It is no secret that I adore the Maldives. I know as a travel blogger this might be a little bit surprising because after all, the Maldives are not known for great adventures (unless of course, you count scuba diving!), culture or mingling with locals but rather for luxury and la dolce vita. I know I am fortunate that I have a job that brings me much adventure and once in a lifetime opportunities on a regular basis so when it comes to my ideal version of a holiday all I need is a beach, a book, good food and wine, and an ocean to dive in. For all of that, the Maldives is utterly perfect and so I decided to turn my recent trip there into my long awaited holidays.
Yes, I know that is another aspect of my job a lot of people struggle with – am I not on a perpetual holiday?

While I hate to burst anyone’s bubble the answer to that is no. While I adore my job I usually spend the majority of my day on my laptop writing, researching, editing photos and doing admin. And just because there is usually a beach somewhere in the vicinity doesn’t diminish that this is work. In fact, I think it is one of the biggest travel blogger myth that we frequently work on the beach. It doesn’t work this way for the simple reasons of screen reflection, terrifying sand, and usually a lack of wifi. Most bloggers also tend to need some sort of desk or table or in my case a comfy bed (I have written an entire book while sitting in bed, to me it is the most comfortable way to write).

In addition, I am a freelancer. So holidays for me not only mean that I have to pay for the holiday but also that I am not paid during this time. This requires careful planning and budgeting, more so for me than for people with a full-time job who know where their next paycheck is coming from.
So no, while I do love my job my last proper holiday was quite a while ago and an invitation to the Maldives seemed to be the perfect opportunity to rectify this situation.

My first hotel stay welcomed me with grandeur and the usual flurry of activities. I had to do everything, see it all and eat it all, and even down times were filled with photo shoots and social media posts. While everything was exciting and beautiful my holiday feelings didn’t set it until I arrived in Kandolhu.

Kandolhu Holidays

Kandolhu named after the local flower is a short seaplane ride away from Male and located in the North Ari Atoll. As soon as I arrive I take a deep breath, feel my shoulders relax and smile. There seems to be something in the air that instantly relaxes me. Compared to many other Maldives resorts, Kandolhu is blissfully small. They only offer 30 villas and you can surround the entire island in a matter of minutes. Kandolhu not only has many repeat guests but also lots of customers who stay for longer than a week (some even months – isn’t that the dream?!), something that speaks volumes for their service especially in a destination where island & resort hopping is part of most travelers’ itinerary.

First up is a quick site inspection so I can get acquainted with all Kandolhu has to offer and then I am left on my own devices in my overwater villa. That’s when I start to feel funny. Funny in a good way, funny in a way of – hoooolidays! I break the cardinal rule of travel blogging and postpone photographing my room until the next day and instead put on my bikini and catch the final rays of sun on my terrace. No camera but just my book and my suntan lotion. When I get too hot I grab my mask and snorkel and explore my backyard via the ladder that leads directly from my terrace into the ocean. Again, no camera but just a few baby sharks and parrot fish. I float on my back and close my eyes for what feels like hours, salt and sun on my skin, a soft breeze on my face. I stay until a particularly enthusiastic wave washes over me, I like to think it is telling me cocktail hour is about to commence.

Food is the biggest surprise for me at Kandolhu because, to be honest, I used to be scared of all-inclusive resorts. And that, even in the Maldives where booking an all-inclusive package is the most economical way to go. For the most part, I hate buffets, don’t like the fact that most all-inclusive offers will make you pay extra for the really good stuff and that the food always seems sub-par. You may think that I am rather high maintenance but if you splurge on a destination like the Maldives I think you have high expectations that don’t stop when meal time rolls around – am I the only one who travels to eat??

I shouldn’t have worried at Kandolhu. The food is varied but not in a way of ‘we are trying to please everyone but can’t get anything right’. They have fine dining, a taco stand, an intimate Japanese counter, a grill, and best of all don’t mind making me a lobster roll with fries outside of lunch hours after donning some puppy-dog-eyes at the waiter (no, I am not beyond batting my eyelashes when I get hungry). Needless to say, all of this is supported by a bar with an appropriate cocktail array for sundowners, fully stocked minibar and separate wine fridge, and ice-cold Coronas for lunch.

When I return to my room after feasting on scallop sashimi and grilled fish, I find that turndown service has brought me a good-night treat (an advantage of traveling alone to a honeymoon destination – you get two of each!) as well as stocked up on my sparkling water which to my delight is served in refillable glass bottles. I sleep like a log, always a good sign and when I wake up I potter around with fresh coffee and CNN – my idea of paradise in the morning when my laptop and I are on vacation.

Kandolhu is small but that doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch in case you want to be entertained. They have a gym and a spa (they are going to start offering all-inclusive spa packages soon!) as well as their own PADI dive center and a long list of water-related excursions. If you know how you can even take the resident Hobie Cat for a sail. You can almost surround the entire island snorkeling and to document your finds, Kandolhu provides a GoPro with an underwater housing for each guest to use during their stay. For those who need a little guidance, you can even book your own snorkeling guide who will show you were to find turtles, Nemos and Dorys.

I am happy to spend my days lounging in a beach chair in the company of a fruit bat, reading and cooling off occasionally in the ocean to check on my baby shark friends. I only move for a change of scenery, when it is meal time or nap time – yes, I actually ‘waste’ my time on a nap every day and it feels incredibly luxurious as does naked tanning in the privacy of my own deck.

While my vacation at Kandolhu only lasts three days, they pass blissfully slow and when I leave I feel like I have had a proper holiday. Even my laptop which was ignored during my day seems in a better mood now. The last morning brings a double order of huevos rancheros for breakfast and a mad scramble to tidy my room. Only now have I remembered that I also came here to do a job and finally take those room pictures. Mind you, I don’t feel particularly bad about it – after all, it is hardly my fault to be so relaxed that I almost forgot.

Disclaimer: If you are looking for the best Maldives resort to relax, disconnect and eat the most amazing food, Kandolhu is the place for you. They invited me for a 3-night stay with full board – thank you!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!