Written by Machair1 on 22 Mar, 2010
Snorkelling in The Maldives is something which until last year was new to me. Although I had been to the islands several times previously, due to a medical condition I was not able to participate with the family on those occasions.So what follows is a…Read More
Snorkelling in The Maldives is something which until last year was new to me. Although I had been to the islands several times previously, due to a medical condition I was not able to participate with the family on those occasions.So what follows is a beginner’s guide to what I feel to be the most salient points to bear in mind if you are a novice. Many people who have never snorkelled before, and have no intention to do so, find themselves drawn to the possibility when they witness the vast underwater world these islands have to offer.My first piece of advice is to begin to plan before you go. This is important if you are a novice because there are two types of islands on offer in The Maldives. The former have what is called a house reef, which means that they have a bank of coral within easy swimming distance around the island. This coral provides feeding opportunities and hiding places for many underwater creatures, and so they venture in to the islands more closely, and on these islands not only will the snorkelling opportunities be excellent, but also a simple paddle will often afford endless opportunities to see almost all varieties of marine life, as they really do come right into the shore. The second group of islands have no house reef, but will often provide boat trips out to neighbouring reefs, these are not suitable for beginners, and I would not recommend them if you have no experience, as they involve lowering yourself over the side of boats into deep water, which for novices can be too challenging. So check carefully the islands you are planning to visit to identify if they have a house reef.Secondly I would advice purchasing a good quality snorkel before you go which fits well. Many all inclusive holidays allow you to borrow equipment, and although this can save money it is not advisable as a snorkel mask which fits poorly will let in water. This will cause the mask to mist up, reducing visibility, and can cause panic in the inexperienced. This will also cause disappointment as clarity of vision is imperative to the enjoyment of snorkelling. Also purchase some reef shoes. These are waterproof shoes which you can use to wade out to the swimming areas. Without these you risk cutting your feet on sharp coral which may have outcrops in towards the shore.Thirdly when you arrive don’t be tempted to try snorkelling on the first day. Many flights arrive there overnight and you will be jet lagged. It simply isn’t safe to swim on no sleep! On the first evening all islands will have a welcome talk, which will give safety details about the places to snorkel and the entrance points onto the reef. I think this is vital and it has been of a high standard on all the islands I have visited. They will explain about currents and what is safe and not, as well as how important it is not to stand on the coral as it will damage it.Most importantly I feel is to make sure you take an old t shirt as snorkelling exposes your back to the sun’s rays, and you will burn in a few minutes without realising it. Take factor 50 sun cream and apply it in case your t shirt rides up, and pay special attention to the back of your neck. Also make sure you tell another person where you are going and your proposed route. I think this is vital as there are no life guards or suitably positioned rescue boats waiting to pick you up should you get into difficulties.Many people think of the Maldives as being calm islands with gentle waves, but in the afternoons especially the currents can quickly whip up, and towards the end of this review I will describe my experience of this, which highlights the importance of not taking on too much too quickly.So having got all the advice and information you are then ready to snorkel for the first time. My advice is to practise in the shallows until you get the hang of the breathing and the technique, which if you are patient will come within half an hour or so. Then choose an exit point which is close to the shore and go with a buddy who can watch you. Plan your route to the next exit point and then you know exactly what you are going to do and this builds confidence. Don’t get tempted to take on too much and swim parallel to the shore.If your mask does steam up take it off and spit into it and rinse with sea water, as this soon clears it.The rewards that await you are absolutely incredible. Not only will you see so many varieties of fish, but you will be able to hear them. I was amazed to discern the sound of fish nibbling on the coral and the sound of a turtle calling. The colours are incredible, especially in the morning when you will see turquoise fish in abundance. Patience rewards you as you drift along the reef, you can see shoals and shoals of fish and it is like being in an aquarium. Also really stunning is the view over the edge of the reef as it extends down into the deep, and crevices reveal moray eels dozing in the depths. These can be scary as they will sometimes set off without warning.The only dangers to you as a swimmer are presented by a breed of fish called the "Titan Trigger Fish" which you will be learn to recognise and keep clear of. They have been known to be aggressive and to nibble one or two swimmers over the years.The most important piece of advice I would give to a novice is to know your limitations, and to only swim when it is calm. I would avoid the afternoons if the sea is choppy for two reasons. Firstly a choppy sea reduces visibility, and it can be disappointing. Secondly though it is dangerous, as I found out to my cost on Biyadhoo last summer. Having been delighted to swim with a turtle one morning I decided to swim out to revisit him in the afternoon. The current had become quite strong and I soon realised that swimming back to shore was going to be difficult. Luckily I was with my husband and he guided me in, but it did pose us with a great challenge as there were currents going in every direction, and we seemed to be going nowhere despite swimming very strongly. Perseverance and not panicking saved the day, and we struggled in, but it served as a warning to me not to take on too much and to be aware of the dangers. So the final piece of advice I have is to do your research before you book a particular island. There is a superb book by Adrian Neville called "Resorts of Maldives" which details all the islands. This is available from major on line book retailers, and this will enable you to select great islands for snorkelling. My recommendations include Biyadhoo, Fihahohi, and Vilamendhoo as I have visited all of these and they have superb house reefs. I also researched some alternatives to save you some time, and here follows a list of islands all with superb house reefs.Angaga- reef for 2/3 of the island and affords the opportunity to see many turtles.Asdu Sun IslandBathalaEmbudu VillageHelengeliVakarufalhiKureduElliadhooFilitheyoLily BeachRanveliKomandooVillivaruMaayafushiBandosThis is by no means a complete list but I have used it to highlight some of the possibilities. A holiday on Meeru Island for example would involve daily boat trips to a local reef if you wished to snorkel at an additional expense. Likewise Summer Island has a house reef too distant to reach, so daily four hour snorkel trips are organised. So a bit of forward planning can be vital to your enjoyment of snorkelling. I had such an amazing experience snorkelling for the first time and the memories will stay with me for life. As long as you exercise caution and respect the sea and the marine life within it, this experience is something which completes a holiday to the Maldives. Done safely and with some prior knowledge of your destination this really is an opportunity of a lifetime. Close
