I am so excited to be sharing with you one of the best resort experiences of my life! Hands down, Rangali Island is one of the THE most surreal and magical places I’ve ever step foot in and I would 1,000,000/10 go back. Let me take you on a tour to see what this island destination is all about.
Let’s start from the beginning. The journey to the archipelagos was a bit long-winded. We were in India for a couple weeks and staying in Goa on the last leg of the trip before leaving the country. We honestly had no idea that we were coming here at all as it was a well kept secret from my mom: she told the rest of us that we were going to Kerala, India for the week. As we were on our way to “Kerala”, we had to fly from Goa to Mumbai (this confused us), where we had an overnight layover and tried to sleep (uncomfortably) in the lounge couches, then we flew from Mumbai to Colombo, Sri Lanka (okay, what was going on?) with yet another long layover, then finally Sri Lanka to Malé, Maldives (ahhh, Mom, you’re a sneaky lady!). But little did we know, that wasn’t the last plane we were getting on that day. Once we landed at the Malé international airport, we were directed to the seaplane terminal.
Seaplane Conrad Lounge
On the second floor of the Trans Maldivian Airlines terminal sits the private, spacious and luxurious Conrad lounge. This is where we got to relax before boarding yet another, but very memorable, flight. Canapés and a lovely lunch buffet was served while we were resting our tired selves in this gorgeous lounge as we watched through the wide windows the seaplanes land and takeoff in the lagoon. I even got to enjoy one the best upper body massages I’ve ever had but sadly, it had to be cut short as our seaplane was almost ready for boarding.
This next part is undoubtedly and insurmountably the best 30 minutes of air time in my life. Not even the loudness of the plane nor the tiny seats are enough to make me rethink that statement. The view from my small seaplane window was unbeatable. I had never seen the blue and green circles enclosures of the barrier reefs before and my life was about to change forever. It was so surreal to be able to have an aerial view like that. I wonder if God pats Himself on the back when he sees the beauty He’s created in these islands.
This was the first and only time I’ve ever arrived at an island resort by plane, let alone a seaplane. As you may have read in my blog on Hilton Labriz Seychelles and will read in my blog on Conrad Bora Bora (coming soon), most of these luxurious island destinations require a transfer by speed boat or yacht. Although the seaplane fee is $526 USD per person roundtrip, I’d still take it again in a heartbeat.
We now disembarked at the seaplane terminal on Rangali Island! What’s next? Only the best seven days of white sand beaches and water sports ever!
What’s really awesome about the Conrad Rangali resort is it’s actually two islands that are connected by a man-made wooden walkway bridge meant for buggy transportation, as the channel of deep water separates Rangali Island (the narrow, more secluded island) from Rangali Finolhu (the main island). The arrival/departure lounge is situated in the middle of this connection bridge.
After landing at the lounge, we were driven to the main reception on Rangali Finolhu which is where we were staying for the week. The reception building is so unique in that it is completely open to the outdoors and the floor is covered in the white sand of the beach. You instantly have the urge to take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the establishment, as do all the staff anyway! You already feel relaxed and at home while you check-in for your stay.
Our villa was only a quick minute walk from the reception and we were staying in a beach villa. The villa has beautiful, modern white, grey and mahogany finishes, high ceilings, tall windows for bringing in natural light, and a well-furnished living space. One thing I’ll always remember is the Nespresso coffee machine and the unlimited coffee pods we received daily! I think this was truly a remarkable feat for my 20-year-old self.
As the name of the villa type implies, the accommodation opens up to the beach via the back deck so you get your very own patch of white sand and direct access to the clear sea.
I’m a huge luxury bathroom geek and when I step into one that is absolutely gorgeous, my heart does a happy dance. And this time, my heart was jumping like crazy. There was so much to take in: the quartz pedestal vanity sinks, the mirrors and cabinetry, the lighting fixtures, the clear window to the living area, and of course the outdoor shower and the massive bathtub under the gazebo. What a sight!
Although I absolutely loved our beach villa, I’d stay in one of the more premium properties, including the Deluxe Beach Villa or one of the over-water villas. There are many tiers for the water bungalows, such as the:
- Water Villa
- Superior Water Villa
- Sunset Water Villa
- Retreat Water Villa
- Premier Water Villa
- Family Water Villa
- Deluxe Water Villa
And of course, the insanely grand Muraka: a $15 million dollar, 6,000 sqft, $50,000 USD/night, bi-level monster of a villa. Even “insanely grand” seems like an understatement for this build. Your stay here would also include a 24/7 butler, a bartender and even your own private chef. You can check out the Muraka, which consists of the first ever underwater master suite, right here!
All of the beach villas and suites are situated on Rangali Finolhu, as well as the Spa Retreat and over-water spa villas, whereas all of the remaining water villas are located on Rangali Island. As I mentioned before Rangali Island is a lot more exclusive and quiet. It even has something called the “Quiet Zone” where the over-water pool and spa can be found.
