Maldives Islands

Deserted Maldive Island. Image courtesy of Google Images

With their signature white-sand beach and nearly deserted islands, the Maldives should be on the bucket list of any traveler.  Each year, upwards of 800,000 tourists flock to the island nation, which is actually made up of more than 1,000 islands and atolls.  One of the biggest tourist draws is the fact that only a few of these islands are inhabited. With a

maximum altitude of only 10 feet, the islands are the flattest country in the world and since they are located in the middle of the ocean, the island chain is one of the most susceptible places to be affected by rising sea levels. Now, more than ever is a great time to visit the country and experience one of the many attractions here.  Some of the more popular activities includes exploring uninhabited islands, scuba diving with Hammerhead Sharks and snorkelling off the coast.

The Maldives have only been open to tourism since the 1970’s and because of their remoteness, tourism has not affected the local population very much.   These two facts mean that visitors to the Maldives can expect a truly authentic experience.   Holidays in Maldives luxury resorts are one of the most popular ways of visiting the islands.  On top of this, the government has made sure to protect the island chain.  This means that The Maldives has incredibly beautiful tropical scenery; graceful coconut palms lean over crystal-clear lagoons, coral reefs promise great snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as lots of sunshine.

The Maldives has one of the least exploited marine environments in the world and as such has gained a reputation as being one of the best diving destinations in the world.  Snorkeling and scuba diving in the reefs around the North Male Atoll are second to none in the Maldives. Close encounters to Hammerhead Sharks are the highlight of any snorkeling or scuba trip, as they are one of the most respected predators in the wild and one of the most bizarre looking as well. The warm tropical waters provide the perfect habitat for these truly majestic fish. Stingrays and multi-colored corals and their fish are a common sight as well and can be found in abundance anywhere on the North Male Atoll.

Snorkeling in the Maldives. Image courtesy of Google Images.

The surrounding areas around the atoll are the occasional ship wreck, where many species like to call their home as the ships offer refuge and can act as an artificial coral reef.

If snorkeling or scuba diving does not sound appeasing, perhaps visiting one of the hundreds of uninhabited islands would sound like a better option. With over 1,000 uninhabited islands in the Maldives, this is one of the most popular day trips as it is a truly one of a kind experience. No city traffic noise, pollution or people around means a truly relaxing experience that can be duplicated nowhere else in the world.

 Visiting these islands should be at the top of the list of any traveler as their beauty and uniqueness cannot be compared to anywhere else in the world. With the world changing quickly and modernizing, sometimes taking a step back and relaxing is exactly what you need. From snorkelling or scuba diving with Hammerhead Sharks to visiting uninhabited islands, The Maldives are a place that should be visited at least once in a lifetime, if not more.

One of the most beautiful countries in the world and one that is most affected by global warming are the Maldives Islands. Located just to the south and west of mainland India on the equator, the nation of the Maldives consist of more than 1,200 islands, which are made up of 26 atolls. Only a few of these islands are inhabited. With a maximum altitude of only 10 feet, the islands are the flattest country in the world, which makes them one of the most susceptible places to be affected by rising sea levels. Now, more than ever is a great time to visit the country and experience one of the many attractions here. Exploring uninhabited islands, scuba diving with Hammerhead Sharks and snorkelling off the coast are all popular activities to do here.

The North Male Atoll is one of the most popular destinations in the Maldives and a great jumping off point for many activities. The Atoll is north of the capital of Male and is easily accessible by boat, which is only 30 minutes away, or only 10 minutes by airplane taxi. It is the closest inhabited area to the capital and therefore is the most popular and easily accessible place in the Maldives. Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi is the place to stay here as they offer the best activities around the Maldives.

 

Snorkelling in the Maldives. Image courtesy of Google Images

Snorkelling and scuba diving in the reefs around the North Male Atoll are second to none in the Maldives. Close encounters to Hammerhead Sharks are the highlight of any snorkelling or scuba trip, as they are one of the most respected predators in the wild and one of the most bizarre looking as well. The warm tropical waters provide the perfect habitat for these truly majestic fish. Stingrays and multi colored corals and their fish are a common sight as well and can be found in abundance anywhere on the North Male Atoll. The surrounding areas around the atoll are the occasional ship wreck, where many species like to call their home as the ships offer refuge and can act as an artificial coral reef.

If snorkelling or scuba diving does not sound appeasing, perhaps visiting one of the hundreds of uninhabited islands would sound like a better option. With over 1,000 uninhabited islands in the Maldives, this is one of the most popular day trips as it is a truly one of a kind experience. No city traffic noise, pollution or people around means a truly relaxing experience that can be duplicated nowhere else in the world.

