Best of the Maldives: Pina Colada Variety – Kurumba

Kurumba - Pina Colada samples

One of the highlights of our summer tour this year was a pageant of a different sort. Less appealing to the sense of vision and more enticing the other senses of smell, taste and texture feel. The first ever “Pina Colada Off”.

When I tour the Maldives, there are a few non-negotiables in the itinerary. I must get a shot of us in front of the resort sign. I must snorkel every house reef (I’ve even jumped in during a few quite rough seas at times just to get a look at the seascape below). And I must sample the resort’s pina colada.

The pina colada is the iconic tropical drink. And like port with cigars and cards, or schnaps on the ski slopes, there is something that makes it irresistible in this setting. I rarely have pina coladas outside the Maldives (and when I do, it never tastes as good).

For me, the pina colada is a very useful acid test for a resort. It is complex enough that there are quite a range of possibilities in both style and quantity (more on the pina colada drink itself in a future post). I started including my “Pina Colada Test” assessments as a part of the Tour highlights reports posted on the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum. And frequent Forum Contributor, GM Jason Kruse, felt that the gauntlet had been laid down and he was not going to take this colada challenging lying down (even if it was on a lying down on a deck chair under the tropical sun with the water lapping inches away).

This virtual drinks derby was a point of pride for Kurumba. The resort whose very name embodies the coconut essence of the colada. So Jason’s Beverage Manager Courtney Hendrick (far right picture above) organised the first ever “Pina Colada Off” for out visit and served as our effervescent mistress of ceremonies.

And a lavish affair it was. In all my years as a pina colada aficionado, I have never experienced such imaginative and well-crafted coconut cocktails. The judging was intense with Craig Revel Horwood levels of scrutiny and discernment.

Bandara won “Best All Arounder” (he prides himself on his pina colada). Rohan’s was the “Coldest” (a criteria as important to me as heel leads are to Len Goodman), and Oliver was the “Most Inventive” (always an exceptional kudo here on Maldives Complete).

I think they are all definitely contenders for some of the top pina coladas in the Maldives. Not sure I have enough data points to crown any of theirs the absolutely #1 (also, an amazing one I had at Constance Halaveli haunts me). But their inventiveness and variations on the theme is unmatched completely.

It turns out that Courtney and Jason held their own not-so-dry run the day before and this is what Courteney reported…

“I was brand new to Kurumba and upon receiving an email of [Maldives Complete’s] expected arrival I decided to challenge all those willing to participate (those I had met and some I had not yet met) to come up with their very best version of the all-time island classic the Pina Colada. I cannot begin to describe how blown away I was by all team members who participated, their creativity and determination to not only produce their best Pina Colada but also to win the challenge was simply astonishing. However, Jason, Morgan, Ross and I had to make the very tough decision (I know hard life right!) which Pina Colada’s do we present? We decided on 3: Bandara’s, Oliver’s and Rohan’s. I chose Oliver’s Pina Colada as the tops because I was so impressed with his thinking behind the making of his Pina Colada. When Oliver got behind the bar the first thing he said was ‘A Pina Colada should be consistent from beginning to end it should not separate…’ and thus the most creative and inspiring Pina Colada was born!”

Kurumba has been gracious enough to share their recipes for anyone dying to sample these delightful variations (add your own palm trees, sunsets and turquoise seascape):

  • Bandara’s: Athiri Bar Supervisor and Pina Colada Extraordinaire!!!
    • Ingredients: 30mls Coconut cream, 30mls Monin Coconut Puree, 30mls Malibu, 30mls Appleton’s White Rum, 90mls Pineapple juice (half fresh half concentrate).
    • Method: Blend all ingredients without ice in a blender, FILL Pocco Grande glass with large cubes of ice and pour over.
    • Garnish: Slice of pineapple and a cherry.
  • Oliver’s: Brand New Bartender to Kurumba
    • Ingredients: 5x Cubes fresh pineapple, 30mls Coconut cream, 3x Ice cream scoops of house-made Coconut Sorbet, 30mls Malibu, 30mls Appleton’s White Rum, 30mls Monin Coconut Puree.
    • Method: Blend pineapple chunks in a blender to create a finer texture. Add all other ingredients without ice to the blender and blend for 1 minute. FILL Pilsner glass and garnish.
    • Garnish: Slice of pineapple and a cherry.
  • Rohan’s: Long standing Bartender and Shaker Extraordinaire.
    • Ingredients: 10 grams Fresh pineapple, 30mls Coconut cream, 30mls Malibu, 30mls Appleton’s White Rum, 60mls Pineapple juice
    • Method: Muddle 10grms of pineapple in a Boston glass. Add all remaining ingredients to the shaker, shake and strain over ice in a Highball glass.
    • Garnish: Slice of pineapple and a cherry.

