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Makunudu Island
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Reviewed October 17, 2010

I have now been to this island twice. Once on honeymoon and the following year simply because nothing or no-where compares to the experience of Makunudu in the Maldives. On both occasions I went to Makunudu and stayed in villa no37. The second year I requested villa no37 for sentimental reasons and the staff were more than happy to oblige.
This is the 1st point I would make is that the staff & Island changed my outlook on life. It is nothing short of paradise and the staff are the kindest most pleasing I have ever encountered anywhere. The moment you arrive on the island you are made to feel like a welcomed guest and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. The villas are small but sufficient for your stay with all the usual refinements. To be honest when you see your surroundings the last place you want to be is in the villa. I savoured every second of my stay on both occasions and would advise everyone makes the most of it.
The Island is small but gorgeous, a dream come true and I can see nothing ever comparing if you want a place in paradise without TV's, children, disco's or other modern sidelines that would only spoil this lost paradise in the Indian ocean. It is small enough to walk around in 30 mins and is every bit as pretty from every direction. The sea and sky and crystal blue all of the time whilst the nights are full of bright stars not mention a beautiful sunset everynight. There are two bars one of which is dedicated to the sunsets (Sunset Bar), whilst the other offers drinks galore, food and fabulous service around the clock. Bala has some great majic tricks whilst always asking if you would like a drink. (they are free and the cocktails were a work of art)
The house reef is enough to keep anyone interested and amazed everyday. Although my partner and I are by no means divers the snorkeling was brilliant and we spent most days swimming with fish, rays, turtles and sharks. Not all as scary as Jaws made out....just amazing. The sea is clear, clean, calm and warm all day long. On a morning baby sharks would swin 2 ft off shore looking for scraps of foods whilst on a night 6ft sharks would feed just off shore. During the day however we found they very rarely came close and we were instead treated to fish of every shape, size and colour. You'll be growing gills within a week.....I promise you.
The only regret I have about Makunudu is leaving it. The 1st time seemed to be over in a few days although we went for 14 days but it was our honeymoon, whilst the 2nd year we managed to make most of the time we were there (again 14 days). I would no hestitate booking again and if I hadn't just bought a new BMW Z4 I would be going this year. I will be there in 2011 mind you.
P.S. I have looked elsewhere and there is nothing as good as the Maldives. Makunudu is a qiet place but other islands offer more in the way of activites so look at alternative sialnds to suit your taste.

Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
10  Thank TracyElsworth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2010

A quaint island resort in paradise. Very small number of chalets, very intimate, great service and a perfect spot for honeymooners.

There aren't any water chalets which are preferred by some, and the chalet by the beach is very private and secluded. The beach sand is fine and the water crystal clear. The house reef is great for snorkeling and we covered the entire perimeter of the island over 2 days. The diving is fantastic too and the marine life here is the best I've seen.

The food is usually a buffet and there are set meal times and you get to know your waiter over your stay.

We were honeymooning and you get to place a plaque sign commerating the occasion anywhere on the island for a small fee. Makes the trip extra special and gives you an excuse to come back and find your little piece of history that you've left on the island.

  • Stayed: May 2010
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2  Thank Sammytay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2010

Just fabulous! Spent 5 nights here after a dive liveaboard, and we had a fantastic time. Recommended by Jim at Maldives Direct, and he was spot on!!

Pick-up at the airport was smooth and simple. Slightly bouncy boat ride (due to windy weather) by speedboat, boatmen gave out cool flannels and drinks to refresh everyone en route. Island looks lovely and unspolit as you come up to it as the bungalows are well hidden in the palm trees and other foliage. Made very welcome as we stepped onto the island, fresh juice as we filled in forms, everything explained v.clearly. We went AI, which made things v.simple, and payment at the end was easy and rapid.

Rapidly installed into our lovely beach bungalow (Makunudu doesn't have water bungalows so is much less snobby than other resorts). We had #37, which was almost next to the dive school (perfect for us), with a lovely stretch of beach outside, 2 loungers and 2 chairs, and our very own fruitbat in the trees above. Big room, bed slightly bouncy, but OK. Plenty of space to put everything, tea and coffee making kit, minibar, safe in the wardrobe.

Bathroom also a good size, the shower is indirectly open to the outside, and there's a drying line for wet swimwear. Didn't seem to be very much hot water, but you don't really need it as the weather is so warm.

There's a dive centre, spa, watersport centre, shop, library/TV room, restaurant and bar - don't come here if you want to party every night, but do come to relax with the option for gentle entertainment.