Written by Machair1 on 15 Jan, 2010
When you land at Male International Airport in the Maldives on a passenger jet your journey is only just beginning, as access to the islands is then onwards by boat, or by sea plane. In general The Maldivian Air Taxi Company will be your most…Read More
When you land at Male International Airport in the Maldives on a passenger jet your journey is only just beginning, as access to the islands is then onwards by boat, or by sea plane. In general The Maldivian Air Taxi Company will be your most likely provider if you are travelling onwards to one of more than 30 resorts. These sea planes take off and land just a few minutes away from the main airport, and the journey is by minibus to where the air terminal awaits you and is quite an experience in itself. There are also blue and white sea planes called The Trans Maldivian Airways who fly to some other islands. A bustling humid and rather noisy departure lounge affords views out to where 4 or 5 sea planes are on stand. One takes off in the distance and you can hear the engine noise of another on approach. It is quite chaotic with a board showing departure times, but somehow you always seem to end up on the correct plane at the correct time, as if you miss the call a member of staff will locate you and your luggage to ensure a quick onward departure. My advice here is to buy some water on the plane before you land, or better still stock up in Boots,or an airline shop before you fly, as nothing prepares you for the humidity, and although there is a place to purchase drinks it is easier to have your own. The Maldivian Air Taxi Company has 21 DeHavilland Twin Otter Aircraft and these are made in Canada. Coloured red and white these planes are highly thought of, and many pilots dream of securing a job flying these as they travel over some of the most beautiful islands in the world. They take about 10 passengers so you really feel like you are being treated to something unique. Each new plane has been flown half way round the world from Canada, as it is cheaper to do this than to assemble the parts and to build them locally. The only thing which is container shipped are the floats ( the sea landing gear), which are not needed as the planes have to stop and land on several runways in different locations to refuel before arriving in Male. Not only this but in the past they had to be flown back there for maintenance, which was quite a trip in itself, and each pilot took this assignment many times during the time he or she was employed. These journeys could be harrowing at times and eventful. One flight just after 11th September 2001 from Canada to the Maldives was scheduled to depart east from Calgary. However due to the tragic events of that day it was decided to go west, and due to increased security they were not permitted to re-enter American airspace after take off. When they contacted Russian Air Traffic Control they were forced to fly down the Bearing Strait at 18000 feet. This is much higher than the plane normally flies and oxygen masks were required. After landing in Japan they left for Taipei, but they were engulfed in a typhoon and it took over 3 hours to refuel the plane. The rest of the journey was less eventful but the pilots were shattered! Nowadays the planes are serviced locally at a local base. Boarding the seaplane is just a question of stepping inside as the plane gently rolls on the water. The excitement is something which immediately takes away your feelings of exhaustion from the long flight. Take off is a sweep round the bay and a sharp incline, and soon you are flying over myriads of turquoise islands. The views are breathtaking and you can see for miles into the distance. Here you can not only see islands which have been developed but also some which are just forming. Landing is also spectacular as the floats skim the surface landing at wooden decks just off shore of the island of your destination. Then a small boat takes you onto the jetty. The plane is noisy on board and this is something I am used to as the plane is the same as that used to land on Barra in the Outer Hebrides where the plane lands on the beach-a landing I am especially fond of. However you do have a noisy 50 minutes before this as the plane chugs over the route from Glasgow. Some passengers do find it too noisy so if you have any of those noise reduction ear plugs it can help. Turbulence depends on the weather conditions and the wind, and it can be mild to severe, but the pilots try to avoid any patches they can see from the cloud formations. Many people imagine the Maldives to be a calm place, but actually the wind can be quite a feature in the afternoons at certain times of the year. Flying through the monsoon season is challenging, and offers excellent career experiences for the pilots. In the 7 Atolls, or groups of islands, there are many challenging landings where pilots must ensure they do not come in too steeply over the corals. Expect to see your pilot flying barefoot, and he or she could well be Australian or from a country outside the Maldives as many are attracted by the lifestyle. Most of the cost of the flight will be included in your holiday booking, but in general islands reached by sea plane carry a premium over those reached by speed boat of an average of £100 each, but this varies on the route as some islands are 80 nautical miles away and some only 3 but the average is about 30. I think the thrill of this trip cannot be underestimated. It really is an experience and even when on the islands you are treated to the arrival and departure of seaplanes on a daily basis as they skim the water, in front of your deck chair or the shade of your coconut tree! The airline prides itself on high safety standards, and many of the pilots are very ambitious and use it as a learning base before going on to fly in Alaska and Antarctica. I think the views are stunning and certainly part of the lasting memories of a Maldivian holiday. Nervous flyers may find it daunting, but the speed boat transfers to some of the islands can be exhilarating if not terrifying, especially in rough seas. No for me it is a wonderful opportunity to gain a bird's eye view of a chain of islands which from the air look absolutely breathtaking. Summary: A wonderful part of any holiday to the Maldives. Close
Written by MythMin on 26 May, 2005
Upon arrival at Hulhule International Airport, Maldives, my friends and I were greeted by our local friends, together with a posh speedboat at the docks. On our 7km trip to our resort island from the airport in the speedboat, we were served mocktail drinks and…Read More
Upon arrival at Hulhule International Airport, Maldives, my friends and I were greeted by our local friends, together with a posh speedboat at the docks. On our 7km trip to our resort island from the airport in the speedboat, we were served mocktail drinks and were laughing and talking amongst ourselves.
