#1 You’ll be Spending Most of Your Time Barefoot
You’ll probably end up wearing the shoes you brought with you twice : on the way here and on the way back. Most hotels provide you with flip flops and fins for snorkeling/diving.
#2 The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has a “Resident” Manta Ray
Who does somersaults around 8pm by the main bridge connecting the two islands. I named it Papa John from its acute resemblance to a slice of thin pizza.
#3 Five days in the Maldives is More Than Enough
I’m not discouraging you from staying for two weeks, but…
- visiting whale shark/manta ray points
- wake boarding
- jet skiing
- renting a boat to other islands
- picnicking on a private island
- dining at Ithaa (popular underwater restaurant not to be missed) and
- island explorations on a 4x4
…can all be done in five days, with plenty of time left for sunbathing and afternoon naps. So to prevent boredom from settling in and you start missing the urban population, plan carefully and start booking island activities before you fly.
#4 It is not Guaranteed that you will see Whale Sharks or Manta Rays (unless, see Number 2)
I was lucky I saw three whale sharks and an Eagle ray when we took a private yacht out. Even if you spend money on a private tour, the wilderness is still the wilderness and that extra $100 tip given to your guide, to extend the time they circle the boat round whale shark point, will not make them capable of calling these majestic beings up to more shallow waters.
#5 You don’t Need a PADI License to See a Whale Shark
Yes, that’s right. If you visit during their summer months (December — May), whale sharks come up to feed in warm water because there are more krill for them to eat. Krill, in turn, eat phytoplankton which strive in sunlight, so when you visit during the summer months it’s likely that you will see whale sharks even if you’re just out snorkeling.
#6 Maldivian Food is Healthy
This is why the Maldives would make a great health retreat to detox and regain nutritional balance or lose weight.* I lost 2kg during my five-day long trip and I was eating like mad. Local food consist of fresh fish with added spices and you will not find elaborate, creamy sauces because milk or butter is not a product of the island. Their natural oils are derived from plants and healthy Omega-3 fish oil.
*Disclaimer: this does not apply if you continue to eat (imported) international cuisine in hotels.
#7 No Pork is Served
All Maldivians are Muslims so you won’t find any pork in hotels and you can’t smuggle any into the country either. When in Rome… (be respectful). There’s plenty of other meat though, but as the majority of them are imported, be prepared to pay the price.
#8 The Maldivian Tuna ‘Salad’ is Spicy
And its great! It was just a burst of unexpected spice that grabbed me unawares as hungry me took a huge mouthful, thinking it would be like one of those premixed tuna sandwich fillers littering supermarket shelves.
#9 Be Respectful of the Underwater World
Think of Nemo. Think of destroying Nemo’s entire hometown before deciding to come up for air and ‘rest’ your fins on a coral because it will most likely break off. Think of Nemo and Dory fleeing from huge chunks of broken coral swept across the seabed by the water’s currents and into other corals, breaking those too. But most of all, think about other people who are currently planning their trip to the Maldives, getting all excited believing it will still be beautifully preserved and untouched by mindless tourists.
#10 A Water Resistant Camera is Absolutely Necessary
Bring one, or regret it for the rest of your life.
Ready to pack your bags and go? Here are some popular hotels to stay at:
1. Conrad Rangali Island
2. Anantara Dhigu Maldives
3. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
4. W Retreat & Spa Maldives
5. Six Senses Laamu