Food was FABULOUS! Gourmet food every day, huge choice, buffet breakfast and lunch, a la carte dinnner (short menu, changed daily). Snacks in between. Really impressed with the food, something for everyone. The chef apparently doesn't like to see the same dishes more than once a month, so it's different every day. Really, really good.

Dive centre was excellent if a little pricey ($45 per dive), but they take the boat out even if there's only one or two of you, so it's like a private tour! The maximum we had was 4 people plus guide, very relaxing and no competing for space. They have quite a few good sites within a 15 min boat ride, and a wreck or two. House reef is OK for diving - they have garden eels, the usual fish, morays etc, and it's very extensive, but probably not that great for snorkelling as the coral is mostly below 7-8m. However, they run snorkelling trips to local sandbanks.

Other trips include fishing, Male tour, local island tour etc. There's a catamaran and winsurf boards to play with, plus table tennis and a volleyball court if you're feeling energetic.

The lagoon around the island is great for kids, as it's very shallow and calm, but there's nothing else for kids to do, very much a couples island.

In short, we loved it! We almost never go to the same place twice, but next time we go to the Maldives, we'd defintely consider going back here.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Outinthemiddaysun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2010

A True Isle of Paradise



Choosing on which Maldives island to holiday, is not quite as easy as it might sound. Although each of those that have been designated by the government as 'Tourist Destinations' are, of course, islands within the atolls of the Indian Ocean. But there the similarity ends.

So, how do they differ? Let's start with size. Some are large enough to cater for many hundreds of guests at a time and many of those are managed by international hotel chains. A number classify themselves as 'medium' in size, where perhaps eighty or so Maldivian styled (two-three person) chalets are spaced around the resort's beaches. Then there are the more intimate islands, small enough to paddle around the perimeter in thirty minutes or so and where seeing another guest (other than at mealtimes) is anything but common.

Facility wise, every island differs even more. Some of the larger ones have tennis courts, football fields, choreographed entertainment every evening and even swimming pools – although this author has always been puzzled as to why the latter?
There are islands where the nearest reef over which to snorkel or scuba dive can only be reached by dhoni (local boat), others have wonderful house reefs only metres from the shore. Some offer all non-motorised water sports such as catamaran sailing and canoeing on a complimentary basis, while others charge.

Then there is always the cost to consider. This does vary widely between resorts. Choosing between, Room Only – B&B – Half Board - Full Board and All Inclusive, should be made with care if a pre-determined budget is a major factor. To look carefully at 'extras' is certainly my recommendation as these (like alcohol) can quickly turn into a sizeable sum of money by the end of a stay.

'Oh dear', readers might say at this point – 'it all sounds complicated'. In actual fact it isn't!.
While I concentrate on producing a detailed Travelogue of every place in the world I visit (like this one), there are other writers whose expertise lets them pen very differently. As regards to the Maldives, there is in fact a 'bible' – a book entitled, 'Resorts of the Maldives' written by Adrian Neville. His brilliant book lists, page by page - resort by resort - ALL the details a prospective tourist would need to know before selecting the island of choice. It really does make it easy to read (and look at the photographs) jot down any of the resorts that 'tick all your boxes' – narrow things down to one and THEN make your booking.

Having visited a number of very varied Maldives islands in recent years and reported on each in depth, I wanted to pick one that really did differ from the norm and my research (plus a good old scan through Mr Neville's book) I made my choice. Would 'small' be beautiful? It turned-out to be even more than that – a slice of paradise!

The tiny island of Makunudu, although within the Coco Collection Group and operated by Sunland, it sneaks under the radar of many UK tour operators. Because of that it almost borders on the unique. With less than forty villas and an average guest list throughout the season numbering seventy-five at any one time, the island offers the peace and tranquility so many discerning holidaymakers crave for.

From the moment one steps off the resort's powerful speedboat after a thrilling fifty-minute ride across the turquoise coloured ocean from Male and be greeted in person by the resident manager, Lakshman Chandrasekra (a Sri Lankan) before being guided to the thatched reception area where a cold, scented towel and an even colder fruit cocktail are presented, guests know instinctively that they have made the right choice.

By the time the simple booking-in procedure is completed and you're escorted along a sandy path shaded by the island's prolific flora to reach your selected villa, its air conditioning has been activated and your luggage already lying in wait. Every villa has the same amenities – quiet, efficient air-con – a huge (and wonderfully comfortable bed), ample storage space, a desk on which to write postcards (or not as the case may be) and a great half outdoor/indoor bathroom with loads of hot water. The front door opens onto a teak deck (with a low-sited water tap for rinsing one's sandy feet) which in turn lets you step down and walk the few metres along your own narrow, tree-covered path to emerge onto the beach, where lies a sun-bed.

