— The Maldives
(6th – 10th, July 2018)
There are a couple common misconceptions about the Maldives; 1) that it is only for the well-off, as it’s really expensive, and 2) that it is a place where you only go to for your honeymoon. Now don’t get me wrong, I acquired these exact misconceptions before I actually went there myself. From a young age, I had decided that the Maldives would be my honeymoon destination and envisioned the crystal blue water and pristine sands as a piece of paradise that only existed in dreams. I would never have thought of traveling there anytime before a certain age and without a significant other – but when the opportunity (aka my favourite travel app – Hopper) presented itself at such a reasonable price and during what seemed to me peak season, I just couldn’t resist. I toyed with the idea in my head for a while and decided that I don’t need a top-notch five-figure salary OR a partner to visit the Maldives. Why wait for the honeymoon? If there’s one thing i’ve learnt – it’s that you only live once, and you don’t even know if you’ll be alive tomorrow, let alone five years down the line!
Booking my flight with Air Asia, I realised that the affordable price was due to the fact that it is currently low season in Maldives, as it is the wet monsoon (May to September) where there are short periods of rain and heavy clouds. I took my chances anyways and figured that the weather is unpredictable and Maldives will be beautiful regardless, as showers usually only last for 20-30 minutes before the sun starts to shine again. As the tropical nation is made up of over 26 coral atolls with over 1,000 islands, the main form of transportation between these islands is either a seaplane or a boat. Booking a hotel was difficult as each place charged an airport transfer fees (anywhere between USD$30 – 450!), but I was lucky enough to find a place on Thulusdhoo Island which only charged USD$30.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin describing this holiday. It was everything I had imagined and more. Landing at Male (or Velana) International Airport, I saw the ring-shaped atolls from above, patches of white, turquoise and blue taking shape in the Indian Ocean. It was a Saturday and an airport transfer via a speedboat took me from the airport to a gloomy yet vibrant Thulusdhoo, a local island bursting with color and hospitality. The roller-coaster of a ride was initially supposed to be 30 mins, but somehow took an hour due to the stormy winds and high tides. The island is popular for its surf points, so I wasn’t surprised to see the place swarming with surfers, especially in that weather. After exploring the area around my hotel, I went for lunch at a nearby restaurant amidst the village houses and took the rest of the evening to relax as it rained.
The following two days, Sunday & Monday, I woke up to a bright and sunny Maldives and felt filled to the brim with excitement each time because the weather was cooperating and the place just looked even more stunning, allowing me to enjoy the beach and water activities. Within the span of three days, I was able to go canoeing in a transparent canoe, giving me the perfect window into the ocean at my feet; snorkel with sea turtles at a reef garden, have lunch over the water, cycle around the island on a bike, eat freshly caught seafood and most of all, get plenty of vitamin sea and D, so much that I’ve got burnt, peeling skin!
All in all – yes, the blue lagoons were as blue as they show in the magazines. Yes, the beach was lined with palm trees on soft sand. The food was great, the people were amazing, the weather was blissful, and everything was completely affordable. I spent HK$1,500 (USD$160) on food and water activities for three days, which in my opinion is not bad at all. However, this is because breakfast & dinner was included in my hotel deal so I just had to pay for lunch, and water activities on Thulusdhoo ranged from anywhere between USD$15 to $50 depending on the type of equipment required and duration of the activity. At the end of the day, I think it really depends on the type of traveler you are and where you choose to stay.
(Read more: Doors of Thulusdhoo)
Moral of the story: When there is a will, there’s a way! If there’s somewhere that you’re dying to visit but think its just too costly or you don’t want to travel alone, don’t stop yourself, the opportunities are endless and nothing is impossible 🙂