Have a Kurumba Krimbo!

Best of the Maldives: Swimming Wheelchair – Kurumba

Kurumba - swimming wheelchair 2

Today is International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The subject is a bit personal to us as I am currently coaching para-rowing and Lori works with disabled clients for the Epilepsy Society of the UK. The versatility of materials and miniaturization of components has led to an inflection point in disability adaptations that remove countless obstacles that previously impeded impaired individuals.

Like those visiting paradise and wanting to soak in all of its magic including its sparking lagoons. Kurumba is already the resort leader in accessibility, and they have added even more to their support with swimming wheelchairs. Not only designed (with big wheels) to move easily across the soft sands of the beaches, but also to continue right into the water.

Kurumba - swiming wheel chair 1

Best of the Maldives: Waboba Ball – Kurumba

Waboba action at Kurumba

Mill pond flat water. One of the trademarks of the Maldives seascape. Especially in the sheltered lagoons. Just perfect for skipping stones. But the soft sandy beaches of the Maldives are devoid of stones pretty much. Anyway, you find the perfect skipping stone and then it’s gone after a single throw. It sinks to the watery abyss starting and finishing its skipping career in a single moment of glory.

The Australian innovation, Waboba Ball, takes the fun of skipping stones and turns it into a beach game. It is a ball weighted just enough to give it great skipping action. You can play skipping-catch (see above) or compete to see who get get the most skips in a throw.

An ideal Christmas gift for someone hanging around the Maldives shallow waters. Of course, such a great gift is only found in one of the Maldives’ finest stores, Kurumba’s Nala boutique.

Special thanks to my demonstrators Cailen and Keegan Calkin who provide the action demo above.

Kurumba - waboba ball beach

Best of the Maldives: People’s Choice All-Inclusive – Kurumba

Kurumba - TA Best All-Inclusive

I told you so. 3 years ago, I awarded Kurumba the “Best of the Maldives for 5 Star Value”. This week, the rest of the world agrees awarding the resort the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award for Best All-Inclusive. Not just in the Maldives. IN THE WORLD.

The “All-Inclusive” category is all about value-conscious travelling. Many travellers push their budget to the absolute limit in order to afford a bucket-list trip-of-a-lifetime to the Maldives. They don’t want to check-out and get hit with a bunch of unanticipated extra-charges. They want to relax and relaxation means peace of mind that they can do whatever the heck they want and not worry about it.

With the rise of the Maldives’ worldwide profile in recent years, room rates have gone up and up. Many people are opting for a few of the budget options that are out there that still provide the enchanting Maldives experience, but do offer quite simple accommodation, food, décor and amenities. The charm of Kurumba is that it maintains true 5-star exquisite luxury standards in all parts of its operation…and still remains reasonably priced. No wonder so many people have returned from their stays there and raved out it in their TripAdvisor reviews.

Kurumba - Trip Advisor lagoon
[Kurumba staff celebrating their recognition]

Best of the Maldives: Triathlon Team – Kurumba

Kurumba - Triathlon

Also flying around the hazardous cobbles of Male, nearly as death defying as the Red Bull skateboarding crew, is the Kurumba triathlon team. The only resort team in this the Maldives’ second ever triathlon, Thinvaru Triathlon.

Team Kurumba broke up the event by discipling with each member completing a different leg/discipline…

  • Swimming: Recreation Manager, Aishath Rizuna
  • Cycling: General Manager, Jason Kruse
  • Running: Fleet Manager, Shameem Mohamed

Each team member prepared extensively, but the big event was full of challenges and not just the obvious multi-disciplinary, cardio-pulmonary ones.

