WHO knew there were so many different shades of blue? Certainly not me until I set foot on the paradise coral islands of the Maldives.
I had high expectations. Of course, this is a once-in-a-lifetime, honeymoon-type destination — one you’d expect to deliver everything you see in those breathtaking glossy magazines.
And from the off, visually, it did just that. But I’m used to going on breaks that have more to offer on the activity front, so I wasn’t sure crystal water, white sand and relaxation were going to be enough…
On the first day I walked around the bustling and highly populated capital, Malé. It was interesting to see how the locals live but perhaps not what people travel to the islands to experience. There isn’t a great deal to do and although there are some interesting markets with home-grown food, the shops are clearly not geared for tourists.
However the paradise-feel really started to kick in when I got on a speedboat to the Kurumba island resort where I was to spend the rest of my stay.
The boat skimmed over the turquoise Indian Sea towards the luxury accommodation and I was welcomed by staff on the small pier and whisked to my incredible deluxe pool villa to settle in.
The villa was around twice the size of my London apartment and had a bar with a wine section that could rival many UK boozers.
But the real wow factor came from outside the four walls.
At the back was a private pool surrounded by tall, white-washed walls with pink flowers climbing up them.
Stepping out of the front, there was nothing but paper-white sand and bright blue sea framed by the cloudless sky — I felt like I was in my own little section of heaven. It was actually better than the postcards. And, even though the idea I might get bored evaporated as quickly as the speedboat had rocketed me to Kurumba, a list of optional activities that could have kept me going for months had been placed on the bed.
Fishing, diving, snorkelling, sunset cruises, dolphin-watching, massage, spa, sports centre, water-skiing, windsurfing. The list was endless . . .
I opted for a physical excursion and went for, erm, a massage. It was like my body had just flipped into full relaxation mode.
The Veli Spa area is beautiful and the treatment rooms are so tranquil — the only trouble is keeping yourself awake long enough to take it in.
The oils used by the therapists come from local coconuts and the pastes are made from indigenous herbs.
The treatments are inspired by traditional medicine and have been adapted by spa manager Xubleen Xubaa, who will be the first to tell you about local life on the surrounding islands — and practically anything you want to know about the history of the resort.
Kurumba means “coconut” in the local language and although the island is dripping in them, when it comes to food, this is far from the set of Cast Away.
There was an unbelievable steak restaurant that I tried on the first night, but despite being sorely tempted to eat there for the whole holiday, I felt compelled to at least try the other culinary options on offer.
They didn’t disappoint. The fresh fish was excellent — but I’d be lying if I said my mind didn’t slip back to that steak every now and again. There are a range of board options available at Kurumba, from bed and breakfast to all-inclusive and you can change the meal plan you opt for as you go along.
The bar areas are chilled out and you can sip a cocktail peacefully on the pier lapping up the island’s crisp tranquility.
But if you fancy something a bit more lively, the resort also offers live entertainment at the main bar.
Later on, if you visit on the right night, the Kalhu bar is so cool it can be compared to London club, Mahiki.
Last year, Kurumba won TripAdvisor’s Best All Inclusive Resort Worldwide award — and after my few days there, I was left with no doubt that this was a fair scoop.