Maldives is the picturesque dream honeymoon spot that one should visit at least once in their life time. We visited Maldives and were mesmerized.
We started off from Indian city of Bangalore and flew straight 1 and half hour to reach Hulhumale – the manmade island on which the airport has been built in Maldives. And the magic starts from there.
Imagine you are flying on some flight among the clouds. Suddenly you see the clouds having some waves and you realize you are flying not among clouds but between clouds and sea. The ocean and the clouds will mix up in such wonderful way across the horizon that it can not be described in words. Your flight will come down from clouds and will fly like a glider above the ocean floor. And from windows of your plane, you will see some life playing on the ocean floor. You will wonder which of the waves are just wind made and which are made for dolphins splashing it out on the dance floor.
And in that trance state, suddenly you will realize that your flight is plunging into the sea. There is no land, no landing strip, but your flight is still jumping onto that ocean floor. As scene becomes clear, you will see your flights wheels touching a slim strip of a runway emerging suddenly out of the vastness of blue water. While the flight is running on the runway, you will further be mesmerized with another runway running next to yours – A water runway with turquoise blue water where seaplanes are coming down just like a flight comes down on a normal runway. On both sides of your flight, there is vast water. And below your aeroplane is that slim runway strip on the manmade island of Hulhumale.
Now Hulhumale Airport is a really nice one that immediately makes you aware that you have arrived at paradise. The airport security checks were breeze and visa on arrival for Indian citizens is given in no time without much issue. You will love the smile on faces of people here. Once you get out of the glass doors of Airport internal zone, you will have two directions to take. One goes towards the boat lane and one goes to sea plane airport. You also can go to the taxi/bus stand from here if you plan to stay in Hulhumale.
Hulhumale is a great place to stay. There are all kinds of hotels available. Starting from Hulhumale Island Hotel which is as costly and premium as any of the remote island resorts to some of the cheapest and finest accommodations in Maldives. For anyone with light budget, there are good options here.
We however would head out to the sea. And therefore we have two options. Seaplane or Speedboat. However just before we do that – before heading out – make sure you have bought a sim card from the outlets of the two major telecom providers in maldives. The Maldives has two cell companies, Dhiraagu and Ooredoo. The former has 80% market share and boasts 100% coverage across every inhabited island in the country. They also have best internet plans. Funny thing in maldives is that even in middle of nowhere and with ocean all around you, you can still surf at 3g/4g speeds while sitting in your boat.
In order to understand the true nature of Maldives as an island country, you have to take a seaplane. The seaplane takes off from seaplane port and flies over the great indian ocean giving you a vantage point of view for observing the small small islands that make up this country. When you look from the seaplane, you realize how small and unique each island is. You also see the various resort islands on your way to your own resort island and can appreciate the various architectures and designs of these resorts.
On the other side, while seaplanes can be pretty expensive, you have the option to choose a speedboat transfer instead. It is much cost effective than seaplanes. When you board a speedboat, you may be the only guest boarding it or with multiple other people in a large boat. Seaplanes can accommodate less people. They are seaplanes and not airbuses. But boats can be big and that may mean less privacy.
It actually depends on your resort – how your transfer experience is going to be. Some offer seaplanes, some dont. Some offer speedboats, some dont. And if your resort does not offer speedboat, then you have to board local transport boats (in maldives, people use boats like buses), or hire a dhoni – a traditional maldivian vessel – very slow moving but elegant looking. The transfer to hotel is very costly when resorts arrange it, very cheap when you arrange it. One thing you should keep in your mind, for most resorts, no arrangement of transport can be done by yourself, because as per regulations there, standard boats are not going to make a trip to a resort island whatsoever. So most of the cases, you are stuck with the arrangements by your resort, unless you have selected the right resort. And when you are dependent on resort arrangements, you will see most resorts demanding huge money for it. Some resorts are even not offering speedboats as an option. You have to only board seaplanes and pay for it (generally 400 to 500 usd per person minimum). Sometimes speedboat transfers are as costly as 5 nights charges of that resort. So while choosing a maldivian resort, you need to be very careful and see if it is some resort where you can visit by public transport, or by resort transport. And if resort transport then what kind of transport with what charges etc.
