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The Maldives – My experience, the story

The Maldives

My experience, the story

 

Sun, sea, beach and a blue sky: the Maldives. A drink on the white beach, watching the sunset where the silhouette of the palm trees contrasts with the orange sky.
According to many, it is paradise, expensive and a holiday full of luxury. I cannot deny that, but it also has a different side.

I love it when I travel to visit ‘Instagram picture places’ but also admire real life. In my opinion, you can not say you’ve seen a country if you’ve only seen that great sandbank and your resort. The way I travel means seeing both paradise and the real-life; and of course, where these two meet each other.

Here I will tell you my story, my experience and what I liked about the Maldives. We, me and a friend, travelled the Maldives on a low budget, want to read how? Continue reading here…

 

 

Paradise or not?

The Maldives consists of around 1200 islands, where there is a clear difference between private islands and islands that are inhabited by the local population.

Malé is the main island of the Maldives. Next to this island is the international airport but still, most people don’t see this island, they go straight to their resort. But if you want to see real-life, this is an excellent place to start. Except for a small handmade beach, there is nothing reminiscent of a tropical paradise; this island is fully built to the last square inch and inhabited. Here is the chaos people may know from cities like Bangkok (Thailand) or Denpasar (Indonesia). Scooters are everywhere, and people just throw their rubbish on the street.

malé seen from villingili island maldives

Malé seen from Villingili

After meeting some locals and seeing the normal life of the Maldivian people in a city, we decided we were ready for paradise. We have visited different islands, all from the local population. Other than passing by, I have not been on a private island.

 

    Private islands are owned by a resort, so they are cleaned and maintained by the resort. On such islands, you find one or two resorts, many tourists and the feeling of paradise, but no locals, their culture, and local shops.

    Those islands are what you mostly see everywhere on Instagram, from luxurious, more luxurious to extremely luxurious. For example, there is a resort that rents bungalows on the water at 5000 euros per night, but you also have your own slide into the sea and a private swimming pool.

    Somewhere I think it gives the perfect paradise feeling, somewhere I think you miss the real Maldive experience. Budget-wise and because we went for the Maldive experience we choose not to visit.

     

We, a friend and I, have looked for paradise in budget-friendly ways and also a way to discover new things. We visited most islands by ferry; this is the local transport and also budget-friendly.

I can tell you that those white beaches, those palm trees and that sunset drink are really possible on a local island. One is even more beautiful than the other. In addition, we spent an afternoon on a sandbank, and that is perfection, exactly what I imagined thinking of paradise, only that one palm tree was missing. But that ultimate clear, turquoise water, with that white sand, a nice blue sky and the sun so bright that you are happy that you packed your sunglasses and sunscreen.

Dhiffushi maldives beach sea palm trees paradise sun

Dhiffushi

The real Maldives

 

By visiting the country in this way you come into contact with locals, you see where they really live, how their culture and the real-life is. You also see pure nature, the real beauty, the real beaches with palm trees. Maybe a bit cleaned but except for that, it is just how it really is, and not made paradise by a resort that makes a lot of money.

 

But you also, sadly, discover that every island has its local dump and that the plastic in the sea is really a large-scale problem. Often one half of the island is beautiful and clean, yet a bit maintained for the tourist and the other half is inhabited, and the global problems just play their role.

To see what we, people/ tourists etc., made of some parts it hurts me and it should wake us up. It wakes me up. So that is one of the reasons I like to see the real-life, to be aware of what is going on and find my part to improve the world and make it a better place, a brightful place. Because the real Maldives is amazing, beyond beautiful, only cluttered with trash in some places, if we make sure it is clean and we keep it clean everyone can enjoy the beauty.

 

All in all, I can say that we had “best of both worlds“—paradise places and getting to know the country and culture. When I’m looking back to the photos, I can’t say anything other than this was really paradise.

So the question is, do you want to see paradise, sunbathe and nothing else? Or do you want to see the country, speak to the locals, get to know the culture and really be able to say that you have discovered the Maldives ..?

Trash Maldives

Guraidoo

Trash Maldives

Maafushi

I think it is important to show those pictures, that we know what is going on and maybe we can wake up and do something about it!

My trip, which islands we visited

The islands we visited and some quick words about it.

 

Route
Airport – MaléHulhumalé (day trip) – Malé – GulhiMaafushiGuraidoo – Malé (transfer) – DhiffushiThulusdhoo – Malé (transfer) – Hulhumalé – Malé (transfer) – Villingili (day trip) – Malé (transfer) – Airport

 

The islands

All islands are quite small, so in a day or two you can see most of it, we made sure we had at least one whole day at each island, to explore, if possible meet some locals and relax on the beach.