Rizu is always in the water and the swimming leg was held in a protected part of the ocean by Male. Nonetheless, it was Rizu’s very first competitive swim (and she’s not a big fan over wearing goggles).

Jason rides on a home cycle trainer 4-5 times a week, but quickly discover that IRL is a bit different. First of all, this non-native had to just find his way around one of the smallest capital cities in the world (Shameem had to take Jason for a motorbike ride around the course the day before the event so that he would not get lost). And on the day, the roads weren’t actually closed for the event. So Jason and other cyclists had to dodge cars, motorbikes and anything else that wandered onto the streets. All racing full speed along some pretty rough and cobbled surfaces. “Risky to say the least,” Jason noted.

Shameen runs 5-6 times per week for health and fitness. And he had to face perhaps the most bizarre hazard of all as he was confronted by a steady barrage of people on motorbikes coming up to photograph (pap life).

Jason summarised the event saying, “Really interesting with the road surface and that the roads were not closed…Bit of extreme cycling and running. Personally, I loved the well set out transition with the shoes, for the mountain bike with the colourful spokie dokiesWe also really liked that many different people at different fitness levels gave it a try. From Maldives fastest swimmer and runner, to some competitors who were there just to try and finish.

But Team Kurumba didn’t just finish, but came in with an impressive 9th place overall team finish.

The next event is being planned for Hulemale in May 2016. Yay Kurumba.

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Cappuccino – Kurumba

Kurumba - Coconut Cappuchino



International Coffee Day today. And in the United Nations of coffee styles, Kurumba presents the most Maldivian.

When we first started coming to the Maldives in the 90s, about the only thing we missed was a good cup of coffee (or latte or cappuccino) in the morning. Fast forward a decade, and the La Spaziales have arrived and you can get any pet percolation you desire including all forms of add-ins, milk froth and strengths. And in the Maldives, the most topical tropical variation is the perfectly paradise essence of coconut. So it didn’t come to much of a surprise to us that the epicentre of all things coconut in the Maldives, Kurumba, featured just such a coffee creation on its breakfast menu – the Coconut Cappuccino (see above).

A touch of cocoa and think breakfast mocha Bounty bar. Make mine a double-shot, skinny, extra Kurumba latte grande with cinnamon sprinkled on top!

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Beer – Kurumba

Kurumba - coconut beer

Coconut Full Moon today. Of all of the special “moons”, the Coconut Full Moon must be the most apropos to the Maldives. And of all the Maldives resorts, the eponymous Kurumba – which means “Coconut” in Dhivehi – is the most apropos to toast it. Kurumba offers a number of coconut specialties including its recently introduced, “Mongozo”, coconut beer. It is brewed in nearby Sri Lanka using normal processes but with a touch of coconut essence. Truly exotic brew.

Full moons have a number of colloquial names around the world. In the subcontinental region, the Coconut Full Moon is actually a cause for celebration, in particular the Coconut Day festival or “Narali Purnima” takes place in coast communities on the Indian Ocean to thank the sea God for calm waters…

“Nariyal Purnima, also known as the Coconut Full Moon, is celebrated with great merriment in many states of western India. Nariyal Purnima falls in the month of Shravana Purnima, which symbolises the end of monsoon season, and marks the beginning of the new fishing season for the fishermen as they avoid going into waters before this. Post festival, monsoon starts to recede; the sky becomes clear and the sea calm, as the tides too recede. All this makes fishing in the seas easy and safe. Therefore, the festival is very significant for the fishing community which is completely dependent on the sea for its livelihood. On this occasion, the sea god Varuna is worshipped and his blessings are sought; people offer coconuts to the sea as a symbol of thanksgiving.”

