Kate Morfoot, leading travel writer and founder of LoveToEatToTravel.com, island hops to Noku Maldives and discovers paradise and a magical underwater world.
Be assured the Maldives are utterly stunning. It’s hardly surprising with it boasting the best beaches in the world, a beautiful year-round climate, warm crystal-clear sea and an enthralling rich and diverse underwater world. The sand really is white and powdery, the sea really is the colour of emeralds. It’s a destination of envy, a place where most people dream of taking a glorious holiday and it’s the top destination of choice for a honeymoon.
The resorts which occupy the atolls pull out all the stops to give you fine service and the best possible time for your hard-earned cash. With over 133 resorts to choose from, it’s hard to choose one over the other. What ticks the final box to make the final decision on where to holiday when the resorts are all located in this perfect paradise destination?
I made the ten-hour direct flight from Gatwick with British Airways to the Maldives to Noku. To get to Noku Maldives I took a seaplane from mainland Male. It’s just a 45-minute flight with TMA (Trans Maldivian Airways) from the international airport to Noku situated on Kuda Funafaru in Noonu Atoll. In my view this is an incredibly glamorous way to island hop and it gives you a superb birds eye view of the atolls below.
I describe Noku Maldives as a luxury boutique resort on an island sanctuary of calm. It’s a perfect resort for those who want to be peaceful and relax. Expect nothing apart from luxury on this barefoot island. ‘Take your time, no rush’ is their motto. It doesn’t take me long to wind down from the journey where I had a wonderful lunch by the sea overlooking the ever-varying blue hues of the Indian Ocean.
The menu is changed daily and caters for all dietary requirements. Taking into consideration that the island is in the middle of nowhere, it is undoubtedly world-class restaurant quality. The breakfasts were incredible, as were the descriptions about your options, which also changed daily!
For drinks; ‘Breakfast without coffee and juice is like a day without the sky and ocean.’ Options for bread; ‘Love and baking cannot be hurried.’ For granola; ‘Flakes of pleasure.’ Even the menu became a simple pleasure of what Chef Tarique had thought of today….!
It’s fresh and interesting and many of the dishes have Maldivian and Asian flavours and influences. Fresh fish is caught daily so depending on the catch you can enjoy tuna, reef fish or snapper. At this resort there’s only table service, perfect for those who dislike buffets.
Noku didn’t disappoint with diverse food choices and quality of fresh ingredients. Both Palms Restaurant and their waterside ‘dining under the stars’ ‘Thari’ Restaurant were both excellent, the menus were tasty with food influences representing their portfolio of hotels which include Japan, Thailand and of course, the Maldives.
Noku Maldives has 30 over-water villas and 20 private beach villas. My beach villa was beautifully appointed with high ceilings and spacious rooms just steps from the white sandy beach. The super-sized king bed was situated opposite the French doors accessible both with a view or a short walk to the sea. The roll top bath with luxury sea salts accompanied an indoor shower and outdoor rain shower with access outside to the sun deck with sun loungers, an outdoor table and a hammock.
The villas have all been created with the utmost privacy in mind and I was pleased not to have a TV to interrupt the peacefulness I had come to treasure. The fridge is stocked daily with fresh juices and milk in attractive glass bottles and homemade breadfruit crisps.
The island is focussed on being plastic free, no plastic bags, straws or bottles to be seen. They are also active with its coral growing programme and buy produce where possible from the local farm islands.
Things to do? Apart from relaxing by the infinity pool or on the pristine beach, there’s the Sub Oceanic at Noku Maldives. Noku’s five-star PADI dive centre has a friendly and professional team boasting brand new scuba equipment, it has an excellent dive boat ‘dhoni’ to take you out to the best diving locations in the area. I took my Aqualung scuba diving kit, but it’s not necessary unless you like having your own gear, because most resorts hire good top diving equipment.
The resort location in Noonu atoll is right in the middle of a thriving marine ecosystem which is surrounded by rich and beautiful house reefs. Here you will find their coral garden project where they are planting coral to create additional habit for the underwater life and eco-system.
I explored some fascinating dive sites in my quest to become an Advanced Open Water PADI diver. In addition I completed my knowledge development back home online via PADI eLearning. I then went on to complete five dives with my PADI Instructor at NOKU.
One site is called ‘Shark Point’ which didn’t fail to deliver on tremendous shark spotting! On my dive at Orimas Thila, I saw many white tipped reef sharks, sea turtles, shoals of trumpet fish and many colour fish and corals.
At Bodurah Gaa Giri we found sleeping nurse sharks, sting rays in caves, shrimps and families of lionfish, not to mention snapping moray eels! On another dive I was fortunate enough to scuba with dolphins and say hello to a passing turtle at a depth of 17m and view spotted eagle rays.
The diving visibility is excellent and there’s an abundance of underwater life. The house reef beyond the sunset water villas is also excellent for snorkelling. Paddle boarding and kayaking is available to explore the island shores as well as catamaran sailing, fishing or kite flying. Sunset and dolphin cruises are offered as well as an island excursion. With average sea temperatures of around a warm 26 degrees, it’s fantastic to enjoy the sea and lovely sunshine.
I was fortunate to be invited to visit a neighbouring island Ken’dikulhudhoo where my dive instructor lives with his wife Shadia and their three sons. The island is the tenth biggest island in the Maldives archipelago and according to the census 2014, Ken’dhikulhudhoo is home to 1767 people. It was interesting to get an insight into the lives of the islanders, who mainly work in fishing, agriculture and tourism.
I walked past island women sitting under the shade of the breadfruit tree happily sorting through their sea almonds. I visited areas of land growing pumpkins and courgettes and Lake Maafalhu which was formerly a place for growing sea cucumber. It’s the only lake to be found on any of the Maldivian islands.
Shadia and Ismail were most gracious and hosted me in their home with tea and homemade spicy deep-fried fish balls and cakes before I departed back to Noku by speedboat. I will be forever grateful for their hospitality and for Ismail being a brilliant dive instructor and getting me through my Advanced Open Water PADI exam.
Noku hosts fish feeding evenings attracting many fish as well as juvenile reef sharks while serving tea and homemade treats, movie nights and traditional dancing and music evenings. There’s also daily morning yoga in the Spa Alcove overlooking the sea, a well-equipped gym for working off the excess food and a more tempting Noku Spa, where you can truly relax and unwind with four professional treatments, with indoor and outdoor showers, a swimming pool, together with wonderful lotions and potions to really help you switch off.
What can you expect from Noku Maldives? Five-star personal service, space, tranquillity, luxury, privacy, safety, nature and above all, deliciously fresh food served with a smile in true paradise.
Address: Kuda-Funafaru, Maldives
Phone: +960 656-1010
How to get there
Parking with Airport Parking and Hotels – visit aph.com.
Kate flew direct from London Gatwick to Velana International Airport with British Airways.
Book via the NOKU Resort for their best prices at nokuhotels.com where a seaplane can be arranged to get to the resort.
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world’s largest and leading diver training organization with more than 6,600 dive centers and resorts and over 137,000 professional members worldwide.
PADI Travel is an online travel resource for divers and adventurers alike, offering information and online booking for more than 300 dive destinations around the world.
Travellers will find that InsureandGo’s lead-in budget policy includes 50 activities and sports as standard. An InsureandGo annual worldwide (excluding USA, Canada, Mexico and Caribbean) budget policy starts from £40.99.
For more information or to purchase a policy, visit insureandgo.com.
Images courtesy of Noku Maldives