The Maldives – an equatorial paradise

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Me and my husband (fiancée at the time) visited the Maldives in March 3 years ago. To travel to a warm place and relax was the priority for us that winter of 2013. Previous I have registered on Fly 4 Free, a polish website where everybody who register, get notification about interesting and inexpensive destinations. One evening I receive email about flights to the Maldives. This is it! We are going!

Enjoy the post! If you have any questions in regards to the trip or other trips and places me and my husband visited, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Getting there

The plane from Warsaw to Dubai and further to Male, is quite big but cosy as long-distance planes usually are. I am watching Skyfall with the amazing song by Adele. When we had bought our planetickets, it was clear that we would need to stay over in Warsaw for one night. We had booked a room in a hostel close to Nowy Swiat Street. The hostel is built in a square with a courtyard as a central part. At one point in the evening we had woken up to loud music. It was coming from a dancing school across the patio. I saw young people dancing to Adele’s song and living their life. They all looked so happy and very passionate about what they were doing. I will always like Adele because her music will remind me of that holiday.

I am done watching the film. I am tired but very happy and very excited. In some hours we will arrive to this amazing place. I honestly can’t wait to be there, to relax and leave all the problems behind, at least for some days. Truly a unique experience is ahead of us.

After some hours on the plane, a stopover in Dubai, we finally arrive in Male or rather Hulhumale, the airport island which is situated next to the capital island, Male. It’s hot, over 30 deg Celsius (86 deg Fahrenheit), humidity 70-80%. After some rush at the airport we finally head towards the seaplane base where we are taken to our resort. The seaplanes operate only when the sun is up which is until aprx 15.30 pm.

Geographical info

The Maldives lies in two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. The country is made up of over 1000 coral islands formed around 26 natural ring-like atolls. Each atoll in the Maldives is made of a coral reef encircling a lagoon. The reefs of the islands, alive with countless types of underwater creatures and vibrant corals, protect the islands from wind and waves of the surrounding vast oceans. About 90 islands are developed as tourist resort and the rest are uninhabited or used for agriculture and other livelihood purposes.

My first seaplane experience

Flying with the seaplane over the Maldives and Indian Ocean is absolutely beyond breathtaking. I can see atolls surrounded by the most turquoise lagoon-water I have ever seen. I had to learn about atolls when I studied geography, their origin, I have seen pictures in books but looking at them with my own eyes from the air is an experience on a totally different level! Anyway, the plane is small and can fit in at the most 20 passengers. Its very noisy though. However the expensive ocean view compensate for all the noise. We arrive to our resort aprox. 25 min after take off. The island is little and it looks like an oasis, a pearl surrounded by the crystal-clear sea. It looks secluded and very peaceful. As geographer I notice immediately that there is no soil here, no bedding, just white sand. How can these coconut palms and the lush-ish vegetation grow here on this barren land, on this white sand? Nature is full of surprises. For example when I was studying, one of my university professors preached that there are no straight lines made by nature in the environment. The lines are either curved or irregular. That was till we all saw extremely straight line in the mountain in South America, all very natural!

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Our resort – our paradise for the week

Gangehi Island Resort Maldives is our tropical paradise for the week. The bungalow-like villas are situated either on the beaches or directly in the water creating a paradise-like landscape. Its very pleasant, hot but nice. We are welcomed by the staff and served local drinks. It is late but we decide to take our first swim in the lagoon. Water temperature must be around 25 deg Celsius. The tide is out. We see crabs crawling on the rocks. PARADISE. I cannot believe I am here, thousands of kilometers away from home. It feels right.

