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Published: June 15th 2016
From last blog...
Frankfurt (Germany) - Male (Maldives) - Alifu Alifu Atoll - Bodufulhudhoo Island - Male
Holy shit how do I even start writing about how amazing this place is, from the beginning I suppose. As mentioned last time we had scored a super cheap (and direct I might add which was a major plus) flight from Frankfurt to Male, one we gobbled up as soon as we found it. Purchasing that ticket instantly made us happy as the Maldives have been in our top 3 places we want to visit for a long time but as these islands can be cost prohibitive (an average room price per night is about $300-700USD, some in the tens of thousands!!), we have just not been able to afford it - UNTIL NOW! There has been a recent trend in the Maldives, in which the government has loosened up the regulations now allowing smaller, more affordable guesthouses to open up on locals' islands, therefore allowing dirty backpackers like us the opportunity to see it at a reasonable cost - an opportunity we were not about to pass on!
It was a risk actually, it being the monsoon season there at
this time of year, where daily heavy rains and thunderstorms are the norm, but, knowing that, we still wanted to go - so we did. Man did we luck out - Mother Nature was most definitely on our side for the whole week!!! We had maybe two 10 minute rain showers over the duration which really allowed us to dive into this place and enjoy it to the fullest.
We landed in Male, a frenetic and densely populated capital city on an island of its own, a scene we were eager to leave asap. We had to chill a couple hours to wait for our 2 hour speedboat transfer to our little gem of an island called Bodufulhudhoo (say that five times fast). The island was so quaint and seemingly in the middle of nowhere and the people were beyond nice. From the sandy center crossroads on the island, if you looked in all four directions you could see each corner of the island and walk in any of these directions for 3 minutes and be at the end! It was a nice feeling staying on a locals' island, really mixing into day to day life there, it very
clear that non-resort package tourism is very new there - we were pretty much the only foreigners there for the most part which we loved!
Maldives is a muslim country so there are certain things you have to adjust to while staying here...like booze intake for one...you intake none as it is prohibited which suited us just fine! Also a little different was respectful dress on the island, which includes the beaches - no bathing suits/bikinis allowed. But for us, we lucked out, our little island had a super beautiful private tourist beach just a 2 min walk from our place, a beach we essentially lived on and had to ourselves for the entire week. The best part, the snorkeling at the reef right in front of our beach was like you were in an aquarium. The corals were in pretty good shape which was nice, in fact efforts were in place to rebuild it which was really cool to see, but the fish - more species of tropical fish than we have ever seen (and we have snorkelled in so many places) and turtles every day. We really never left the water as you can tell from the
Then there were the daily excursions offered from our resort, which actually deserves a plug (www.yonderretreat.com) because they were so awesome. We spent a day at the remote Picnic Island - seriously top 3 beaches we have ever been to... the water was the craziest turquoise blue and the sand perfectly white like corn starch, it was like the best natural swimming pool you have ever been to! Amazing!
But then was the best part of all - the Manta Rays! We set out into the open blue to a remote atoll where they are known to reside at this time of year, fingers crossed, legs crossed, everything crossed in the hopes that we would see them, so friggin excited. As a photographer and fisheries guy it just does not get better than this - I was giddy and so was Teri. Arriving, we spotted them right away...then its get the fins and snorkel on and jump in and there they are, swimming right beside you in the most amazing water ever. In all, over the 2 days (it was so good we went twice) we saw about 11 individual Mantas, each within a few inches of
us - even getting to touch one or two as they gently swam by. We saw them in all sizes, the little guys (with 4-6' wingspans so still huge) were very curious and would keep circling back and back. The big boys, super impressive really made you feel small, the largest with probably a 11-14' wingspan was insane! It was so peaceful swimming with these things and these encounters will never ever be forgotten.
We wish we could have stayed longer on the island, but we left super satisfied. Nights were spent taking in the sunset which set perfectly in front of our private beach. Its such a travel thing, you make a point of going somewhere to watch the sunset every day - why don't we do this at home??? We saved a seabird one night even, a Lesser Crested Tern. We walked up to the beach for sunset, as always, and even before we sat down Teri noticed this bird walking towards us, a behaviour which is obviously odd. Once he got really close we noticed he had string wrapped around his legs and beak, so the chase was on. It took some doing to catch the
Diving underneath them
each Manta has its own individual belly marks, as individual as human fingerprints!
guy but we did, walked over to a nearby hotel to get a knife and removed the string which was very tightly wrapped around him - there is no way he would have survived with it remaining. Once off we let him go and felt really great!
We loved everything about this place, the week went by waaaaay too fast. But, hopefully, we will be back. Then it was off to Sri Lanka...stay tuned for more on that later...
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