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Taking a day off - In Maldives

Just chill.

semi-overcast 28 °C

There are quite a bunch of cool foreign destinations nearby when it comes to Indians wanting a vacation. Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali, Singapore, Dubai, Vietnam and "Maldives" are few extremely famous among travelling destinations for us. Every place offers some unique experiences. For example, you want to experience nature which could include islands, forest and mountains, head to Thailand or Indonesia, want to gasp in the glory of flawless infrastructures, visit Dubai or Singapore, but you just want to relax, spend few days, doing kind of nothing, Maldives is your go to place. (Bonus, want to visit one of the most beautiful places on Earth, go to Mauritius. Blog coming soon. )

Le Morne, Mauritius, with its underwater waterfall (its just a phenomenon, not a real waterfall.)
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So what exactly is this place. Maldives is an archipelago, or even better, a group of atolls (Ring shape small islands), size of which ranges from few hundred meters to few kilometers and is located around 500 km southwest of Indian subcontinent. Almost entire Maldives is at sea level, there are no mountains, not even a tiny one, no forests, and the place is full of lagoons. Most of the islands are privately owned by resorts, and there are some which are shared among multiple resorts.

Why you should go to Maldives, depends on what you are looking out for. In my opinion, If I am looking out for a destination to explore many places and different landmarks, I would rather visit Thailand or Bali. I chose Maldives only for relaxing and enjoying my vacation days. You see Maldives is not cheap, resorts are costly, water bungalows in the resorts are even costlier and the cost of transportation from airport to the islands will simply trash your wallet. I booked a resort named "Thulhagiri Island Resort" which was around 20 mins boat ride from the airport and it costed me 100$ per person for the both way transportation. And that is one of the cheapest fares you will find as the resort was actually quite close to the airport. If you have a resort far from the airport be ready to shell out somewhere between 300$ to 800$ per person to reach there. Also I stayed for two nights in a water bungalow and the total accommodation cost was around INR 75000, but yeah that was an experience in itself. And fun fact, my resort had one of the most budget friendly water bungalow you can find in Maldives.

But you will ask, if there are so many islands why not explore those. Thing is, when you see Maldives atolls from above, like from an airplane or using a drone, it looks amazing, but when you are on a ground it just looks like a any other island with a beach. And this will happen everywhere. I was in Phuket last year exploring Phi Phi island, and at multiple places it looked like a normal locations with some amazing beaches, but when you have a birds eye view of Phi Phi island, jaws really drops.

Phi Phi Island From Above
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In Maldives there is an option of island hopping, but it is costly, and in my opinion its not worth it. You can however engage in water sports offered by the resorts but that too will be costly. I will suggest if you are planning scuba diving but running short on budget, then save it and do that activity in some other locations like Andaman or Thailand, where the options are plenty and hence the cost low. And one big advice, just don't visit Maldives and stay in Male, just for claiming that you have visited a foreign country. I would rather strongly suggest to visit Thailand, Dubai or Singapore in that case.

So, I started my planning around a month back from the actual travelling date. I planned my whole trip by myself and didn't book it through any travel agent. There are few direct flight options from India, which includes, Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram. Unfortunately there were no direct flights from Hyderabad, so I decided to book one from Cochin as the flight duration was just 1.5 hrs, and cost was low as the plane was a small Bombardier Q400 which has 2 by 2 seating. Another fun fact. This was the first time I was travelling to a foreign location in an Indian carrier and that too on a small turboprop plane designed for regional connectivity.

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While researching for hotels I found many options for resorts having water bungalow, some near to Male some far from it. I had to balance the cost of stay with cost of transportation, so I chose Thulhagiri Resort which was at a decent distance from Male, not so far, yet not to close to city, as to preserve calm and peaceful ambiance. Transportation by speedboat was arranged by the resort itself.

Thulhagiri Resort from above.
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So, finally the day arrived and early morning we left for Cochin from Hyderabad. At noon we had Spicejet flight to Maldives. Journey was smooth and as we approached Maldives the ocean revealed the Male Atolls in its full glory.

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The views were just jaw dropping, it simply looked like as if someone has drawn a boundary in between ocean and placed a ring in it. We landed at Male airport around 1.30 pm, and the immigration process was the fastest I have seen till date, just two mins with least amount of paperwork. Indians get Visa on arrival, and though it is recommended to carry multiple documents, all I had to present there was my passport, hotel reservation doc and return flight ticket. Airport was small but well maintained. A guy from the resort was at the arrival area to welcome us. As you come out of the airport you will have the pier on the other side of road and boats ready to take you to your resort. 20 mins later we were at our resort. Calm, beautiful and serene, it was the first experience for us for staying on an island size of which was no bigger than a cricket ground.

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We checked into our room, with a huge bed, wooden furnishing and a private sun deck with ladders dropping into the lagoon. The water around was clean and clear and was proper aqua in color. We spent our evening resting and walking as that's the thing you do in Maldives. Dinner buffet was served with so many cuisines to choose from. Taste wise it was mix of Continental, Italian, Indian and Oriental. Again it was a free time for us after dinner during which I did some long exposure night photography and then went to bed.

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Next day, similar activities, had breakfast and just walked around island and beach taking pictures, videos and relaxing. Had three swims that day, twice in sea and once in pool, so much for the free time. The island also hosts beautiful tiny parakeets and parrots. That day was a weekday, and honestly I had never felt that free in past few years. Even weekends are quite busy for me work-wise. Same night routines like previous night and we went to bed.

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Next day, we had to return back in afternoon. Again, same activities in the morning, just walking around and taking pictures. Got ready and left for the airport, and finally returned to India. Yes it was just a two night stay but it was beautiful. Unlike my previous blog about Rupin pass this one is quite small as honestly all we did was relax.

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In my opinion Maldives is a perfect romantic getaway, when travelling please be with your better half or at most family.
Travelling there with friends... Naaaaah.

My suggestion to all who are planning trip to Maldives, book a resort with private island and try to book water bungalow. Though costly they are a must have experience. There are hardly few places in this world which offers water bungalow facility. One of the very famous place which I know is Bora Bora islands, which is in middle of Pacific, one of the remotest place on earth, extremely costly and extremely far from India.

Bora Bora Island
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If you can't afford water bungalow for entire duration, try to book a normal room for entire duration except one and spend at-least last night in the water bungalow. Carry just 100 to 200 dollars for emergency, as the resort will have credit card machine and all the payments can be done using that including boat transfer charges. Indulge yourself in some really tasty sea-foods and other cuisines. If you have truckload of money do experience seaplane ride. And last but not the least, respect local laws.

Thanks for reading. Happy Travelling.

PS - If you need any help in planning your trip, to any location, you can reach out to me on shashank.s4u@gmail.com .

Click here for Maldives Video Tour

Posted by shashank511 20:27 Archived in Maldives Republic Tagged sea islands ocean nature beach travel country camera dinner romantic maldives destination asia buffet male indian_ocean atolls lagoons shoot seafoods cusine parakeets

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