 

Exploring an uninhabited island. Image courtesy of Google Images.

Visiting these islands should be at the top of the list of any traveler as their beauty and uniqueness cannot be compared to anywhere else in the world. From snorkelling or scuba diving with Hammerhead Sharks to visiting uninhabited islands, the Maldives are a place that should be visited at least once in a lifetime, if not more.

By Lee Abbamonte

Travel opens your eyes and your mind to a whole new world.

Travel enables you to see the world through other peoples eyes and from other points of view.

Travel increases your awareness of other cultures and people.

Travel makes you smarter.

Travel is the best education you can receive.

Travel enables you to speak intelligently on a variety of global topics.

Travel shows you how global policy effects different countries and different types of people.

Travel brings you to places you’ve only dreamed about seeing.

Travel shows you landscapes you never thought were possible.

Travel shows you what real beauty is.

Travel shows you that everything is beautiful in its own way.

Travel makes books and television come to life.

Travel makes adventures happen everyday.

Travel makes dreams come true.

Travel gives you a sense of enormous accomplishment.

Travel gives you something to look forward to to.

Travel gives you options.

Travel is a lifetime journey that is never the same twice.

Travel makes the big world small.

Travel humbles you.

Travel puts things into perspective.

Travel shows you what poor is.

Travel shows you how unfair this world can be.

Travel shows you people overcoming the longest odds to live their life to the fullest.

Travel shows you triumphs of the human spirit.

Travel teaches you how to say “Cheers” in 30 different languages.

Travel teaches you the International language of beer.

Travel teaches you to appreciate wine and the beauty of vineyards.

Travel teaches you to try new things.

Travel makes you yearn to do new things.

Travel teaches you the difference between a traveler and a tourist.

Travel teaches you to become a traveler and not just a tourist.

Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world. I am a travel writer, travel expert, global adventurer and have appeared on NBC, CNN, ESPN, GBTV, Fox News, Jetset Social and have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Smart Money, Slate, OK! Magazine, Peter Greenberg radio and many others. I’ve visited 306 countries and am one of the world’s most-traveled people.

“I believe in globalization of everything including people. I believe that I am a citizen of Earth. I believe that people around the world are at their core, basically good and the same. I believe that more people should experience the world and the way traveling can open their eyes and minds to different and exciting things. I believe in just being myself. I believe in life.” – Lee Abbamonte

Our year journey in South East Asia started July 2, 2012. When we were gone for eleven months in 2008, one of the common questions was, “How can you spend so much time together?”

We were recently  interviewed about Traveling as a Couple by Travelinksites:

Today we have the fine pair behind the super blog We Said Go Travel.  With well over 100 countries tucked away in Lisa and George’s repetoire, these guys are experts!  Their blog is full of videos, info and tales from far flung places so make sure you check them out. But first, let’s hear how they travel successfully as a married couple…

 

1.  Could you briefly introduce yourselves and your site?

Hello! We are a traveling couple. I worked for seven years at sea for Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Renaissance Cruises in the youth program and as cruise staff and went scuba diving and traveling on six continents. My husband George lived in Paraguay as part of the Peace Corps Program and traveled around South America. Both of us had been to nearly 100 countries (by Traveler’s Century Club count) before we met.

2. Tell us the story!  How did you guys meet and what made you choose to write a travel blog?

George found me online—and we started traveling together almost immediately. Our first journey was to Fiji and Vanuatu. In Vanuatu, we went to a village, met a Peace Corps worker and I had my first bucket bath. When we started our first year-long journey, we wrote a newsletter every month. After we got married, we went from our “He Said, She Said” to our website: We said Go Travel.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW

Thank you to Travelinksites.com for choosing us as a Traveling Couple for their site! We hope to share more about how we do it while we are gone this year!

Happy Independence Day! We hope you find a way to make all your dreams come true and feel INDEPENDENT this year!

 

Eriyadu Resort, Maldives

Does this Maldivian Hotel challenge seem completely unfair from the get go? Would the locally run Eriyadu have anything on the International Bellwether? To find out, I had to develop criteria with which to compare and contrast the two Maldivian resorts. However, before the battle, I need to set the stage: My wife Lisa and I spent six weeks of the Summer of 2010 in Sri Lanka and we deemed it prudent to spend ten beach days in the brilliantly beautiful Maldivian Islands to recharge our batteries before returning to Los Angeles.