We were in complete awe as we stepped out of the speedboat onto the jetty of the beautiful Bandos Island. The very first thing I saw were the colorful fish swimming about, visible in the crystal-clear waters. I looked around me, drinking in the sensation of being in a paradise island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I was in a resort nestled among the swaying palm trees, lush tropical vegetation, sparkling turquoise waters, and white sandy beaches - The Bandos Island Resort.
The Bandos Island Resort takes up the entire island of Bandos, approximately 1.5km round, and was built in the early 1970s. To me, the island is the epitome of beauty and serenity, and I knew my trip to the Maldives has only just begun.
We had two chalet-like suites connecting to each other, one for the guys and one for the girls. The cozy suites were facing the sea, and just imagine waking up in the morning, stripping down to my bikini, running off onto the beach, and plunging straight into the sea for a morning swim… heaven! The suites had a double and single bed, so we could snooze off anywhere we wished. The rooms were spacious, with all the basic amenities, and it felt homey and welcoming every time we came back from our long days under the sun.
On our first day there, we were given a tour around the entire island, visiting the numerous facilities in the resort, including the sports complex, the diving centre, the clinic, and the staff headquarters. We traveled around the island in a bungee and explored all the different beaches surrounding the island, each one more lovely than the other.
Most days, my friends and I would spend afternoons just lazing around and sunbathing at the beach just outside our suites. We would play cards and build sandcastles like little children on the beach, or bath and canoe in the sea. There are numerous water sports available, and we tried the Banana Boat ride, a long float for six people with handles for everyone. A rope tied to the speedboat drags the float along the water. It was an exhilarating and bumpy ride, with all of us screaming on the top of our lungs! Our boat capsized a number of times in the middle of the ocean, and we had to push and pull and climb back on it again. One of my friends was even blown off once, and we left him floating right in the middle of the ocean until someone noticed he was gone! We also had a go on the Doughnut ride, which gave me an excellent bum massage! There are other rides available at the water sports centre, like parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing, and the list goes on.
Sometimes we would go over to the other side of the island, somewhere near the dive school, to snorkel. Beautiful corals and reefs decorate the ocean floor, and colorful fish swam around us as if we were part of the sea. After witnessing the beauty of the underwater world, we would always hang around at the Sundowners Bar on the beach front, enjoying the sea view and cool breeze with a margarita and a plate of french fries.
When the sun gets too scorching in the afternoon, there is always the sports centre to entertain us. The guys would always be found glued to the television or having an argument on who won the last round of darts. At times, they can be found having a go at badminton, squash, or table tennis. The girls, on the other hand, would rather pamper themselves when they are out of the sun. There’s always the sauna and the ever so relaxing and soothing Thai massage.
Whenever hunger seeped into our stomachs, we would head to the resort’s main restaurant, the Gallery Restaurant. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner buffets, as well as á la carte. Sometimes, after a meal, we would just hang out the restaurant and play cards until we get hungry again!
During the night, when all beach activities died down, we would always be found chilling at the Sand Bar. There would be local bands playing there on most nights, and most of them are rather good. Hotel guests and honeymooners would sometimes pick up the momentum, and the dance floor can get rather crowded. It was karaoke night one of the nights we were there, and it was fun just opening up and singing at the top of our lungs! At the end of most nights, we would all head back to our rooms laughing nonstop and, well, walking in zigzags!
To me, the beauty, serenity, and seclusion I found during my vacation at the Maldives is simply unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced before. I loved sitting down by the beach and watching the sun rise at dawn; spending quality time and witnessing nature’s beauty with my close friends; and waking up each morning knowing that I would see something more beautiful than the other every single day I was there. I guess I found my very own private hideaway at Maldives while staying at The Bandos Island Resort.
For more information on The Bandos Island Resort, visit the resort’s website at www.bandos.com
Written by isewell on 10 Apr, 2002
The Club is situated on its own small island (as are most of the Maldives resorts). The rooms are very well spread out, and the island is full of palms, trees, and flowers. Landscaping is superb. The paths could use a bit more lighting at…Read More
The Club is situated on its own small island (as are most of the Maldives resorts). The rooms are very well spread out, and the island is full of palms, trees, and flowers. Landscaping is superb. The paths could use a bit more lighting at night, but overall they were good. Some people (we won't name names) complained about the long walk from their room to the restaurant (10-15 minutes), but the walk is absolutely beautiful and almost always in shade. Despite having only been recently purchased by Club Med, the property really already feels like a Club Med resort.
If you want to escape from a big city, this is the place. There isn't an ounce of concrete or pavement to be seen anywhere.
There are rows of trees with paths all over the island, so even in the middle of the day it's possible to go for a walk around the island without burning up.
The restaurants, pool, bar, etc. are all in the middle of the island just off the dock. There is a huge banyan tree in the middle of all these buildings, which casts shade on a huge amount of area.
