Is the best family resort in the Maldives worth the hype?

Ahhh the Maldives. One of the most beautiful tropical destinations on earth. I was fortunate to experience my first family getaway with my husband and 1year old daughter London a few weeks back on Kandooma Island – the most popular island and resort location in the Maldives for families. The Maldives had been on our travel bucket-list for years, so lucky for my husband who’s an obsessed surfer – half the island is famous for amazing surf, and the other half of the island is serene turquoise water overlooked by a family resort – best of both worlds!

Ironically, we had been trying to secure a Travelshoot test shoot in the Maldives for months. Seasonal weather, and remote islands can make this location a little tricky. So when the team found out my husband and I had made a last minute booking - they booked me in as the test family for one of the new local photographers we had found. Turns out the day we did our shoot was extremely humid – so as a 6month pregnant mother with a crazy 1yr old running around, my ‘vision’ of time for an amazing blow-dry and flawless makeup pre-shoot was a joke (and clearly never happened) but regardless – we lapped up the sunshine for some incredible shots around the island. I’m fortunate to have experienced a few Travelshoots of my own since starting the business, but I think this might be a favourite. You can clearly see in the photos just how BLUE the water really is – it literally matches the expectations you set from the travel brochures, and the over water bungalows (if you don’t have small children) I totally get now – no doubt absolutely worth the cost for at least a night. 

For any families considering the Maldives as a destination, I made a few notes about Kandooma Island given it’s famous for being the family friendly go-to:

  • The kids club is incredible – it’s huge and spread over two levels with ballpits, movies zones, a library, and plenty of daytime activities. Perfect for kids of all ages and the staff are incredibly friendly and obsessed with children. You can also hire babysitters (trained childcare workers) through the kids club for daytime or night-time sitting for $12US an hour.
  • The main restaurant (Kandooma Café) hosts a variety of food perfect for the whole family, and we even had the chefs making custom dishes for our little one
  • Kids under 12 eat free in all restaurants – a big bonus when the cost of food in the Maldives is famously expensive (think $25US for a basic burger)
  • For older children (say 6 plus) there’s plenty of activities and watersports for entertainment
  • The boat ride from the airport is only 40minutes so it’s one of the closest islands by boat. However lesson learnt – our little one got seasickness halfway as the open ocean can be rough, so we had water on standby and on purpose didn’t feed her beforehand
  • We stayed in a beach villa (the smaller single ground option) and the positive was it was big enough for a cot with plenty of room and no stairs. Downside was it was a small walk from the main hub of the resort – about a 400m walk on the other side of the island. The novelty of doing the walk with a pram, in the heat quickly wore off (particularly pregnant too) so we ended up calling for a golf buggy transfer on quite a lot of occasions which only takes 5mins. The 2 story beach villas which are closer have better views, but involve a flight of stairs to entry, and the bottom level is open and exposed – so you have sand as your lounge room floor. (not my thing with a little one!)
  • Pool facilities are first class – huge lagoon pool overlooking the ocean with multiple levels for all ages of children
  • Weather was a little hit and miss when we went – tropical rain (heavy rain too) is sporadic throughout October, so do check time of year when planning your own trip

So in short, I totally agree with the resort being famous for families, it certainly does cater for that part of the market. And even better – if anyone in the family does surf, my husband thoroughly enjoyed a couple hours each day surfing new breaks on the island and via daily boat trips to other breaks in the Maldives. (check out The Perfect Wave to organize surf passes before you go)

I think we were lucky and had friends who had been to the Maldives beforehand and had mentally prepared us for just how expensive it can be if you choose not to do an all inclusive package, we chose half board and risked the ‘shock’ of overpriced meals, but because we were prepared and had google stalked menus and prices beforehand, we had budgeted for it as part of the trip. I would definitely recommend doing your homework on any resorts and weigh up the value of all inclusive packages, particularly as a family travelling.

And finally there’s a few different ways to get to the Maldives, for us we chose to do a night-time flight from Brisbane to Singapore (7hours) leaving at midnight, had 4hour stop-over, and then it’s a 4hour flight to Male, and then a 45minute boat to the island. We found this route quite seamless with a little one, we were lucky to have a bassinet on all flights, and she was a pretty good sleeper which made the journey not too tiring.

Overall verdict? Amazing as the brochure, expensive but just be prepared for that, and Kandooma Island is definitely worth the family friendly hype.

And of course if you would like to book your own MALDIVES TRAVELSHOOT to capture your own memories in this incredible part of the world - our new local photographers can cater for any island, we can work with you on coordinating travel plans so just contact us!