Choosing a perfect place to stay in Maldives is easier than ever before. We will understand your budget and need of privacy etc. and come up with the best choices for your stay. Our experienced team knows the destination and will be able to choose only the best options for you. There will be no surprises at the last moment – its a very common thing otherwise for people to get into monetary trouble in Maldives just because they have not factored all things in prior – for example, not all islands have ATMs and not all resorts accept cards. Sometimes resorts dont mention transfer expenses in booking sites – and that becomes a huge surprise along with some surprise taxes that Maldives govt levies. So take the help from a trusted friend – let us help you in making your experience memorable and worry free.
Speedboat travel experience has a charm of its own. Make sure to select the open window seats, typically at the end of the boat to experience water splashes while speedboats are riding waves. However riding waves can be bumpy depending on various factors such as weather, driver or speed of the boat.
For far long islands, speedboats are tiring and seaplanes can bring in a much better experience.
Now the question is which island will you choose. There are some islands where local people stay. Some tourists prefer to visit the local villages and see the maldivian lifestyle up close. These village islands are quite like normal indian villages with the exception that these are situated on islands. Some of these local islands (as they are called in maldives as short for local people’s islands), are big and crowded as well with almost a city like setup. Male – the capital city is offcourse one such example. It is an island that you can clearly see from Hulhumale airport. Separated by 5 minute ferry ride and even connected through a sealink road that joins the two islands (Hulhumale and Male) by road, Male is the big city of Maldieves. Indeed, it is big and complex and as congested as any city of India. Male has all amenities of a city and has an island like all around beaches with many standard maldivian water sports being offered in most of them. It has a nice set of parks and monuments – including one erected in memory of Tsunami victims.
Weather in a tropical island gateway planning is something that you must count in. Choosing the right time of year can make the whole experience like a paradise, or choosing the wrong one can lock you down inside your hotel room. We maintain a calendar and communication channel with people in maldives, to choose the best time to best of our abilities.
Maldives capital city Male however can feel crowded and restricting. Here bikinis are not allowed and you can not have liquors. Sharia law is enforced and that means lots of restrictions. There is a beauty in observing and respecting the customs. One should not forget that its a Muslim country with strict laws – an Male wont let you forget that. If you want to observe these cultures along side enjoying water activities (with proper clothing), Male is the place to stay. Otherwise you need to go to the resort islands where these laws are quite loose and resorts make their own arrangements.
One can visit Male from the resort islands for day shopping and eatery experiences along with observing cultural beauty of Maldives by either interacting with locals or by visiting museums etc. Male has its own charm if you can respect the local culture. You will love it if you can live within those constraints without feeling constrained. But if you just want lots of freedom (which most tourists to Maldives are looking for) then that’s why you have such grand resort islands of Maldives, offering exactly that.
However Male is a great option for budget travelers. It is also possible for one staying in Male to make a day trip to nearby local islands, sandbanks and even resort islands that offer day passes.
Staying in Male means you have some restrictions that come with greater security as well. After all you have all city amenities at your disposal. And in case you wanted to enjoy greater freedom – you can go to resort islands on a day pass. Or for complete privacy – make trips to sandbanks and do snorkeling there for great coral reef experiences. You can visit nearby local islands to understand the local people’s lives – not recommended for Indian travelers though as you have already seen it all 🙂
In male, there are lot of sightseeing options or activity options. There are trips arranged from male as well. For building a complete itinerary and prebooking/preplanning of these – get in touch with us by making the right call
In Male, you have options to select from a wide variety of hotels and resorts – and there is something for every budget. Make the wise booking by selecting the ones offering better views and activities.
However when you instead choose the island resorts, you need to first reach your resort’s personnel at airport. Smaller ones will hoist a flag with your name on it. Bigger ones will have a permanent desk just within the airport area. Once you reach the personnel then depending on your arrival time and departure time of the boat, you may need to wait a while. So its better to coordinate with your resort and plan your artival time accordingly.
If you have to wait for much time, you can drop off your baggage in the desk and go out and explore male. Go to some restaurant, enjoy some maldivian curry in some nearby restaurant and come back by the time your boat starts.
While boarding the boat they will first put your baggage in the boat and then ask you to jump in. Try to take a right seat and enjoy the ride. On the way you will see many islands. Once you reach your island, you will see the magnificent coral reef in your island just before your boat hits the deck.