Let it be known, you likely cannot go wrong in the Maldives and there are hundreds of resorts to choose from. I would recommend conducting a thorough investigation before selecting a resort but I would not necessarily simply rely on a resort brand name that you are comfortable with. That said, according to our Lonely Planet guide book, the only real way to get to know the Maldivian culture is to spend some time on the main island of Male, the only island that is dominated by the local people rather than Italians or Germans on holiday. Therefore, we spent the first two nights on Male at Candies, a local establishment that we highly recommend. This island is one of the most densely built places on Earth, and uses nearly all the available land to house the country’s predominant population of approximately 300,000, a mix of Sinhalese and Dravidian people who came from South India and Sri Lanka.


Find more photos like this on EveryJew.com

Male does not really have any “sights” to speak of but there are a variety of nice cafes and despite the dense population, the pace of general life is relaxed. We did find a tasty and authentic Thai restaurant and we window-shopped the island’s many clothing stores. Fishermen, naturally, sell the daily catch in the market; the size and variety of the fish was amazing. Still, to be truly honest with the reader, the best photo I took of Male is the one when we were on a boat heading towards the Eriyadu Resort; looking back toward the capitol, the boat’s wake seemed to separate from the city and its life.

Upon our arrival at the Eriyadu Resort, we realized immediately that we had found a special place. One could probably circle the isle on foot in 15-20 minutes if some sand erosion did not make this feat impractical. After a brief albeit friendly welcome, we were shown to our room, a nice habitation literally steps (okay maybe 40 steps) from the beach. Our accommodations were set under a group of swaying palm trees that offered plenty of shade. The room had both an indoor shower and another outdoor one with a view of the stars at night. Our television had maybe two or three channels, all in incomprehensible languages (but who came here to watch TV). The room was spacious and fairly comfortable but nothing extraordinary. The open-air thatched roof that we ate under provided our three buffet style meals per day and was set away from the beach without a view to speak of. The food was decent to tasty, especially the fish or local curry dishes. The bar area was close to the ocean with good views but the atmosphere was ho-hum; the staff nice enough but not overly enthusiastic about our presence.

But then we stepped out on the beach. Think isolation, extreme beauty in the hues of the crystal clear waters and sheer whiteness to describe the sweet powdered and sugared sand. Looking out toward the sea, almost nothing was visible with the exception of two or three islets too far to really notice. We mostly had this area to ourselves as the beach was empty most of the day; only a few people were actually staying at the resort. This was a great place to relax, read a new novel, watch the stunning sunsets, or as we were soon to find out, drop into the warm clear waters to view the abundant coral and aquatic marine life.

Only a few feet under water, beautiful and healthy coral reefs surround the entire island. Swimming over the reef is a large variety of species and colors and shapes that traverse these waters. We saw schools of butterfly fish, multi-colored parrotfish, trumpet fish as well as rock cod. There were many angelfish, anemones with clown fish swimming in them. There were also groups of sweetlips, surgeonfish, triggerfish and unicorn fish as well as huge wrasse.

The sea bottom was only a few meters down so viewing marine life was easy and rewarding. About a five minute swim from the shore, the reef dropped away, and we floated in a blue abyss, over what appears to be a twenty-story drop. In this area larger fish such as grouper, turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks could be seen frequently. In fact, the snorkeling was so superb that we typically swam around the island three times per day as each time proved better than the last. When our heads were not underwater we spent time reading under the palms, lazing on the coastline with calm water lapping at our feet, or soaking up some sun with the pristine blue sky above us, and only a few spare, interestingly-shaped clouds to frame the scene.

After four days of this paradise, we were taken by boat to our upscale and final destination, the “Four Seasons Kuda Hura”. Immediately after we arrived we knew that we were in for a big change. First off, the staff was incredibly friendly, so nice that their effusiveness could have been faked, but in reality it was true friendliness. After days of tolerating the indifferent staff at the Eriyadu Resort, this change was refreshing. We had an excellent breakfast with fine views over the water while we waited for our upgraded over-the-water bungalow to be set up. The buffet breakfast was superior to Eriyadu’s fare in both quality and variety. The presentation was nicer as well, with an aura of class rather than simply that of function.

A wooden bridge led to our little stand-alone house. Arriving in a small golf cart type vehicle – and I’m not making this up – we passed a school of baby white-tipped reef sharks. Our quarters “over the sea” were luxurious. We had excellent ocean views from every room, even from the separate rooms of the shower and toilet. All of the room’s amenities were of extreme high quality, nicer than what we have at home. From the Bose sound system, to the large LCD television, with a plush bed and excellent decor, we were living in style. Even the robes and towels were ultra soft. The outdoor patio over the water was lovely and we saw a few stingrays swimming under our bungalow. So far, based on the quality of the room, the resorts amenities, and the extreme friendliness of the staff, Kuda Hura was kicking Eriyadu’s ass.

