The Maldives has always been on my bucket list. Ever since I saw the picture-perfect postcards of this paradise, I knew I had to visit this country one day. Some experts say that the islands of Maldives will not be around for long because the rising ocean levels are threatening to engulf the low-lying islands due to climate change. Hence, Nino and I decided to go this year before the inevitable happens. It was also the perfect escape from the winter here in Colorado.
Maldives (pronounced as Mal- deeves; rhymes with leaves) is the smallest country in terms of population and land area in Asia. It’s also the lowest country on the planet at just 4 feet and 11 inches above sea level, and perhaps one of the most expensive destinations in the world. This Islamic Republic nation is made up of a cluster of small islands in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of 26 atolls (coral islands that encircle a complete lagoon). It’s about 400 miles southwest of India and an hour flight from Sri Lanka. The best time to visit Maldives would be during its driest season which is between November to April. Avoid June to October as you don’t want the wet weather to spoil your expensive dream vacation. There are about 1,200 islands across Maldives but only 200 islands are inhabited, and half of these are resorts.
One month before our trip, Air Asia decided to suspend all their flights to Male. I already booked the tickets six month prior, so it was a pain in the neck to find another airline after the cancellation. I was glad to find Sri Lankan Airlines as an alternative, but it was twice the price. Oh well.
The whole journey was exciting. We flew from Malaysia with a stopover in Colombo, Sri Lanka. When the plane started its descent into Male (pronounced as Ma-Le), you could see all the atolls and their islands that looked like silk embellished with blue gems. The sight was breathtaking!
For Philippine passport holders, visa can be obtained upon arrival up to 30 days. After arriving at the airport, we were escorted by the resort staff to a lounge and then boarded onto a speedboat for an hour journey to our island. Just for your information, there are two modes of transport going to the island of Maldives – speedboat or seaplane. The cost for these are usually not included when you book the resort. The speedboat can cost up to $200 and the seaplane transfer is around $500 per person roundtrip. Every island promises a different experience, so ignore the big resort hotel brand and choose wisely.
We stayed at Fihalhohi Island Resort in the South Male Atoll because of its value and impressive house reef reviews. When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted by the island manager with a cold towel and fresh coconut drink. Afterwards, we were given some important information about the resort and its amenities, as well as a map of the island. The resort is very small and can be covered in 20 minutes of walking. It’s very interesting to know that Fihalhohi has its own time zone, which is 1 hour ahead of Male time. The other resorts have their own time zone too!
Both sides of the island offer good beaches and apparently stingrays are a common sight just swimming casually by the shore. Once we swam in the luminous waters of the Indian Ocean, it turned out to be one of my most memorable beach experiences ever. The weather was warm and inviting the whole time. The best feature of the whole island was by far their house reef. We didn’t do any diving but the snorkeling was excellent. The coral reef formations were stunning and I got to see plenty of colorful marine life.
This whole experience was pure bliss. The isolation, the privacy and the complete solitude was unreal. It was one of those experiences that you preserve in your memory bank, take it out when you’re sad, then put it back in for future use.
This post is a two-part series. I will take you to another resort, see the most amazing sand bank/bar in the middle of the ocean and visit a local-inhabited island on my next post!