones, but then it was fairly new.
Komandoo from above. Courtesy Amateoo
Komandoo is another super fave of me and my husband. This February, after Kuredu, we will go for the fifth time to this absolute gem of a resort. It is tiny (though not the smallest, by far) only 500 x 100 meters, and the beaches and coral reefs are stunning. Being so little, having beautiful reefs for snorkeling is really important to keep guests entertained. Also, the dive center Prodivers (same as Kuredu) is first class. There is just the one (excellent) a la carte - AQUA - but the buffet restaurant is legendary for the food, also a key ingredient for a small island. There is a lovely spa and a gym (important for us. at least) and excursions of course, but it is very quiet and harmonius. We adore it. Being incapable of choosing we always start off with Kuredu, then on to Komandoo and then to a resort not visited before to get some new input for the maldivesbug, but we still persist in coming back to these two. Just sayin. :-) Did you know that Komandoo has got at least 30% repeaters staying on any given time of year? In February I bet it will be at least 50%.
Positives about the smallness? Well, the totally awesome, kind, staff knows you personally right off the bat, from the welcome song and the welcome coconut ice cream and for your entire stay. It is a very exclusive feeling. The beach and he island very often feels like your own. It is so easy with other guests too; if you want to everyone is ready for a chat in the bar at sunset or after dinner. Very familiar, laid back feeling. The personal touch indeed. Also, Komandoo has the best bar boss anywhere - Vinod!
From the Water villa end to the restaurant in the other end of the length of Komandoo.
Above a video showing a walk from the water villa jetty (we usually stay in a JBV but decided to try a water villa. It was great too!) to the restuarant in the other end. This will give you an idea of the (lack of) size. The perimeter takes about 10 minutes, 15 tops to roam. Gd, it was HOT that day. Still remember the GoPro slipping.
We have tried some tiny islands, like Kandolhu (stunning!!) and Angsana Ihuru (totally magic reefs!!) and always been very satisfied and comfortable. Still, it is not for everybody. Do your research, people.
Any negatives? Well, the obvious is the lack of possibilities (might be a positive fore some) to offer a range of restaurants and activities of course. Also, the nightlife is more quiet than on a large resort, not that it is ever very rave-like. :-) Some resorts are sold by just one or two agents and might consequently have guests from just one country, apart from yourself. Even though I adore people from all countries :-) this situation can be frustrating if you are not "in the club" with everyone speaking a language you cannot understand and so forth. Most resorts have a charming mix of nationalities though.
And another VERY important point: IF you choose to visit during low season and can expect some rain, pick a bigger resort. A small island can feel very restricted when you cannot take advantage of the beach and the reefs as you normally would.
Courtesy Komandoo Island resort
I had to post this gorgeous video too. The man waving is former GM for Komandoo, Patrick de Staercke, nowadays GM for Kuredu. A legendary man in the Lhaviyani atoll with a magic touch for resort keeping and adored by the staff.
Other tiny resorts: Baros, Kandolhu, Angsana Ihuru, Drift Thelu Veligaa, Coco Privée, Naladhu, Mirihi, and many more.
In between there are legions of medium sized resorts and others. Mondomaldive.com is a great website for hard facts! What is really important is how many rooms there are per square meter. You do not want to crowded in the Maldives!
First lunch on Kandolhu, 2014
Life is, basically, a countdown to our next visit to the Maldives. 24 days to the next one. :-) Well, One could be worse off!! Once the Maldives, always the Maldives. You will get the bug too!