Travel Hack: save up your pennies, visit somewhere fabulous and never feel the need to travel again. The Republic of Maldives. There's no comparison. It's different, unique, beautiful and offers stunning never-before-seen views.
According to the CIA ‘The World Factbook’, the Maldives is the smallest Asian country made up of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls and sits in a strategic location and along major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.
That’s more than I knew when we flew there. What I did know was:
- The country is a string of islands located somewhere near Sri Lanka
- It's expensive to stay
We flew Air Asia via Kuala Lumpur and arrived at Male airport on Hulhumalé island across the water from the capital, MIA is in the midst of major construction work with a second runway being added together with cargo handling facilities supported by finance from China. Nearby, the first bridge connecting Male and Hulhumalé is also being built.
Just a note about booze. Alcohol is banned in the Maldives and shops do not sell any. The only booze on sale was at the airport’s departure lounge (airside) duty free shops and at the resorts. Guess what the prices are like? Yep, that’s right, stratospheric.
Having arrived in the late afternoon, we stayed at Club Blu about ten minutes along a dusty road from the airport. Not a bad choice for a night's stay although the road was noisy with heavy vehicles and mopeds all night. The staff were very helpful though.
The next day we were at the airport again by 6.15am for a Trans Maldives Airways seaplane flight to Dhigali Resort. I've flown in small planes and helicopters before and always been terrified but I was looking forward to the seaplane flight.
Since there are many resorts spread far and wide, TMA operates a flying-taxi service and has 42 planes ferrying guests across the Maldives during the day. Each plane seats fifteen people and pre-booking is necessary. Our journey took forty minutes and the views were spectacular.
Finally, we arrived at Dhigali resort. The most beautiful location I’ve ever been to. Simply stunning. We had booked a water villa but got upgraded to a lagoon villa. I’m never upgraded. Ever. So it was a great surprise. Our villa had a private splash pool with steps down to the shallow green-blue waters. Stunning.
Dhigali itself is a kilometre long, has six restaurants, a sunset bar, spa, children’s playground, boutique, dive centre, and a place to hire kayaks etc. There are shuttle golf carts so you don’t have to walk anywhere. When you arrive, they encourage you to download their app so you can see where the shuttle buses are at any one time and check island information.
The sunsets were fantastic.
During the day, snorkeling and seeing exotic fish. Then I’d send the drone up. Or just lazing about and underachieving. The resort was big enough to do your own thing without seeing anyone else until meal times.
All too quickly our five-day break came to an end. A nice touch, I thought, was the general manager and his executive team waving us and the other guests off at the jetty as we took the boat to meet the seaplane.
I’m glad I went. It was brilliant. I never want to go away again. There’s nothing out there that can beat the Maldives experience. Even though I joke about the leg I sold to pay for the trip and how it’s growing back, I am very grateful to have gone. The better half researched everything, read the reviews, sorted out the seaplane, and all. Such an amazing experience.
Food and Drink
We opted for half board meaning breakfast and dinner (both buffet) and it worked out well. A 330ml beer cost US$10. A cocktail cost US$14. The cheapest bottle of wine was US$76. No water served at dinner. Coffee machine and the usual drink sachets in the villa and two large bottles of free water.
November to April.
Mosquitos were a problem on our first night but after that, OK. Sun lotion. We took some diving shoes like this for wading through the shallow waters because there’s a lot of coral. For snorkel, because my eyesight is chronic we ordered a prescription mask from Taobao (took three days to arrive in HK; under HK$200. Worth it).
We saw three plastic bags floating in the otherwise pristine waters but were unable to retrieve them. We hope this won’t become a problem affecting the rest of the world. I wondered how the Maldives coped with rubbish and they took over an island and turned it into a landfill. As awful as that sounds, I think there isn’t much choice on what to do with rubbish.