My eyes ogled seeing the email from the airlines. An all-inclusive return fare from Maldives, for 4 nights, including Visa fare, for 2, really? With pristine white sandy beaches, littoral coral reefs, sky-scraping palm trees, exotic meals prepared with fresh catch from the ocean, Maldives is not just another archipelago of islands on Indian Ocean, but it is THE much sought after paradise for every Indian honeymooning couple, let alone be the world across. The only constraint was a premonition of exorbitant price of picturesque resort stays. This is when my friend came to my rescue and suggested an island named Maamigili, where locals habitat, would be the perfect choice. I researched further to find my sheer delight at a possible whale shark watching experience. The only ordeal remaining was to find the best possible stay, without burning a hole in my pocket and I chose La Cabana Maldives where my friend celebrated her post nuptial days of romance.
Here comes the part of extensive research:
- For long, government of Maldives only let the travelers visit islands away not inhabited by locals. Resorts there excelled at creative luxury, with a chance of dining on the ocean or a glass made floor letting you take a glimpse of aquatic life, but offered little experience of local interaction. A further change in law ensured 50 islands of the archipelago of 1200, where locals reside, can start taking a part in tourism industry by hosting guests from abroad.
- One of them, Maamigili is an exquisite large round atoll (“Maa” in Dhivehi language means grand) with Villa international airport,harboring secluded beaches as well as traditional Maldivians settlements. Enthusiasts sojourn from across the globe for a glimpse of Whale shark that habitats the area.
- It is well connected to Male by flight (an incredibly scenic journey), ferry, speed boat and seaplanes(yes, I saw it in Tintin comics, and saw it for real here).
- Monsoon season is ideally from April to August when the sea can get rough, restricting your island trips, however weather is warm, like a tropical island.
Without further delay, I booked my nights stay with the guest house La Cabana Maldives since a blend of local culture and exotic experience is what I look forward the most from all my trips. Male was a brisk one night stay with a visit to the famous Grand Friday mosque followed by an early morning flight to Maamigili.
Experiences to cherish
- La Cabana Maldives welcomed us with a gentle serving of Mas Huni, a mixture of chopped Tuna with fresh coconut and chilies, Maldivian traditional breakfast. Sumptuous I would say. A quaint little guest house of 7 spotlessly clean rooms and courteous staff members, the guest house is just 4 minutes by walk from the beach.
- I was elated at the sight of bikes offered to the guest to explore locals at ease. We rode past as few children were playing soccer, a place where coconut oil was being produced, the local eateries where they serve fish curry and rice, a simple yet tasty dish, the Bengali in me can never get enough of curried fish.
- Fishing: If you are like me, not a diving expert, you may visit the nearby shallow water joint to either fish or feed the fish. Yes, stingrays, tortoise among other marine lives come to your close proximity. As time goes by and the Sun is about to set, marvel at the panoramic view of Indian Ocean with sapphire blue waste. One whole day is not enough to sink in the beauty of the Quest beach. It is dotted with hammocks you can only see in Maldives. The best place for relaxing in my opinion. You may even ask your guesthouse to arrange a romantic dinner on the beach, weather permitting. Beach BBQ is a common sight though.
- Diving is the quintessential best part of a Maldives visit and no amount of writing and explanation will ever do justice to the ethereal experience one can have. Be prepared to experience the thrill of discovering the beauty that lies a few feet below the translucent waters of Ari Atoll which holds 60 major diving spots of the Maldives. Reefs of coral frequent the sea bed and colorful fishes swim past as you can only stare in awe, giving you one of the most magical experiences of your life. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”When the gigantic whale shark, a magnificent marine creature swam past me as I was trying to balance my ill-fitted life jacket on our final dive, I realised these moments of extreme wonder help us keep going. Schools of sturgeon, fusiliers, snappers and other colorful birds of the ocean had marveled me significantly but this one elusive big fish was the major reason for my travel. The somber animal of intimidating size swam towards us in relatively shallow water, greeted with a blink and went towards the other one from the pair at a distance. That was the best moment of my life.(Maamigili island is the heart of whale shark point in Maldives, Maamigili beyru is a famous dive spot for finding whale sharks with a success rate of 78%)
Things to remember before planning a trip to Maldives:
More than the pleasant sites, there is a diverse local culture of music, cuisine worth exploring.
- An all year round tourism is prevalent is the tropical island nation.
- It is extremely safe for travellers, Maldivians are very generous people. As a woman I found local ladies offering me candies and smiling whenever I was taking a tour alone.
- Know about the latest exchange rate. Apart from MVR(local currency), USD is used widely. You might even get a discount while booking the boat-trips. Load up USD since ATMs are not omnipresent.
- For us, La Cabana Maldives booked all the diving and boating excursions, they know the best of the secluded areas, which is why we could spot the marvellous whale shark at ease.
- Please be advised Maldives is an Islamic state and bars alcohol consumption except for the resort islands(locals do not stay there). It significantly reduced our trip cost.
[I will attribute best of the experience ushered from our stay at the affordable guest house LA CABANA Maldives which ensured the best of local experience, pleasure of diving as well as bathing in oceanic blue in one sync. Please note: It is a sponsored post. You may contact them at : https://lacabanamaldives.com/ to book. This is not an affiliate link though. Check out there range of offering at: https://www.facebook.com/LaCabanaMaldives/
Have you traveled to Maldives? Explored any of the pristine beaches or an island that was completely to your own? I would look forward to your stories….]