I’ve spent years admiring the pristine, crystal-clear, turquoise waters of the Maldives in pictures and magazines. I got a chance to visit the beautiful island nation with a group of friends, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable vacations of my life. The Maldives is made up of 26 ring-shaped atolls that make up over 1,000 coral islands. There’s water all around, for as far as the eye can see. Safe to say, there’s no dearth of the number of islands you can visit. While many islands are dedicated private resorts (with exorbitant tariffs!) other local islands have budget-friendly places to stay at.
Before I dive into the details of my 5-day vacation, I want to take a moment to gush about how peaceful the Maldives is. Living in a big city, I’ve gotten so used to loud noises, traffic and just chaos all around. Even when I’ve travelled to beach towns within India, I’ve faced significant crowds. But the Maldives is honestly like no other. The roads are empty, the traffic is non-existent and the locals are exceptionally helpful. Just a walk down the streets in the evening, by the beach, is one of the most relaxing experiences ever! The sense of calm you will feel in the Maldives is simply sublime!
Where to stay
We started our trip on the island of Hulhumalé. This quaint little island is very close to Male, the capital city of Maldives. Hulhumalé has a variety of accommodations, you can choose to stay at a luxury or budget hotel. The island of Hulhumalé is close to both the airport and Male city, making it the ideal base. We stayed in Hulhumalé for three days and visited places around, because of how close they were.
After our first night in Hulhumalé, we took a ferry the next day to Maafushi, that was our home for 3 days. Maafushi is a small tourist island with white sand all around! There are no motorised vehicles on this island, you can get around on bicycles or electric scooters. Maafushi redefines the word quaint, it’s so incredible serene that all you want to do is lie on the sand and stare out into the ocean. We stayed at Kaani Beach Resort, a 3-star property that was right on the beach. The views were breathtaking!
It’s best to stay at a local island because you get the best options while choosing a place to stay in. Apart from hotels, there are guesthouses and Airbnb’s available in plenty throughout the Maldives.
All that you can do
The Maldives is mostly marketed as a honeymoon destination, a place to enjoy with your partner. That’s not the case at all! The Maldives is just as fun with a group of your besties! There are a lot of water-based activities available. It’s best to choose packages (that you’ll find at your hotel) because you get to take part in quite a few activities for a reasonable price. During our time in Maafushi, we chose to go on a package tour that included dolphin watching, snorkelling with sharks, snorkelling near an abandoned ship and visiting a sandbank. The experience was terrific! We were taken to the middle of the ocean for dolphin watching and were lucky enough to see several dolphins swimming all around us. While snorkelling, we were incredibly close to small sharks and colourful fish, peacefully swimming about.
Visiting the sandbank was an unreal experience. A sandbank is quite literally what its name suggests, a bank in the middle of the ocean made of glistening white sand. We had a small picnic at the sandbank all the while raving about the blue waters all around us. It felt like something straight out of a dream!
We didn’t opt for any water sports, but if that’s what you’re into, there are plenty of packages that offer a variety of water sports (canoeing, jet-skiing, banana boats and lots more!)
We also got a chance to visit a private island for a day (another package we opted for). Private islands offer tours to visitors for a day where they get to spend their time getting a little taste of the high life! These private islands are known for how well-maintained and gorgeous they are. We spent a day at Rannalhi, we got unlimited alcohol and food all day! We spent our time lounging by the pool, swimming for a while and just leisurely strolling around. You could also snorkel around the island for free (it’s included in the package).
Irrespective of what island you’re on, these activities remain constant. If you’re in Male city, you can head to the museum. The museum at the Maldives chronicles the nation’s entire history with exhibits that were ‘firsts’ for the nation. Spanning two floors, the museum has lots of interesting things to keep you occupied. Male city is also great to go souvenir shopping and visit the artificial beach created and neighbouring parks and gardens that are extremely well-maintained.
If you’re in a bigger city like Male, you’ll have plenty of cabs at your disposal. You could also rent bikes and cycles. In smaller islands, motorised vehicles remain restricted, so it’s best to get around on foot. Moreover, most of the islands in the Maldives are very small in area, so you won’t break a sweat walking around an entire island. In fact, when we were in Maafushi, it took us no more than 30 minutes to take a quick tour around the entire island.
What to eat
Given the huge influx of tourists, Maldives has restaurants and cafes with all kinds of cuisines. Many restaurants offer traditional Maldivian cuisine. Fish and coconut are a staple in Maldivian cuisine. Garudhiya (fish soup), Mas Huni (shredded tuna), Bis Keemiya (a kind of spring roll) are some of the authentic dishes you could try out. The bakeries in Male city have delicious desserts and ice-cream. You’ll surely come across many local bakeries as you walk around the city.
If you’re into street food, in the evening, little stalls by the beach sell all kind of meat on skewers. They are delicious sauteed in a spicy sauce. Sausages, octopus, beef, prawns and fish are grilled and served right on the spot. We gorged on these delicious treats nearly every evening, they make for a perfect snack and are absolutely delectable!
My time in the Maldives was a heavenly experience. I urge all you readers to take some time out and visit this exquisite place, you will not want to leave!