HFL Honeymoon Highlights
In this post, I'm breaking down last year's trip to the Maldives. Here are my Top 7 highlights, plus I have exclusive tips for any readers planning future visits to paradise.
I can't believe Kalo and I went on our honeymoon exactly this time last year. It was March just before the severity of Covid was realised and travel came to a screeching halt. I think we can all agree that quite a lot has gone down since then. Yes? For me, that's the understatement of the century. But, in the spirit of reminiscing and celebrating the good, I've jotted down my Top 7 highlights from "the trip to which all future trips will be measured," as my Dad would say. Let's escape to the beach together.
1) We <3 Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
Eyes closed, I'm currently pressing my fingers to my temples saying "please brain, never ever forget how you felt stepping off the dock and onto the soft, white sand for the first time." Immediately I knew we had arrived someplace truly extraordinary and needless to say the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi will always hold a very special place in my heart. I have nothing but rave reviews for the grounds, restaurants, amenities and staff. Speaking of staff, at arrival, we were greeted by our very own BUTLER. Yes I said butler, who graciously helped with anything we needed or (let's be honest) wanted throughout our stay. Have a question, need to make a spa booking, run out of beer? You know who to call. Amazing service. Period.
The hotel, excuse me I mean entire island, is stunning. They've mastered the art of indoor/outdoor living. You know that private yet exposed feeling you can only get from a tropical destination? All the buildings, rooms, even bathrooms are open to the lush jungle landscape. The restaurants have sand floors! How cool is that? But apart from gorgeous surroundings, Sun Siyam offers plenty more to do, eat, drink and experience. You'll have to continue reading to get all the goods.
2) Our Water Villa Was Killa
Before a trip to the Maldives, you'll need to make a very important decision ... beach or water. After some serious debate, Kalo and I opted for an ocean bungalow with a hot tub and hands down it was the best decision we have ever made as a couple. The views were absolutely breathtaking. Being a remote island newbie, I had never seen water so crystal clear before. And that vibrant shade of aqua blue. Mind blowing. Oh also I had never enjoyed a warm ocean breeze quite like the one flowing on our deck. Kalo and I spent every scorching afternoon lounging under an umbrella, just drinking in the breeze along with our strawberry lemon mojitos. Heaven.
Our accommodation had more impressive features including a massive, comfy bed placed right in the middle of the room, dramatically vaulted ceilings, large windows and air conditioning babyyy. Total game changer because danggg it is hot and humid in the Maldives. A personal favourite of mine was the indoor/outdoor shower. The doors completely open up so you can watch schools of fish swim by as you wash your bits. Haha. I just thought it was the wildest thing having thriving coral reefs right under my feet.
3) Happy Hour is the Happiest Hour
Wondering where Kalo and I were from 5-7 every evening? You could find us on a sun bed at the infinity pool slugging "buy one, get one" cocktails. Although, we almost missed out on this deal of a lifetime had I not read through all the brochures and pamphlets displayed on the nightstand. Hidden in the pile was a tiny schedule which listed different events and offerings taking place throughout the hotel. Our fellow guests must have slacked off because happy hour was always empty. Suckers. Please if you take anything away from this post it's to always read the printed materials in your room.
Now back to the bevs. I fell in love with the fruit in the Maldives especially the silky, ripe mangos. *chef kiss* I swear the more fruits they could shove into my cocktail glass the happier I was. By the end of our trip, I'm almost positive we tried every drink on the menu which were all fabulous but if I had to rank them, my 3 favs would be the mango daiquiris, piña coladas then the mojitos. Surprised by my picks? I am too because I'm not usually one for overly sweet, coconut or minty drinks but it's all about the freshness of ingredients that is simply unmatched.
Random happy hour tip. Bring cards or small games with you. While we snacked and drank, we played countless rounds of uno, greed aka farkle and war. Just something fun to pass the time.