In Maldivian travel terminology, these coral reefs are called the housereefs of the island resort. Now not all islands have a good housereef. Maintaining a housereef is a challenging job for any resort company. You see, house reefs are main attractions for most of the travellers as they go snorkelling around the island. A good house reef means you will be able to see lots of beautiful corals and a plethora of beautiful fishes. Some of these fishes are so beautiful that you may not realize that you have spent hours just looking at them. A good house reef means that you have much higher chance of seeing manta rays and sharks. The reef sharks are a very common sight but only if you have a vibrant reef. These fishes entertain you throughout the day while you are eating lunch/dinner at a seaside restaurant or when you are going for water activities. Missing the opportunity to be at a good coral reef means you missed on the whole experience of living in a live sea aquarium.
In your island there can be multiple types of experiences – depending on what you have chosen. Broadly there are following types of islands
- Local Islands – where native people live – Examples: Maafushi,
- Resort Islands – where no one is native. Its a whole island owned by the resort and everybody there are mere employees of the resort
- Developing Islands – Islands where tourism was not happening earlier and not so many native people used to live either. But now since tourism is getting a traction on those islands (for some reason or other), people are establishing hotels and guest houses.
For honeymooners, the best option is to go to resort islands. Mainly because there is less restriction in terms of clothing and drinks.
Local islands are full of people and while they are very friendly, it does take away privacy. However, that experience again is awarding in a different sense. You get to see local lives, you get interact with some really nice people, have a go at authentic local cuisine among many other little things. If you enjoy such exploration of humanity alongside the wonderful natural treasure, then you may chose to go for it as well. The local island accommodations are sometimes quite cheaper one as well. Some of the islands even have 5 star resorts also – so that you can get the privacy and freedom of your resort while you can choose to go out and explore local markets as well in the same trip.
Developing islands are the ones where most risk is involved. Sometimes you get best of both worlds and sometimes you get worst. It is important to be quite aware of past feedbacks on the hotels you are choosing as some such hotels do try to con you by posting pics from other islands/resorts in popular booking websites. You would not realize the difference in the pics unless you are a regular in Maldives. However, if you know and can select wisely – the developing ones can deliver the best experience – less population = more privacy, local people and market experience, virgin beach experiences etc.
However, since we are all about honeymooners – we believe the best honeymoon experience is the one that’s private, cozy and free of restrictions – just the way most resort islands are in Maldives.
Now talking of resort islands, Maldives has everything on offer – starting from budget ones to moderate ones to luxury ones upto the obscenely costly ones.
Some of the unique resort islands are the likes of conrad where ithaa restaurant is an underwater one. And some are having underwater spa as well. Many of them have overwater villas that have glass bottoms in showers and bedrooms. Some do not have those fancy overwater villas to protect the coral reefs around the island.
Now no matter which one you choose, once you arrive, you need to go to the lounge. In the lounge you will typically be given some welcome drink and would be asked to sign some papers. You need to produce the papers as you are asked. Once verification is done, a porter and a room service person would typically guide you to your room.
Getting a good room in your island is extremely important. A good room makes for a dream holiday and a bad room can make you chuckle alas throughout the stay. So be extremely cautious. Sometimes it is wise to choose an island based on rooms that you can get on that island. If best rooms are already sold then you have got to change your island maybe!
So if you have good budget – go and get the overwater villas. After all, thats what Maldives (and Bora Bora) is famous for. While choosing an overwater villa – you may consider the following:
- Wall – Shared or Separate – some of the cheaper overwater villa resorts tend to have joined rooms with shared walls. They are worse than beach villas some times – as the noisy neighbor may spoil your whole stay.
- Balcony Privacy – when you are paying so much you better get some privacy and not some room with a balcony facing balcony of another couple
- Stairs to the water – one of the major advantages of staying in a overwater villa is to be able to get down to the water whenever you feel like. Not having staircase down to water means you are missing out the main fun part itself.
- Transparent floor – overwater villa experience becomes multifold when your Jacuzzi has a glass bottom and you can see sharks / manta rays below while taking a bath
- Distance from the main lobby area – in most of the cases, the overwater villas are remote terminals where no activity is happening. So for food and other activities of the resort, you will need to be around the lobby area. If the distance is too far – thats going to be quite annoying – specially at dark nights.
- View from bed – an overwater villa should give you best view from bed. You need to examine the view. Some of the resorts have villa infinity pools that give you an illusion of extending your villa pool water to the wild sea all around you. The view of the room can also be in direction of sunrise or sunset – and that counts for an amazing experience too
- Check the fine print – overwater or on the water – in some cases the subtle difference in wording can mean a lot. On the water can also mean near the water on the beach – thats definitely not the same thing.
