It never was in my bucket list because it was quite next to impossible to even be an option for a travel destination. But doors opened and Maldives ushered my milestone year last 2014 as ‘My Year of Travel.’
A blessing in disguise in a form of an online glitch which my friends booked during that magic hour had my heart and the rest of group racing to get that ticket to Maldives. I was not able to book in the knick of time before the ‘great’ glitch was fixed and found myself booking a one-way ticket and was able to complete my return flight during seasonal promo offerings.
Travel Documents: Forget about the hassle of securing your visa, this is one country you can go to with only just your passport.
Flights: From the Philippines, you have an option to either travel to Maldives via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Our budget airline only offers the former coming from country.
You can either take a flight a day before or 2 to Maldives and stay in Malaysia. This gives us the opportunity to visit these small towns- Nilai and Melaka before and after the trip, and returned exploring Kuala Lumpur before we head back to the Philippines. This is much better than battering yourselves with a straight and tiring connecting flights.
I also chance upon sitting next to a Maldivian couple with their 1 year old twins Alwin & Alyan. They have to seat separately before the take off to observe policy in having 1 child in 1 row.
Currency: Maldives currency is Rufiyaa | MVR. Presently 1 US Dollar is equivalent to MVR 15.42. You need not have to exchange your USD in the local currency coz it’s widely accepted in all hotels and establishments.
Accommodation & Transfers: What we saved in purchasing our fares thru the promo, goes into the budget for these components that will make or break your vacation. We’re not posh travelers as you see and think, we’re just wise ones. In our travel, we make it a point to experience the best of both worlds and took these options which is advisable to do so when you get the chance to visit these islands:
Option 1: Private Resort
When you think of Maldives, you picture the water villas right? To make that experience real, we made that fantasy a reality to stay in a private resort for 2 days.
Advisable as well to book in a resort near the airport coz transfers can be thru speedboat for nearby island resorts or a seaplane for far off islands. Mind you, round trip transfers will be more expensive than your plane fares from your home country to Maldives.
There are family or adult-oriented resorts which you can choose from if you’re on a honeymoon or a family trip. Only in these private island resorts you can party, drink alcohol and flaunt your hot bod and swimwear.
Check out my blog on our choice private resort at Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa.
Option 2: Hotels & Inns in the main Islands
If you want to experience the city life, food and culture of the Maldivians, you can pick to stay in hotels and inns in the main islands of Male and Hulhumalle.
We stayed at Ripple Beach Inn in Hulhumale Island with also the ocean right across your room and the inn’s doorstep. They offer affordable day trips to nearby resorts inclusive of transportation, lunch and snorkelling at USD150/person and other water sports activities.
You can swim in the public beaches only with restricted dress code for women.
THINGS TO DO
From the time we peakead from our plane windows and set foot in their reclaimed island-airport in Hulhumale, all we can see from end to end is the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean.
What is there to do when you’re surrounded by these bodies of water than to lounge by the beach, swim in the ocean, be adventurous with water sports and let yourself swallowed by the water (but not drowning yourself).
If there’s a next time, I’ll secure myself with a diving license to fully experience what it’s like under water.
Don’t forget to hydrate and apply your sunblock occasionally to protect you from the harm rays of the sun.
Male City Tour
If you’re billeted in the nearby Hulhumale Island, take a ferry at less than $1 and 20minutes in this island nation.
70% of Maldives’ income came from their obvious booming industry in tourism.
You can walk one afternoon around their cobbled stone 2-way, 2 lane streets while admiring their culture, their infrastructure, their food and most especially their people.
Thanks to Fira and Shafran for bringing us around their beautiful city.
Old Friday Mosque | Hukuru Miskiiy
This is the oldest mosque in the country dating back to 1656. This sacred place was made of coral stone with intriquete carving designs which exhibits the Maldivians true craftsmanship. Non-Muslims are not allowed to get into the inside unless with prior permission.
In this compound you’ll also find the tomb of former Maldives President Ibrahim Nasir who’s placed this small country in the world map as one of the must-visit tourist destinations in the world.
Prominently, you can also see the Squat Minaret which is round, blue-and-white tower of the Munnaaru.
Medhuziyaaraiy | Central Tomb
Across the Old Friday Moque, a torquoise door will catch your eye. This was the resting place of Maulana Alhafiz Abul Barakaath Yoosuf Al-Barbari of Morocco who converted Maldives to Islam in 1153 AD.
Muleeaage & Medhu Ziyaarath
This is the Palace for the Sultan of Maldives in the 20th Century. This was the President’s residence in 1953 when the first republic was proclaimed, but lost the honour in 1994 to Theemuge, a lavish residence on Orchid Magu favoured by President Gayoom. Muleeaage became the presidential residence again in 2009, and remains so today.
You’ll be welcomed with large big, trees and flora which makes you want to sit and admire the greens.
At the round about, you’ll see this monument which serves as a memorial to the supreme sacrifice and faith of the soldiers and citizen on the Nov 1999 terrorist attack.
Grand Friday Mosque & Islamic Center
This is the most visited place to locals being the centre of their Islam faith and tourists alike with it’s domineering white structure and majestic golden dome.
Maldivian families gather in this plaza especially in the afternoons to watch the hundreds of birds gather, with the sea set on the other side of road. We took a chance of waiting the arrival of the President but was not able to see a glimpse of him.
Surrounded by bodies of waters, fishing is also one of the main source of living of the locals.
National Football Stadium | Majeedhee Magu Rd
Football’s the No. 1 sports in Maldives. Too bad we’re not able to witness their afternoon practice preping for the AFC Challenge Cup that year.
WHERE TO EAT
Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa
Whereever you are the island, you can’t go wrong to feast in one of the 4-dining options in this resort. Below is the Viu Bar where you can cap the island nightlife.
Lemongrass Fifth Restaurant | Fareedhee Magu, Male City
This is the recommended Thai restaurant in Male City where we scrammed on after a tiring bur enjoyable walking tour of the city. We ordered the Chicken Pandan, Pad Thai with a choice of rice or pita, served with a refereshing coconut juice.
Ice Cream Bank | Halaveli Magu, Hulhumale
Beat the heat with a whole lot of ice cream choices that will satisfy your sweet palette.
They say that you need to go to Maldives once in your lifetime… I firmly say not for me!
Who has Maldives as their next beach destination? Show of hands please!
Malidives Official Website: http://www.visitmaldives.com/en