Thursday, September 13, 2018

Where to Go, What to Do and What to Eat in Maldives

Well, hello there Mr Turtle and Nemo and Dory! Lucky are the Maldivians that these turquoise scenes, taken out of television shows, are just a doorstep away from their home. Although the island country needs several zooms to be located on google map, its popularity as a tropical haven around the world is certainly colossal.

Coming from a country with a fair amount of world class diving spots, I thought Maldives had to work hard to impress me. But she didn't have to with her disparate beauty. Maldives welcomed me and turned me into one of those who cannot move on from the visit, immortalizing the experience on their blogs.

Wonders of Maldives
Before you whip out your bikinis and start your holiday, I must say that planning to get from the airport to your resort/ island is not something you do without research. It can be confusing but don't let that deter you as it is not as complicated as it seems.

Famed for their turquoise waters
Happy People! -product of Maldives


Maldives is a country made up of 26 atolls (ring of islands). Although not all islands are habitable, the list of those suitable for tourism is enough to make you all frustrated on which island to pick!

A few things for you to know:

1. Generally, resorts with rooms hovering above the sea with a slide extended directly from the bedroom to the water (which you normally sea in brochures) adopt the one island one resort concept. Those resorts will give you the opportunity to splurge around RM3000 per night. There is a way around it though. Read on.

2. Although Maldives is known for its pristine environment, accommodations on islands that are far away from its capital, Male, are a little too secluded for comfort and pleasure. Secluded may not be a bad thing if you need to 'Cast Away' to teach yourself a lesson on taking electricity for granted, seriously detox yourself from any signals of the internet and live a primitive life. The only culture you will encounter is nature in its purest form.

3. Maafushi is the most famous atoll as it is closest to the airport. The more affordable accommodations nestle on Maafushi. Local culture can be experienced and  expenses can be kept at a minimum here.
Hop from island to island
Start from Maafushi island if you cannot decide on which resort/island you want to stay on or what activities to do. Also, if you still want to survey and keep your options open (I chose this option).

If you have the gift of being decisive and have engaged your hotel/ island via the internet from your home country, that specific island which your resort occupies will most probably be the hub for most of your activities.
Which is the island of your choice?


If you have booked your resort, the resort should be able to pick you up from the airport to their island. Remember the one resort one island concept?

If you are going to Maafushi, there are 2 methods- by ferry or by speedboat

Ironically airports of world-famous places like Maldives are amusingly simple
By public ferry
Airport >>>Male island jetty (1USD ferry/ 2USD speedboat) 10 minutes 
Male island jetty >>> Jetty 1/ Maafushi jetty (2-3 USD taxi) 10 minutes
Jetty 1/ Maafushi jetty >>> Maafushi island (3 USD per pax ferry) 90 minutes

Departure time from Jetty 1 is either 10am or 3pm and departure time back from Maafushi island is either 7.30am or 12.30pm

By speedboat (I chose this option because to me, holiday starts when I set foot in the hotel)
Book a speedboat via iCom Tours for 20-25 USD per pax. Duration only 45 minutes from airport straight to Maafushi island.

This option saves time and energy which you want to invest on your activities and hotel stay instead. 

Managed to chat with a Brazilian couple at the immigration.
Remember to waste no time to queue at the immigration before the next flight of people arrives.
The queue won't make impatient people happy
Turqoise water welcomes as soon as you reach the airport
For those who have to update Instagram realtime or cannot break away from emails, these are the two telcos which you can buy your simcards from
Even before the main agenda the blue of the waters is amazing.
You mean it's more beautiful later?
We opted for the private speedboat at USD25 per pax to fully utilize our time
Maafushi Island is as big as a 30-minute-walk so there is no need to feel insecure when deciding to hire a pick-up from the jetty. Even if you were lost anywhere in the island wont take long with friendly locals to ask along the way even if you decide to walk to your hotel for the first time.

Right in front of the jetty where you alight, are tour companies which you can ask assistance from for hotel booking.
Clothes that immediately tell that I freshly got of the plane.
Long pants are only for freezing flights!
The definition of local pick up in Maafushi. 
I was burnt even before I went into the water
Arrived at Beachwood Hotel 
Pet of the hotel


There are 3 things that I recommend to do in Maldives in whichever order you like but this was the order that I did them:

1. Explore Maafushi island for local culture, souvenir shopping, cafe hang-outs, bar visits (fortunately or unfortunately there will be alcohol although a Muslim country)

2. One high-class resort visit (trust me, you'd think half a day would suffice but no)

3. Snorkeling & dolphin watching (even if you have phobia of water/ don't like snorkelling)

I am happy to give the assurance that you can buy all your packages in Maafushi and not worry about booking them via internet before the trip. 

If you are Malaysian, you can put your haggling skills to use but prices and package designs are pretty much standardized. Your friendliness with the tour guides though can serve your holiday experience well.
Don't worry about pre-booking your packages online.
You can purchase your packages there after surveying in Maafushi when you arrive
Let the dream come true!

1. Explore Maafushi Island

The most convenient activity after reaching Maafushi is exploring the land as it would be a little late for water activities like snorkeling and diving. Resort tours too start early in the morning and would not be worth it to start mid day. 

Maafushi is the smallest town I have ever been so far. You can declare that you have been town-wide in just 30 minutes. It is impressive that although small, Maafushians manage to fit all the essentials for the people- school, clinic, bank, police station and even a jail.
Quaint little town
Signature seats in Maldives
Sitting on the netted seats doing nothing gives more pleasure than you think
Football field
Clinic and health centre
Maafushi jail
Maafushi's one and only police station
Maafushi government administration building
Walking carefreely on the sandy streets of Maafushi
A bank which looks like CIMB bank
Convenient store
Food stall
Borrowing a bike from a friendly local
Coconut trees at the Bikini Beach
Maafushi beach at dusk
Spotted a PADI class done outdoors with sea breeze
At the beach in Maafushi at dusk during full moon
2. Party On A Yatch
Although a rustic place, party goers can heave a sigh of relief that they can make a night life out of their evenings here. Head to the floating bar that which is much talked about amongst locals and tourists.