Contrary to what we were expecting, the beach is not bare-feet-friendly. It is mostly composed of ground up coral and as such it is quite difficult to walk on. Bring your Tevas (sports sandals)! Not all of the Maldives beaches are like this, however. (see the Excursions section). On the plus side however, all that coral provides a home for lots of sea life. There is a constant show of baby sharks right off the restaurant deck. We also saw eels, rays, and many different kinds of fish - all without getting our feet wet!
There is also bats all over the island - no, don't worry, they're not man-eating beasts of the night. These are fruit bats, that you often see during the day flying from tree to tree. Scared the heck out of us the first time we saw one, though!
There hasn't (yet?) been much of an effort made to add nice decorations to the club. Most of the signs, walkways etc had a fairly generic look, and certainly not the exotic look we felt at Columubus Isle in the Bahamas.
The pool is excellent. It is located behind the beach as you arrive. It is constructed so that there is no visible edge on the side next to the ocean ("negative edge"). This makes for a beautiful blending of the pool/ocean. The deck and deckchairs are all wood and well-made (although there was an odd discrepancy between the number of deckchair cushions and deckchairs). There is a bar right beside the pool. The staff also occasionally made rounds of the pool taking orders. This is by far the best Club Med pool we've seen - or heck, it's the most beautiful pool we've ever seen - and perhaps that explains why we spent almost all our days around it. There was often sand at the bottom of the pool, but this is no surprise, given its location. There is a sound system beside the pool, and the Chef allowed some GM's to DJ the pool music during the day.
here for a panomaric view of the pool area.
The only negative point the pool gets is that one day we were sitting there and a huge prawn leaf came crashing down from a palm tree next to us. Luckily there was no one there, but it could have really hurt someone. Better maintenance of the trees would have taken care of that.
Written by ElyseMc on 25 Jul, 2000
Each evening we have been attending happy hour at the bar area, where I test the drink of the day and Steve usually orders a beer. As with most upscale bars, they serve snacks to go with your drinks, but this is not your…Read More
Each evening we have been attending happy hour at the bar area, where I test the drink of the day and Steve usually orders a beer. As with most upscale bars, they serve snacks to go with your drinks, but this is not your normal run-of-the-mill snack! They serve bowls of black and green olives, and also jumbo roasted cashews that have been salted and seasoned with hot pepper and curry! YUM! We usually go through about 3 bowls of cashews before we permit ourselves to leave … One night, while sitting at the edge of the bar area (it’s an open-air bar that continues out to the edge of the pool area), Steve commented on a huge bird flying over us. He declared that it was the largest bat he had ever seen. Thinking that he must have seen one of the blackbirds that are constantly around, we both began watching for the “bird” to come back … and it did! Wow! That was a huge bat! He later discovered that fruit bats are common to this area, and I guess that’s what we saw. Another of our favorite evening past times is viewing the fish at night around the bridge between the two islands. At night, the bridge is illuminated, not only along the foot path, but also at certain intervals on the water. Many fish come to the lights at night and make fools of themselves! We love watching them swim around and even jump up out of the water. It’s like sitting on top of a large aquarium! There are a few activities around the resort, for those of us that tire of snorkeling, eating, and “hanging out” on the beach (but those that get bored of these activities don’t include the two of us!). There is an exercise gym (yeah right, like I’m going to get into this on vacation), a tennis court, and Steve’s favorite, the badminton court. He actually saw some people having a heated game of badminton the other evening … One of Steve’s favorite activities is walking along the beach, chasing the tiny crabs that hang out in the sand. Some of them are really tiny! They are kinda like sand spiders. The crab holes in the sand range from a very small size to a very large hole, but we’ve yet to find any of the really large crabs out during the day.
The night fishing trip turned out to be not as much fun as we had anticipated. First, they had us load the boat at 5:30 PM (and that’s a boat without any potties). There were probably about 15 adults, and two small children. Once we got to the designated fishing area (about 5:45 PM), they gave us our “poles,” which were heavy fishing lines with a weight and a large hook, all wound up on a hand-held device similar to a large flat spool. After loading the hook with a chunk of fish, we were instructed to let the line down into the water (it was about 120 feet), and hold the line, waiting for a “bite.” Once we felt the nibble, you pull hard on the line, just like you would a regular fishing pole. Not long after we got started, Steve caught the first fish … a small (3-foot) reef shark! (That was the second one I had seen that day, after spotting another one snorkeling.) He pulled the line in, and we quickly shot a picture of it, before freeing the shark back into the water. For the first two hours, this was the only fish caught. Then, the little kids got bored, and had to pee. (WHO in their right minds would bring little children, like 3 and 5, on a trip like this?) The parents were instructed to hang the kids over the side of the boat to “take care of business,” and I’m sure that really helped the fishing situation. About the last hour, the fish finally started to bite, but neither of us ever caught another fish. I had several nibbles, but when I retrieved my hook to re-bait it, the guide took my line and said that it was time to go. Seriously, I think they could rethink the logic on this excursion, and take people out a little later in order to catch more fish, since the fish don’t start really biting until after dark.
