A good friend and travelling buddy of mine, Stacey Iverson, has been making me very jealous since her return from Asia this week. Here’s what she had to say about her unique experience in the Maldives;
When I booked my flights to Sri Lanka instantly I thought about the possiblity of somehow including The Maldives in the same trip. Flights from Colombo were suprisingly coming up incredibly cheap, £114 to be exact… people pay 2-3 thousand pounds for package holidays to The Maldives and it was highly unlikely I would ever be one of them so perhaps this would be the only opportunity I would get…
So, to plan a trip to a place I seemed to know very little about, I mean The Maldives is just a bunch of islands with beautiful beaches right? You know the huts on stilts which stand in the sea? WRONG. In fact whilst thousands of tourists flock to secluded 5* resorts in The Maldives every year, there are two islands which demonstrate a completely different way of life.
Male is the capital of The Maldives-would a tourist know this? Or would they know that The Maldives is a very strict Muslim country where pork, alcohol and bikinis are all banned? The resorts on the surrounding islands have no such regulations and give away no clues. Not far from the airport there was also an island which was used as a dump yard for the countries rubbish, it gets piled on the island and then gets burnt, some may see this as a good idea but when you are sitting on a beautiful serene beach and gusts of smoke are being pumped into the air it is quite disturbing. How many package tourists are aware of this?
I arrived at Male airport and the address to my hotel was also in the Male district. Male was an island and I already knew that I was staying in the city and not in the beautiful beachey surroundings like everyone imagines The Maldives to be. So when I asked a local at the airport where I would find a taxi I thought I was asking a valid question, however after a long pause and several strange looks I was directed to a little wooden boat docked at the harbour. I was correct in thinking I was in Male but the airport has it’s own island which is seperate to the city one. The whole situation left me slightly embarassed.
We arrived at the hotel, dropped off our bags and headed straight out to explore. We quickly learned quite a bit about Male, especially the fact that there are zero things to do. It has one beach which is artificial and some shops. We found the national stadium on a stroll around the alleyways and stopped to watch a local football match for a few minutes.
We booked a trip to one of the islands for the next day, these are quite difficult to research or find out about unless you speak to the right people, reservations have to be made and some of the entries are quite pricey! We got our trip for £45 which was the cheapest one, we weren’t particularly fussed which island we went to as every island was stunning.
It took about 45minutes on the boat to get to the island. As we approached it was simply just how I expected it to look, almost postcard like, powdery white sand and crystal clear waters. The island was tiny and was able to be walked around in 15minutes. The beauty was spectacular, however I still believe that Thailand provides stiff competition with some of its beaches, particularly the ones in Ao Nang and Krabi, Tup island was very unique and very beautiful.
The island was perfect for a spot of snorkelling through the huge varieties of fish and sea turtles and some kayaking too. As a whole week stuck on an island in a resort is not my cup of tea one bit, I feel as though I got to experience both sides of the Maldivian culture, the city life and the island life.
So all in all, not your average Maldives experience, but one much better I think!
Thinking of visiting the Maldives? Don’t forget your Lonely Planet to give you all the insider info!