The Maldives has been one of the world’s premier luxury travel destinations for decades with scores of people heading to these beautiful coral islands to soak up the sun, sea and sand in one of the many resorts available. Popular with divers, honeymooners and paradise beach lovers alike, the Maldives offers unrivalled luxury and the chance to have a real ‘holiday of a lifetime’ experience for its visitors. Resorts offer everything from secluded peace to inspiring adventures (both above and below the water) and an increasing number are also looking at how they cater for travellers with special dietary requests like being vegan.
Veganism is on the rise worldwide, but particularly in countries like Germany, the UK, Australia and America where the market for vegan products is booming. When vegans travel they want to experience the same level of luxury as everyone else, they just don’t want to exploit animals in the process. When planning that luxury Maldivian getaway to a remote paradise island, where the usual food offering will usually be centred around seafood and meat, there is the potential for disaster if limited plant-based food choices are available. Some resorts however standout as being better for vegans than others; we tried and tested a few for their suitability for vegan guests and were impressed to see people managing what is often an unusual concept to the local population.
Two of the best we found are Kurumba Maldives, located right near the capital Malé and Amilla Fushi in the beautiful Baa Atoll. Visit these resorts and you can expect to be treated to levels of luxury that may well exceed your expectations. Experience the best that this stunning part of the world has to offer and find it easy to be a vegan, even when away from home.
Kurumba Maldives was the first private island resort in the Maldives and been has been sharing their tropical paradise with guests for the last 44 years; its no surprise then that the service is slick and ‘out of the ordinary’ requests like wanting to eat vegan food are no problem here. Kurumba is just a 10 minute speedboat ride from Malé, meaning that you can be relaxing in a dream destination shortly after your flight lands.
The multiple villa types all offer ample space and are well equipped with comfortable beds, flatscreen TVs, indoor and outdoor showers, huge bathtub and a full range of amenities from Molton Brown. They even offer extras like a miniature cocktail shaker and recipe card with the mini bar or mosquito repellant bracelets. Our ‘Beachfront Deluxe Bungalow’ opened up right onto the beach with impressive views from our own private verandah.
There’s a full activities programme with everything from gentle beginner’s yoga to a game of tennis to enjoy. You will also find a range of excursions to introduce you to the local culture and beauty of the Maldives as well as to experience some of that famous underwater world. Swim with brightly coloured tropical fish, stingrays and turtles on Kurumba’s ‘Snorkelling Safari’ and see countless spinner dolphins on the ‘Sunset and Dolphin Discovery’ cruise.
Kurumba is certainly a place to make memories at.
So what was the vegan food like and does it match the high standards of the rest of the resort? Absolutely. Kurumba has 8 restaurants and 3 bars to eat and drink at and most of these outlets have their own separate vegetarian menu (which was easily adapted to be vegan). Staff expertly prepare delicious plant-based food at breakfast, lunch and dinner and a ‘Dine Around All Inclusive’ package gives the option to try as many different places to eat as possible.
Dishes like avocado and roasted mushrooms with dukka spice served on toasted sourdough at the waterside restaurant Thila are not to be missed. This healthy and indulgent breakfast dish is the perfect way to start a day but don’t forget to try other dishes like the Southern Indian ‘uttapam’ pancakes with vegetable curry and a fresh, spicy coconut sambal. The combination of the slightly sour, light pancakes with the spiced curry and fresh chilli laced coconut was a real vegan treat.
Homemade coconut yoghurt, fresh fruit, salads and freshly baked bread is also available as part of the vegan friendly breakfast offering at Thila or guests can eat in the main restaurant where there is also a good range of vegan choices. Choose everything from rice and curry to a western style breakfast as well as another plentiful salad bar and tropical fruit section and rest assured that its all vegan.
After breakfast the huge number of vegan choices continues with options of food from around the globe. Eat Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian and Middle eastern food to your heart’s delight. Staff are always happy to help adjust dishes on the menu but there are many choices that are already vegan.