I can’t stress this enough: the beach at Rangali has the purest and softest sand I have ever experienced. The water is so pristine that you’ll think you’ve been transported into a perfect virtual reality. I was amazed, to say the least. Usually, I’m watching my step as I walk along the beach but this time, there was no need.
When in the water, you could be wading in clear aqua for a while before reaching deep enough that your torso is underwater. It’s a literal natural swimming pool. The sand is also just as soft underwater as it is on land. And even in this shallow area, you’ll meet some friendly baby blacktip reef sharks, short-tail stingrays, and many other fish. Once you start approaching deeper waters, you’ll be greeted with lots of coral where inhabit the many small fish that we dream to swim with.
My brother and I spent every single day snorkeling in the coral area. Just east of the main island’s swimming pool is where we would take off. Right where the ocean floor drops, there’s a man-made half-height wall underwater there the sharks like to linger. Past this wall is where the party is. The water immediately turns to a darker blue here, and this is where the coral is and where there is more abundance in wildlife. Bigger blacktip sharks will roam this part as well as your Nemo’s and Dory’s. After our daily snorkeling excursion, we’d hop out of the ocean and into the Infinity Pool pictured below.
Right in front of reception on the beach is the Water Sports Centre. This is where you can pick up your snorkeling gear, paddle boards and kayaks, or rent jet skis and fly boards. My family and I would often grab the kayaks and row our way to the deep water channel near where the seaplane lands, or in more shallow areas where we could spot the coral.
There are a number of top (and even renowned) restaurants at the Conrad. You may have heard of Ithaa, the first true underwater restaurants in the world. I remember the staff telling us the crazy extents that were taken to construct this restaurant. It took tons and tons of sand to sink Ithaa to the ocean floor, and it was also built in Singapore in five weeks then brought in one piece on a barge that took a full 16-day journey.
Though our meal here was on the expensive side, I wouldn’t trade our multi-course lunch experience at Ithaa for anything. We were fortunate enough to have had the place to ourselves and I can’t think of anything with a greater wow-factor than watching great sea animals (sea turtles, sharks, eels, rays, and hundreds of other species of fish) swim above and around you while you enjoy a phenomenal and fresh meal.
Atoll Market is where we enjoyed every breakfast in an elegant yet casual setting. The beach sand is also spread across the floor here which definitely gives the appearance of an open-air market versus that of a buffet restaurant. The food is absolutely delicious here, but of course, how could it not be with the Conrad?
Rangali Bar is where we spent most of our late lunches/ early dinners in the comfort of the calm beach view. It’s situated right outside of reception, by the Water Sports Centre, and you can enjoy a casual meal in between trips to the water.
Vilu Restaurant is the only place we dined at on the smaller island. We took the Dhoni ferry from the main jetty, and walked a short distance to Vilu. We could have also taken the buggy across the long bridge if we wanted, but the ferry was a must-try. Vilu has a very classy open-air setting where we got to witness a wonderful sunset, and the meal here, as always, was delicious. I do, however, remember a very expensive bottle of water that we were served : a $20 USD glass bottle of VOSS!
We definitely missed out on a great portion of the other restaurants such as The Wine Bar and the Sunset Grill, as well as the ones on the other island like Ufaa, Koko Grill, and Mandhoo Spa Restaurant. In our defense, most of what’s on Rangali Island is kept more secluded (as I mentioned before) to be more inviting to the guests on that side of the resort property. I hope to stay in one of the water villas next time to get a better feel of the island life there.
Our Whale Shark Misadventure
My parents were crazy about the idea of swimming with whale sharks. So we made a reservation with the Dive Centre (located near the Fitness Centre on the main island) and on one of our last days, we set sail to the deep blue. Two hours and $500 USD per person later, we couldn’t spot any. This was a huge letdown but we knew that there was absolutely no guarantee that we’d see any whale sharks. They’re a tough creature to find! There are many factors to take into account, such as the season and weather, but on the bright side, we got an underwater photo shoot! We grabbed our snorkeling gear without the life jackets, and proceeded to have one of the best snorkeling experiences of our lives.
As I finish writing this blog post for you guys, I ended up convincing myself that I MUST make my way back to the Conrad Maldives soon. It’s not even an option. Perhaps some day I could even stay at the Muraka for an ultra-luxurious experience, who knows!
2021 Update: It’s happening! My husband and I have booked our Sunrise Water Villa for our honeymoon in summer of 2022 and we couldn’t be more excited! We can’t wait to bring home new content from our luxurious adventure to the Maldives next year.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored by the mentioned brand and it is strictly a review of my experience. Please note that changes may have been made since my stay at the resort. All photos are owned by Conrad Maldives Rangali Island with all rights reserved.