With its sandy white beaches and visa on arrival, picturesque Maldives left me spellbound!

Published: May 2, 2018
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The warm hospitality of the locals, the spectacular sights and the natural beauty of the island was much more than we had expected. PHOTO: AHSAN NADEEM

In 2016, a colleague of mine happened to take a trip to Maldives, and showed me his pictures when he came back. I didn’t know much about Maldives at the time, but the moment I saw the pictures, the extraordinary beauty and splendour of the place blew me away, and I immediately placed Maldives on my bucket list of the ‘must-see’ places around the world.

Soon after, I did my initial research and realised the trip would be an expensive one. Thus, it was a couple of years after being introduced to Maldives that I finally got the chance to visit, as I planned a five-day trip with my wife for the Hudhuran Fushi Island in Maldives.

The Maldives is a group of 1,200 or so islands in the Indian Ocean below the Southernmost tip of India, and it has a small population. The location is such that the weather is tropical throughout the year, giving it sandy white beaches, lots of sunlight and unpredictable rainfall.

The main island

The best thing about planning a trip to Maldives was that there are no stringent visa requirements. Travellers just need a passport with a validity of more than six months and a valid hotel reservation, and the visa is given on arrival. The price range of resorts varies greatly, and travel sites sometimes offer discounted rates, so be sure to check those if you plan on going to Maldives.

After looking at all our available options, we chose the Adaaran Prestige Ocean Villas, which was around 20 kilometres from the Male International Airport. The villa had excellent reviews, and the pictures promised us the type of experience we were looking for.

Thus, it was in April of 2018 that we set off for our trip to Maldives. As our plane descended towards Male Airport, we got our first glimpse of the beautiful cluster of islands forming the nation of Maldives. The clear blue seas and the splendid resorts built on shallow waters could be spotted from afar. I would recommend getting a window seat if your flight is during the day, as the first look of the islands from atop is a sight to behold.

View of the island

We were a bit surprised upon landing at the airport, as given the popularity of the place as a tourist destination, we had expected the airport to be a big one. However, the airport was quite small and consequently, there were long queues at the immigration control desks. A few shops and eateries were present at the airport, but other than that, one would hardly call it fancy.

Our resort’s representative was present at the airport, and after about an hour’s wait, our ferry was ready to take us to our resort. Apart from a few hotels in Male city itself, the rest of the resorts are only reachable either by boat or by sea planes. Since our resort was not very far from the airport, we were to travel through a shuttle boat.

The 25-minute long boat ride was quite bumpy and fun, and gave us the opportunity to view some of the beautiful islands of the Maldives. Almost each island had a resort built on it.

Upon arriving at our resort, we were welcomed by the manager, and margaritas were served to us and the other group of guests. Our fellow tourists consisted of a diverse group, mainly Chinese, Europeans, Americans and Australians. The resort assigned us a personal butler who managed our check-in, and gave us a tour of the resort on a golf cart.

Banana Gardens at the island

Vivek, our butler, had been working at the resort for the past eight months or so, and had a warm and friendly presence. The resort workforce comprised mainly of local Maldivians and some expatriates, and throughout our stay, they were courteous and always ready to provide guidance and assistance when it came to places to visit and activities to partake in. Everyone could communicate in English, so we didn’t experience any language barriers throughout the trip.

The author at the resort

The resort was sprawled across an area of around 94 acres. The beach and garden villas were located on the main island, whereas the ocean villa we had booked was located at a 10-minute walking distance from the main island. The ocean villas were connected to the main island by a beautiful wooden pathway built over clear blue ocean water.

Beach Villas

Pathway connecting the main island to the Ocean Villas

The moment we saw the villas, we were left spellbound by the sheer beauty around us. They had been built on shallow waters, where the water level varied between two and five feet, depending on the tide and the time of the day. Each villa had a direct staircase leading to the ocean, and a sun deck where one could sit all day long and observe the beauty of the clear blue waters and its marine life. But more on that later.

The Ocean Villas

Our villa

Sometimes when one sees pictures of a breath-taking place on the internet, one is a bit sceptical over whether the place is really visually stunning in reality, or whether the picture has been photoshopped. However, the reality of the view in front of us was better than what we had seen in the pictures while planning the trip. The unadulterated beauty of the nature at display was truly spectacular.

