The Kurumba Maldives resort is located within a small coral island. From a distance, you can’t see any land, only a fringe of coconut trees rising from the brilliant blue ocean. But as our massive yacht draws closer, a ring of white sand appears around the island and the red tile roofs of hundreds of little cottages emerge between and under the coconut trees.
On first impression it’s all a little surreal, picture-postcard perfect. The waters are too blue, the baby sharks and reef fish a little too clearly visible, the coconut trees in just the right places, the breeze warm but gentle, the lush manicured tropical vegetation sprinkled with brilliant bougainvillea flowers, golf carts moving along paved paths transporting guests who don’t want to walk, and everyone smiling.
The Kurumba management had decided that what I needed most after an unreasonably long flight (Delhi to Bangalore to Colombo to Malé!) was a massage. Gentle music and the sound of flowing water rippled through the spa. Mediterranean white walls, massive glass façades with white curtains and pathways over pools of water created an intense calm. I chose the Thai massage, and in my sleep-deprived state, submitted all too readily to the expert hands of my masseur.
That evening we went out on a ‘sunset cruise’. As the yacht gathered speed, the breeze on the front deck turned into a gale. Half an hour into the ride, a school of dolphins joined us. They swam in front of the yacht and under it. Then a dolphin jumped right out of the water, and did a twirl. Another one joined it, and then another — till a line of dolphins twirled above the water like mermaid ballerinas, 50 feet away from us. And then as suddenly as they had appeared, they left. The sun had sunk to the horizon, turning the sky a brilliant red and gold. The champagne was brought out, and the boat headed back.
Doing nothing is one of the definite pleasures of staying in Kurumba. That’s exactly what I decided to do the next morning. The semi-open air bathrooms with their small plunge pools and jacuzzis are a good place to start with. And then, you should make your way to the beach. The sparkling white sand gives way to the clearest blue water you’ll ever see. I dragged out a deck chair to the shallow end; as I read, brilliantly coloured fish floated below me.
I saw more varieties of fish when I went snorkelling mid-ocean later in the day. Forty minutes out to sea, like Alice floating down the well, I fell into a world of busybody reef fish. Butterfly fish, angel fish, lizard fish, trumpet fish emerged from every corner, darting from purple coral to yellow coral to red coral. Where the coral ended, the ocean floor dropped straight down into inky blackness. A giant turtle swam serenely along the edge.
At night, the ocean falls silent, and the lights of Malé and the other islands glimmer in the darkness. Candles cast shadows on tables laid out on the open wooden deck at the Ocean Grill restaurant on Kurumba — one of the eight fine-dining restaurants. At the Beach Bar, a local band is playing the Beatles. Snatches of conversation rise from the tables around me. The sky is clear and lit with stars. I carve up a juicy tenderloin steak, take a sip of red wine, and then pinch myself. It still does not feel real.
Location Kurumba Maldives is located 2km/10min by boat from Malé airport.
Accommodation 38 superior rooms; 39 deluxe rooms; 74 deluxe bungalows; 6 private villas; 10 garden villas; 8 pool villas; 4 presidential suites; 1 royal Kurumba residence
Contact +960-3332200, www.kurumba.com