Hubby and I are both island people. Any chance we get, we find ourselves rushing to the most isolated island we can find. What is not to like about sun, sand, surf and minimal clothing! 😉
So this August, we decided to check Maldives off our list. Little did we know that it was going to turn out to be the trip of a lifetime!
Maldives consists of nearly 1,200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. Did you know that the word atoll is the only English word derived from Dhivehi, the official language of Maldives? It comes from the Dhivehi word atholhu, meaning a ring-shaped reef or coral island.
Just over 200 of Maldives’ islands are inhabited and nearly 100 are exclusive resort islands.
We landed in Malé (the capital) around noon. What most people don’t realize about Maldives is that it is the lowest country on the planet. An average height of 1.5 m/5ft above sea level means there are no hills or mountains here. So climbing enthusiasts, you’ll need to find something else to do. Rest assured, there’s plenty to choose from.
To get to most resort islands in the Maldives, there is usually a short seaplane transfer involved (30 – 45mins flight). Trans Maldivian Airways operates a seaplane fleet of 44 Twin Otter aircrafts that takes tourists from Malé to their island destination.
Getting an aerial view of the outrageously beautiful atolls, islands, lagoons and bays is a highly recommended experience for any Maldives visitor.
The short flight to our resort in the Baa Atoll meant that we didn’t need to do a separate charter flight later. Sometimes if you are lucky, you can spot whales, dolphins or even manta rays from the air. No such luck for us but the seascapes below were a sight for our city slicker eyes! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
Baa Atoll is a protected UNESCO biosphere. The hard and soft coral reefs in the atoll harbor an abundance of marine life – a large variety of colorful fish, reef sharks, sea turtles, sting rays among others.
Hanifaru Bay in the Baa Atoll is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks and big groups of manta rays, thanks to the high plankton density in the waters there. The main agenda of our trip was to get up-close with the manta rays and if we were really lucky, a whale shark.
Jumping into the middle of the ocean was going to take every ounce of courage but the magic of the under-water spectacle would make it all worth it!
For more on my experience of swimming with the Maldivian mantas, check out my post Underwater Ballet in the Maldives.
Want to know more about Maldivian cuisine? Here are 100 fabulous ways to eat tuna in the Maldives 😉
Maldives’ rich flora and fauna needs a special mention. Check out my post The Real Stars of Maldives.