I'd arrived in late February, which allowed me to enjoy the perfect weather – calm seas, azure skies, light, cooling breezes and a lusciously warm sea swarming with fish. The House Reef was amazing. Just a gentle couple of minutes snorkel and there it was – only a few metres deep – masses of colourful coral - the sun's rays highlighting colonies of anemones, which in turn sheltered red and white clown fish. The reef even had a pair of fully grown resident turtles, which let you hover over or swim alongside – a truly exciting experience. That I swam to the reef at least twice every day was a testament to its magnetic allure.

Only, when chatting with the manager, did I learn that he employed five different nationalities of chefs. Up to then, I, like the other guests had been amazed at the variety and quality of the food offered at every mealtime. Dinner was mostly a cordon bleu type that defied any preconceived ideas of island resort standards. Five stars for sure. Twice during my stay that system changed to one of a barbecue nature, where a sumptuous buffet was laid out and a trio of chefs stood ready to grill whatever took your fancy.

I mentioned alcohol earlier. The resort (like all others) had a well-stocked bar and those clients who had opted for the 'All Inclusive' tariff were not disappointed. The 'pay as you go' guests (like myself) were pleasantly surprised to find, that the prices were only a little more than would be found in most UK hotels. Considering that every item consumed at the resort had to be ferried from Male – prices were more than acceptable.

Another, most welcome advantage of Makunudu, was the free use of a sleek catamaran (including a skipper). A couple of hours skimming across the ocean trying to compete with the accompanying dolphins, was certainly exhilarating. Snorkelling equipment was also freely available and even a complimentary scuba dive could be had for the asking. It was little wonder that all of these facilities were in constant use – and very much appreciated!

Two days before my time on the island would end, I signed-up (and paid around $12) for a half day boat trip to an area seemingly in the middle of the ocean - listed on seagoing maps as, Manta Point. Yours truly (having suffered a couple of heart attacks) could no longer scuba dive (definitely a no-no). Nevertheless, I decided that should the opportunity arise to at least see a giant Manta Ray from the surface by snorkelling, then I should take it. On reaching what appeared to be a point of nowhere, the boat stopped - the prepared scuba divers stepped off the gunwales and after a few splashes disappeared from view. The weathered-skinned captain gave me a nod, pointed in the opposite direction in which the divers had gone, treat me to a broad smile and proffered a 'hitch-hikers' thumb. I back-rolled off the side, repositioned my mask and flipped away without any real expectation of seeing a Manta. After all, the Indian Ocean was many thousands of square miles in size and I was limited to perhaps searching an area perhaps the size of a basketball court.

Less than a minute later, I almost froze. Coming toward me was a mouth! Not a human mouth but one more than a metre wide and gaping wide enough to swallow me without my elbows feeling its sides. What to do? I hadn't a clue because I'd not really believed that such a meeting would happen against all the odds. But it had! Like some underwater Golden Eagle, the Manta glided silently closer, that enormous mouth increasing in size. It skimmed under me with inches to spare. My first encounter. But it wasn't going to be the last!

For more than thirty minutes, it and I (and subsequently with four others) swam this way and that as if by some invisible magnetic cord. We twisted and turned – me like an awkward mammal, they like magical ballet dancers as they swooped, turned as graceful as a swans and allowed me to be as inquisitive as I wished. Keeping open their capacious mouths for the cleaner wrasse to pick at parasites was an endearing sight indeed – tiny things darting in and out with impunity. Then, without warning and as if by some instantaneous signal, all five turned as one and swam out of sight. I think I wore an idiotic and satisfied grin on my face for the rest of the day.

So, what else did Makunudu display that made it so very different? Well, the staff were a delight to be around. Everything worked. The villa was cleaned twice a day. There were 'freebees' galore and internet access was available (if that ubiquitous invention was an integral part of one's psyche). A well-stocked library let you swap books (assuming there was time to read). And – the resort was affordable.

Were there any downsides? Only one. Everyone can remember the devastating Tsunami that ravaged so much of south east Asia and parts of the Indian Ocean region. The Maldives did not escape its wrath. Some islands were affected more than others and in different ways. Makunudu was hit but suffered little or no damage to its infrastructure. What did suffer however, was the shoreline. Much coral was scoured from the ocean bed, smashed into small pieces and washed ashore in huge quantities. Some parts of the island's beautiful beaches were affected and have left bands of broken coral close to the waterline. Not a problem when wearing sand shoes or flippers but without that protection, guests should be wary. The resort's staff are working hard to improve matters and there are more than enough areas of soft, white sand to let squeeze between one's toes.