We reluctantly left Rangali Island on Friday afternoon, taking the seaplane back to Male. Once back in Male, we took the water ferry back over to the main island and did a little sight-seeing around town. Everything there was also escalated in price, we really didn’t buy that much, but had a pretty good Thai food dinner (since it was Friday evening, which is their holy day, we didn’t find any “traditional” Maldivian food restaurants open). The really strange thing to me about this trip was the air schedule. After getting into Male (via Singapore Airlines) at 12 Midnight, our return flight was just as strange. We left Male at 0:55 AM, which would be almost 1 AM (4 AM to us, still on China time). We had a 4.5 hour flight to Singapore, which put us there at 8:30 Saturday morning. Needless to say, we checked into the hotel and went straight to bed! After about a four-hour sleep, we got up and began exploring Singapore … but I’ll leave that for my next note!
Yesterday (Tues), we signed up for one of the excursions sponsored by the hotel … an Island Hopping trip. At 9:30 AM, we boarded a nice speedboat (the Manta 1), and headed out with about 12 other passengers and a crew of 4 local…Read More
Yesterday (Tues), we signed up for one of the excursions sponsored by the hotel … an Island Hopping trip. At 9:30 AM, we boarded a nice speedboat (the Manta 1), and headed out with about 12 other passengers and a crew of 4 local guys. First, they took us to a nearby village, Mamingili (about 30 minutes by boat), and gave us a short tour. We saw the area where they make the wooden boats, then visited a small mosque (and graveyard), and then toured the island school. The school housed grades 1 through 9, and had approximately 200 students (boys and girls), all in nice uniforms. After grade 9, they must go to school on a different island, if they wish to (and qualify to) continue their education. There were a few stores and shops, so Steve and I stopped to have a Coca-Cola break, which I was pleased to know was available. We made a few purchases at the souvenir store next door, and headed back to the boat. Stop number two was on a deserted island, Huruelhi, where we were given time to swim, snorkel and basically hang out. The crew unpacked a delicious lunch consisting of rolls and bread, lunchmeat, cheese, potato salad, slaw, and even cake and fruit for dessert (sounds like standard picnic fare, but it just wasn’t the same). After another hour to nap, tour, swim or whatever we wanted to do, we boarded the boat for the final stop, Angaga, another Maldivian resort. I’ve decided that this resort must somehow be related to the Hilton resort, or else they wouldn’t even show it to you. It seemed much more laid-back than the Hilton, the type of place that Jimmy Buffett might write a song about. One of our tour guides mentioned that this resort has a great house reef (what Maldive island doesn’t?), and proceeded to show us where we needed to go to view the fish. Even though it was a good swim to the other side of the reef, once there we could see why they take snorkelers out there! There was a huge reef, and a deep drop off, and every fish that you could imagine! Big ones, small ones, friendly ones, nosy ones … I think you get the picture. Steve thought he saw a barracuda (wasn’t), and of course I got a little nervous. I began looking for a way to get a little closer to the shore, but there wasn’t an easy way (or a close way). I made him swim close to me and help me look for an area where I could “escape,” but there was nothing but reef. And that’s when we discovered the long skinny fish that found us interesting! These weird fish were about 3 feet long (max), and strange looking! And we were surrounded! (After looking at a fish card, we decided they were cornet fish or a type of needlenose. Wonder if these are the smaller brothers of the trumpet fish? Ha!) All I really wanted to do was get away from these weird characters, and Steve claimed that he had a hard time keeping up with me swimming. Eventually, there was a break in the reef, and we headed through the break so I could take a rest. That’s when Steve raised his head and said “there went a shark,” and I looked down and saw the rear end of it. I started swimming even faster! Luckily, the shark wasn’t interested in us, and might I add that mostly concluded my snorkeling for the day. Tired and sunburned, we all headed back to Rangali Island, but I must admit that I now have many more fun memories to add to my Maldive trip.
I must note that the islands here are very remote from the rest of the world (as remote as a major tourist spot can really be). The services are fairly modern, but there are a few glaring clashes between traditional life and what we foreigners are used to. A notable example…the island village we visited on the Island Hopping tour showed us that most residents actually live in open thatch-roofed buildings (some with walls of concrete blocks, some of scrap metal, some of lashed thatch); no glass windows or doors for the most part (some did have a locking door of some type, but it would only keep the honest people out). However, many of the people had cellular telephones. This is just very strange to me. The telephone service to the rest of the world is by satellite and is generally expensive. Calls from the hotel to the outside world are between $ 5- 7.50 USD per minute, depending on location called. Consequently, with the closest Internet server that I can call up in Mumbai, India, at $5 per minute, you’ll have to excuse the lack of notes sent or responded to for a few days.
There are virtually no cars or trucks in the country. This is good since there are also virtually no roads. Almost all transport is by boat or seaplane and once something is on land, a person is generally carrying it.
Last night, we attended the Maldivian Delight buffet held here at the hotel. They had mats and crates (for tables) set up around the pool area, with a lantern on each table. The seats were cushions on the ground. I was wearing a sundress and Steve was wearing his sarong, and you can imagine the grace that was required to get up and down without showing everyone the seat of your pants (but Steve was cheating …he had shorts on under his sarong!) The food was really good! We really didn’t know what to expect Maldivian food to be, other than fish. Actually, it was very similar to Indian food … lots of rice, curries, grilled fish and chicken (and I have yet to see any chickens around here!), salads, bread, fruit, and a few desserts (I’m not too sure how authentic those were, but I imagine the coconut candy may have been). The food had a little spice to it, and if you wanted it even hotter, there were spicy condiments that you could add. We thoroughly enjoyed this buffet and the whole atmosphere that it created. Tonight, we have signed up to go night fishing and we are looking forward to that!
