I haven’t posted on here for a long time, which I feel quite bad about. I know that several people rely on these posts to help stay connected with us, so I apologise for the gap.
We have been on several trips without posting on here in recent times, including an amazing Summer spent touring rural England (from Dartmoor to the Peak District).
However, our recent trip to the Maldives produced too much delight and we have felt compelled to resuscitate this blog.
The start of this academic year has been blessed with oodles of national holidays. The most recent, to celebrate the king’s birthday, contributed to a four-day weekend. Nicki, in her wisdom, booked very cheap flights with Air Asia as soon as the school calendar was confirmed last year. We may never get the opportunity to visit the Maldives again (should sea levels continue to rise), but we certainly won’t for 200 return.
Our evening trip from school meant that we landed in The Maldives late on Friday (slightly aided by the 3-hour time difference). We were rightly recommended to look into accommodation where the airport transfer fee wasn’t astronomical.
Note: some of the cheaper accommodation in The Maldives make you pay hundreds of dollars to get there. Best to check the T&Cs on Booking.com.
We had prearranged our pick up via speedboat for $20/person from the departure’s terminal at Male Airport. It was very strange to exit the airport onto a boat. Such is The Maldives.
The 45-minute high-speed journey took us to the island of Maafushi. We stayed for 3 nights at the Kaani Beach Hotel but spent very little time there. It was very basic accommodation as far as The Maldives goes, and doesn’t pretend to be anything more. The hotel knows that they are the cheaper alternative to the Insta-worthy resorts on other islands….islands without a maximum security prison at their tip.
One of the major benefits of such hotels is that they offer lots of excursions at cheaper prices than they would be at 5* hotels (or so we told ourselves). The breakfast was a bit naff though.
After a night’s rest I had a quick run around the island (less than 2km in circumference). As it is a local island, it had a little community to tickle our interest as well as the obligatory beaches of beauty.
Much of our first day was spent on the island, dipping our feet in the sea and enjoying the beach. We were learning the art of not doing much. It didn’t last long though, as we decided to take part in some line fishing from a boat at around sunset.
We took a boat with some other tourists and travelled far from the island. Despite being in the Indian Ocean you do feel as though The Maldives is land surrounding a giant lake. It’s not. At several points we could see the bottom of the ocean even though there was no visible land around us. There is something quite strange about seeing the bottom of the sea without a beach in sight.
Within a few minutes the fish were biting, and we were enjoying getting ourselves all wound up (literally) with the lines. We were safe in the knowledge that we needed to catch enough fish to feed us when we got to dry land. I got a bit carried away with my enthusiasm and didn’t realise everyone else had had enough after a couple of hours. Didn’t stop me catching fish though, did it?
When we got back to the island we had a shower whilst our fish were seasoned, cooked and put on our plate. I once again came face-to-face with one of the fish I caught. He didn’t look too pleased.
The next day we became day guests on the 5* Adaaran Prestige resort on an island about 30 minutes from Maafushi. Here we, along with the other budget Maldives tourists, had a taste of the luxury life one can only justify for a honeymoon. For the sake of $100 we were given all-inclusive access to everything, including wine and beer, which helped justify our expenditure. In fairness, it did seem quite good value for money considering a night in the hotel was $400+.
I always thought that people filtered their cameras to make the sea appear bluer and cleaner than it really is in The Maldives. But that couldn’t/shouldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is it beautifully clear, it is also lukewarm. The sand is smooth to the touch and colourful fish swim amongst you. It really is an incredibly beautiful place. Beer helped.
After another relaxing day here, chilling by the sea, the pool and the stilted bungalows, it was time for a ferry ride back and a sleep.
Our final full day in The Maldives was spent at sea. We hoped on a small speedboat with our snorkels and fins and set about seeking marine life to swim with. Within a few minutes of leaving the island we came across a pod of dolphins swimming nonchalantly together. The younger ones were doing flips and tricks out of the sea whilst the adults bobbed and puffed as if in conversation. We set out to see something like this in Goa, but this was a far better experience. Unfortunately, the dolphins were not in the zone suitable for snorkelling, so we were not able to see them from the sea, but seeing them together was an experience in itself.
We then anchored in another shallow to snorkel with some nurse sharks. Nicki and I were initially quite apprehensive about diving below the surface to get closer to them (they are sharks after all), but we soon got a bit of courage and adrenaline and tried to get as close as we could to these friendly sharks.
Later, we came across a massive manta ray and made a spontaneous leap into the sea to swim with it. Despite getting quite close, we were unable to get a snap of it from beneath the water. But it was massive.
We stopped for lunch on a sandbank in the middle of the sea. The kind of place you might get washed up on. We were stood on a bank of sand with nothing but the warm ocean surrounding us. Bliss.
After lunch we had a couple more snorkelling attempts, including in a reef with turtles, before heading back to the island for a freshen up. We also managed to stop off on another island to see a group of stingrays feeding together. We were truly spoilt.
Once we had the chance to think about our 3 days in The Maldives we decided that we had used our time very wisely. A place everyone should visit once, but many will never have the opportunity. For that, we felt very lucky.
Note: We have been limiting our Social Media usage recently because we have struggled to see the purpose. However, we have set up a private page on Facebook aimed at family and friends who would like to see photos and updates. Let me know if you want in.
*I will improve quality of some of the photos when WiFi connection improves as currently using phone hotspot.*