Maldives: Feeling the Sunny Side of Life - Part 1
January 1, 1970
by Vindya Vithana
I remember day dreaming about the white sands and the emerald waters of Maldives, ages before I set foot into Male! It was my 25th birthday, and I’ve been saving for quite a while to take this trip – Maldives doesn’t come cheap! For a while I obsessively read up on this amazing chain of tiny islands that resemble paradise; reading reviews online on different resorts, going through travel blogs and talking to pretty much everyone I know who has been to Maldives before. I just needed to know if it does have the alluring charm that we see in all the pictures online.
Now that I have seen, felt and truly experienced Maldives, I can say without a moment of hesitation, it really is worth the hype!
If you have not been to Maldives before, the first glimpse of the beautiful islands placed closed on a clear sheet of bluish green ocean is a sight that you will never forget! As the flight circles on the Maldives sky to land to the airport island, you will be able to see the islands below, prominent with water bungalows built in rows among most of them. If it is your first time, I really recommend you going for a window seat, and catching a flight that lands to Maldives in the day light. I had to pay a bit more to catch the day flight, and I do not regret one bit. Keep your camera ready to get an Instagram worthy picture of the stunning spread of ocean and islands below. 😉
First few steps in Maldives
Maldives Ibrahim Nazir International Airport is situated in the Hulhule island next to Male. As you descend to the land from above, you can see the playfully colorful Male island from the side, with a skyline of many identical buildings standing to close to each other, giving you the image of a toy city made of legos! It was not like any other country I have been to, with the sea in front of your eyes just when you step outside of the airport. There are ferry services for those who are directly going to other islands, however, I stayed the night in the island of Hulhule since it was late in the evening when I got to the country.
Just before you set off to experience the luxury and the good life in lavish Maldivian resorts, I suggest you to feel the sublime vibe of Male, at least for one night. It is a city that is similar to many you should have seen if you have been travelling around South Asia, but it is, in its own laid back way, different than any you have seen as well. It was rather late in the evening when I got to Male, sitting on one of their ferry boats, which was a fun ride! It was a Wednesday evening, and the city was still busy with motorcycles and hurriedly walking Maldivians in their rather narrow streets.
What to See in Male
I wasn’t too picky on what to see in Male, since my trip was focused on spending time sprawled out on their white sandy beach in a lush resort, but I have to admit that this small city made quite an impression on me. I walked alongside the coastline towards their city center, and one of the most memorable sights for me was their Grand Friday Mosque & Islamic Centre. It is a huge architecturally alluring place built in a shining while marble, subtly lit by the many lights around. It did not have any vibrant decorations, but just the whole pure plainness of it all was a domineering sight adding glamour and a sense of grandeur to the city.
The popular VIP jetty that is near the mosque was also a sight to behold, and it reminded me of the Sidney Opera House with its distinct shape – no joke!
Other than the obvious landmarks of the city including their National Museum, Fish Market and Republican Monument, what took me by surprise was the Tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu. It was rather hidden in the back streets of the city and you wouldn’t normally expect such a historically important place to be there as you walk along their many streets which makes you feel like you are in a maze. If you are travelling with a guide, do not forget to get the historical details of this place, which goes back to 1500s with an exciting tale of a national hero who liberated this country from Portuguese.
Where to Eat in Male
After a quick but considerable stroll around Male, it was my time to enjoy the dinner – and to nobody’s surprise I wanted to treat my palate with some fresh and delicious sea food. It’s Maldives, after all! There is a considerable amount of good sea food restaurants in Male, and I opted for Sea House, which is mostly known for their good coffees and sea food options. It was pretty dark when I sat on a table overlooking the sea for my first meal in Maldives, so the view wasn’t too spectacular, but I am sure during the day this restaurant gives a stunning view of the blue waters surrounding Male. The Tuna Sandwich meal I ordered was a large portion that filled me pretty well, the prices weren’t too bad either. Oh, the Soccer World Cup was going during the night I was there, and there was a large screen playing that in the restaurant, with many cheering spectators. I am not particularly sure if that is regular to the place, but thought it was worth mentioning. If you are stopping by Male for a transit or for a night or two, I truly recommend this breezy restaurant with a nice ambiance.
My journey back into Hulhule Island from Male was just as fun, although I dozed off a bit in the middle because I was too full with Tuna! The next day I set off to the Paradise Island, in which spent the most amazing time before leaving to another resort – Ellaidhoo Island – which I will share with you in my future posts.
If are visiting Maldives, do not miss Male!