Our trip to the Maldives starts off with a two hour drive to Newark International Airport arriving around 9pm for our 12:25am flight on Turkish airlines. We would be connecting through Istanbul, with a six hour layover. Turkish Airlines provided us access to SAS Lounge, since United's Polaris lounge had closed earlier. We headed to the lounge after passing through security and grabbed a small bite to eat.

SAS Lounge
SAS Lounge

Our flight boarded on time. We settled into our seats and a Turkish Airlines Chef, with hat and all, took our dinner order. The cabin temperature was a bit warm. I had read online that Turkish flights seems to be on the warmer side. Prior to take off we were also provided noise canceling headphones and an amenity kit with various items such as socks, earplugs, and a sleeping mask.

The first flight was around 10 hours long. After dinner service, we slept for several hours and woke up with three hours to go. Breakfast was served shortly after we woke up, which was weird because now it’s nearly 5pm at our destination, so I feel we should switch to dinner to get used to it.

We arrived in Istanbul and headed to the business class lounge. We thought Qatar's lounge was big, this one was immense. The food was amazing, probably the best lounge we have ever been to. They had a virtual reality flight simulator, golf simulator, a masseuse that would walk around, and more. Finally it was time to board. We left the lounge and headed to our gate. Our departing flight was delayed 30 minutes, but we still arrived at the Male International Airport early.

We had arranged a special arrival service. We headed down the stairs of the aircraft and were met by a representative holding a sign with our names on it. Instead of getting crammed into a bus with everyone and having to go through immigration, we took a private car to a VIP lounge and the representative took our passports and handled all of the entry services.

Once completed, we were escorted to our seaplane to head to Kandolhu Island Resort. Once the sea plane landed at the dock, were were picked up by the boat named Kandolhu II. The Indian Ocean was very rough for our transfer. The manager, Irene, who greeted us explained this was unusual for this time of year.

As we arrived to the island we were shown to our over water villa with a pool. The room was larger than expected, but the bathroom was unexpectedly ourdoors and not directly connected to the main room. We have stayed in similar properties like this before, we just were unaware of this prior to arriving.

Our first full day on the island starts off with a 7am breakfast in order for us to make our 8am Whale Shark Excursion. Check out our next post for details on the excursion.

During our stay, we snorkeled every day and saw the most amazing sea life. We saw sea turtles, eels, sharks, and so many fish.

The food during our stay was good, not great. They had several restaurants on property, some of which required reservations. Service staff were extremely nice and learned our names within the first day. They did seem to be spread pretty thin, which made service time very slow. Often times we would be wanting or waiting on something for quite a while. Most dinners took about two hours. This may just be how things work on this side of the world, but it stood out to us. That said, I don't recall ever getting an incorrect order.

Kandolhu recognized our Anniversary while we were there with champagne and a cake.

One of the staff who doesn’t speak great English pointed out the Milky Way to us as we walked on the dock back to our room. Since there is little light pollution in the Maldives, it is visible with the naked eye. This made me wish I had brought my good camera, but it would have been a hassle so I didn't. I did use my iPhone to take some night pics of the Villas.

During our stay, we took several photos of the island. Here are a few of them.

The time had come to end our trip. We were lucky enough to stay in room until departure. This was great since it was so hot!!! We would depart via boat back to the seaplane dock at 3:30pm. We made one stop on the way back to Male International Airport. We were met by a Kandolhu representative and taken to the CIP lounge to wait for our flight.

The CIP lounge was super quiet with not many guests. They had a variety of food to include fried fish, rice with vegetables and egg, lamb, and steak.

As boarding began, we continued to sit in the cool air conditioned lounge. A short time later, a staff member came up to us and asked if we were ready. We then proceeded through a simple private security check and got in a van. Our carry on luggage was loaded and off we went to the plane. Meanwhile, boarding at the gate has begun and people were being crammed into buses and shuttled to the plane.

Our van pulled up behind one of the buses, they stopped the passengers from boarding and escorted us through carrying our bags to the top of the stairs. This is definitely our new way to travel when we can. We could have opted to board very last with only a few minutes to spare, but since we travel with only carryons, overhead space even in business class was a concern.

A little over 8 hours later we landed in Istanbul. Instead of a six hour layover like last time, we are now at 13 hours! We headed to the lounge and got nearly the same seats as before. It’s now 6am and breakfast time. I tried a Turkish Coffee and it was surprisingly good. It is served in a small cup in traditional colors. Very thick but not overpowering. I had two of them. Let’s just say, I didn’t think I would be struggling for energy for the rest of the trip.

The Turkish Business Class lounge is by far the best lounge we have experienced. It is continuously being cleaned and has dedicated staff in the bathrooms to keep things tidy. After 12 hours or so sitting here, it was time to board and finish our 43 hour journey back home. As we passed through the final security checkpoint in Istanbul, the Turkish security agent told my wife "OK, bye bye lady" when the bag inspection was complete.

Photos from my trip to the Maldives in 2023
Videos from our trip to Kandolhu Island Resort in the Maldives.