We left Shanghai Sunday afternoon on a plane bound for Singapore, which was approximately a 5-hour flight; arrived at the Singapore airport around 9:30 PM. After a one-hour layover, we headed to Male, which is the capital of the Maldives. Getting through Customs…Read More
We left Shanghai Sunday afternoon on a plane bound for Singapore, which was approximately a 5-hour flight; arrived at the Singapore airport around 9:30 PM. After a one-hour layover, we headed to Male, which is the capital of the Maldives. Getting through Customs and Health Inspection was a breeze, and our luggage arrived fairly soon. As it turned out, we had to take a water ferry from the island where the airport is over to the main island of Male. Due to the late-night arrival, they made plans for us to spend the night at a hotel in Male, the KAM Hotel, even though our reservations for the trip were with the Hilton. Now, I’m not sure WHO decided to put the Hilton people up in this hotel, or WHY, but if they were trying to make you appreciate the Hilton resorts more, then they did a good job. The KAM Hotel looked clean, but the gray towels, absence of washcloths, tiny cruise ship-sized shower, and total lack of privacy really put me off! And I won’t even get into just how small the elevator was! (Who was this hotel made for, midgets???) But it was only for one night, and I could handle that. We got to our room a little after 1 AM (which would have been a little after 4 AM to us), and hit the sack. We had been asked to be back downstairs at 6:30 AM the next morning in order to catch our seaplane flight out to Rangali island.
The seaplane ride was quite an adventure. We were water and land transported to the seaplane airport. Just seeing this had to have made my heart start beating faster! It was the coolest thing I have ever seen! There were several seaplanes docked there in the water, waiting for their trips! As we arrived at 7:30 AM, a group was just leaving, and we got to see them taxi out and then take off. Then, we were corralled back into an area that turned out to be the Hilton Lounge. It was interesting because it was an outside hut with a sand floor. My cats would have been in heaven! The actual seaplane flight out to Rangali Island was only about 30 minutes, and I must admit that it was some of the most exciting flight time that I have ever had! I expected this flight to be a little rough, but it was actually the smoothest flight of the whole trip! Both the take-off, and the landing, were amazingly smooth! And let me tell you that the view was breathtaking! I love the Maldives already!
One thing that I have to add right here (before I forget) is that the men here wear sarongs. And they look adorable! As we were boarding the water ferry on the way to the seaplane, I saw an older man with his sarong on and a “Man of Steel” t-shirt. Now I don’t know about you, but that hit me as a pretty funny sight! (I wish I could have gotten a picture...)
The Maldive islands are a strange and wonderful place! I had never even heard of them until just a few months ago (ok, so I wasn’t the greatest Geography student! I saw an advertisement on tv for a resort here last summer.), and just in case you are the same, I will try and give you a little info about the place. Located south of India, and within the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are actually several collections of atolls. An atoll, as I understand it, is basically an oval-shaped group of islands or sandbars, with a coral base. There are 26 atolls in the country of Maldives. There are 1,190 islands collectively, with only 200 being inhabited. There are no hills or mountains on the atolls, just flat sandy land with vegetation. The true islands (not just sandbars) that we have seen usually have trees (coconut palms, bananas, breadfruit, and several other island-type trees), but some islands are more barren and just have short vegetation. As you would probably expect, the island where the Hilton resort is (Rangali Island) has all the gorgeous vegetation and trees. We feel that we are waking up in paradise each day! It truly reminds me of the old television show “Fantasy Island,” because everyone seems happy going about their daily activities, and we also know whenever the seaplane is coming in with new passengers. Remember, “the plane, the plane!” Oh, I just heard it go over again!
Our villa is part terrazzo (in the sitting area) and a carpet of sort (woven-sisal) in the bedroom (makes your feet really sore!). The only time we have a sand path inside our villa is when we forget to wash our feet before coming inside! And they even provide each villa with its own pottery vessel filled with water (and a coconut scoop!) for washing your feet before entering the villa (we have seen similar set-ups for foot cleaning outside of the mosques). It’s pretty cute, and the birds love it too! If you don’t want to walk the one-quarter mile distance between the two islands, the Hilton provides rides on their dhoni, which is a local wooden
motorboat. This boat is used to ferry passengers from one section to the other.
There are two types of villas to rent, each type being on separate islands. On the smaller island the villas are actual houses on stilts out over the water; on the larger, main island they have the duplex-style villas. We are in the duplex-style. When you enter the room, there is a large area that serves as the sitting room / bedroom; in the back of the room is the dressing table, servi-bar and closets. Turn right and walk a few steps and you are in the room I am most fascinated by ... the bathroom. The bathroom at first appears to be your normal hotel bathroom, with the potty, sink, and shower-bath arrangement. And then you start to notice the heat! After pulling back the shower curtain, you discover that the whole room is open to the outside! This may be the only place I’ve ever been where you can get another sunburn while in the shower to cool off from being in the sun. (Don’t worry, we’ve taken a few pictures, because it IS hard to describe!) A tall coral fence closes the backside of the bathroom off from the rest of the world, and there is an area that reminds me of an atrium, except there is no roof! There are even a few plants growing in the back corner, which give it a tropical feel. I would love to have a bathroom like this in my house in Texas ...but the winters could be a little cool! Maybe I could have one with everything similar, but include the roof! One other lovely feature that our villa has is the cool deck out front, complete with patio furniture. And we have a great view of the Indian Ocean from our room! The front wall is a large sliding glass door, which opens out onto the patio. This not only gives us the beauty of the ocean, but we also watch the various birds that play among the trees and vegetation. One bird that we have really enjoyed is the Crab Plover. I haven’t seen him chase any crabs (and there are a lot here!), but he does seem to like banana bread! AND they make a lot of bird noise!
