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The Warmest Welcome to My New Home Away from Home

After an arduous journey, encompassing a long drive to the airport and two flights, I found myself jet-lagged and weary. Yet, amidst my exhaustion, I was filled with anticipation. Linda had meticulously arranged my transfer to Fulidhoo, ensuring that everything was taken care of in advance, leaving me with nothing to worry about. Stepping out of the aircraft at Velana International Airport, I immediately felt the warmth of the tropical air and the subtle shift in altitude. However, I was well-prepared for this adventure, having conducted extensive research beforehand. I swiftly changed into my carefully chosen tropical attire, curated weeks in advance. After completing the immigration procedures, I walked out into the arrivals area, and there stood Nihad, holding a sign adorned with Luau's logo. He greeted me with a lighthearted sense of humor and graciously assisted me with my luggage and other needs. Although I had to wait for about an hour for the speed boat to arrive, due to the timing of my flight, the airport provided a selection of delightful restaurants and coffee shops. Even if I had to wait an additional hour, I wouldn't have minded, given the scrumptious food available.

The speedboat journey to Fulidhoo was an awe-inspiring experience! The shades of blue on display, both in the sky above and the surrounding waters, were breathtaking. The ride was smooth, and I barely noticed the passing of the hour as I sat comfortably, engrossed in an audiobook, while relishing the picturesque views. Upon catching sight of Fulidhoo, my excitement surged, and I eagerly leaped to my feet.

Waiting for me at the jetty were Otto, Linda, and Shifan, their smiles and waving gestures immediately instilling a sense of belonging within me. Although I had extensively researched Fulidhoo and Luau, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer beauty that unfolded before my eyes. The island was petite in size, yet in the most charming way possible, featuring the most exquisite lagoon I had ever laid eyes upon. And let me assure you, this was not my first time in the Maldives. Having previously stayed at resorts, I longed for a different experience this time, and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

They guided me to the hotel, where the rest of the team awaited, ready to extend a warm welcome. The beachfront of Luau exuded an exclusive aura, with a gazebo adorned with a table and chairs, positioned right at the water's edge. Hammocks gently swayed nearby, beckoning me to indulge in countless hours of seaside relaxation, engrossed in a cheesy read. As I settled on the beach, I noticed a few cats, chickens, and birds roaming around. Being an animal lover, I found myself immersed in their presence, petting a cat that I later learned was named Bulbul. Linda caught my attention, her smile radiating warmth, as she gestured for me to enter the lobby for check-in and to proceed to my room.

Stepping into Luau's lobby, I was mesmerized by its captivating beauty. The cozy seating arrangements evoked a sense of comfort. Much to my surprise, I was greeted by the most adorable young boy, named Yail, who introduced himself as Shifan and Otto’s nephew. He had joined the team for his school holidays, and his shy demeanor only added to his charm. I expressed my gratitude as he presented me with a welcome drink. Sipping on the delicious homemade iced tea, I sensed an overwhelming feeling of love and unity in the air. Eagerly, I anticipated the forthcoming days of my stay. Linda provided me with information about meal times, shared some details about the island, and then led me to my room.

I stepped into paradise, I swear! The room was incredibly spacious, exuding an air of luxury. Through the glass balcony door, an awe-inspiring view of the ocean and the surrounding foliage unfolded before my eyes. To complement the extravagance, the bathroom was generously proportioned. As a gesture of environmental consciousness, I was presented with a beach bag crafted from recycled sail material, perfect for my beachside excursions. Furthermore, an SS reusable water bottle awaited me, accompanied by Linda's instructions that I could take it home with me after my stay. The bottle featured Luau's signature fish design, a delightful memento. Its practicality astounded me, as each floor boasted a water dispenser. Even now, back at home, I find myself sipping water from this treasured keepsake.

Soon after, I embarked on a leisurely stroll around the island. Fulidhoo showcased its charm with a school, a small health center, a community hall, and tiny shops, all nestled among picturesque Maldivian houses and trees. The locals gracefully carried out their daily activities, donning radiant smiles that warmly welcomed me.

Following my invigorating walk, I returned to Luau for lunch. I had already pre-selected my desired meal, and my expectations were high. The restaurant, situated on the top floor of Luau, had yet to reveal itself to me, but I instinctively knew that if the view from my room was any indication, the vista from the restaurant would be even more breathtaking. And indeed, my prediction held true! The view was nothing short of incredible. In that moment, I resolved to extend my stay for another week, which was the maximum duration allowed by my visa.

With great anticipation, I ordered the fish steak accompanied by buttered vegetables and potato chips, complemented by a refreshing passion fruit juice. Every bite was a sublime delight! The steak melted in my mouth, and the vegetables were bursting with flavor. The head chef, Lalith, kindly informed me that the fish had been freshly caught by Otto, emphasizing that their commitment to procuring the finest ingredients was unwavering. I felt a swell of pride, grateful to have experienced this gastronomic marvel amidst such a breathtaking backdrop. Succumbing to the allure of indulgence, I treated myself to a dessert. After all, I was on vacation and welcomed the idea of a slight increase in holiday weight. The cheesecake arrived, an artistic masterpiece worthy of a five-star establishment. It had been crafted by Luau's talented pastry chef, Rasika. The taste? Simply divine! Satisfied and content, I remained seated for an hour, captivated by the symphony of waves, birdsong, and drifting clouds. It was such a heartwarming experience to witness the team's unwavering dedication and attentiveness throughout my stay.

Later, I retreated to my room, succumbing to a blissful, extended nap. Upon waking, I embarked on a sunset swim, lingering in the shallows just in front of Luau. This personal spa experience invigorated my senses, rejuvenating both body and soul. I proceeded to book a delectable dinner and arrange a trip for the following day to witness the nurse sharks, followed by an exciting excursion to explore the renowned Vaavu shipwreck. At the reception, a beautifully designed map of the Vaavu Atoll adorned the wall, showcasing all the islands and excursion points, fueling my anticipation for the adventures that lay ahead.

Stay tuned, dear readers, as I continue to share the wonders of my Luau experience in the weeks to come. Already, I have secured my stay at Luau for the upcoming festive season. The days that followed my arrival at Luau became the most extraordinary I had ever encountered as a solo traveler. Be prepared for more captivating stories recounting my adventures on Fulidhoo island.

Yours Truly,

Eliise Rebane (An Estonian Wanderer)

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