“The fishermen celebrate this festival by adorning their boats and putting flags on them, painting the coconuts and taking them to the sea to offer them to the God Varuna with prayers for bountiful fish catch and to protect them from all the risks and allowing them to sail safely…Thus, this time of happiness is rejoiced in the community gathering by singing and dancing in groups. As a coconut has three eyes, it is believed that it represents Lord Shiva and this is why it is considered an auspicious offering to the holy deity. In addition to this, it is believed that, it is the purest offering which is available on the earth and also, the water and the kernel inside it are considered to be pure. Coconut is broken in front of the divine beings as a mark of respect and also to take their blessings before setting off on to a new fishing season. The pieces of the broken coconut are given as prasad and the delicacy prepared during this festive time is coconut rice.”

The increasing ‘clear sky’ and ‘calm sea’, is something that all visitors can appreciate. So raise a glass of purest Mongozo!


Kurumba - Mongozo cocnut beer

Best of the Maldives Online: Weather Broadcast – Kurumba

Kurumba - weather video

What a weekend! We have sun, earth, and atmosphere, so we have weather! Not weather, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun!” – Harris K. Telemacher, “LA Story”

In the spirit of Harris K. Telemacher and Brick Tamland, a new addition to one of the great weather comedic broadcasters.

One of the most frequently asked questions by prospective visitors to the Maldives is, “When/where is the best weather?” I’ve post about periodically myself. The TripAdvisor Maldives Forum has a special FAQ thread about it. But Kurumba decided to really tackle the subject in a fun and informative way on its blockbuster YouTube channel.

High Pressure systems!… High pressure systems!…” – Brick Tamland, “Anchorman”

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 9: Kurumba

Kurumba tour 2015

Kurumba is the Hotel Cipriani of the Maldives. Nestled on its equivalent of Guidecca Island, the view (on one side of the island) of Male is like gazing out on the Venice of the tropics. A bit of bustle in the distance with you ensconced on your secluded patch of opulence. It may not be the “plot of sand and palm tree in the middle of the ocean” experience, but it is just as enchanting in its own way.

Kurumba is possibly the most unsung resort in the Maldives. Overshadowed by its proximity to Male and the airport, it is one of the truly distinctive properties. The level of luxury puts it in the upper ranks of the 5-star (not 5+ star) league table, but the price is one of the least expensive.

Kurumba is an island that doesn’t coast. No matter how many times I have visited (it is the one exception to my personal rule not to visit a resort more than once…and I have now visited Kurumba 7 times), I still uncover new treats and treasures that they have introduced. Their new New “Thila” restaurant is the best of both worlds – wide open to breeze with a firm floor and fans to cool you, or on the beach tables under a graceful canopy. It may be the oldest resorts in the Maldves, but it is always one of the freshest.

Kurumba continues to build on its coconut motif. Lori enjoyed the “Kurumba Cappuchino” which was cappuccino flavoured with essence of coconut. And they have taken the “Pina Colada Test” to a whole ‘nother level (details to follow in Best Of post).

Aye Kurumba.

Best of the Maldives: Marine Biologist – Verena Wiesbauer

Verena Weisbauer

When I first started coming to the Maldives, a few marine biologists kicked around the atolls usually on their own initiative maybe working on some research project. Now, every self-respecting top-fight resort has its own staff “MB” to provide presentations to guests, offer expert tours of the marine life on outings and also to support the resort’s eco-friendly initiatives to keep the reef and island healthy and vibrant.

I’ve meet dozens at this point, but one really stands out – Verena Wiesbauer. We first met her when he gave one of the best presentations on Maldives marine life at Kurumba a number of years ago. . She works as part of the “Eco-Islanders Maldives” organisation that helps resorts with a number of environmentally friendly initiatives especially around reef preservation. She’s the only Maldives MB I know of who is a published author on the Maldives. I’ve already featured her book, “Trees and Flowers of a Tropical Paradise” in one of the “QI – Maldives edition” series posts. In fact, she is a veritable “Maldives QI Elf” being by far the most prominent contributor to the quirky facts of that Maldives Complete series of posts.

In fact, in general, she is the most active MB contributor to Maldives Complete. She is always promptly responsive to questions I have and regularly offers up fun and useful information. Of course, she came into her own when I launched the “Dive Site Complete” feature. I have received material and information from many MBs across the country, but Verena has provided more support and material than everyone else combined (including the comprehensive list of the MPAs).