Travelling with a baby
We all love a good family holiday, but Angsana Velavaru in Maldives goes far beyond that. Meaning Turtle island in Dhivehi, Velavaru is a retreat like no other, lush, stunning and remote, a marine sanctuary with crystal waters rich in marine life. One of the best islands in Maldives for snorkeling we came accross, including with kids!
Baby sharks by its shallow shores, rays, colourful fish, corrals and dolphins – to mention just the highlights.
There’s a Marine Centre belonging to Banyan Tree who is running research, seminars and turtle conservation programs.
A week at Angsana Velavaru with kids passed in a blink – our 4 years old completely devastated by the time we went – tears simply rolling despite meeting his darling London friend in the island next door.
Why did we fall in love so badly?
Our deluxe beach villa to begin with. Just by the most wonderful stretch of beach, with sun chairs in front of it, porch, our own pool, little garden, outside showers and bed and dining tables. It is a gorgeous combination of natural material, wooden decks, palm trees, lush vegetation, sand, stones and vibrant paintings inside. For a family of 4 it’s simply perfection – privacy by your own pool and tropical garden, luxurious inside, pristine beach in front and most of the time deserted apart from baby sharks and schools of fish. Truly one of the best islands in Maldives for snorkeling in peace and full privacy!
It’s a retreat, a hideaway and an adventure. We spent our days following the baby sharks by our shores, outside and inside, snorkeling, swimming, exploring. One can’t get enough of such marvels – it’s marine education and wanderings at their best.
The food, the setting and impeccable service. We would start the day wandering from our beach villa to breakfast by the most stunning beach. We’d normally say Good morning to couple of baby sharks on our way and lots of cute fish. The breakfast is to die for and the setting is superb – my 4 years old would usually indulge in a turtle shape pancake especially made for him, I would feast on tropical fruits and freshly made croissants and juices.
My 2 other boys would get their eggs to their preferences, smoked marlin, the best jamon iberico I tried outside of Spain and vegetables. The beachfront restaurant is breezy and delightful – a wooden veranda with very high roof and sandy floor . One simply feels part of a castaway island.
Happy hours start at 5pm at Kuredhi beach bar and we’ve been going regularly: perfect early dinner for kids, relaxed and social for us.
Some stunning sunsets, some chill out soundtracks complete an early evening at perfection. On few occassions we ordered in as well, freshly caught fish, delicious Maldivian seafood curries, laksas or noodles. We also opted a couple of dinners for the privacy of our pool – a perfectly special night ‘in’ by our villa, to stargaze shooting stars included.
One can order in sashimi, Maldivian treats, Asian specialities or simply pizza. Maldives skies are so stunning and at Angsana 144 km south of Male, stargazing is simply out of this world.
Our favourite restaurant in the evening was Azzuro. By Angsana fabulous watervillas, we could not get enough of sunset beauty reflecting in the pristine corrals, chilling by the bar and thereafter indulging into seared tuna, octopus and scallops.
Sailing before and after dinner to our mainland paradise just rounds up a perfect grown-up evening. Azzuro at Angsana has been the highlight of a 12 days total holidays in Maldives by far.
Angsana Velavaru kidsclub. It’s cosy, delightful and amazingly ran by Tini. In 4 years of extensive travelling we’ve almost have not seen that level of involvement and dedication – hats off! Most of late mornings, the kids would escape in there and we would head for snorkeling trips.
Angsana Velavaru organises daily snorkeling safaris 11:30 and 14:30 – a usual 15/20 min boat ride from mainland. One usually needs a snorkeling test in the open water before embraking on any trips, but with the 2 of us being advanced Padi divers, we did not really need one.
Spectacular snorkeling right by the reefs and the wall, we attended regularly! So not only by the beach and water villas but also by by the boat – to truly compete for best islands in Maldives for snorkeling. Here is 1 min clip taster. 1pm we’d head back and collect some exhausted entertained kids and order in a light lunch by our pool. Chill out music on, most of us we’d nap happily in the shade of our palm trees, chill with a Scoop magazine or simply splash in our pool.
There’s so much on fun wise – a week is really not enough enough. Kayaking by the gorgeous shores, SUP paddle boarding, diving including mantas, swim with the whale sharks, fishing trips, picnics by desserted islands and so on.
The snorkeling and diving are divine: nearby reefs are virtualy untouched plus world class possibilities are short boat trip around. Whale shark trips – a life dream of ours but we have not managed on this occassion – weather has been tricky. There’s a manta point in less than an hour reach, superb thila dives and stunning walls, some which could be enjoyed just snorkeling. The fish is abundant and I had my regular dates with the sharks – a couple of times captured on camera. Elated and very lucky!
Angsana sunset cruise is by far the best we had: the boat is sleek, the personnel the kindest, the bubbles are flowing and the canapes are delicious. Dedicated post in here – we’ve been in luck, lots and lots of dolphins joined us for over an hour.
Banyan Tree Marine Lab runs daily sting rays feeds and talks every day at 5pm. 20 minutes of sweet engagement with graceful sting rays and very often baby sharks, very educational and quite spectacular.
The kids and grownups equally get to find out about the rays, why it’s important to engage with them rightly and respectfully when snorkeling or diving and how high profile cases can create misconceptions about these rather friendly creatures.
The Marine Lab also runs talks twice a week on corral conservation and marine life protection. It’s thrilling and reassuring to see Banyan Tree and Angsana in action – best of class business practice about sustainability and protecting the environment. As a parent and passionate diver, Banyan Tree and Angsana are exactly on our street of philosophy and values and ultimately the dream responsible luxury resort.
For more Hows & Options on Maldives with kids, do check our article in Kidsorted London special Travel edition, where we also talked about other resort (Sun Aqua Villu Reef) that we tested with the kids. For another review of Sun Siyam properties, head to Mum Pack Travel, who wrote a cool review of Sun Siyam Iru Fushi in here.
For something more visual, check on youtube our snorkeling safari video: Maldives with kids – snorkelling safari & shark encounter and full Velavaru experience: Maldives with kids: land of bliss Banyan Tree Angsana Velavaru.
The Angsana tree is a tall tropical rainforest tree with fragrant flowers that bloom every morning; a reminder that one should live life spontaneously, savour time and moments as they pass inexorably. We savoured each moment for a week – an ultimate treat for us and the kids in a tropical paradise and one of the best islands in Maldives for snorkeling. We also felt so at home – it’s hard to fathom London is 10 hours flight away and Angsana Velavaru is an ultimate exotic dream!
Disclosure: Thanks a million to Banyan Tree Angsana Velavaru wonderful hospitality and media rate for 1 week. All pics, overexcited kiddies and ecstatic impressions ours.