The Kaani Princess is a yacht seen as a blue glowing speckle floating in the water from the main jetty of Maafushi. Drinks with a wonderful night view of the shore line coupled with hit music and an open dance floor are the ingredients to an enjoyable night. Plus, entrance fee and boat transfer are free!
Ready to party?
Glowing in blue in the middle of the sea
The yacht experience
Friends I made on the dance floor
The night view of the shoreline

3. Choose A Resort To Visit
Have you ever wondered how nearly everyone who has been to Maldives has a picture backdropped by those upscale water bungalows. Is it a must-do to sleep above the Indian Ocean? I can personally recommend that it is not compulsory! But you'd be sorry if you didn't take the resort visit if you are not already staying in one.

On Fihalhohi Island
My initial thoughts of a resort visit was proven wrong. The resort visit may sound like you are not optimizing your time with the most extraordinary of activities but idling IS part of what you should do in Maldives and may be your most fulfilling item in your itinerary. 

As usual, the guide will be of assistance to help you choose the resort that you would enjoy out of the list of equally attractive-looking sites. Basically, what you need to ensure the package includes are a good view which I believe is available in any island, buffet lunch and bottomless drinks. Facilities could be more of a concern for those who check-in the resort. Other than that, mother nature pretty much takes care of your pleasure while you do absolutely nothing.
The famous Maldivian water bungalows
Platform that protrudes out into the sea for that oceanic pleasure
The best things to do in a resort is to stare into the horizon
Beautiful hue of blue
Free flow drinks should be sufficient thank you
The huts at Fihalhohi Resort
Relax on a swing by the sea is so surreal
Inviting greeneries all around
Calls for a selfie!
Cannot resist a photograph
The azure shades of the sea and sky
No filter needed for these postcard sceneries
Baby shark spotted
Flowers beautify the sandy grounds
Flora and fauna in harmony
Dreams are sweeter here
Lunch time at the resort
Serving local and more international selections
It is during a resort tour also that I had my most sumptuous meal compared to other days
Maldives is not a food haven but you can still 
4. Go Underwater
This is something that you cannot afford to miss although you believe you might just dissolve in water. Although mentioned as number 4, it is the true Maldivian treasure to imbibe. The turquoise water is beautiful beyond description and so is the whole world submerged in it.
Aaaannnddd I am ready
Drying myself was easy
Dolphins completely exceeded my expectation of dolphin watching.
They enjoy the attention by tourists and will reward you with a stunt or two if you clap loud enough!
Learned what a duck dive is
A little bit of Nemo of course
My first time in fins
Mr Turtle!
When you see them, appreciate them without touching them
The moment that ensnared my heart into the underwaterworld
Some bread will do the trick for this close-up
Feeling free on a sandbank
Tour guides preparing our lunch at the sandbank
Simple but satisfying
A rest in the sandbank
"Real women marry Maldivian divers" is the catch phrase one of their dive centre
The divers there made it quite convincing

5. Witness the Sunrise and Sunset

One refreshing thing you can do is to catch the sunrise in Maafushi. Dawn breaks at approximately 6:15am. There is no need to climb mountains or bulldoze forests to get to the extreme East or West of the island as Maafushi is relatively small. Gather vibes of energy from the sun when it births from the sea and unwind as the sun retires for the day.
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Maafushi may be a paradise for beach lovers but it did not quite match up as a food haven. Although the locals cannot emphasize enough that their food is exclusive from the Indian's and the Sri Langkan's, to a foreigner's tongue, they look and taste pretty much like Indian food (please spare me dear Maldivian friends) Fish curry, roti canai, fried rice are all quite staple here.
Found a food shop to have breakfast
As I scoured the town of Maafushi for something unfamiliar on my tastebuds, I found their local delicacies to be unique. In savoury and sweet flavours, their snacks are something interesting that you can make a point to find there.
Local delights and delicacies
A humble atmosphere
2 Hedhis and 1 long Bondhi with milk tea
Simple Maafushi breakfast
English is very widely used
Food here is quite globally accepted and nothing out of the ordinary
At a local cafe
Snacks and light food
Gulaabu cake- made of coconut shavings
Bajiya samosa-like with fish fillings
Dhufaa echchechi- sliced betel nuts eaten with a paste and cinnamon.
A Maldivian snack or palette refresher
Dine by the sea
Dinner with your feet on the sand
The familiar and comforting fried rice
If you are wondering what the hotels offer, it is nothing too peculiar
Food that would be acceptable internationally

Have your trip a graceful finale by disembarking in a city or town. This is optional but to cushion the post holiday blues, which will most definitely attack when you leave your resort, spend a night at Male or Hulhumale before you return to your country.

If I knew that Hulhumale is not a place for souvenirs, I would have picked them at Maafushi island itself. Otherwise, splurge a little more at the airport which has prettier options though!
Pretty cafes al-fresco
When the moon shines your way to the the beach
The morning energy
Wait for the yellow yolk to rise

Absorb the local charisme
Y me?
Classic barber shop
Eateries are simple in Hulhumale. Therefore, having some Maldivian Rufiyaa can be more cost efficient 
Dinner at Hulhumale
To the untrained tongue, it all tastes like Indian food but enjoy it anyway because it is bound to be finger-licking good! 


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