Earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit the tranquil Maldivian island of Maamunagau, at, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, for five days of pure bliss. Sitting on the idyllic Southernmost tip of Raa Atoll, InterContinental Maldives boasts 81 beach, lagoon and over-water villas and residences, as well as six restaurants and bars and is home to the fantastic Manta Trust team that is leading the way for manta ray research and conservation.
Upon arrival at Male Airport, we were taken to the exclusive lounge where we were able to enjoy some treats and a cold towel while waiting for our seaplane transfers. After a quick 35-minute flight, we were greeted by the friendly team at InterContinental Maldives.
Upon arrival, we were taken to the lovely Sunset Bar for a welcome glass of champagne and even learned the sabrage technique to open the bottle of champagne. Afterwards, we were introduced to our curator, Amaan, who would be our favourite person and welcoming host for the entire trip, who then escorted us to our private Lagoon Pool Villas. I was blown away by the uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean from my villa, and I immediately headed straight for my private pool on the balcony, although not before I took a second to admire the incredible selection of personalised treats laid out in the lounge. After a refreshing dip, I tucked into those before heading back out to meet the rest of the group.
Our first night’s meal was at the Fish Market, where we indulged in fresh seafood dishes right in front of the sea and could admire the ocean beyond. We started with our meal with a Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad, then moved on to warm Shanghai dumplings before ordering our mains. I opted for the fresh and local reef fish with sweet chilli, tamarind sauce and spring onions. I’m not a big seafood eater but something about this dish completely changed my mindset – I am not sure if it was just the taste or simply the setting that bowled me over but I could be persuaded to eat seafood more often should every dish taste as good as this one. To finish the night, we shared some sweet dishes such as Manjari and Mango Rice Pudding and a Tropical Fruit Platter.
On day two, we dived straight into all of the activities on offer. We started the day with a paddle board session in front of the beach and a quick cycle around the resort. For lunch, we were able to meet with the fantastic chef from the Fish Market where we had dinner the night before for a cooking class to show us how to make a traditional Maldivian fish curry. After our bellies were full, we headed over to the Marine Centre where we met with one of the resort’s marine biologists, Nikita, who led us on a snorkelling excursion near the resort’s house reef. During this swim, we saw so many fish (over 47 kinds), a very large moray eel and three sharks all within the house reef. It was great to see what life lives just outside of the resort.
The next day, we were able to meet with the team from AVI Spa, which included some of the visiting practitioners the resort hosts throughout the year. We were lucky enough to try some of the treatments. Unfortunately, I got a bad sunburn and so opted for the Sun Kissed Skin Cooler treatment which is cooling and soothing after a long flight and a busy first day! Afterwards, we met back up with some of the marine biologists who took us back out to the house reef for a nighttime snorkelling session. I wasn’t too sure how much different this would be compared to the daytime snorkelling we had done the day before but as soon as we got in, you immediately could see the difference. We saw so many other types of fish that only come out at night and we even saw some of the fish we saw before, sleeping in the coral. It was a unique experience I will never forget.
On our final day, we started the day off bright and early at the Marine Centre where we met with the InterContinental Maldives’ fascinating partner, the Manta Trust. The team briefed us on all things about manta rays and all of the amazing research and work they have done over the years there on the resort and around the world. We were then taught all of the rules on how to swim safely with the beautiful creatures. We headed out to sea about 30 minutes to one of the feeding sites where many of the manta rays go each day for lunch. We all dived right into the water as soon as we were told it was safe and when we saw some of the manta rays swimming around. I will never forget the first moment I saw a manta ray swim directly beneath me. I couldn’t believe how big they were. The gentle giants are so fascinating, and we could have swum out there for hours just watching them.
It was truly hard to say goodbye to my villa, the resort team, and the manta rays but it was time to head home to the Big Smoke. This was a trip of a lifetime, and I will forever be grateful for my time spent at InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon!