Twenty five years ago I was a travel agent in Sydney, Australia. I introduced many engaged couples to the Maldives as their honeymoon destination. Most would come in asking for common honeymoon destinations like Fiji, Hawaii, Bali and the Cook Islands, and had never heard of the Maldives – over one thousand islands spread over 90,000 square kilometres, south west of India. All who trusted my passion and enthusiasm booked their trips and came back glowing with gratitude for the incredible experience they had. It was then that I dreamed, that I too, would honeymoon in the Maldives.
The honeymoon wasn’t meant to be, however here I was 25 years later stepping off the plane in Male, four days after our move to Malaysia with my husband and two daughters. Even though it was pitch black when we arrived, the excitement bubbled up as I looked at all the posters and maps around the airport.
Male airport is on it’s own island, there are no hotels there so we were shuttled over to the mainland by a water taxi in the darkness of night. When we arrived it seemed to be chaotic, and somehow we ended up in the vehicle with our luggage. The short trip to The Somerset Hotel was hair raising. The streets are narrow, just wide enough for a car to barely fit through, we giggled at the thought of our Suburban here – scooters and motor bikes were everywhere. At one point Miss T and I were tempted to touch the motorbike right next to us. It was almost midnight and the streets were teeming with people.
We arrived at the hotel and created a major traffic jam as we got out and the driver unloaded all the bags – we wondered if the other people knew their bags were safe. The room was small, yet very comfortable and pleasant. The service was fantastic. This was all we needed to rest our heads for five hours, until our departure to the island in the morning.
We woke up to beautiful blue skies, the streets were quiet, and the hustle and bustle of what we witnessed seven hours prior was non-existent. After a light breakfast we were driven back to the waterfront to catch another water taxi back to Male Airport.
When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by a Four Seasons representative. From this point on, we were in the hands of luxurious first class service – something we’ve never experienced before. We were whisked to a beautiful lounge, where we awaited our seaplane transfer to Landaa Giraavaru.
Flying across the turquoise waters dotted with islands and atolls is a sight that had us all mesmerized.
When we landed at Landaa Giraavaru we were welcomed by a group of staff members, and Azmie introduced himself to us. He had taken care of all our dinner arrangements, gave us suggestions and tips, gave the girls gifts and escorted us to our room. I’d always dreamed of staying in huts on stilts over the water, when we walked into our ‘hut’ our breath was taken away. It was Serene!
We were in heaven. We lazed around and soaked it all up. Of course our little mermaid was right in the water!
We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon, and sat in peaceful silence as we watched the sun set.
The following morning we embarked on a Dolphin Talk and Cruise. Sadly we didn’t see any dolphins, however the time spent lazing on the top of the boat was a gift.
After a delicious lunch we decided to relax at the beach and do some shell finding.
And then we enjoyed some time riding around the island to find fruit bats, lizards and birds, with a cool off at the pool bar.
This spectacular day came to completion after a gorgeous sunset and a divine meal at Fuego Surf & Turf.
The next day would have to be the most incredible days I’ve ever experienced. It was Miss T’s 12th birthday, and the island staff went above and beyond making this the highlight of her trip and the best birthday she’s ever had. At breakfast we were greeted with the table adorned with a birthday message, every staff member wished her a happy birthday. They brought us special glasses to toast to her birthday and brought out a fabulous breakfast dessert.
For her birthday we decided to dedicate and build a reef in her name. We learned so much about how coral lives and dies, and how the impact of humans and the rising temperature of the water is having adverse effects. We can watch it grow at the Reefscapers website.
Another afternoon spent doing what Miss T loves – searching for shells, finding some little friends, was followed up by her very own massage. The spa gifted her a flower petal bath in one of the huts over the water. Let’s just say Miss T came back in a blissful state!
We had one more surprise in store for her, a sunset fishing cruise. Nobody on the boat was having much luck, two people caught colorful fish, and then Miss A pulled in a shark – on a handline! Secretly I was hoping and praying that Miss T would catch something, it was her birthday after all, and then – she did! The next day it was cooked up for us, and would have to be THE most delicious fish I’ve ever tasted.
At dinner, once again Miss T was spoiled with attention and a wonderful sting ray cake. To her surprise when we got back to the room her bed was adorned with fresh flowers. Now that’s a birthday to remember!!!
The next three days were filled with adventure, relaxation, discovery and beauty. One of the highlights for all of us was swimming with manta rays. To be so close to these large, graceful creatures was truly a blessing. They glide through the water effortlessly, at one point I looked back and right behind me was a large gaping mouth. I remembered what we were told and stayed calm, without missing a beat this docile creature turned slightly and glided right by me. So proud of Miss T and myself for facing some fears, and then all of us for getting back to the boat after the current became very strong.
Our last evening we spent having fun with a family photo shoot, and then an incredible dinner at Blu – where the staff went above and beyond to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We even came back to our bathroom lovingly transformed.
One of my favourite parts of Landaa Giraavaru was riding around the island on bicycles, with personalized initials on the front. Everywhere we went friendly staff greeted us. Landaa Giraavaru is heaven on earth, a place I would go back to in a heartbeat. The service was second to none, the food was delicious, and the surroundings – perfection!
Believe it or not, yes there’s more to come. I know, bare with me – it’s a long post.
The sky was gloomy as we boarded the seaplane headed for Kuda Huraa. Soon enough the skies opened up to gift us with more spectacular views from the plane.
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is a much smaller island than Landaa Giraavaru, and has a quaint island village and family feel to it. I was saddened to find out we didn’t have our black bikes to get around, although there was no need as the walking distance from the rooms was a lovely short stroll. The beds in our rooms were adorned with fresh flower petal messages and a delicious gift was left for us. Once again our little fish was in the pool before the front door was closed.
The next morning I awoke early to capture the sunrise. My photography app had me up an hour early because the islands have a self imposed time change to the mainland so guests can enjoy an extra hour of sun. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and was witness to and captured a beautiful sunrise.
Neil and Miss A went scuba diving in the morning, they were fortunate to see a baby whale shark from the boat. Miss T and I lazed around at the pool and beach taking in the beautiful clear blue sky day.
Given it was monsoon season the weather can change quite quickly. The heavy downpour we experienced was refreshing and gifted us with a beautiful rainbow.
The last few days of our getaway were filled with adventure and activities. We embarked on a Sunrise Cast Fishing trip in search of trevally, we didn’t have much luck finding or catching any, and realized this wasn’t our favourite form of fishing – it’s not as easy as it looks. We gave it a go, and got to see a beautiful sunrise, some dolphins and a beautiful rainbow.
Later that afternoon we went on a Shark Snorkelling Safari. Both Miss T and I were anxious and scared. As we all jumped out of the boat I could feel my heart in my throat, Miss T stayed close to the guide and got to see the most sharks and turtles – needless to say, another example for her to remember that some of the best experiences come when we face our fears. My fear was of the dark water that loomed at the ledge of the coral reef drop off, there were a couple of times I had to breathe deeply, I did it and was so proud of myself. Witnessing these small reef sharks gliding through the water, turtles seemingly floating around and an endless array of multi-colored fish was like nothing I’ve seen. So mesmerizing, so peaceful, so beautiful.
That evening we relaxed, watched as they fed the sharks left over fish and I had a wonderful encounter with a hermit crab, before enjoying an incredible dinner by the water.
Our last day in the Maldives was spent staging some fun photos for a friends wedding, and simply enjoying being together in this perfect place.
Thank you Maldives, you were truly the perfect getaway!