This post has been in my drafts for nearly a month now. Not because I was being lazy, but because every time I started writing it, I wanted to go back to Maldives. I wish I was writing this post sitting on the deck of a water villa, sipping a glass of champagne, looking out into the open ocean at sunset, feeling the gentle breeze in my hair and fishes playing in the sea under my feet. I can imagine the entire scene vividly and perfectly and if I close my eyes, I can even feel the ocean breeze. Thats the closest I have ever been to paradise.
Maldives was on our list for a long time. Partly because it is said to be one of the few places that might get fully submerged in our lifetime due to climate change. People who don’t believe in climate change (yes, there are people like that!) think it is only a rumor spread by the government of Maldives to enhance tourism to the Islands. All I’m saying is, why would they even need to do that? It is so breathtakingly beautiful. We thought it would be the kind of place we would go only once in our lifetime. But having been there, I can tell you, I am definitely going back!
Figuring out the Logistics
So lets get the obvious out of the way. Maldives is an expensive place with room rates ranging anywhere between (INR) 30k to a few lakhs a night depending upon the island you are in and the kind of luxuries you want. Good thing is, flights to Maldives are cheaper than most places. Also, there definitely are ways to cut down on the accommodation costs if you don’t mind living in Male (the capital city) and commute to and fro to other islands for day trips. Or you can choose to live in cheaper rooms away from the beach.
Things to keep in mind while choosing a resort in Maldives.
- Most islands have a single resort and are only accessible via their own transport – a motor boat or a sea plane.
- There is no other way on and off the island except for paid day trips they may organize to nearby islands. Some bigger islands may have ferries but small islands do not.
- Islands offer half board, full board and all inclusive package. What they mean is, you can choose to prebook a package with breakfast + dinner, breakfast + lunch + dinner or all meals + all snacks. You have to pay separately for things not included and they can get very expensive since you don’t really have an option to go to other restaurants from most islands.
- The rooms that most resorts have are: inner island rooms, beach villas and water villas with different luxuries and add-ons like jacuzzi, infinity pools, etc.
- There is generally no room service in low to mid range and even some higher range resorts.
- Choose a water villa which has an uninterrupted view of the ocean.
We spent a long weekend on one of the islands. Each island is completely owned and maintained by one resort. Ours was the Veligandu Island Resort. It even had its own time zone! Me and Shilp had discussed our ideal Maldivian vacation at least a dozen times over the past couple of years. We HAD to live inside a water villa. Its one of those structures that is built on the lagoon surrounding the island and you can walk into the lagoon right from the deck of of the room. One sunset view villa for us please!
We chose an all inclusive package that came with some perks like a complimentary snorkeling lesson, complementary use of their kayaks and a sunset dolphin cruise on one of the evenings. We also took the sea plane transport to and from the airport that the resort offered (there is no other way on and off the island, so that was not really a choice) and a water villa with Jacuzzi.
The sunset cruise with dolphin spotting was one of the highlights of the trip. After spending almost 45 minutes sailing around the ocean, the crew finally spotted a school of dolphins and boy! They were Majestic! They swam within touching distance of the boat and even did their iconic jumps.
We spent the first two days doing nothing much, just lounging around, getting the most expensive massages of our lives, walking the beaches or sitting on the deck looking at the fishes dance. You can literally sit on the deck for hours, day or night and the fishes will keep swimming near the neck. We saw a school of flying fish from our room deck, couple of baby sharks on the beach (that was freaky), turtles and crabs and a lot of very colorful and beautiful sea life.
My introduction to snorkeling
The third and our final day, we decided to take the snorkeling lesson. Now, I am terrified of water so it was really a leap of faith for me to even agree to try something like this. But since we were on a small enough island, where the coral reef and marine life started almost at the beach, the snorkeling lesson was on the beach itself. That was a little less terrifying. After fifteen minutes of struggling to trust my life jacket to keep me afloat, I was finally able to float facedown. It was so beautiful down there! Fishes were swimming all around and we even made it to the coral reef which was closest to the beach. The instructor taught us to always snorkel with a partner and that made it less scary.
Off to the big leagues
After our first lesson, we got talked into doing a real snorkeling trip to a big coral reef. Only, when I agreed to it, I had no idea it was going to be in the middle of the ocean! I had assumed if would be near another island. We took a motor boat to where the reef was. When the boat stopped, I freaked out and refused to do this. Somehow the instructor and Shilp talked me into at least trying it out and made me step down into the water from the boat. I must have stayed there for all of 60 seconds before panic took over and the instructor had to take me back to the boat. Shilp got in the water after that.
My panic subsided after I saw Shilp do it. It was easy and not as scary as it looked. I went again after him, laden with his advice on how to keep the panic at bay and making sure the instructor understood he was not to leave my hand for even a second. And I DID IT! I saw the huge coral life and hundreds of fishing swimming around and everything! It is a whole other world in there. I saw Nemo and Dory!
Sometimes, even to this day, I can’t believe I did that! And I am sure I will be just as terrified if I ever try to do it again.
I highly recommend a trip to Maldives for everyone. It is so beautiful, with so many amazing things to see and experiences to have; and I will be really sad if and when it vanishes under the sea. We met people who keep coming back every year because Maldives is like a love affair that you don’t want to end.