Expectations were high as our plane began its descent into the archipelagic state of the Maldives. With those screensaver-like images imprinted on our thoughts, you can imagine our disbelief when my mother and I were greeted by grey cloud shrouding the landscape accompanied with hot torrential rain upon arrival.

With well over 100 resort islands, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in the Maldives that wasn’t radiant in natural beauty. Our destinations were the Four Seasons Resorts. We were to experience three nights in both Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru. Luxury and scenery we expected in abundance, but not rain.

After boarding the Four Seasons’ private speedboat to transport us to Kuda Huraa, we were surprised to be joined by two Scottish couples travelling together. And despite the warm welcome and excitement of arriving at the resort, a hint of concern was palpable. Had we brought the weather with us?

Three nights in KUDA HURAA ...

“If you can’t make something 100 per cent, don’t do it,” said the Director of Food and Beverage at Four Seasons Resort Maldives, Florian Niessing, on our first night on the island resort of Kuda Huraa.

The clouds surrendered their rainfall, and the landscape was completely transformed by the time we tucked into our first meal in the Maldives. And, thankfully, that was to be the last heavy downpour we experienced throughout our stay.

For a country with over 1200 islands separated by swathes of sea and reef, the island resort of Kuda Huraa is relatively small and intimate. Surrounded by alluring turquoise waters, Kuda Huraa is easily accessible by boat from Malé Airport. Guests can opt for traditional beach villas or water villas, each steeped in luxury furnishings and boasting an individual 12m pool. For mum and I, a picturesque sunrise water villa was to become home for the next three nights.

Despite its rather compact landmass, Kuda Huraa has utilised each inch of its terrain, offering a multitude of excursions, recreational activities, and wellness experiences. The marine activity in the shallow waters below the villas is enough to keep you transfixed, with blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, colourful coral reef fish, nurse sharks ... I was fortunate enough to try surfing, experience stand-up paddleboard yoga, enjoy a dolphin cruise to witness a fleet of rambunctious spinner dolphins and go snorkelling.

The Herald: A villa at Landaa GiraavaruA villa at Landaa Giraavaru (Image: unknown)

To venture to the spa is an experience in itself. A small traditional Maldivian dohni boat transfers guests from the main jetty to a tiny neighbouring island utilised solely for the spa. For my Healing Waters massage (performed lying face up on cushions of warm water), I was led to one of the treatment rooms: separate outbuildings, which look more like miniature temples from the exterior. During my hour’s treatment, it was clear I was in safe hands. My mind entered a dreamy lull of tranquillity (rare for me), toying on the verge of sleep.

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After three nights in Kuda Huraa, we were doubtful that the next resort could trump this. “LG (Landaa Giraavaru) is on another level,” Florian had remarked to us. “It’s even more luxurious but the landscape is completely different … it’s very special.”

Then on to LANDAA GIRAAVARU While we were bereft to be departing from Kuda Huraa so soon, all this changed when our colourful Four Seasons seaplane arrived to transport us to Landaa Giraavaru (LG). The pre-holiday excitement was renewed as we cruised over tropical islands nestled in turquoise waters.

Landaa Giraavaru is much larger and greener than Kuda Hura, with each guest getting a bike with their initials marked on the front in wooden blocks to travel around the island.

With more than 450 employees, it reminds us of a busy little ant hive, with some looking after maintenance, some sweeping leaves and replacing sand on the walkways, others there to ensure the reputable customer service standards are kept up. But every staff member will greet you with a smile, many will remember your name and make an effort to memorise your likes and dislikes when ordering.

Mum and I settled into a grand family beach villa. A large 12m pool and huge outdoor living space was almost as inviting as our own private strip of beach. While tempting to enjoy the delights of our luxury villa, there were just too many unique experiences not to try, including many complimentary excursions and classes. I enjoyed a full day of marine adventures, followed by a day immersed in the resort’s wellness and spa offerings.

The Marine Discovery Centre is a must-visit. Landaa Giraavaru’s Baa Atoll home was declared the Maldives’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011. At the resort, guests can witness and contribute to ground-breaking conservation initiatives such as coral propagation, turtle rehabilitation and manta ray research.

A highlight for me was helping to build my own reef. The resort has specially made coral frames designed to restore the reefs. By transplanting coral species known for fast growth to the structure, within a few months’ development should be visible. You need only grab a snorkel to witness the ecological benefits of this method of restoration. Fish of every variety claim the new reefs as home. My reef joins over 7,000 other coral frames created at the resort.

The Herald: Erin building a reefErin building a reef (Image: unknown)

Soon it was time to do an activity that had me giddy with childlike glee. Turtle Talk is a two-hour excursion from the resort. Five of the world’s seven turtle species live in the Maldives. And what a busy underwater safari it was. Snorkelling over the coral reefs packed with busy creatures was unforgettable. A lively octopus, Moray eel, flamboyant lionfish, and lucky for us, three beautiful, calm turtles were spotted. To witness such a healthy ecosystem underwater, filled with rare biodiversity was a real gift.

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The buzz of swimming with wild turtles clung to me into the next day. The purpose of this day however was to feel revitalised. Although I was dubious that hanging upside down in a hammock would help in that regard. AntiGravity Yoga was a new one for me. While maybe not the most relaxing for first timers, my spine was certainly well stretched, and the weightless poses felt much more impressive while suspended. After my morning yoga, I jumped on my bike to cycle to my first ever wellness consultation.

As a qualified practitioner in Ayurveda (the traditional Indian system of Medicine), Dr Nikhil spent an hour determining my unique dosha type – this is a system related to the elements and split into three primary energy patterns depending on what your dominant element is. Dr Nikhil then offers diet and lifestyle recommendations based on your dosha type. The whole experience is very insightful and far too short, it’s so easy to become absorbed in viewing your body and mind with such an interesting perspective.

Travel Facts: 

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa: Rate starts from £876++ onwards for a Garden Pavilion with Pool 

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru: Rate starts from £1,783++ onwards for an Ocean Front Bungalow with Pool