Our first day (Mon) on Rangali Island was really nice. After checking into our room, we soon changed into swimsuits and went out to check out the beach. Everyone has been telling us that the Maldives is the best place in the world for snorkeling and diving, and now I understand why. The visibility is fantastic, and there are many types of fish to watch (they say that 75 % of the reef fish in the world can be spotted here, and I believe it)! The island is surrounded by coral reef, so there really isn’t a bad place to go to snorkel. The only complaint that I would truly have is that if you aren’t here on a full room and board package (and we aren’t), the restaurants are a bit pricey! Next time, we’ll know to negotiate the full deal!
Written by Bruce777 on 20 May, 2008
We have just returned from a two week holiday on Veligandu. This was our fourth visit – but our first since the island’s extensive refurbishment programme completed in December 2007. We fell in love with the island during our first visit back in 2003 and…Read More
We have just returned from a two week holiday on Veligandu. This was our fourth visit – but our first since the island’s extensive refurbishment programme completed in December 2007. We fell in love with the island during our first visit back in 2003 and returned last month hoping that the ‘new’ Veligandu would continue to be ‘a little piece of heaven on earth’. We were not disappointed! The refurbishment programme has been a real triumph! The updated facilities are fantastic and the excellent standards regarding cleanliness and efficiency have been maintained. Many of the former staff have remained on Veligandu and continue to provide the friendly and first class service for which this resort has so deservedly earned a high reputation. It is evident that the customer experience continues to be the priority of the senior management team and everything is done to ensure that your holiday is special in every way.We stayed in one of the newly built jacuzzi water villas. There are three categories of accommodation – but all are beautiful with the same contemporary feel with regards to furniture, fixtures and fittings. The en-suite bathroom facilities are perfect with a sliding door that enables you to have an open air facility should you chose. Each room has a wide screen TV but we chose not to use it as we really prefer the ‘no news, no shoes’ experience of The Maldives. The rooms are serviced by your designated room boy twice daily. They do a very thorough job so that your accommodation is constantly looking clean and fresh.The sand floor restaurant has had a complete makeover and it is now also possible to enjoy dinner outside on the raised decked area. Not only can you star gaze whilst having your meal, but you can also look over the decking into the shallow water beneath and watch the baby sharks playfully hassle the other fish. The number of tables outside is limited, so availability is on a first come first served basis. However, the restaurant management team endeavour to ensure that all guests have an opportunity to dine outdoors on several occasions during their stay. All meals are self service buffet style enabling you to make as many choices as you wish. In all honesty, every single meal was a really pleasurable experience. Not only because of the wonderful quality of food and the variety of dishes available, but also because of the staff. The waiters are the best that we have ever come across! Without exception, they are consistently attentive, polite and efficient. Whilst all of the chefs are clearly very highly skilled, watch out for Raja the breakfast chef, he makes preparing eggs an art form!The bar has been relocated since the refurbishment. It is now much bigger and combines contemporary furniture and fittings within a traditional Maldivian thatched structure. The seating area is really spacious and varied. For example; there are modern swivel seats around the bar; comfortable reclining couches from where you can lie looking out to sea; and large swivelling bucket chairs set around a drinks table. There are also tables and chairs outside where you can sit under the stars all night long whilst the waiters serve you your drinks. Some of these tables are situated beside the newly installed infinity pool, its colourful lights within showing the outline of a hammerhead shark. You will find that the bar staff are a dynamic team that is constantly cheerful, helpful and attentive. A number of social events are held in the bar on selected nights. For example: crab racing; quizzes; and dancing. However, participation is entirely optional and it is still possible to sit in the bar and enjoy a quiet relaxing drink whilst these events are ongoing.The island’s guest relations officer is friendly, charming and so helpful. She meets and greets you on your arrival. She also is present for many of the excursions and takes the lead in the bar entertainment programme.This year, we decided to take scuba diving lessons under the direction of the Ocean Pro diving team. The quality of tuition was really impressive and the dive team were extremely friendly and fun whilst retaining an entirely professional approach.The gardeners on the island have done an outstanding job and also deserve a special mention. Given the fact that the island has been radically changed and was only reopened three months ago, the plantation programme is so impressive. The ground staff have done an excellent job of combining established palm trees and colourful shrubs with new plants. Every part of the island looks well cared for, orderly and pretty.Much of the house reef is excellent for snorkelling. Over the years, we have seen most of the beautiful creatures that you can expect to see in the Indian Ocean. However, the highlight for us on this visit was following a turtle for an hour as it ambled along the reef in our company before gracefully swimming off into the deep blue. Just magical! A pod of dolphins were seen by a number of guests at various spots around the island on most days - we always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! Whilst the house reef is very good indeed, the snorkelling safari is an absolute must for anyone who likes looking at ‘what lies beneath’. This trip takes you by small boat to three areas where you can jump in the sea and swim with a vast variety of fish swimming amidst some really beautiful corals.Hopefully, from this review, you will conclude that our experience of the ‘new’ Veligandu was every bit as pleasurable, indeed more, than before. The facilities are fantastic and the staff must be some of the best in The Maldives! Close
Written by MythMin on 14 Sep, 2005
I woke up in the morning of my birthday to sound of waves splashing at my front door. I decided to lie down in bed for a few minutes, enjoying the morning breeze coming in from the front door (Left open by the guys smoking…Read More
I woke up in the morning of my birthday to sound of waves splashing at my front door. I decided to lie down in bed for a few minutes, enjoying the morning breeze coming in from the front door (Left open by the guys smoking outside) and the warmness of my comfortable bed and soft pillows.
