Having been to Bora Bora before and a few Caribbean Islands, I was a little concerned before carving out a few days from our trip to India to visit the Maldives. How is it going to be any different from Bora Bora was my excuse. We looked through countless properties and photos of the breathtakingly beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean, all ringed by sandy beaches, turquoise waters and luxurious accommodations, some of the best in the world. But wondered if it is more of a couples destination and if a Family Maldives Vacation will work. We spent a few days at the Taj in the Maldives last December during our winter break, here are some photos, a review and 9 reasons why we loved Taj Exotica Resort and Spa Maldives.
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A Quick Review of Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is set in the middle of a large lagoon and regarded as one of the best resorts in the world – you are guaranteed a Magical Holiday here! The 27-acre resort is surrounded by crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches and contains about 64 overwater bungalows (called lagoon villas), four beach villas. The resort’s most revered accommodation is the amazing Presidential Suite – Rehendi Presidential Overwater Suite. Named after the first Princess in the Maldives, this is an impressive suite that offers guests a 450 sq meter villa with a 25-foot freshwater pool and glass bathroom complete with a bathtub overlooking the ocean. Make time to sample the heavenly and offerings at the Taj Spa with its rejuvenating massages, body scrubs, and time-honored Indian treatments based on ancient sciences. You can choose to simply be or avail the resort water facilities, they feature a whole host of recreational facilities and have delicious restaurants and beach bars where you can dine on scrumptious meals while sinking your toes in the soft sand.
9 Reasons why we loved Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is located on the Emboodhu Finolhu Island which used to be called ‘Three Coconut Island’. It is in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives. Situated over the lagoon, the resort’s 64 sea-view villas and suites provide luxurious and lavish retreats, while maintaining a balance with nature. Each villa features classic Maldivian style accommodations that have palm-thatched roofs, interiors with natural wood finishes, large windows with panoramic views of the lagoon, king size beds, and many of the villas have private plunge pools.
We were in two Deluxe Villas, that had its own pool and a bathtub with sea view. While one additional bed can be added to the rooms (which might work for smaller families), since our kids are a little older we ended up getting 2 villas. We saw a lot of families visiting and the resort seemed to be popular for families and couples on their honeymoon. I loved the architecture and the decor inspired by the local Maldivian culture. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean and waking up to sunrises was an experience like none other.
Easy to get to
We flew from Chennai to Male through Colombo on SriLankan Airlines. I wish we had time see some of the highlights of Sri Lanka. Taj Exotica is located not too far from the Malé airport and is just a 20-minute boat ride away. You don’t have to take a seaplane there. To get to some of the Maldivian resorts that are located further away, you will have to take a seaplane, adding a few more $$ to the vacation budget. You can still opt for a scenic tour of Maldives on a seaplane to get a bird’s eye view of the atolls and islands sprinkled in this beautiful part of the Indian Ocean. A 15-minute session of photo flights will run you around $220 per person on the TransMaldivian Airline.
Just a 15-minute boat ride from the Male airport and you are in paradise!
Maldivian Welcome and Hospitality
As soon as the boat pulled up to the resort, we were given a warm Maldivian welcome with music, rose petal shower and shell necklaces. The resort staff we encountered were friendly and always helpful whether it was organizing our boat trips, meal arrangements or buggy rides inside the resort. It comes as no surprise that the resort was placed #2 Top Resorts in the Indian Ocean and #8 Best Resorts in the World by the Conde Nast Traveler US Readers’ Choice Awards in 2018.
Yummy Indian food and locally sourced delicacies
For dining, there was always fresh and locally sourced food served at 24 Degrees, which is where we had most of our meals. One thing we love about staying at Taj properties is having access to Indian food and Taj Exotica did not disappoint. We enjoyed our usual favorites of egg burji(scrambled eggs with Indian spices), Poori masala (Puffed Wheat bread with potato curry) and Panner dishes. They served a wide assortment of delicacies ranging from Pan-Asian cuisine to international favorites, fresh seafood was a highlight. We had lunch some days at the Pool Bar & Restaurant that has pizzas and other snacks. We had dinner one night at the Deep End. I have to say in-room or private dining options were the best – a nice setup of breakfast or snacks and champagne after a morning swim.