There are two islands, Hulhumalé and Villingili; we only made a day trip to. This because we didn’t felt like staying there, and no ferries were going from there to a place we wanted the next day.

hulhumale maldives island buildings

Hulhumalé

Hulhumale daytrip maldives island palm trees

Hulhumalé

Gulhi the first island that felt more like the paradise I was hoping for and not disappointed. It has a beautiful beach and the colour of the water there was beyond amazing. And I will never forget the swing; we had so much fun on that thing!

Remember the local culture: it is an Islamic country, no alcohol allowed and only on the special ‘bikini beaches’ you are allowed to wear a bikini!

Gulhi swing sea beach maldives
gulhi bikini beach sign island maldives

Maafushi is the only island with a prison on the whole of the Maldives; it is a fun fact I think you don’t really notice it, and it is a really nice island! This island is more touristic than all the others we went to, so a lot of hotels and tourists here, also some touristic shopping streets can be found. The second day on this island we did a full-day tour!

maafushi maldives sea beach palm tree swing
maafushi maldives sign
maldives swimming with manta rays daytour
maldives swimming with sharks daytour
maldives swimming with dolphins daytour

About our day tour

The trip was amazing: good vibes on the speedboat, great people, beautiful views and strengthened by some good music!

Swimming with manta rays, sharks and dolphins. Also visited a sandbank, that felt truly like paradise. Turquoise clear sea, white sand, blue sky and hot sun. They made pictures of us with a drone. Here we relaxed, had some lunch and got sunburned.

On the trip, we came across a lot of other beautiful islands with the speedboat. We visited one other island Fulidhoo, which is tiny but also with a beautiful beach!

Best detail: When swimming with the dolphins you could hear them underwater, talking together.

Best story: It is not my instinct to jump in the water with 3 meter long sharks. But I thought it is an experience worth telling (and it became a story worth telling).

So I jumped in, and it was fun and weird at the same time.
After a while, the guide said ‘come swim here I will make some pictures’, like in the middle where the biggest group of sharks was swimming.
That is where the story changed: I moved my hand backwards to swim forwards, to get closer to the camera, I think a shark mistook my fingers for some nice fish and had a little bite.

Not really bad, though, I still have all my fingers. But deep scratches in three of them. Probably because I was holding my phone underwater that he couldn’t bite through. The guide in the water, who was taking pictures of me, screamed something to the man on the boat. When I got on the boat, he was standing there already to check how bad it was and to take care of it.

A few tears later, mostly because of the shock, and my fingers covers in bandages, I went back in the water. Don’t let a shark ruin my day!

maldives daytour maafushi sandbank paradise sea beach drone picture

-Drone picture taken by the day trip compagny-

Guraidoo is a nice island with colourful buildings but don’t go here for the beaches, the only bikini beach we found is on a tiny island which you can reach by a bridge, but this island is full of trash sadly.

guraidoo maldives island bridge palm trees

The island I fell in love with is Dhiffushi, lucky for me we stayed here two nights. Here a friendly local arranged a sleeping place for us and he told us a lot about the Maldives and Dhiffushi, very nice!

This island is perfect for sunsets! (Not that the others aren’t, but I just fell in love with it here). Beautiful beaches and nice and cosy areas with some plants and palm trees, this place felt so lovely. Instantly felt at home.

We discovered a place to eat on the beachside and the food was really delicious. They also served western food, after all that rice I loved something different. Here you were able to sit on the beach at the waterside or sit on their second-floor terrace and have this amazing view over the sea to another island. The name of this place was: Club Kaafu, so check it out if you are there. In the evening you can watch stingrays swimming in the sea.

Dhiffushi maldives palm trees beach sea
Dhiffushi maldives swing beach sea
Dhiffushi maldives hammock beach sea paradise
Dhiffushi maldives beach sea island view from club kaafu

Thulusdhoo the island where we met everyone again. Earlier we made some friends on the day tour, later we met people on a public ferry, and we were all on the same island the same day. In the evening we had dinner together at Canopus retreats. This is a hotel but also has a nice restaurant. We found it too hard to choose from so many items on the menu so everyone had something different, and we taste from each-other. All really good! And for dessert; go for the brownie you won’t regret it (except if you don’t like a brownie).

On this island, we hired some snorkelling-gear and just walked into the water. I love it that it is that easy, straight in front of the beach, beautiful fish in all kind of different colours.

A trip doesn’t have to be expensive, there was so much to see here already, and with the water so clear, it is amazing to explore underwater life, we also saw a huge eel.

Thulusdhoo

We met someone earlier who arranged a sleeping place for our last night on Hulhumalé. So now we could feel the evening vibes on this island.

 The last day of our wonderful trip we decided for a day trip to a tiny island next to Malé, Villingili.

To be honest, it is nice, and has a nice beach but not really special, mostly because we saw so much already it couldn’t overdo it.

beach villingili maldives island sea

More information on how we survived the Maldives? Some practical info I will share here.

maldives shark bite sandbank sea daytour

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