The overwater villas are generally costly. But then there are some relatively cheaper villas too. Problem is that the cheaper villas sometimes come with lots of fine print. In a maldives vacation, always keep in mind the total cost and not unit cost of individual items. For example, in many cases cheaper villa resorts are actually so far off that transportation cost itself is huge, or the food cost is exorbitant while villa stay is cheap (remember in maldives – in your island resort – the only restaurant is the one in your resort – so if thats costly then thats what it is).
As your speedboat approaches the island, the overwater villas are the first to be seen. Extending over the sea floor, hoisted up on stilts, the overwater villas look like dream. You will most likely be landed on an extended ferry terminal coming out from the island till the point speedboats are allowed to come in. Mostly to protect the coral reefs around islands, speedboats are stopped way before the island.
Once landed, you need to move to reception, wait in the lounge, grab your welcome drinks and wait for the room allocation. After your check in, in most island resort a buggy car will take you to your resort rooms. And then you can spend the day at leisure.
Seriously leisure is a big thing to do in Maldives. If you want activities and attractions, go somewhere else like Mauritius. Maldives is for relaxing by beach side or for diving into the blue ocean.
Now there are two types of tourists who go to Maldives. The divers and the non divers – to put it bluntly.
Plainly speaking, if you dont know swimming dont try diving. Maldives island beaches are not your typical city beaches. They are nestled on the deep sea. Just where the island edge finishes, deep infinite dark blue starts. Its not kids play to dive. Dont trust anything that says otherwise.
If you dont know swimming, only thing you can try is snorkeling. Which is like floating on water nearby the island over the house coral reef. You can wear a life jacket and hold on to a fully blown up tier while taking help from an expert to float your body. Depending on your experience of swimming you may let go of the tier. However, life jackets can sometimes not be so capable of holding a body afloat in certain situations ( I faced it first hand when I tried to stand up vertically in the ocean – I literally started sinking! ).
If you know swimming, then snorkeling should be something to definitely try. Lite sea diving is also not bad. Deep sea diving is challenging for beginners. But if you are seasoned swimmers, with the experts you can definitely try that – swimming with whale sharks, watching real sharks in wild from the sea floor, swimming with manta rays etc.
Apart from diving trips, a typical Maldivian resort would offer you tours like sand bank private picnic (totally worth it), glass bottom boat trips (worth it), jet ski (one person behind the driver), island hopping (not worth it), sunset dinner cruises (good), Dolphin watch trips (hit/miss) and Big fish hunting trips. Big fish trips are extremely costly, but if you can afford then you are mostly likely to be able to get that typical maldives profile pic with big fishes in your hand. Rest of the activities are of moderate budget.
When you are willingly stranded on a remote island, there are few more things you can try. First is to taste Maldivian food. It is much like Indian food with more focus on the fishes (obviously! duh!). Then is the island exploration. Holding hand of your loved one, start walking along the beach line of the island and check out 360 degrees of your island. Dip in your souls in every beach of your private resort island. Drink and eat on sea side bars or overwater bars depending on your resort. Enjoy watching marine life from your overwater bungalow balcony or transparent floors of the bungalow. Some resorts oddly have bathrooms fitted with transparent floors (most likely one way visible – you would not want random snorkeling guys to peek into your restroom). Enjoy walking down to the sea from the ladder in your overwater bungalow balcony. Spend time in your private pool in your overwater bungalow above the real ocean full of marine like ( aka tons of sharks ).
The Maldivian holiday is all about relaxing and using the resort properties apart from the sea explorations. So use that huge pool in your resort when you dont feel for the salty water, use those play areas and white sand beaches for playing table tennis or badminton. Enjoy drinks and food service under your beach umbrella.
For diving, always contact your resort for arrangements. And try to get to resorts with professional diving centers. Lot of europeans travel to Maldives and therefore lot of European diving centers are there, through out Maldives. Some islands do not have good house reefs, some have brilliant ones. Choose wisely and enjoy the magnificent under water world. I have been to many reefs, but Maldives is another world.
Returning back from the island is on the speedboat or sea plane again depending your method of arrival (typically booked in a two way basis). Once you reach Airport, you will already start missing Maldives. We flew back while making a resolve to definitely come back.