Bandos Maldives resort in the Maldives

Bandos Maldives resort is a 10-minute speed boat journey from Velana International Airport, which for international air travellers is the principal point of arrival into the Maldives.

The resort was my base during the first World Travel Writers’ Conference, whose keynote sessions and panel discussions were held in the Bandos Maldives’ air-conditioned conference suite.

Arrival at Bandos Maldives

During the welcome and orientation briefing I was served a refreshing coconut. Afterwards those of us who’d just arrived were invited to hop aboard an electric buggy to be shown to our rooms. I was allocated a standard room a few paces back from the north-east shore of the compact island, which is just over 400 metres in diameter.

Aerial photos show Bandos Island as being almost circular with a lush green core ringed by a white, sandy beach and set in blue water. It would have been easy to walk across the island but, handily, the driver used the journey to point out the location of the swimming pool, mosque, gym and dive centre.

The island was one of the first to open as a resort, back in 1972, when the Maldives began promoting tourism. The nation’s one island, one resort policy has been a factor in the Maldives gaining a reputation as an exclusive holiday destination. As I discovered during my stay, it’s possible to participate in a range of activities and you don’t necessarily need to be planning a honeymoon to justify a trip to the Maldives.

This beach was seconds from the door of my room.
This beach was seconds from the door of my room.

Accommodation on the island

My air-conditioned room featured wooden flooring, a thatched ceiling and king-size bed. Handily, the room had a desk at which I could work and a safe, in which I could lock my equipment while spending time in the ocean. Though the veranda had a couple of chairs I preferred taking a couple of dozen steps extra, so that I could sit on the beach and read.

Within easy strolling distance of my room I found padded loungers on the sand, beneath palm trees angling over the water. Hammocks were slung in shade between palms. One of the hammocks proved the ideal place to read literature relating to the conference while listening to the soothing sound of rustling of palm fronds and the rhythmic lapping of waves on the beach.

My bedroom at the Bandos Maldives.
My bedroom at the Bandos Maldives.

Food and drink at Bandos

The majority of the meals I took at Bandos Maldives were within the open-sided Galley Restaurant. Buffet meals provided Continental and Indian style food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoyed starting my days on the island by tucking into mild Maldivian curry and mashuni (tuna sambal) served with roshi, a type of soft flatbread.

The resort has a range of dining options including pool and beach bars. As its name suggests, Koon Thai serves cuisine from Thailand. Indian and Italian dishes count among the options at the Sea Breeze Café, whose overwater decking proved a great place to watch blacktip reef sharks swimming among shoals of fish. Some of the sharks are up to two metres in length and the presence of the non-aggressive creatures is a factor in drawing scuba divers to the Bandos reef.

I also grabbed a burger at Huvan, the overwater bar-restaurant that is a hit with people who enjoy sundowner cocktails while watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

Maldivian chicken curry, mashuni and roshi.
Maldivian chicken curry, mashuni and roshi.

Diving and snorkelling off Bandos Island

Bandos Resort has a PADI-accredited scuba diving school. The state-of-the-art facilities include decompression and hyperbaric chambers.

I joined a dive on the house reef, which resulted in a multitude of sightings, including scorpion fish, blacktip reef shark and hawksbill turtle. I later got back in the water to snorkel, enabling me to see many more colourful reef fish.

A blacktip reef shark.
A blacktip reef shark.

Bloggers Allison Green and Aleah Taboclaon also went diving from a boat with the team from Dive Bandos, enabling them to see manta rays circling in the waters.

With Mohammad, an instructor at DIve Bandos, after snorkelling.
With Mohammad, an instructor at DIve Bandos, after snorkelling.

Wellness treatments at Orchid Spa

On arrival at Orchid Spa, the resort’s wellness centre, I filled out a health questionnaire and discussed potential treatments.

My work entails long hours in front of a keyboard, resulting in shoulder tension. The team suggested a signature massage could help smooth out knots in my back.

That was duly carried out in a cottage where soft music and a gentle scent helped create a relaxing atmosphere for me to enjoy the masseuse’s work.

One of the treatment rooms at the Orchid Spa.
One of the treatment rooms at the Orchid Spa.

Sporting facilities at Bandos Maldives

Walking back towards my room took me past the gardens and greenhouses where fruit and vegetables are grown on Bandos Island.

The stroll also gave me a chance to admire the synthetic football pitch where the staff team were participating in what appeared to be an intensive training session.

With a volleyball court, tennis courts, indoor badminton facilities and a gym, the island gives people who are looking to get or stay in shape options. After swimming in the sea and pool I enjoyed a couple of rounds in the steam room.

The synthetic soccer pitch at the Bandos Maldives resort.
The synthetic soccer pitch at the Bandos Maldives resort.

Excursions from the island

I participated in a fishing trip, a sunset boat cruise and a tour of neighbouring islands during my time at Bandos Maldives. The availability of activities and excursions dispelled my preconception that a visit to the Maldives has to entail flopping on a beach and doing little else. That said, after walking barefoot in the soft sand, I can appreciate why some people can spend so long on Maldivian beaches.

Would I like to return to the Maldives? Definitely. I’d love to do more diving in the Indian Ocean and returned home with positive impressions of the Bandos Maldives.

Freshly caught fish grilled after a night fishing excursion.
Freshly caught fish grilled after a night fishing excursion.

Getting to the Maldives

Stuart flew to the Maldives’ Male International Airport with Qatar Airways from London’s Heathrow Airport, via the airline’s hub at Doha.

Sunset over the Indian Ocean seen from Bandos Island.
Sunset over the Indian Ocean seen from Bandos Island.

Further information

See the Bandos Maldives website for more information about the resort on Bandos Island, including offers and to book a stay. Jacuzzi pool villas and overwater villas are also available on the island.

The Visit Maldives website provides an overview of things to do and see on the islands in the Indian Ocean.

Photos illustrating this post are by Stuart Forster.

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Declaration: Stuart travelled to the Maldives to attend the World Travel Writers’ Conference organised by Maldives TV.

8 Comments

  • Aidan McCabe

    December 26, 2017 at 16:37 Reply

    The Maldives is a destination I’m considering for a diving holiday with mates.

    • Stuart Forster

      December 29, 2017 at 10:34 Reply

      I think you’d be making a good choice.

  • Michael Harle

    December 26, 2017 at 20:38 Reply

    Now this sounds worth getting on a plane to visit.

    • Stuart Forster

      December 29, 2017 at 10:38 Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly!

  • Jamie

    January 9, 2018 at 10:15 Reply

    This is on my shortlist of travel destinations. Seems like a luxury paradise!

    • Stuart Forster

      January 9, 2018 at 11:16 Reply

      In part but there’s a growing trend of affordable accommodation opening in the Maldives.

  • Leigh Wayne

    January 11, 2018 at 18:25 Reply

    After finishing studying I’ve read a few of your blog posts. I like your way of blogging. The Maldives looks spectacular.

    • Stuart Forster

      January 12, 2018 at 09:33 Reply

      Thanks, Leigh. Yes, the Maldives proved gorgeous and I’d love to return.

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