Disclaimer: This article carries information from early 2009, so more updates are required. I’m trying to keep the article very basic in the information so as not to take too much away from people planning to visit there in terms of the excitement. Apologies for uploading heavy picture files, as I thought that the real beauty lies in the high resolutions :)
I have always wanted to have my honeymoon by the sea side. Thankfully I found a wife who thought the same, or else we would have had our first big fight over this one. The choice was between Mauritius and Maldives. We finally decided to go to the Maldives because we thought that a honeymoon was the only time we would be ready to splurge so much money in so short a time. So in case you are having similar thoughts, read on to know how do you need to plan the trip
The Maldives is essentially an island country consisting of a group of Atolls (islands surrounded by coral reefs). For tourism purposes, each small island is occupied by a resort. The picture given below shows the view when we were taking off from Male. There are 3 such islands visible and the faint outline beyond the boundary of the island is the coral reef which is visible from the air. The resort island is self sufficient in terms of the staying and dining, recreation, diving and so on. The airport is located at a city called Male. Once you get off the aircraft, the resort that you have been booked at will whisk you away in a speedboat or water-aircraft as per the options chosen.
There are three ways of getting into the Maldives and the decision also depends upon what you want your itinerary to look like. Essentially the Maldives is a very expensive place with limited things to do once you reach there. So it is better that you would club the Maldives trip with some other destination which will decide your travel plan. Also there are no direct flights from Mumbai/Delhi to Male
Option 1: Mumbai/Delhi-Colombo-Male
Option 2: Mumbai/Delhi-Dubai-Male
Option 3: Mumbai/Delhi-Trivandrum-Male
So depending upon your preferences, you can club either Sri Lanka, Dubai or Kerala with Maldives. We chose the Sri Lanka option and visited Colombo and Kandy (more about that on another writeup). Once you have finalized your travel plan, do try to figure out what you intend to do once you reach the Maldives. The resorts are broadly classified into certain specialty resorts and almost all of them have good websites where you can get all the information. (www.tripadvisor.com is a great resource to get more resort specific information)
Romantic Getaways: This is for the honeymooners. lots of white beaches, isolated cottages and so on
Diving Getaways: A good house reef will allow some great diving and snorkeling experiences
General Family Fun: Lots of recreational activities
Most resorts offer multiple staying options. The most popular and hence the most expensive are the Water Villas. These are villas built on stilts over the water around 10-15 feet from the beach. They have spacious verandhas in the front and a staircase which leads directly into the water for easy snorkelling. The donwside of these accomodations is that it can get a little noisy in the night with the sound of the waves, but in case you are game for it then go for it. The next best option is the Beach Villas. We had stayed in one such villa and they usually come equipped with an open air jacuzzi and the works … live it up in true style for a few days. The least expensive option is the normal room, situated around 5-10 feet from the beach/water and offers a comfortable experience. A good way to experience both the luxury and save some money is to split your stay between both the room types.
In terms of sightseeing, there is a tour to a local island and the main city for some souvenier shopping. There are however a lot of recreational activities which can be done at the islands. The most exciting for me was the snorkelling which you can comfortably manage if you know a little bit of swimming. The gear can be hired on a daily basis and you can spend at least 2 whole days exploring various reefs along the island. Other activities are in the form of excursions planned by the resorts such a Dolphin Cruises, Night Fishing, Beach Barbeque (where they take you to an isolated island for a night barbeque dinner), Sunset Cruises and so on. We had taken the Dolphin Cruise and the Sunset Cruise and it was money well spent
The rates for all the resorts vary from season to season and the peak season is usually from Nov-Feb. Most of the bookings require almost 90% payment to be made in advance and you can book them online. Gemini Travels is a wholesale travel agent is Bangalore who handle a lot of resorts in the Maldives. They will offer at least 5-8% discounts on the internet rates. You can book a resort on 3 options
Half Board – Breakfast and Dinner Free
Full Board – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Free
All Inclusive – All Food + Some alcoholic drinks free
The AI option is worth it if you really want to party and get sloshed. A beer will cost around $6 and bottled water will cost around $3. The onlu currency they accept is USD and you will have to tip the staff on USD as well. Most resorts have at least 3-4 different options and it can get a little boring to have food from the same restaurant if you are on Half Board or Full Board.
So people, if the pictures excite you, it is not a place to be missed for sure. Do let me know in case anyone wants more queries answered. We had stayed on Bandos Resort Island and it was a great experience to cherish for a long time