The only problem you’ll have at Kurumba Maldives is deciding where to eat!
Situated in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, Amilla Fushi is welcoming guests in a different but equally impressive way.
Take a seaplane from Malé then a short transfer to the island by luxury speedboat and prepare to be amazed.
This stunning resort is full of minimalist, whitewashed and flat-roofed buildings and is a haven for people who also love the healthier side of life. Their comprehensive wellness programmes run by Bodyism are extremely well thought out and cover every aspect of health and wellbeing. Amilla Fushi also has one of the most impressive spas we’ve come across due to the exceptional quality of the massage therapists; book a treatment as soon as you arrive as you’ll be sure to want another during your stay.
Amilla Fushi has a range of top-end luxury accommodation including huge family beach-side villas, ‘wellness tree houses’ with their own spa rooms (amongst other features) sat atop stilts in the trees and over-water villas where the Indian Ocean is everywhere to be seen.
Villas are light and airy with a stylish modern design, they are wonderfully spacious with generous storage and wardrobe space. They have decadent open bathrooms with rain shower and bathtub and have a full minibar complete with automatic tea and coffee machines as well as a fully stocked wine fridge.
Vegans and non-vegans alike will be delighted to find the in-room amenities are produced by Āesop who pride themselves on making natural, cruelty-free, fine quality products (which are also vegan).
Outside our ‘Ocean Reef House’ had more comfortable seating areas, sun loungers, a shower area and a good sized infinity pool overlooking a captivating ocean view. Steps down to the water, straight onto the reef give you the opportunity to experience snorkelling with hundreds of tropical fish.
For an out of this world underwater experience, take up the services of the resident Dive Butler International team who are pioneers in the field of luxury diving. But you don’t need to go one one of the scuba diving excursions to fully appreciate the wonderment of the Maldives; take the opportunity to visit Hanifaru Bay and go snorkelling during your stay. Amilla Fushi is only a short boat ride away from Hanifaru Bay, one of the world’s best feeding spots for mantas. Dive Butler run regular trips where you can snorkel with the mantas and even whale sharks at this protected site, their expert guidance adding that little bit extra to the experience.
The food at Amilla Fushi is one of the main things that makes it so exceptional for vegan guests.
Breakfast includes an extensive buffet where vegans will be able to help themselves to delectable items like hummus, babaganoush, sundried tomatoes, chargrilled artichokes alongside fresh salad leaves. There’s sushi, fruits, cereals, ‘heart smart’ seeds and nuts and a wide range of healthy juices to try with extra nutrition boosts like spirulina and wheatgrass. The à la carte offerings can be tweaked for vegans to create dishes like smashed pumpkin on rye with wilted spinach and za’tar. There’s also ambrosial coconut yoghurt laden with healthy probiotics.
The wellness programme at the resort aims to be holistic which means it not only offers one to one sessions with the Bodyism Performance Specialist and group taster classes but it also encompasses diet too. There’s a ‘Wellness Menu’ available at the Clean and Lean cafe as well as at other restaurants in the resort. There are several healthy vegan friendly choices, packed with superfoods and full of flavour too; select heavenly salads, soups and protein packed smoothies and know you are treating yourself to a different kind of luxury here.
Dinnertime highlights came from Amilla Fushi’s ‘Feeling Koi’ where the chef will prepare a separate vegan menu served with on of the best sunset views on the island. Expect Japanese favourites like gyoza dumplings, udon noodles and delicate tofu with vegetable stuffed braised cabbage rolls. For dessert, dishes like fruity agar agar on diced fruits with sorbet might very well steal your heart.
The Maldives is becoming an excellent choice for vegan travellers with resorts switching on to the needs of those with different dietary requirements. Resorts are tailoring their services to offer the same level of luxury no matter what your lifestyle is so vegans no longer need to worry about not being catered for during their stay in paradise.
Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest.