Packing for Maldives doesn’t take much – 10 bikinis and 10 cover ups, and you’re done! When it comes to shoes – all you need is whatever you’re wearing on the plane and a pair of flip flops. Anything else would be a waste. This is the one place where they encourage you to not wear shoes as much as possible. The sand is so smooth and there is nowhere to go besides your cabana, beach and a dining place that often has a sand for a floor.
Maldives is on the bucket list of every self-respecting beach bum and/or romantic. It has been on mine for quite some time. Knowing that they might disappear possibly in our lifetime added urgency to visit them.
Passing the islands on our boat, I was surprised that they haven’t disappeared already due to some tsunami that seems to frequent South Asian countries. The islands are barely above the water. The sand melts into the ocean with palm trees reaching for the sun and defining the horizon. Imagine a nicer version of the 1995 Kevin Costner movie “Waterworld” where the islands are already under the water and all you have are these tiny cabanas standing on the stilts. Locals are already partly fish – a lot of them work as incredibly knowledgable, fearless dive masters.
Maldives is a collection of 1,200 islands, 200 of them are inhabited. Many are owned by resorts and they usually occupy the whole island since they tend to be small.
We spent 7 days on a liveaboard (new word alert – a boat used for recreational diving expeditions or cruises where the divers live on the boat for the duration of the cruise and use it as a diving support vessel) traveling around various atolls. Usually I would say that traveling on a boat is a great way to see different places, but honestly in this case, all those islands look the same from the boat. They are all paradise, but the same paradise, at least from the boat’s vantage point.
After 7 days on the boat, we did another 4 days at the Meeru resort. One of the bigger islands and only 45 min away from Male.
Meeru’s brochure reads “People who haven’t been to the Maldives are often concerned that there will be nothing to do. But after a few days on their resort they can’t imagine why they were ever concerned.” True. This was me.
There are no museums to visit, no UNESCO sites to see, no shows to catch, no restaurants to visit, nowhere to be. Often, my trips can be very hectic rushing from place to place to see as much as possible like we did in the South of France. I was worried that I would be bored just sitting on the beach. But the best part is that doing nothing in a beautiful place like this is an amazing activity in itself. If you add snorkeling and/or diving, your schedule will be PACKED.
Otherwise, Maldives is everything you would think it is – beautiful beaches, ridiculously gorgeous water and underwater world resembling that of “Finding Nemo.” If you’re the kind of person who prefers pool to the ocean, you wouldn’t be taking full advantage of Maldives. This is one place where snorkeling is a MUST, and if you ever think of diving, this is a great place to start. Although you can see tons of fish from the patio of your cabana, swimming among them is something you have to experience.
A side note to the snorkelers and divers and general open water lovers – currents are super strong. I’ve never experienced anything like that. Also, almost got swept away into the Indian Ocean on a lifesaver (funny name for a thing that just keeps you above the water. How about a little motor to bring the precious cargo to the shore?) Thanks to the lifeguard, whose duties apparently didn’t include consistent monitoring of the beach for floating-away guests, I was safely brought back to the shore and scolded for not reading the signs that clearly warned against swimming in a high tide.
- Swimming with the sharks: nurse sharks, whale sharks, black and white tip sharks otherwise known as reef sharks.
- Watching all kinds of fish hang out below our cabanas. Especially at night, the lights are shining down on the water and the fish is having a party all of their own. Indescribable experience and thanks to lack of my night photography skills not really captured.
- Waking up to this view:
Flights are long, ours was 12 hours to Dubai and another 4 from there to Male. Male airport is on an island and you literally walk out of the plain, through immigration onto the pier with water so blue it hurts your eyes for a while.
Maldives consists of clusters of islands, here called “atolls”. When you’re picking a resort, check which atoll it is on. Some are close to Male which means it will take about 45 min boat ride to get to your resort. Others are further and require getting on a little seaplane. Transportation is rarely if ever included and costs $$.
Maldives is a muslim country and alcoholic beverages are only allowed at the resorts. Don’t try to bring any in your luggage (as some of us were possibly planning on doing) as they scan all the luggage when you get off the plane.
All resorts and liveaboards cater to varied tastes. Their buffets are the best and usually include a mix of western and South Asian cuisine. Best place to try Indian food. Lots of vegetarian options as they cater to the close neighbor – India.
Otherwise, remember – no need to bring any other clothing other than swimsuits and cover ups. It’s that kind of place.
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