Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 3: Stormy weather

Male weather forecast

One of my greatest fears when visiting the Maldives in past years was not sharks in the ocean, or travel complications, but the weather going sour. It was all so perfect that you just wondered whether it just might turn some day. We have generally visited in February which is the absolute best/dryest month for ensuring the best whether, but we have also visited in June and October. Out of 6 weeks of visits, we have encountered only a single afternoon rain shower that lasted about 20 minutes. In fact, it was so unusual, and we were already wet from snorkelling, that the rain was somewhat of a curious novelty that didn’t hurt the holiday one bit.

Still, each day when we woke up, the room was always dark from the shades being pulled and being so dark I wondered if when I pulled the shades, I would reveal a dreary, grey day for once. Well, every single time, I opened the windows to a sparkling sunny morning with bright blue skies. It seemed just uncanny how regularly bright and sunny the days were.

So you can imagine my trepidation when I looked at the weather for this weeks stay and every single day of the week forecast “Scattered T-Storms” (see graphic above with its ominous dark cloud and lightning bolt!). We are officially at the end of the May to November ‘monsoon’ or ‘rainy’ season. But having visited during this period before without seeing a drop of rain, I wasn’t overly apprehensive. Plus, it was ‘at the end’ so statistically any raininess would in my logical mind be tapering off if anything.

Well, we arrived to scattered clouds some of which turned into a torrential downpour for about half an hour. That was interesting, but then it stopped and the rest of the day was cloudy, but very warm (30 degree Fahrenheit) and it was thoroughly pleasant. In fact, the rain seemed to perk up the many flowers and soften the landscape. Then yesterday started with a mostly cloudy skies, but plenty of inspiring blue and all and all a very pleasant weather. As it happens, another 30 minute downpour came down in the late afternoon, but it was while we were napping after our afternoon dive and we didn’t even know it had rained until we emerged for Pina Colada time by which time things had settled nicely.

Today should have been my worst fear. I woke up early, pulled the curtains back and there was a steady rain outside. Mind you, it’s not as nice as waking up to sparkling sunshine, but it was not as bad as it could be. Somehow the day is brighter than when it rains in England. The sky is white with cloud, not grey. The rain is warm, not chilling. Not bad for a periodic change of pace, but if a lot of the week was going to be like this, then I would start to miss the dazzling sunshine certainly.

There certainly are downsides to the clouds and rain. Less eating outside (more windy and wet), less lovely ocean sunsets (though a little bit of cloud is ideal to create the best sunsets), less sunbathing (not my thing).

Actually, when it stopped, it made you appreciate the good weather more (‘yay, the rain stopped’). Another bonus of the still cloudy skies was the perfect temperature, perfect lighting for reading outside. Interesting that the rain and cloudy days haven’t ‘ruined’ the Maldives, but just sort of muted it. Sort of like a delicious meal that needs salt and pepper. Maldives without sunshine is like a savory stew of paradisiacal delights that just needs that dash of spice for perfection. Maldives without the sparkle, but still the glow.

Nonetheless, despite being the absolutely worst day of weather we had ever experienced, it turned out to be one of the best days I had spent here (great dive in morning, perfect outdoor reading conditions midday, superb snorkel with the family around the house reef in the afternoon). There is an old bumper sticker which says ‘A bad day sailing/golfing/etc. is better than a good day at the office.’ It just goes to show you that ‘A bad day in Maldives is still better than a good day just about anywhere else.’

Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 2: Kurumba first impressions

Kurumba resort entrance

We’ve arrived at our resort Kurumba. We chose Kurumba as a good value, highly rated resort near Male and pretty much it delivers on all fronts. We will see how the week transpires to uncover the pleasant surprises and the annoying disappointments, but here are my first impressions.

Kurumba makes me think of the ‘Marks and Spencers’ of Maldive resorts (or for Americans, the analogy would be ‘Nordstroms’) – high quality, nothing to fault it, fine service, fine choice, but still a big, commercial establishment rather than a charming boutique. A perfect place to go for that safe and standardized, but don’t expect the magically quirky and distinctive. Perhaps another retail metaphor would be that it is Selfridges not Harrods or Nordstroms not Bergdorf Goodman.

BUILT UP AREA – The first thing that really defines the character of Kurumba (which can be said for all of the Maldives resorts) is its location. Kurumba is one of the closest to the main centre of Maldives’ capital Male. What that means is that you are surrounded by lots of other developed islands (in more remote islands, there are often other islands around you, but they are deserted), big freighter ships, yachts, the city of Male itself (quite a relatively modern and prominent area across the water), and airplanes coming and going from the airport. I hadn’t thought that the lattermost one would be of bother, but I think now that Maldives has developed more as a destination and a country, the air traffic is that much more and the take-offs and landings of quite big jets is quite regular and has a palpable effect on the peace and quiet of Kurumba.

CONCRETE – Perhaps the most prominent feature that really transforms that ‘feel’ of the resort itself is the pavement. Paved walkways, concrete infrastructure, solid restaurant floors. Great if you (a) want easier walking, (b) are fashionable and prefer to wear dressy shoes around (I personally prefer going barefoot *all* week, but I did see someone in high heels at breakfast this morning), or (c) mobile handicapped (in fact, I would hazard that Kurumba is the most wheelchair accessible resort I have seen with not only the paved walkways, golf carts to take people around if needed and lots of ramps to structures). Furthermore, a number of areas appear to be concrete with a layer of sand laid over them. Unfortunately, some of the sand has blown away exposing the concrete in many areas. Finally, all of the restaurants have floors. I really miss the sand floors of so many resorts that I have been to. Again, if you are into wearing nice shoes to dinner, this might actually be a plus for you. But for me and my barefoot existence here, it is a drawback. On top of that, they do not offer any dining on the beach. Most resorts at least hold BBQs and special events on the beach once a week. Others allow you to move a table from the restaurant down to the beach. Kurumba was very unwilling to do the latter when we dined which really gets up my nose. If I am at an ostensibly 5-star hotel and paying $40 per entree (yes, that is a typical price a la carte here) and I want to move my table 10 feet to enhance the experience, then I had better be able to do so. That is what real service is all about. Not just pushing in your chair for you and bringing your breakfast omelette to your table for you. 🙁

I would recommend Kurumba for very conservative travellers, or those who prefer a more elegant and refined resort at a price you can afford. Kurumba is often advertised as a 5 star rating, but that seems a bit dated and I would put it more at 4.5 which is where the TripAdvisor rating comes in at. Still, it is one of the least expensive advertised 5 star places, and hence best value, that I have come across.  Our daughter Isley said that the resort had less ‘romance’ than the others we had visited (this is our 7th trip to the Maldives). She didn’t directly mean in it in a love-and-kisses romance way, but more in an aesthetic, idyllic way, but the characterisation definitely holds for that kind of romance as well obviously.