After a hearty American breakfast at the resort restaurant, we headed down to the jetty where we were to board a boat heading to Malé (pronounced ma-leh), the island capital of Maldives. The waves were not very rough that day, and it was smooth sailing all the way to the capital.
Upon arrival at Malé, we checked into our hotel, which had a two-story room, with a tiny living room on the ground floor, and the bedroom on the first. We waited at the hotel for another Maldivian friend of ours who lived in Malé, Rock, to meet up with us and bring us around his hometown.
It was Maldivian cuisine for lunch in one of our friend’s family restaurant. Maldivian cuisine ranges from mildly spicy to burning hot, and is mainly cooked in local spice. Seafood is a main dish, the sea being their main source of living. Maldivians eat with their hands, and, well, being a Malaysian, this is not unusual--that’s exactly what I did too.
The afternoon was spent souvenir shopping. There is not much to shop for in this small town, most shops cater to tourists, and are thus not cheap. Haggling is possible, but it wouldn’t exactly get you anywhere. (Thank God for my Maldivian friends!) My suggestion is not to spend too much dollars, but just walk into these quaint shops and admire the handicrafts and artwork of the locals. Walking around the town is a joy itself.
Malé is actually a rather small island; it is possible to walk from one end to the other end. The buildings and shops are very petite and slightly run down. There are built in rows at the side of the street, though many have been demolished to make way for more modern buildings. The roads in Malé are very narrow, and this causes the traffic to be rather messy. Though there are taxis available in Male, most locals go around the island on motorcycles, bicycles or by foot.
In the evening, we paid a visit to one of our friend’s parents, who lives in a house somewhere in the heart of the town. The house is simple and small, I guess due to the limited space on the island. There is a compound in front of the house where a huge pink guava tree stands, taking up nearly the entire compound. We made one of the guys climb the tree to pluck the guavas for us, while we sat down on the jolis (small hammocks) underneath the tree, talking and enjoying the juicy guavas thrown down for us.
That night, I found out why my friends were whispering and grinning behind my back the entire day. They were planning a surprise birthday party for me! It really came as a big surprise; I did not even suspect a thing! It was planned by the few who did not follow us around in the afternoon. I loved the banner they drew for me, which said 'Happy Birthday, Min!' and I did have a proper pink cream birthday cake after all! (I was fretting about not having a cake to blow on my birthday!) Everyone I knew from Maldives attended the party (and many others that I did not know), and we had rice, pasta, and barbecued fish, and chicken for dinner. My birthday treat was a ride around Male on a motorbike that belonged to a local friend, and I got to see the fish market (it was still quite busy this time of the night), famous Maldivian buildings (I had brief introductions by my driver), and even small back streets and alleyways of Malé.
Before proceeding to the jetty for our ride back to the resort, we headed towards the artificial beach located on the other side of the island. The beach is just a wide land at the edge of the island filled with sand and water, and it looks like a small beach but with no waves, as man-made walls blocks the flow from the open sea.
Written by MythMin on 17 Jun, 2005
The Maldives consists of 99% sea mass, and the other 1% is speckled like dust across the blanket of turquoise as 1,199 islands of untouched beauty. This country is famous for its well-preserved tropical solitudes and overwhelming perfection, with 199 islands inhabited and the rest…Read More
The Maldives consists of 99% sea mass, and the other 1% is speckled like dust across the blanket of turquoise as 1,199 islands of untouched beauty. This country is famous for its well-preserved tropical solitudes and overwhelming perfection, with 199 islands inhabited and the rest tucked silently away from reality and time.
Maldivian people live peacefully on these unperturbed, close-knit, and tranquil islands, depending on the sea as their main sustenance. They live life together with a sincerity that is extraordinary and touching despite their simple way of living. The fishing villages provide a refreshingly new experience for traveling explorers and sun-goers alike.
Upon arriving at one of the many fishing villages found scattered across the Maldivian seas, we were greeted by a number of local residents and the island chief. Looking around the simple island, it was hard to imagine how these village people live in their humble surroundings without all the luxuries that we take for granted. But how happy they seemed! With smiles and hellos everywhere we went, the enthusiasm these villagers showed us was overwhelming.
After a brief introduction, the island chief gave me and my friends a short tour around the small island. We walked across the sandy pathways of the village, passing local landmarks like the island mosque and graveyard. The living quarters were lined neatly beside each other, small houses made of wood with sufficient facilities accommodating entire families. Little children played around outside and old folks peered curiously out the windows as we passed by. There is also a small lake in the middle of the island that is the village’s water source.
We were taken to the village school, where the village children were given the chance to have an education. The school is not big, but just enough to accommodate the number of students. With open-air classrooms and eager young children, the teachers teach basic subjects, like the national language, English, and mathematics. There are only a few levels of learning provided by the school, and the village children who seek higher education will have to travel to the Maldivian capital to further their studies.
To us, it must be great living next to the sea. And the Maldivian sea at that! But to the people living in these fishing villages, the sea is viewed as their main source for survival, and they would be heading out to sea at dawn. It will just be another day fishing in the beautiful Maldivian waters. Close