Kurumba Maldives was the very first resort to welcome international visitors back in 1972. It was the start of something big! In just over 40 years, the number of island resorts in the Maldives has grown to well over a 100. Needless to say, competition between them is fierce and the older resorts have to constantly reinvent themselves to keep up. Looking back at pictures of its early days, its clear that Kurumba has done just that.
Where there were originally shacks made from coconut palms, there are now 5 star luxury guest rooms. Its not a big island (you can zip around it in a buggy in 15 minutes or so) but development has been cleverly planned to make the most of every bit of space. The rooms form a ring around the island and larger buildings housing facilities such as the Spa, Kids Club, Gym and Activities Centre are hidden away in the lush tropical gardens of the interior. How they manage to grow such a variety of plants in sand, I’m not sure, but the planting most certainly makes it a very pretty and colourful island. Another key area is the restaurant zone – for such a small island, there’s a surprising amount of choice with no less than 8 different restaurants to choose from. The smaller, speciality restaurants (which only open at night) are set back whereas the newest, the contemporary Thila restaurant offers double deck dining with wonderful lagoon and sea views. Likewise the main bar with its attractive veranda and funky seating make the most of sunset views.
Here is quick 30 second tour around the island
Kurumba’s location is both a strength and a weakness – on the one hand, its the most accessible island, only a 10 minute boat transfer from the pier at Male International Airport. That’s a clear advantage after a long international flight when the last thing you want to do is jump straight on a cramped seaplane for a noisy and potentially quite long flight. It also means a short journey to work for resort staff, most of whom commute from the capital and have worked at the resort for many years – that loyalty translates into impeccable service and a much friendlier vibe than you will find on more distant islands where staff turnover is notoriously high. Hillary the barman for example has been mixing cocktails here for over 20 years and has many stories to tell. The weakness of course is that this is not the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ idyll you may expect the Maldives to be. You can see the skyline of Male in the distance and you do hear the occasional plane (its not exactly Heathrow though!).
What it lacks in isolation, Kurumba more than makes up for with action. This is one resort where any fear of being bored will quickly be forgotten. There is a surprising amount to do, and for all ages too, making it a good choice for families as well as couples. The number one activity, as on all the islands, is swimming or snorkelling in that warm, clear blue ocean – here both are very easy and safe to do within the tranquil waters of the turquoise lagoon which surrounds the island, protected by the sea walls. The more adventurous can head through the gaps in the walls to explore the deeper waters beyond. In addition to that though, the resort has a very creative activities team who provide an action packed daily programme. There’s a well thought out kids programme and adult activities that extend beyond the usual watersports to include things like Coral Gardening, Cocktail Mixology and even painting with a Maldivian artist.
On top of all that there’s also a very lovely Spa, social gatherings and a variety of excursions on offer. We tried the popular Sunset Dolphin Cruise – sightings of the gymnastics of spinnaker dolphins are pretty much guaranteed and a really fun way to bridge the gap between beach and evening. And come the evening, there are important dining choices to be made – you can go for the Vihamana buffet or pick your favourites from Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Chinese menus, or perhaps a Seafood barbecue or Teppanyaki … we were not able to try them all but found the standard overall to be high. For the ultimate romantic evening, there’s also the option of the Sounds of the Sea dinner – your choice of menu from any of the restaurants served in a private sala on the beach.
Post dinner, most guests generally wind up in the bar where another important bonus of proximity to the capital becomes clear – live music from different local bands every night. Very good they were too!
Our time was all too limited at Kurumba but its definitely a resort I would return to, perhaps combining with another, more remote island resort to get the best of all worlds.
Last word goes to Jason Kruse, the resort’s General Manager. Another longstanding member of staff, Jason clearly loves his job and was kind enough to share his passion for Kurumba on camera with me.