Last December, my family planned a trip to Maldives. I’m not much of a planning enthusiast and I had my exams going on so honestly, hadn’t even looked up the place. I had no idea what to expect.
You can imagine what a surprise I was in for. The aerial view of the islands from my flight was amazing, but even that didn’t prepare me for the jaw-dropping beauty that was Maldives.
Our flight landed at Male airport one sunny afternoon. Even the little airport showed no signs that I’d landed in paradise. It was only when I got to the boat dock, to transfer by boat to Taj Vivanta- the resort we would stay in for the next few days- that I finally encountered the crystal clear waters that would be my home for the next few days.
As our boat sped through the bright blue sea, droplets of water splashed over us every now and then. Under the heat of the sun, these droplets were momentarily refreshing. My brother and I sat with our heads half outside the boats- staring into the depths- trying to catch glimpses of sea life. I was in love with Maldives already, and I’d hardly been here an for an hour.
We reached the resort quickly. It was an uneventful ride, but enjoyable nonetheless. I’d thought I’d uncovered all the surprises Maldives had to offer; I couldn’t have been more wrong. The resort was an architectural marvel, with a few dozen cottages scattered through the island and some cottages built on stilts at the waters edge.
Since we were a family of five, we booked a two bedroom cottage. Our cottage overlooked the beach, and was only a few feet away from the pool. The backdoor opened up to a deck with steps leading right down into the glistening water. We would have the coolest backyard for the next couple of days. The rooms were spacious and well designed.
By the time we unpacked and settled in, the sun had begun to set. I went out to the beach- there was hardly anyone around- and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. The sky was a painting in the many shades of orange and red, with a glowing sun slowly descending into the blue sea. We were given two sets of snorkeling gear, and we decided to test it out before dinner. My brother and I put on our swim shorts and jumped into the shallow waters. The water was warm, as if it had retained some of the sun’s heat. Since it was dark, we couldn’t see much underwater, but could make out the shadows of some coral that was beneath us. I couldn’t wait for the next day, when we’d be able to go snorkeling in the morning.
Dinner was a glamorous affair in Taj Vivanta. The spread was impossibly vast and incredibly delicious. The buffet included soups, breads, salads, pasta, rice, veg and meat casseroles and a delightful range of desserts. I spend the rest of my time awake reading a book under the stars on the deck behind our cottage. It had been a perfect day.
The next day began around 9am. We set out for breakfast, another perfect meal and ate probably the best waffles I’ve ever had. After breakfast, we lazed around in the beach for sometime planning out our day. We decided to go kayaking in the morning and snorkeling after.
Each cottage got two kayaks, so we borrowed two more, and my father and the three siblings went out for a ride. We paddled our kayaks around the little island and it took us all of thirty minutes to circle it. It was a calming activity, slowly rowing our kayak, but after a while the sun was rather harsh and so went back into our cottage. After a quick bath, we went back to the restaurant for lunch. Breakfast and dinner were complimentary with our stay, but lunch wasn’t. It was quite an expensive meal, but just as delicious as the other two. A big meal and a sunny day calls for an evening nap, so that was next on my list.
Post nap, we put on our snorkeling gear and jumped back into the blue waters, this time before sunset. Below the calm waters, was a whole different world with colorful fishes, corals and seashells in every shape and size. We ventured further away from the cottage, into deeper waters, where there was more to see. The little fishes flitted and slipped past us in groups, in and out of the corals resting on the sandy sea floor. It was a ridiculously exciting experience, one I’m sure I’ll come back for.
The next three days in Taj went by in a similar fashion. We spent the our day lazing around in hammocks soaking in the sun, kayaking and snorkeling. We even went for a banana boat ride, another fun activity. During these days, I was rather detached from my life back in India, it was almost like a alternate life.
On our last day at the resort, we touched and fed manta rays that often swim to the edge of the island. It was a delightful event, something that was unique to the resort. The manta rays were slippery to touch, somewhat similar to the feel of jelly. After lunch that day, we checked out of our cottage and were transferred back to Male. I was very sorry to leave the beautiful island, where time moved slowly and life was so relaxed.
We had a few hours before our flight back home, so we ventured around the city. The vibe of the city was entirely different from the island at which we stayed. Life was much more fast paced, with people shouting out, inviting us over to see what they were selling and bikes speeding past us. The atmosphere here was similar to what you’d find in an Indian market. There were a few fruit stalls lined up along the streets. We bought cups of fruits pickled with salt and spices for a little snack. Upon walking down the street a little further, we discovered a beautiful mosque, which we later learned was the main Friday mosque in male. The mosque was more than 300 years old, but was still in good form.
After our visit to the mosque, we spend the remaining time shopping for little trinkets and keepsakes to take back home. There were shark teeth, corals and a lot of fishing equipment up for sale. We bought a couple of fridge magnets, photo frames, wind chimes and postcards with gorgeous pictures of Maldives. My favourite purchase was a faux shark tooth necklace, one that bears a striking resemblance to a real one.
Soon enough, it was time for us to check in at the airport. A feeling of dread came over me, a desperate desire to jump back into the tepid water, to lie down on a hammock and watch the night sky. I sat waiting for my flight, dreaming of the last few days I’d spent in Maldives. For someone who’d come to Maldives with no expectations, I was more in love with the place than I’d expected to be.
It’s been close to three months since I got back from Maldives, and I vividly remember my time there even today. Sometimes I feel like the water is calling me back, for one more dive, which is why I’m planning another trip there this summer. If you’re wondering which your next destination will be, trust me, Maldives is the place to go! You won’t feel like coming back.