The Maldives has been in our plans all along, especially since we were in the South Asia area, but the plans were always vague. To be honest, we never knew how much of the Maldives we could afford, so we both thought of the Maldives tentatively, afraid of the disappointment should we have to change our minds. Once we realized it was within reach… well, we could barely contain our excitement. It was ten days in a dream.
His Final Thoughts
The Maldives has been my dream destination for years now. With absolutely and consistently perfect beaches on pretty much all of its 1,100 islands, I can’t think of any other place in the world that’s quite like it. But the Maldives didn’t only surprise me with its natural beauty; it also exceeded my expectations when it came to its development and infrastructure, especially given the environmental challenges that this nation has to face. When I really started to think about it though, it became obvious that I shouldn’t have been surprised. Luxurious resorts have been the only form of tourism for years, so it was only to be expected that standards were high, even on local islands.
Out of all the countries we’ve been to, the country of tiny islands should have been the one with the most difficulties in generating enough electricity, providing clean potable water, as well as other services like internet coverage. Yet, the Maldives has had some of the most dependable services this entire trip, definitely the best in the region. We didn’t experience a single powercut and some of the fastest internet in months. Public transportation was modern, cheap, and reliable. Just the general standard of living and quality of life was obviously high. While they are still working on using renewable sources of energy as well as a better waste disposal system, the Maldives is lightyears ahead of many.
Maldivians were really friendly people, always relaxed and often smiling and trying to help us. After all, why wouldn’t they be happy living in paradise? Sometimes though, they were almost too relaxed, bordering on boredom. We heard from many locals that there was nothing to do in the Maldives. I can only imagine that after a while, even paradise can become mundane. We’ve experienced that during this trip – even the nicest beaches are just ok once you’re used to it. However, for the limited time that we had, I only fell in love with the place more and more. It was everything you could ever imagine for an idyllic tropical vacation spot, but even better.
In a country dominated by water, we had such high expectations for amazing marine wildlife. The reality far exceeded my expectations. We explored more of the Maldives underwater than we did above ground. There was scuba diving in some of the world’s best diving sites, including a wreck dive. There was snorkeling, where we were within arm’s reach of dolphins, moray eels, and sea turtles. We saw sharks and stingrays being fed. The sheer abundance of corals and fish was staggering. Overall, the accessibility and quality of marine life is unsurpassed. I don’t know how we will ever top these underwater experiences anywhere else.
The Maldives was even better than my dreams and leaving it was extremely hard. I suffered from Maldives withdrawal for quite some time afterwards. I can’t wait to go back someday.
Her Final Thoughts
Before I came to the Maldives, I only knew it to be a luxury vacation destination. A place of fancy resorts and water bungalows; a place of such exorbitant costs that I may or may not visit in the faraway future once I may or may not have scraped up enough money to go. Imagine my disbelief once we found out it could be done on a budget! Now it’s up to us to spread the word. This trip has been all about living our dreams despite convention, despite seeming impossible odds… and the Maldives has been the epitome of that idea. We found a way around the money problem, until it wasn’t a problem at all. It just goes to show that once we put our minds to something, things are not as unattainable as they may initially seem.
The local islands were the main reason why our stay in the Maldives was affordable. Besides the individual resort islands, many local islands have been open for tourists since 2009. We chose the local island of Maafushi, not far from the Maldivian capital Male, and the one with the most number of guesthouses. For $35/night, we stayed at a perfectly modern and pleasant guesthouse with all the necessary amenities, including breakfast. I never would have thought I could stay in the Maldives for this price. Given the widspread Muslim culture, there was a sectioned off bikini beach for tourists to enjoy (complete with a fallen palm tree!). The restaurant options, multiple tour operators, and the chance to interact with locals sealed the deal. Every single sunset was spectacular. For one week, we had our own little piece of paradise.
That’s not to say we didn’t get a taste of what resort islands are like. Even though we couldn’t afford to spend $600 per night in a water bungalow, we could afford to spend a day enjoying a private island. It was stunning, as expected, and a memory I will keep for life… or until we can afford to stay in one of those for the night. We received five star treatment on a five star island. The pool had a beautiful view, the house reef was arguably the best we’ve ever snorkeled in and the beach… ah, the beach… just like anywhere else in the Maldives, the beach was simply perfect with the added bonus of comfortable chairs and a view of the water bungalows in the distance. Who knew we would be in a 5-star resort in the Maldives during this trip?!
One more thing off the list of places to see. The Maldives has become the new standard to beat for beach destinations. I hope we’ve shown just how affordable it can be, because such a place deserves to be appreciated in person.