4) Gone Snorkelling
Guys, I swam with sharks! Granted they were babies and probably a harmless species but it still totally counts. Kalo took a video that I'll post to the @hungryfor_life_ and you can clearly see how freaked I was and hear me say "that's f***ed up" when a shark swam right past us. After that sighting, I couldn't help but look behind me every 5 seconds. Too funny.
Once you get past the dreaded cankerious cankerious (haha) you're able to take in the beauty of the thriving reefs. The fish come in every colour under the rainbow and then some. We also saw a huge stingray basking in the sun near our villa. Understandably, from day 1, I was bitten by the snorkel bug because all I wanted to do was be in the water 24/7. You just never knew what amazing creature you were going to stumble upon and I didn't want to miss anything. Side note, if you decide to stay at Sun Siyam, they'll hook you up with all the equipment needed, plus they offer all kinds of expeditions and scuba diving for experienced folks.
5) Epic SunRises and Sets
There was no sleeping in on our honeymoon. No siree. Everyday we woke up before the sunrise to get some awesome time-lapse footage. I loved witnessing the sky come to life one dreamy colour at a time. But the real treat was watching the beach wake up along with us as little crabs dug their homes for the day. Later, during the glorious sunsets there is this hazy sense of calm like no other I've ever experienced. I wish I could bottle up that feeling and send it to all of you. Anyone know Kasey Musgraves' song "Golden Hour"? Give it a listen and you'll come close to replicating this Maldivian mood I'm trying to describe. Oh but just wait because once the sun goes down imagine seeing more stars than you thought the sky could hold. It was magic then and it's even more magical in my memories.
6) Cruisin' With Dolphins
As you can probably tell this was a trip of firsts for me. Above all, the most exciting first was cruising with a pod of dolphins on the last day of our trip. At sunset, we boarded a double decker boat and headed out past the reef to the open ocean. Once the crew spotted fins and water spray in the distance the race was on to catch up with the dolphins. They were so playful and fast! They would jump in the air and dive right in front of the boat. It was almost as if they were having as much fun with us as we were with them. After maybe 20 minutes the dolphins moved on and we were left with stunning views of glittering water and far off islands. Mmmmm that's when the champagne bottles were popped open. You all know how much I love a bit of the bubbly. Please, please, please if given the opportunity, don't opt out of this experience.
7) Seafood Heaven
I saved the best section for last. The food! When we arrived, Kalo and I made a pact to only eat seafood for the duration of our stay because hellooo we were on a remote island in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a bountiful ocean. Plus it's just too hot to even think about eating heavy meats. Sun Siyam has 11 restaurants each focused on a different cuisine. I enjoyed Islander's Grill, a beachfront venue serving up fresh seafood Maldivian style, above all the rest. It was there that I had some of the best steamed fish, grilled prawns and seared tuna in my life. Basically, anytime I saw "catch of the day" on the menu, that's what I ordered. On the side, green papaya salad and coconut rice were my go to. I know, again with the coconut. But the subtle sweetness is so understated compared to dishes I've eaten containing coconut before which tasted like sunscreen. My stomach is growling now and I want to go back.
To wrap things up, here are just a few more miscellaneous insights for any of the lucky few headed to the Maldives these days...
Opt for the sea plane to reach the island, it's quicker and the views are unreal
Wear SPF50 always, we set out on a walk after breakfast and got scorched (rookie mistake)
Humid as hell, the air is thick so remember to stay hydrated
Zika is present, pack jungle bug spray (we didn't get one bite)
Make your dinner reservations for 8-9, otherwise you'll be sweating in your food
Bring insulated Tervis tumblers to keep your cocktails cool
Rent kayaks and jet skis from the hotel's water sports desk, adds excitement to long beach days
Overall, it was a trip of a lifetime. And miraculously enough I'm running out of ways to express this with words. So I'll let the GoPro (thanks Bri and Ang) videos and gazillion photos speak for themselves. Head over to my Instagram ASAP!