Turquoise Waters: Maldives

Maldives, with its pristine beaches and luxurious water bungalows, is a true insta-paradise. Every time I saw the pictures, I was so mesmerized with the blue and green waters and I soo wanted to take a dip in that picture perfect scenery.

I was watching a documentary on Nat Geo imagining myself on that island when the commentator mentioned, 80 percent of the country are coral islands which is less than one meter above sea level. This small Asian country with 1000’s of islands is potentially at high risk of being washed away due to rising sea levels. Lying on my couch, suddenly felt like the hammock I was imagining to be on was swept over by a tide.

Sunrise

With an awakening that Life is too short to wait, I started my search for a perfect itinerary. Maldives is one of the expensive destinations. Most of the resorts have their own private island, that boasts of overwater bungalows, restaurants & bars, spa, and facilities for water sports (The packages mostly include all meals and drinks).

I almost fell off my hammock a second time looking at the price range of $500 USD per night to $2000.  If that wasn’t enough, reading the fine print made me almost drown. To get to the island resort from the Male airport (capital of Maldives), you had to either take a seaplane or book an exclusive speedboat from the resort. Depending on how far your resort is, this would cost anywhere between 100$ to 300$ per person.

However, the more I looked at those overwater villas with floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to a private deck, with a personal pool and turquoise water, there was no way I was going to give away this crazy idea of visiting this piece of heaven.  

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So my hunt began to find a pragmatic option to visit Maldives.

It was quite a coincidence that GoAir launched direct flights for as much as Rs 16,000 for a round trip from Bengaluru, India with options for packages to Island resorts as an all-inclusive deal.

With flight tickets sorted, the hunt began for the ideal shack. There are tons of AirBnB options on the islands where the locals live. Travelers mostly target island resorts. From the airport, it’s direct transit by boat or seaplane to the island resort where you have booked.

Each resort is located on an exclusive island. Tourist stays in the resort for the entire duration and gets dropped back at the airport for departure.

I wanted to explore more and do it my way.  The good news is that you can visit the local islands and stay with the people. Many families run Airbnb’s. Ferry’s cost is about 2-20$ per person, connecting these islands and travel time of 30 minutes to 90 minutes.

Same day returns are challenging, so it’s better to plan for a stay. Some of the popular islands are Maafushi, Fulidhu, Guraidhoo or Dharavandhoo

This is the view that welcomes you at the airport; Boat Jetty bang opposite the arrival terminus.

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So, the capital city is like any other town in India or maybe more like Srilanka. Traffic is sparse and organized, streets are well marked, no honking and pedestrian friendly.

I chose to stay in Hulhumale, which is a reclaimed island with an area of 4 km²; it’s around 20 mts by road from the airport.

There are free air-conditioned Volvo buses that run between the capital city and the newly developed Hulhumale. The island is connected via a causeway to the airport island and with the opening of the Sinamalé Bridge between Hulhulé and Malé Island, the road network is seamless. 

We stayed on the East Side of the island where there is an endless stretch of perfect white sand beach with shallow waters. All the guesthouses are lined up on the beach road and so you wake up to the best sunrise of your life. Seasons Holidays had the perfect beachfront view with complimentary breakfast and wifi at a very reasonable price of USD 65. All I needed was to grab a book and lie down on the beach and just spend the day in bliss.
Whitesand
The beach also has reef around 100 meters out and you could walk till that point. The best part is you could go snorkeling and the water is so crystal clear without having to go deep. At times it feels like a fish tank, you just have to put your head in and you could see all kinds of fishes. Best part is that there are no waves, just crystal clear water and the colours of the sea are just absolutely stunning.
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Plan for day 2 was to go for a  tour which includes white sand beach, island hopping, dolphin watching, and snorkeling. For USD 130 it was worth the money. After having been to the Great Barrier Reef – Australia, never thought there was much am gonna miss but this was very much worth every penny. You could snorkel with manta rays or whale sharks. And it was fun indeed.
Hulhumale is also perfect for water sports, There are plenty of options that you’ll love.
I enjoyed Jet Skiing at the beach, and for about 30 minutes it costs USD 45.
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A word of caution: You need plenty of USD !!! Everything here runs on dollar terms.
Food in local restaurants are also in USD, each meal would be approx 12–15 USD. Must try are Kothu Rushi (similar to Kothu paratha of Srilanka ) and of course Mas Huni (smoked & shredded Tuna, with grated coconuts, and onions).
Staying at the local islands in Maldives is probably one of the best advice I can offer.  And to post that insta-pic of the drool-worthy water villa, you could choose to take a day package to one of those luxury resorts. It’s truly amazing – no matter where you go in Maldives! 
Day tour to the resort could be USD 150 per person vs a night at USD 800 for a couple. 
A dip in the Turquoise water at an awesome price. Our guest house arranged for it, all connections are from the airport ferry, and with a bit of haggling, we settled for USD 130 per person for a day trip to Cinnamon Dhonveli. 

There were super luxury yachts and seaplanes next to our boat.  A trip to this paradise will constantly remind you that “money can buy happiness”.

 

You have to experience the hospitality. Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives is one of the best surfing points in the Maldives. So, when you’re here make sure you make the most of the perfect waves. No matter what you choose to do, it’s going to give you an adrenalin rush you have never experienced before.

 

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Believe me – this is an experience that’s worth every penny!! The water villas, white sand and shallow calm waters. If it’s still a bit too expensive for you then no worries, there is a solution! It may not be a water villa, but a beach house.

 

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Hey, don’t just sit there on the shore and watch! Rent snorkeling gear for USD 10 and go in the water. It’s absolutely stunning.

 

The weather was absolutely perfect and allowed me to do everything. The “Sunny Side of life”.

 

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The buffet spread was huge, The staff was super friendly, they knew how to make a good drink, and there was always food around. By evening the dance floor was set by the beach. And it was time to unwind.

Couples have the option to to pay extra for a romantic dinner by the lagoon.

 

I found the perfect spot to relax and watch the sunset sipping the cocktail and it was bliss!

 

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Picture courtesy : Pixabay, Alan Morris

Read more about my underwater adventures at Sail your way through the Heart Reef

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