One of those few places in the world that almost everyone seems to desire to visit. When people hear ‘Maldives’, the brain swiftly conjures images of bright cerulean water as transparent as glass, endless opportunities to snorkel and dive amongst some of the most varied and vivid marine life on the planet, luxury overwater villas and skies as blue as aquamarine.
Yes, the Maldives is certainly the type of place that is inspirational, unforgettable and for those lucky enough to visit – the trip of a lifetime.
Before I decided to visit the Maldives, it seemed like an unreachable destination. I thought flights would be incredibly expensive and infrequent, that beautiful accommodation would be accessible only for the wealthy and that it would remain a dream of a destination and nothing more.
I could not have been more wrong.
Flights to the international Ibrahim Nasir airport on the island of Hulhulé (near the capital of Male) are actually pretty abundant. If you can first get yourself to one of the following major airport hubs, then the Maldives are definitely accessible.
There are regular flights to Male from Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Bangkok, Colombo, Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and several others. I flew with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur and managed to score return flights for around $100 AUD (approx $75 USD).
Once landing in Male, you have several options.
You could catch the fast 3 minute ferry to mainland Male for just a few dollars and spend time exploring the most densely populated city on the planet.
If you are heading to the Maldives to spend your days soaking up some magnificent island beauty like what you have seen in photographs, then more than likely, you will be looking to head to a resort island.
There are hundreds of different resort islands in the Maldives, all catering to different markets and clientele, ensuring there is a Maldivian experience suitable for everyone. During my time in the Maldives I stayed in two different resorts, one catering to those wanting extreme luxury and one catering to those who want to experience the beauty of the Maldives, but are a bit more limited by budget. I will go into more detail regarding these resort islands in future posts.
If you land into Male early in the day, you may be able to transfer from your international flight to a domestic charter seaplane on the same day. If you arrive later in the evening as I did, you will need to bunk on the airport adjacent Hulhumalé island for the night. Seaplanes are an incredible way of getting around, but are only able to fly during the daytime for obvious safety reasons.
So after landing in Male and meeting up with my friend and fellow travel blogger – Kate from ‘Travel For The Soul‘ – it was time to bunk for the night. There are several hotels on Hulhumalé island catering to the many travellers who need a place to sleep for a night and most will provide airport transfers to and from the hotel.
Hulhumalé is an artificially created island created to deal with continued industrial and commercial development of the area. It is connected to Hulhulé and only about a 10-15 minute drive away. There isn’t a whole lot of note to see on this tiny island, but it is still fun to explore for a little while, if only because of the amazingly vibrant colours.
There is an island beach too, but it has been subject to a bit of littering and is nowhere near as gorgeous as the Maldivian beaches I will show to you in future posts. Nevertheless, it was nice to dip my toes in and get some relief from the blistering heat!
Organising seaplane transfers is actually a bit of a cinch – your chosen resort will do it for you! However, as the seaplanes have no set schedule and are run based on demand, there is no way to have a departure time set in stone until the evening before departure. It means that your resort will get in contact with you and tell you what time your transfer is sometime after 6pm Male time the day before said transfer. While that may sound odd, these transfers happen so often that everyone has it down to a fine art.
We arrived back at Male airport after exploring a little bit of Hulhumalé and were greeted by a representative of our first island destination – Maalifushi by COMO.
After being greeted by our resort rep, we settled into a lovely air conditioned lounge to gorge on the free food and wait until it was time to board.
Boarding seaplanes is a pretty damn amazing experience! These transfers cost between $300-$400 USD return, and while this is a pretty expensive way to travel, it was well worth it. It is not every day that your plane plummets towards water without inducing panic!
Unfortunately the windows of this particular plane could have used a good scrub, so I couldn’t get any absolutely incredible pictures – but it was still a pretty glorious sight to behold.
After a pleasant 50 minute flight south west of Male, the amazing Maalifushi came into view.
We carefully stepped out onto a pontoon in the ocean and swiftly transferred to a boat for the final leg of the journey to Maalifushi.
We had finally arrived to the most luxurious place I have ever experienced! But I’ll reveal more about that in the next post…
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Male: There are many different routes flying into Male, flights with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur are some of the cheapest
Maldivian: This is one of two seaplane companies flying to destinations in the Maldives
Maalifushi by COMO: One of the most luxurious resorts in all of the Maldives, stay tuned to the next post for more details
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro Lens
Remember: Earplugs – the seaplane engines are LOUD! Also, the Maldives are an Islamic country – if you are venturing outside of the airport or a resort and are a female, remember to be respectful, cover your legs and arms and adhere to the Maldivian standard of dress
Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!