View from the villa

Our villa staircase leading to the ocean

The beach on the main island was absolutely beautiful – covered by white sand and coconut and palm trees, it was almost like we had entered paradise. The name of the island, Hudhuran Fushi, means white gold island, referring to its white sandy beaches. One could just lie for hours on the beach, enjoying the view, the sunset, and the soft breeze of the ocean. As the light ocean breeze is blowing almost all the time, the weather is pretty comfortable if you are at the beach for hours.

The beach

The sunset from our villa

The local cuisine has influences from Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines; it includes different types of curries (vegetable, daal, chicken and fish) and rice. There were also a variety of continental dishes available to cater to the demands of the tourists and diverse tastes. In all, we enjoyed our food and spent no time missing the food back home.

Maldivian breakfast

Sunset and chai

The clear blue water of the Indian Ocean was full of marine life. We saw multiple varieties of fish, such as sword fish, sting rays and a host of other fish whose names we did not know, but we appreciated it and were in awe of it all nonetheless. The clear water allowed us an unobscured view of the marine life, and safe to say, we were left speechless.

Blacktip reef sharks

We happened to come across blacktip reef sharks swimming around the deck of the resort restaurant, and were told reef sharks are quite harmless, as they only prey on other fish. People who are fond of snorkelling would definitely be able to enjoy the marine life in more detail.

Our resort offered a range of water sport activities including snorkelling, jet ski rides, parasailing, scuba diving, boat cruises, dolphin views, and submarine cruises. Riding the waves and accelerating the jet ski across the Indian Ocean was an adrenaline pumping experience which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Swings in the middle of the ocean

Our five days at the resort went by in the blink of an eye, and before we knew it, it was time for our departure. On our return journey to the Male Airport, we were lucky to spot a school of Orcas (killer whales) which were a truly magnificent sight to behold, and capped off what was already a trip to remember.

The warm hospitality of the locals, the spectacular sights and the natural beauty of the island was much more than we had expected, and we resolved to visit Maldives again, hopefully sometime in the near future.

All photos: Ahsan Nadeem

Ahsan Nadeem

Ahsan Nadeem

The author is a chartered accountant who works in an auditing firm and loves traveling. The thrill of exploring new places, meeting new people and seeing new cultures motivates and excites him.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • maryeum

    This is on my bucket list already.Recommend

  • Musfira

    After hearing above all i wish i could also go there😍Recommend

  • Patwari

    Very informative. Great blog. A must visit placeRecommend

  • Parvez

    Nice description and lovely pictures……what caught my attention was ” …blacktip reef sharks are quite harmless ” .Recommend

  • fahad sheraz

    Worth reading it and have added in my bucket list. Keep on sharing your experiences. Thanks.Recommend

  • ABKhan

    Thank you for the wonderful review. It could help greatly to plan and budget, if you share the cost of the villa.Recommend

  • Muneeb Wasti

    Unfortunately writer missed to point out the most important factor that is “cost”. How much this while trip cost? And what are the connecting flights to Maldives? I don’t think any airline in Pakistan operates between Maldives and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Azeez

    India’s Lakshadweep islands connected with maldives islands, which is situated 400km away from south western coast of mainland India. Lakshadweep islands famous for coral reefs.Recommend

  • Hassan

    Your best option would be to use any Middle Eastern AirlinesRecommend

  • Ahsan Nadeem

    Cost per day varies greatly depending on the resort and type of villa you choose. Water / ocean villas generally cost atleast 60-70k per night whereas garden villas (located more inland) and beach villas (located on the beach) can cost atleast 30-40k per night. Websites like booking .com have a huge no of maldivian resorts listed. You can check those and see which ones catch your eye. There isn’t any direct airline from pakistan to maldives. The closest to a direct airline is Sri Lankan airline which goes via colombo. The middle eastern airlines (emirates, eitehad etc.) are more comfortable though. Again, prices vary depending on how early you book flights however it generally costs atleast 75-80k per person for return ticket.Recommend

  • Ahsan Nadeem

    Just included in the above comment 😊Recommend