We walk around the island and get to know people. In the main bungalow which is also a bar, the staff is giving directions in order to have a good time as well as preserve the beautiful nature here:
– do not touch coral reef while snorkelling/scuba diving,
– take back all the plastic items that you brought with you,
– do not take shells with you home.
Usually we don’t think about obligations when we are on holidays. A word ‘relaxation’ doesn’t go hand in hand with a word ‘obligation’. We pay, we require, so capitalistic. Fortunately this kind of attitude belongs to the past or is on the way there. Over the last 30 years tourism has developed beyond recognition. What have changed the most is the way we travel and how many of us travel. We travel more and we travel further, often to places where nature, religion and culture is different from the one we grew up in. Therefore we should educate ourselves about places we go to, to avoid uncomfortable situations and to protect the local environment. Like in this case. I guess the world wouldn’t collapse if one person took one shell. But what if 1000 people took one shell each? What if 100000 took one shell each?

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Relaxing and enjoying the place

We are having a great time at the resort. The place is meant for recovery and retreat. I love the island and I love the warm climate here. The sun is very bright and it makes it almost impossible for us to stay at the beach. The evenings on the other hand are very peaceful.

There are many activities tourists can enjoy here. The most popular seams to be snorkeling in the lagoon. Otherwise it is possible to do deep water diving with the whole equipment, canoeing, yoga, excursions and much much more. We take it easy. The beach is the place where we hang out the most. The second famest spot is the bar-deck where we basically watch sunsets, listen to breaking waves and look at the underwater world with multi-colored fish, marine turtles, manta rays, lemon sharks and more.

We stay in a house called Garden Villa. There are a few of those here on the island. It’s the cheapest option. Otherwise there are beach and overwater villas but they are quite expensive. Staying in one of those can cost you from around 7000 US dollars a week and up-words. All the cottages are built in an unique asian style with elegantly design solid wood-furniture rooms and bathrooms. The personality of each villa is defined by the materials in it and those look warm, welcoming, vintage as reclaim and distressed furniture can be.

One evening we come to a bangalow-bar, order some drinks and head to a deck. It’s very quiet despite many people enjoying their holidays. I think about one of my childhood’s dreams namely visiting a place like this, a tropical paradise. Why did I get this kind of dream? Geographically speaking I am a child of the lowlands and I haven’t seen water, sea or ocean wise, till I was 24. Geography in shape of travel films, old maps and books were always a run-away from my day-to-day life. Thanks to those items I discovered for the first time places other than my little village that I desperately wanted to visit. To travel was out of the question since life was difficult as it was and money was needed elsewhere. Therefore when the time came for me to choose what I wanted to do in life, I turned to something that has never failed me and always gave me hope in times when dreaming away was not enough, namely geography.

Here I am now, in the Maldives thinking about my childhood in the village. Here I am, living my life. I have never experienced more peaceful moment in my life than this evening on the deck with my fiancee by my side.

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I try to book spa treatments for my birthday. However since we have burnt ourselves the first day, anybody touching my skin gives me major anxiety. I pass on spa but instead we go for a dinner to the finest restaurant on the island. I take lobster spaghetti, O takes fish. Everything taste great and we are able to watch the chef making our meals. How cool 🙂 After dinner we order some drinks and go out on the deck and enjoy the sight of the endless ocean. The sky is full of stars. It’s dark. We can see the stars blinking. Waves break onto the restaurants poles.

Checking out the rest of the country

Time on the island comes to en end. However there is still a lot to see and to do in the Maldives. We decide to spend some time visiting the main island – Male and Huhumale, the airport island.  Here the surroundings are very different. It is dirty and messy. Plastic bottles laying everywhere attract our attention immediately. One day while walking around we see two young girls walking ahead of us. One of them has just finished her water and throws away the empty bottle on the lawn!

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Despite this unpleasant incident with the bottle, there are so many pros about Male and Hulhumale. We can meet locals and have a glimpse of their daily life. We spent 2 days here walking around and buying suvenirs.

On the way back home

It is time to leave Maldives.

Here we are, at the airport again waiting for our place to take off. On the plane I reach out one more time to my memory where I see the lagoon, the herons and hear nothing but ocean.

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&lt

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Picture taken from Gangehi Island Resort Maldives website

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