Indian food at 24 Degrees, named so because it is 24 degrees from the Equator
In-room dining options were perfect for early morning breakfast and post-swim snacks
The Equator Bar provides an ideal setting for sipping cocktails while watching a Maldivian sunset. Every evening, the resort has local musicians come and play and during holiday weekends, they have a big band and dance party on the beach. When you land in Male, you will see signs that say alcohol and products containing alcohol are restricted by law, you can’t bring any alcohol into the country, the only place you can drink is in the resorts.
Wellness and Ayurveda treatments at the Spa
The Jiva Spa provides age-old Indian rejuvenation therapies ranging from aromatherapy massages, wellness treatments, yoga, and meditation. Offered by trained experts using exclusive natural products in a beautiful and harmonious setting, the spa offers many signature treatments. Opt for a massage, I loved the Abhyanga – where medicated herbal oils are generously applied in gentle strokes by the skilled therapists, giving you a healthy body and mind.
View and Stunning Sunsets
Surrounded by tropical beaches, beautiful turquoise waters, palm trees and the purest sands, the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is a gorgeous destination in the Maldives. The 5-star island resort is a perfect get-away for those who seek silence and some peace. We woke up every morning eager to see the sunrise from our patio. The sky began its wonderful transformation around 5:30 am, what better than enjoying that with some freshly made carrot and ginger juice. The sunsets were equally impressive – Maldivian sunsets paint the sky such pretty shades of pink, purple and coral that I have never seen anywhere else.
The resort and the setting are impressive, the service impeccable and the privacy one can get is unparalleled. We didn’t see many drones and selfie stick toting crowd. The level of luxury is astonishing but not over the top that it is snooty. It was a busy season while we visited but still most places like the beaches and swings we had to ourselves, there was never an issue finding lounge chairs or quiet corners. I should mention that there was always cool water readily available in the room and in the wicker baskets on beaches chilled perfectly in eco-friendly reusable bottles.
The resort had a resident marine biologist does an evening stingray feeding on the beach and a shark feeding near one of the restaurants. They also share interesting information about Marine life in the area. Besides the colorful fishes the kids saw when they went snorkeling, I was able to see several schools of fishes and some coral without even getting into the water. The water was so crystal clear that we could see it so clearly. We even saw a few birds and a couple of bats at night. Taj Exotica offers snorkeling excursions and help arrange sunset cruises on traditional dhoni boats.
Well, if you are looking for a few days of rest and relaxation, which happens to be exactly what we were after – we felt we have come to the right place! But if you got jittery feet that do not want to just be lounging with a cocktail in hand and sand between your toes, Taj Exotica has got you covered. From Paddleboarding on the glassy waters, snorkeling with bright yellow fishes to sunrise yoga, there is something for everyone. While I choose to find different spots around the resort to sink my toes in and take in the views, the kids enjoyed kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. The water was shallow and the resort was safe for them to go about on their own. We saw a few families
Photo Spots at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives
If the above activities aren’t enough for you, Taj Exotica also has plenty of picture-perfect photo spots on their well manicured and maintained grounds to just be and enjoyed the silence. A hammock on the water, a couple of swings in powdery soft sand surrounded by palm trees, water swing about 100 yards off the beach, which you can walk to at low tide. Not being a swimmer I appreciated this! In the afternoons when the tide kicked in the water level would rise and you would have to swim to the swing.
If my 9 reasons why we loved Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives convinced you to take that plunge and book your next family holiday to the Maldives, you can see rates for Taj Exotica Resort here.
Best time to go to the Maldives
The location of the string of islands close to the equator means that the Maldives receive plenty of sun all year round, with the average air temperature close to 30 degrees Celsius, and water temperature constant at about 28 degrees Celsius. Very few oceans are as tranquil as the Indian Ocean and the frequent mirror-like flat waters are astounding. Anytime is a good time to visit the Maldives since the temperatures hover over a balmy 80F. The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April.
The islands are warm and sunny year-round but consist of a dry season and a wet, rainy season. There are pros and cons to visiting each season. You will experience the best weather in the Maldives between November and April, thanks to little precipitation and warm temperatures. But this is also the busiest time of year and, and rates at resorts are higher. May to October is considered the rainy season, with the islands seeing between 5 and 10 inches of precipitation monthly and often strong winds.
In the end the Maldives lived up to the hype… A much sought after destination for romantic getaways, Maldives is perfect for family holidays as well… it probably is going to be a holiday that will linger in your mind long after you’ve left… if you ever want to leave that is! I hope my 9 reasons why we loved Taj Exotica Maldives inspired you to plan a trip there.
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