The last question has be be...'Would I return?' My answer is … 'YES'!

Written by Brian W Fisher 2010.

22  Thank Cumbrian25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2010

Just back from a fabulous 2 weeks in Makanudu. I was super busy at work before we went and so 2 weeks was enough to fully unwind – if I hadn’t been so busy and hadn’t needed to unwind so much I might have got a bit bored as the island is tiny and there is nothing to do except dive, snorkel, sunbathe, sleep, eat, drink and read. There is one tiny TV room with a 2 seater in it, a library, a darts board, waurie, a backgammon set and a draughts set (although pieces were missing) to borrow. We took a laptop and the boxed series of Frasier with us – which was perfect entertainment for some nights.
My other half and I both dive and dived most days – or snorkelled. I have read comments that the house reef at Makanudu is not so good – but would completely disagree. I have dived in the Caribbean and some bits of the Pacific and loved it – it is much better than the Caribbean and equal to the Pacific. Every snorkel we saw either turtles (at very close range) or reef sharks, sometimes moray eels, eagle rays, sting rays and an incredible variety of reef fish. The corals were in really good shape too with hardly any algae, again with a whole variety of finger, lettuce, brain, staghorn and many many more. The nearshore (i.e. 2-4 feet) is trampled, but even so there are still some healthy coral heads and anenomes near shore – but the edge reef is stunning.

The dive school on the island is called Dive Ocean and I found them to be really professional and safety conscious. They won’t let you dive without doing a check out dive first. They also do certification for new divers. The diving was lovely. Again a lovely variety of mega-fauna (turtles, rays, eels, sharks), many many stunning and varied fish, lovely healthy and varied coral and lovely micro-viewing too with beautiful nudibranchs and soft coral. Some drift diving to 100ft if you have advanced PADI cert – Shark Point and Washimas – you watch sharks, barracuda and large fish swimming in front of you – as though you are watching panoramic TV – fabulous. The dive instructors are all lovely – Jorg the wry German, Brian the friendly chatty American, and Marco the enthusiastic and entertaining Italian. All seem to speak numerous languages too.

The rooms are rustic, so expect gheckos to come in and croak. They have a/c and a fan – the bathroom is not air conditioned and is partly open air – very nice. Every bungalow has 2 beach chairs and 2 beds outside and it seems that people stick to their own bit. A lot of mangroves and sea grape trees remain so there is shade - you can spend a day sunbathing under the mangrove leaves – nice for people like me with pale skin – or go for the full roast. Beach towels are provided and changed every day. There is green tea and coffee, milk sugar and a kettle in the room, but if you like your English breakfast tea or decaff coffee – bring your own.

The island really is tiny – only 32 huts and staff quarters in the middle and you can’t really walk around the edge as people sit outside their bungalows and it seemed a bit intrusive. However we snorkelled around the island – stopping to look at various things as we went and it took 1 hour 30 mins. The paths are sandy – but it is rough sand with bits of stone and coral in – so if you have soft delicate feet – bring flipflops – if you have gnarly old feet you probably won’t wear shoes for the whole trip. Dress code is relaxed, in the restaurant and bar which are both sand-floored – most people wear shirts and shorts or linen trousers or skirts (many don't wear shoes).

The food in the restaurant was surprisingly nice – with a great variety – an Indian influence so you can have curry and roti for breakfast, or fresh tropical fruit, or cereals, full English, or toast and local jams – very nice. There are also endless eating possibilities: breakfast from 7.30am-10am; sandwiches/snacks from 11am-noon; lunch from 12.30-2pm; afternoon cake from 4-5pm and then dinner from 8-10pm. It takes a lot of restraint not to get really chubby.

The flight – having read the other write ups about the Thompson flight we upgraded – that gave us the same flight as you would have with a normal scheduled airline. On-demand movies in the back of the chair, with free headset (you pay for headset in economy and don't have on-demand service), and a glass of fizzy wine before take-off. However, everyone seemed to book seats in advance and the seating is 2-3-2. Therefore, since almost everyone travels as a couple – if you don't book on line as soon as possible you will end up being the couple sitting behind each other – rather than next to each other.

It is a very beautiful island, with lovely friendly staff, and a tranquil feel. Finally – it seems to be a honeymoon island – so if you don't want to be surrounded by endless couples being gooey – go somewhere else.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank tompel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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