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Published: July 29th 2014
For the Eid holiday, my friends and I decided to make a quick trip somewhere. The Maldives was chosen finally after much deliberation and we were able to get a good deal for three nights and four days at the Holiday Island Resort. I had no idea where this was. I tried to look it up and there really is very little information out there about the Maldives, even though almost everyone who goes loves it. I guess not as many people have been fortunate to experience this island paradise, and so I encourage you to try it before the rising seas have washed them away. (Despite your beliefs in man-made vs nature, the sea level IS rising, regardless of the reason).
Jamie and Joevet were coming from Abu Dhabi on Qatar Airways. They met me in Doha and we continued on to Male from there. The flight was good, even though we were not sitting next to each other. A little rough turbulence on occasion, but we landed early afternoon at Male. Walked off the plane and straight into the terminal where we proceeded directly and quickly through immigration (no fees!). Since we had no checked baggage,
we were directed to head outside. There were many tiny kiosks for the various resorts, so we proceeded to ours. Unfortunately, we just missed the 2:00pm flight (dang it Qatar Airways - we were about 40 minutes late!!!). So, the next flight was not until 5pm, so we headed to the nearby restaurants. It was one of the few areas that was air-conditioned - it was so incredibly humid and muggy in the "waiting area" - a covered outdoors courtyard. We got a bite to eat and were approached by the guy from the kiosk who led us to the local airport check in. The entire island is for the international and local airport; there were next to no cars. It was so peaceful.
We checked in and got very island friendly tickets, then waited for our flight. It was a small propeller plane, but bigger than the seaplane I was expecting (it was the likes of which I've flown to Tupelo and Ithaca). It was completely full though! Seriously - there must have been 30-40 people on our flight, mostly Chinese tourists. Yet again, I did not get a window seat but I was able to lean over
Joevet to see the beautiful islands. It is truly amazing that you are out in the middle of the ocean and these tiny islands and reefs with crystal clear blue water just pop up. Amazing.
We landed at the Villa International Airport where we were directed onto one of two buses, which then proceed to take us to the dock. The short ride to the dock reminded me a lot of Panama, but the steering wheel is on the right side. Then we were directed onto a boat, which only two other men who appeared to be resort staff boarded. Our bags, which were too big for the small plane carryon, followed shortly and then we were on the way. Our resort is on the island literally right next to the dock - we really could have swam over. But after about a 7-minute boat ride, we were on the dock, with the staff taking care of our bags and heading to paradise!
Along the walk down the long pier, we saw a giant stingray in the water; I cynically wondered if this was a prop for the tourists (it wasn't). We were welcomed warmly by the resort
staff and each given a glass of delicious papaya juice while we filled out our guest information. I cannot say enough about the friendliness of the resort staff. They were truly so kind and helpful the entire time. They led us to our beach bungalow which was just a short walk from the main buildings. There are only buildings lined up on either beach along the narrow island, with a couple of walkways winding in between. So, everyone gets their own private beach setting basically. The bungalow was a little dated but clean and big. The beds were comfortable (I waited until Jamie confirmed the comfort after my experience in Salaleh - I still have a fear of new beds!). We immediately changed into our swimsuits and ran out to plunge into the water before dinner! Just so incredibly amazing! The sunset was spectacular and we all were giddy with our introduction to the Maldives.
Dinner was actually pretty good. The resort costs include breakfast and dinner each day and it was totally worth it. It is basically an all you can eat buffet with many different choices. The food was not gourmet, but it was good and there
is something for everyone. Of course, I had to have a beer with my meal - I am on vacation after all (and consider that a vacation from Ramadan as well...). There was free wifi in the main bar area, so after dinner we grabbed our electronics to check emails and brag on Facebook. Jamie went to bed early, but Joevet and I walked around a bit. The stars were INCREDIBLE! It was so black out and there were just so many stars. This is what I really wanted to see. Finally, I could make out a bit of the Milky Way - one of my dreams. It was still not quite as obvious as I would have liked, but it brought tears to my eyes just the same.
We had debated going on an excursion the next day, a full day trip to neighboring islands with a picnic, but ultimately, we decided to sleep in. Breakfast was also the same - good (but not great) and then we changed into swim gear to enjoy our beautiful beach. We have our own beach chairs and our only neighbor was a girl from Vienna who mostly kept to herself. The
water was much clearer than the previous evening. We stayed in the water for hours, until I finally headed to the bar to post more pictures and have a drink - a fruity tropical drink that is a requirement for me when I'm in tropical locations!
Later, we took showers, each of us trying out the outdoor shower at our bungalow. Now I need to have one if I ever get a house. It was such a lovely experience - showering in an enclosed courtyard, staring at the palm trees and blue sky while washing your hair.... Heaven. Simply, heaven.
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