My Maldivian Sojourn
I’ve been a beach lover my entire life, the type of girl who doesn’t fear a tan, and loves getting her toe nails naturally pedicured in the ocean water. However, even among beaches, my brain has resorted to a type of hierarchy, and the Maldives was always up there. I constantly pictured myself cycling around a tropical island, wearing a big white hat, and a floral dress.
Whenever you see pictures of the Maldives on Instagram or Pinterest, it looks so beautiful that you always assume that it is photoshopped, but now that I have been there, I can tell you that what you see is purely #nofilter, and, the reality, unlike most other places on this planet, does not deviate from virtual images, even by the smallest fraction. So, after a brief layover in Colombo, most of which, was spent checking weather forecasts, we hopped onto our Male bound, Sri Lankan Airlines flight.
Male indeed has one of the most beautiful airport approaches in the world. A couple of minutes prior to landing, you will not only see hundreds of circular islands, surrounded by tropical turquoise waters but also the semi organised chaos of Male island. An entire island is reserved for the airport and tourists have to make their way to the resort islands by speedboat or a seaplane. The latter is for approaching islands in distant atolls and costs a small fortune.
Now, while the actual Maldivian holiday is a total breeze, without you having to worry about following an itinerary of sorts, it is the planning stage that is the toughest. Each resort is pitched as a palm fringed and sun drenched paradise on the internet (which, is not untrue), and a lot of research needs to go into narrowing down on one.
We decided on the Olhuveli Beach and Spa Resort. To be honest, the speed boat ride from the airport to our resort was nothing spectacular. The ocean was particularly choppy, and the smell of diesel was getting to me. However, our arrival was nothing short of an anti-climax. The entire location was nothing like I had seen before. Beautiful beyond words. I just naturally wanted to unwind. We had booked the deluxe room for two nights and an overwater villa for our third night.
Our holiday was almost entirely about lazying around. Breakfast by the ocean was followed by a dip in the infinity pool, which, in turn was followed by a swim in the warm, tropical waters of the ocean. Interestingly, the ocean kept changing its colour, based on the skies. However, even while the colours kept changing, at no point in the day, was the water not completely clear.
Our stay in the overwater villa was the highlight of our trip. Knowing that a thousand colourful fish were swimming just a few feet away from where we were sleeping was a true delight. To add to this, one of the exits of our room took us directly into the ocean.
The entire environment was so pristine that it wasn’t rare to find oneself chilling with a manta ray in the shallow waters. Yes, I did! Only, I wish I had decided to chill instead of zooming my camera from various angles just to get a perfect photograph.
The evenings were spent on a little swing right above the ocean. Our eyes would either trace the flying path of sea planes, discover shapes in the clouds, or stare at a particular honeymoon couple that matched their outfits on a daily basis. We’d play mild music and let the breeze push the swing by itself. I did feel like a hopeless romantic!
In all of this, a permanent thought had embedded itself in my mind, one that constantly let me know, I was lucky!
In a country, where there is more sea than land, there is no end to the things you can do in water. We chose to go snorkelling. Our snorkelling trip consisted of three absolutely stunning diving sites. Each time our boat anchored, we would dive right in and snorkel along the reef. Its an experience I will never forget. The sun just beamed through the water, and everything glistened like gold. I spotted nemos, sea turtles, rays, and just every fish there could possibly be. I still can’t forget swimming above a school of a zillion yellow fish. Everything was just as animated, as colourful, as marvellous as it had been in the movie Finding Nemo. I don’t think I have ever been privy to an experience that has been this awe inspiring.
While I had carried my Kindle, I don’t remember reading a single page. Truth be told, I didn’t want to spend even a single moment gazing away from the sheer beauty that was held in every grain of sand, every drop of water, and every little coral that made the Maldives everything that it was.
And, just in a jiffy, we sat witnessing our final sunset in the Maldives, which culminated with the belief that the rigorous, draining, and often mind numbing lives that we lead from Monday to Friday (Saturday in my case) are the real reasons why we can appreciate such moments, enjoy the luxury of being tucked away on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, and look forward to new journeys, beautiful destinations, and diverse experiences.
At the end of three days, one thing was certain. Almost everyone who has walked on the white Maldivian sand, gazed at the turquoise blue lagoons, or enjoyed the abundant sunshine, will say that no other place on this planet may be compared to the Maldives. The rare breed that doesn’t subscribe to this view will treat it as second best. Well! That is ok, isn’t it ? :)
As for us, we were filled with only gratitude! :)
And now some travel tips:
- For all practical purposes, one doesn’t really need local currency in the Maldives. The USD is accepted at every resort. However, should you need to exchange, do so at the airport itself (to avoid long queues at banks outside).
- Maldives is not exactly a budget destination. However, there are plenty of all inclusive deals available, so be sure to hit at one of those (particularly if you’re a non vegetarian, who also loves their booze)
- If you’re a vegetarian, ensure that you carry some pre cooked meals. Food is exorbitantly priced and it isn’t worth paying 2000 bucks for a plate of pakodas.
- Always book your speed boat transfers in advance to avoid last minute chaos. An average transfer works out to $300 (round trip)
- Avoid resorts that are located very close to Male International Airport. The whole point of the trip is lost if all you can hear is aircrafts, landing and taking off.
- Ensure that you carry your smallest essential along with you. Remember, you will be on an island, with no access to markets or stores.
- In case you’re going there to celebrate your anniversary, do carry your marriage certificate and ask for your complimentary goodies :)
- If you’re on a budget, always search for resorts that are accessible by motor boats.
- Divide your stay between a deluxe room and a water villa. This helps save money, while ensuring that you have the best of each experience.
Hope this helps :)