Less than a kilometre long and no more than 30 metres wide at any point; Emboodhu Finolhu, or the island of the three coconut trees, is home to Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, a precious Maldivian jewel. FACT’s Layal El-Mahmoud had the pleasure of experiencing a luxurious stay at this stunning destination.
Only 15 minutes away from Velana International Airport, Male, by speedboat, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa will have you in awe from the moment it comes into view.
We arrived at the resort’s jetty to the sound of beautiful beating drums mixed with serene ocean melodies. Handmade shell necklaces were placed around our necks as we received the warmest welcome ever.
We hopped onto the hotel’s buggy and the food and beverage (F&B) manager escorted us to our room, giving us a quick tour of the island on the way. Yes, it is such a small narrow island – but in the best private way possible! An appealing old tree, inhabited by green and purple orchids, marks the starting point. The spacious reception on one side; 24 Degrees, the all-day dining restaurant, on the other. A shop and a library are nearby and a long, slim path under a surreal canapé of local trees, travels among beach villas and over-water villas. Just as we reached the lagoon where our Deluxe Lagoon Pool Villa was located, we peeked at the infinity pool. A sign said Deep End Restaurant and we instantly admired the intelligent name!
The villa was snug with a warm atmosphere, and well laid out to accommodate all your vacation needs. Our favourite part was the private infinity pool, surrounded by a chaise longue with a table and two arm chairs. We also loved how the TV stand doubled as the mini bar where the coffee machine and kettle were placed thoughtfully. The bed was just the right size and a ‘Welcome to Taj’ message was prettily laid across it using carefully cut coconut leaves… this takes serious time – and we really appreciated the gesture.
Adi, our friendly butler, went through the itinerary with us then swiftly left us to ourselves telling us he would be back at 7pm to take us for dinner. We were hungry, we unpacked quickly, slipped into our swimwear and headed to 24 Degrees to order the mixed seafood grill. A huge plate filled our table; shrimps, calamari, mussels, three different kinds of fish steaks including salmon, and the local tuna, plus the king of all seafood, the local reef lobster. With green salad and fries, this plate was enough for more than two people. Afterwards, we headed back to our own pool for a much-needed chill.
At 7pm sharp, Adi was at the door. We were ready to experience Deep End. In the Maldives, and in Taj Exotica, you are always surrounded by wood, from the furniture and villas to the green environs. Such a privilege not to be trapped in concrete. Deep End is the only restaurant built on top of the water, in a ring shape. Tables are arranged around an opening in the middle that allows you to look down to the crystal-clear sea water and watch baby sharks swimming… incredible! The restaurant serves a regular and a vegetarian set menu. The latter offers a light tomato soup and delicious garlicky asparagus risotto. Whilst the seafood soup and reef lobster grill are just as delightful! We followed up with the rich and creamy chocolate mousse with olive oil-based ice cream – one tasty culinary surprise!
Sleep cannot be more comfortable than in the bed of a fivestar resort. We woke up the next day all fresh and energised. The extravagant floating breakfast arrived perfectly on time. We jumped in the water and took great Insta pictures. The breakfast options range from porridge to omelette and eggs Benedict, Maldivian Massuni and tuna curry, to masala dosa, Korean rice and beef bowl, bread, waffles, and a great jam selection as well as fresh fruits. To enjoy this amazing selection to the max, we had to reschedule our first activity of the day.
Snorkelling is a must. Using the snorkelling kit provided to all guests by the resort’s diving centre, we took the fixed ladder down to the lagoon. The water was crystal clear, and the fins made swimming easy. The lagoon is home to a rainbow of fish, it was amazing!
Our next lunch took a massive luxurious twist when the F&B manager suggested trying the ‘200-dollar Pizza’. At the pool restaurant, with million-dollar views, the executive chef personally laid it down at our table. A colony of the world’s most premium ingredients. A quattro of duck and foie gras from France, Wagyu beef carpaccio and black olives from Australia, prosciutto and black truffle from Parma, Italy, and finally homegrown reef lobster, are laid on a crispy base covered with a generous layer of cream cheese and garnished with Iranian caviar and edible gold leaves with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. A complimentary sparkling beverage accompanied the incredible meal to leave us in total awe!
Another extraordinary food feat we tried was the jaw-dropping Lobster Burger. On a huge wooden board, the burger comes with fries, onion rings, and both green and coleslaw salads. This burger is bursting with tender flavourful lobster meat, and is one gigantic meal for two (or more). What an experience!
Other activities to put on your list include the discovery drive to watch baby black tip sharks feed on tuna chunks, as well as the guided snorkel trip which is a truly indescribable experience – one glance under the water is enough to capture your emotions. We also witnessed the stingray feeding on the resort’s beach before we headed back to the speedboat docked at the jetty for the perfect Sunset Cruise and dolphin watching. At Taj Exotica Resort & Spa many of our dreams came true; seeing a pod of wild dolphins was the most soul-elevating gift. With a sunset worth a thousand words – this is one place that will always hold a special place in our hearts. ✤
GO: VISIT WWW.TAJHOTELS.COM/EN-IN/TAJ/TAJ-EXOTICAMALDIVES/ FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A RESERVATION.