When you’ve flown 13 hours to India for a Bollywood-style, eight-day, sari-wearing wedding, you’d have honeydew in your head if you didn’t tack on the extra two hours and $200 to pit-stop in the Maldives on your way home. Or at least this was my logic when I recently visited this part of the world.
The Maldives are a slightly claustrophobic heaven
Arriving in the depth of night to the collection of coral atolls that sit peacefully in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and then travelling by speed boat to a resort island is probably the closest I’ve come to a James Bond moment in my life. And while I’d like to think that I was reincarnate of Halle Berry’s Jinx, in my fluorescent life vest, clutching onto the handrail so tight, terrified I was going to get thrown into the liquorice-coloured ocean, I can humbly concede that I didn’t ooze any kind of cool that night.
Waking up the next morning, I felt like I’d dove head first into a helloworld brochure. White sand, palm trees, turquoise waters, blinding sun, heaven (once I put sunglasses on that is). That first morning, after being in India for eight days, all I wanted was a massage and alcoholic beverage. Preferably in that order. After a two-hour needling, I was feeling incredibly zen, ready to feel even more zen after a Margarita, only to be met by an incredibly stressed, definitely not zen husband.
Me: “We’re on a fricken tropical island, what do you have to be stressed about?”
Frantic husband: “We need to go get lunch, we need to eat, it’s 1pm, we haven’t eaten yet and if we don’t go now the restaurant shuts.” Me: “How about we calm down. Not only are you ruining my state of peace but we also have a whole 30 minutes until the restaurant closes for lunch.” Still frantic, flapping-armed husband: “I’ve walked around this whole island three times, done the sailing, the badminton, the kayaking, the volleyball, the yoga and now I’m bored and don’t know what to do. We need to go and get lunch. That’s what we need to do.” Oh dear. Apparently I’d brought a Spaniel to the Maldives.
The positives of Club Med Kani
Given each Maldivian resort is its own island (and you ain’t getting off unless you can swim like Ian Thorpe to the next island) you need to choose your accommodation smartly. For me, the appeal of Club Med Kani was that there is entertainment every night of the week, from shows to themed parties, perfect for the Spaniel in me too. And despite being a ‘party’ island (read: not so suitable for kids), it was still quiet and sleepable back in our room. I guess this was the benefit of staying in the boon docks that are the superior rooms, which were a good five-minute walk from the resort’s epicentre.
If you’re not content drinking cocktails by the pool all day, any excess energy can be burned off by going on a snorkelling or scuba diving day-trip. We did this twice. Although the Great Barrier Reef sneezes all over the Maldives.
Visiting in December, the resort wasn’t overcrowded and you could always find a bright orange sun lounger for some paperback reading, generally on your own stretch of beach. When you get too hot, you can just run out and have a quick swim in the lagoon-like ocean. The other plus-side of being on a French-speaking island is being lulled to sleep, in your bright orange lounger, listening to s’il vous plaits all day.
The downsides of Club Med Kani
When you think of the Maldives, you think little huts over the ocean, luxury dripping from your elbows. Or at least I do. And as much as I chose not to pawn my engagement ring to cover the cost of one of the $1000-a-night ocean huts, Club Med Kani still did not quite deliver on this idyllic image for me.
The resort is a little tired and, being herded about as just another number in a well-oiled machine, there’s a smell of school camp about it – particularly the school camp-style, smorgasbord dining hall. Despite advertising that the resort has two restaurants, you can only dine in the second if you’re the first of 30 people to arrive in person at midday the day before to make a reservation. Lucky I had a bored husband to send on this mission, in which he took two attempts to succeed at.
Another faux advertising claim was listing surfing and stand-up paddle-boarding as activities – neither were available – causing my surf-crazed, Spaniel of a husband to concoct an elaborate James Bond plan of hitching a ride to Male, so he could get American Dollars, in order to borrow a board from a Club Med staffer, who on his day off would shuttle him out to a nearby break. Needless to say, the plan evaporated into sand and he was surf-less by the time we went home.
Speaking of sand, the beautiful ‘white sand‘ may look like Adriana Lima but in most places it’s finely broken coral attacking your feet like a thorny rose (not saying that Adriana is a thorny rose..)
A day trip to Male
After day five and my 100th cocktail, I too was a little bored with island life, so agreed to fork out extra for a shopping excursion to the capital Male – a 6km² metropolis sticking out of the ocean – and by shopping I mean visiting souvenir shop after souvenir shop. I will most likely be gifting Maldives-themed sarongs and fridge magnets every Christmas for the next decade.
Another positive of staying in a French-speaking resort was being the only two English speakers on the tour and getting a guide to ourselves. Our tour guide Gamini kindly agreed to let us skip the souvenir shopping and take us to the local food and fish markets, the mosque and give us a real local’s tour of Male.
Club Med Kani is…
I personally learnt that being stuck on a tiny Tamagotchi-sized island isn’t my most preferred style of holiday. Having said that, it’s pretty bloody hard not to fall in love with the Maldives, with its sheer beauty and isolation slapping you in the face on a daily basis. You just need to be super, super careful when choosing your resort to make sure you’re not going to catch a case of island fever.
Club Med Kani
Kaafu Atoll, Maldives