After checking in, we went to speak with the overtly kind water-sports employees who happily informed us precisely about the location for the best place to snorkel. We walked along the beach and I couldn’t help but notice that this island was not nearly as remote as where we stayed in Eriyadu. At least two other large islands surrounded the Kuda Hura, including an island with an indigenous population. In addition to not having that special remote feeling, the quality of the water and sand, despite being quite nice, did not possess the drop-dead beauty that of that we had just left behind. Somewhat disappointed, we entered the ocean to partake in yet another excellent day of snorkeling.
We swam and swam but it was difficult to find the reef. In fact, the most notable reef was growing on man-made metallic domes as part of a restore-the-reef project sponsored by the resort. I left the water feeling dejected. We approached the staff
that had suggested the snorkeling area and they agreed that despite being the best available snorkeling, it was not up to par with other places, especially since we were scuba divers. They then suggested that we go on a boat tour to the “house reef” located near the island, but which was too far for swimming due to strong currents and powerful, windy weather. We agreed to go on the tour the next morning but when we arrived, the trip had been canceled due to the strong currents and a vast quantity of small sized stinging jellyfish. Because it was the Four Seasons and we insisted on going, they took us out in the boat. The house reef here was much deeper, the water far more volatile and difficult to navigate. Despite seeing maybe the largest octopus that I have ever seen, the aquatic life and reef diversity was somewhat disappointing.

At this point, I literally felt like leaving and heading to another island. I did not come to the Maldives to stay in a posh resort and I wanted to be able to enjoy the waters, take in some natural beauty, and swim in a real-to-life aquarium. Kuda Hura, despite the positives that the resort has to offer, definitely disappoints in the above qualities.

Finally, we had a tasty lunch, having given up on snorkeling. However, when we returned to the water-sports area later that day, the wind was plentiful. I watched a lady wind-surf easily back and forth, making me think back nostalgically when I was a G.O.
in Club Med years ago, and I was windsurfing daily. Both Lisa and I decided to try a board and we were immediately hooked. Our snorkel time became windsurfing time. We were out in the water at least three times per day, improving each time out. Sometimes lack of one thing leads to another surprising positive change, something we don’t necessarily expect.

So, which property wins the battle? For friendliness and quality of accommodations, amenities, water sports and food, the Kuda Hura wins hands down. For natural beauty
and great snorkeling, Eriyadu reigns victorious. Obviously, what is most important to you will dictate where you spend your holiday. For me, seeing the Maldives meant staying on a remote island with extreme beauty and excellent snorkeling. For this reason I choose the lowly two-star as victorious over the Four Seasons Resort. Still, to be fair, the Kuda Hura is a beautiful place with a great staff and excellent conditions for windsurfing.

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The islands of the Maldives are amazing! We heard about the incredible diving with the Manta Rays at Hanifaru. Click on the links below to see these amazing creatures!

Hanifaru Diving with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks

Please click on this National Geographic Video link for “Feeding Frenzy in the Maldives” which is part of SAVE OUR SEAS: Maldives Manta Rays

We were too far to visit the Manta Rays on this trip BUT we wanted to share a different dive with you. Diving with hundreds of Barracudas on our 11 month adventure was incredible. Click this link to see us in Sipandan diving with a tornado of barracudas; it was truly awesome. Read more about our Borneo journey from 2008.

An overview of the area where we are…

From Sri Lanka to the Maldives is a short flight. We spent 2 nights in the capital city of Male at Candies Hotel and while wandering the streets we walked across the whole island. I think the artificial beach looked great. They are creating beach to deal with erosion problems. All of the Maldives could be underwater in the next 50 years with the rising water levels. Many environmental issues are being discussed especially in connection to tourism. There is a fund to buy land in Sri Lanka, India or Australia in case all the people here will need to move.

During our 5 days at Eriyadu Resort, we enjoyed wonderful snorkeling with many white tip reef sharks and gorgeous schools of fish on the house reef.

Today we arrived by speed boat at the Four Seasons Kuda Hura which is amazing. During our dives here, we hope to see Manta Rays. As you might imagine our accomodation here in the Maldives has been slightly different than our nights on the beach in Arugun Bay, Sri Lanka for $6.00……Photos will be added as soon as we can!

Last night we saw our first news in many days, we are thinking of the millions of people affected by the floods in nearby Pakistan and China. We hope the rescue attempts will all be successful and that the rains will stop. We are enjoying our time together and will post more news soon. Lisa and George