How To Tick Off MALDIVES From Your Bucketlist by wengwengwanders

I dream about Maldives as other people dream about Paris.

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I never thought that I could actually afford it.  What I’m about to write is not the ultimate cheap skate about this place because in all honesty, nothing is freaking cheap in there and it would ruin every experience possible if you try to cut costs.  I come from the Philippines and there is no denying that Boracay and Siargao are both heaven and every beach is just much the same.  However, Maldives for me is the epitome of all great beaches and what you pay for is that luxury experience uniquely present on the islands.

Itinerary

Day 1
Bacolod 08:50am
Manila 12:40 pm
Kuala Lumpur 06:25 pm
Male 07:45 pm
Immigration/Customs 08:30pm
Depart from Airport via private speedboat 09:30pm
Fihalhohi Island Resort 10:30pm(Male time) 11:30pm (resort time)

Day 2
Breakfast, Lunch at Resort
Beach
Checkout 12:00pm
Kaani Beach Hotel (Maafushi) 05:00pm
Dinner

Day 3
Breakfast
Anantara Beach Resort 09:00am
Lunch and Cocktails
Dinner at Maafushi

Day 4
Swimming at Bikini Beach
Maafushi Island via public speedboat 05:30pm
Male 08:55pm
Kuala Lumpur 08:20am
Manila 12:15pm
Bacolod 05:25 pm

Transportation

There are three means of transportation in Maldives:

Public Speedboat that only travels from Airport, City and Maafushi (Public Island) and runs on schedule : 20USD per person per trip
Private Speedboat chartered based on your own schedule
Male Airport to Maafushi: 150USD per boat per trip
Male Airport to Fihalhohi: 70USD per adult per trip and after 6pm additional of 25 USD per adult per trip
Seaplane: 200 to 400USD per person per trip

For bookings: contact your hotel or though http://www.atolltransfer.com

img_3870Where to Stay

Fihalhohi Island Resort

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We arrived at the resort late at night.  On our way there, we were accompanied by 4 staff in the speedboat as I have prearranged it for pickup from the airport privately.  The boat was big enough which can accommodate for about 20 people.  It was the most dangerous thing I have ever done in my life frankly.  There were no lights nearby; telling me that if the boat were to sink, we’ll be left in the middle of the ocean.  But it’s just me overthinking things.  It took us about 50 minutes hell of a ride to arrive at the resort and we were welcomed with drinks.  In the left side of the reception, is the list of activities you can do throughout the week, you can write your name to reserve your slot if you fancy fishing, boating, snorkeling or swimming with the manta rays.  Around 11pm, we settled and had our dinner at the nearby cafe.

The next morning, I was so saddened.  On the glass window, I freaking saw that it was raining hard and looked like there was a storm. I checked the weather update and to my dismay it was really a bad day.  I thought to myself that I didn’t come all the way with 24 hour trip just to have it raining on the beach.  We had our international breakfast at their main restaurant. We had free breakfast and dinner buffet which was included in the room rate.  Next to the restaurant is the concierge and in front of it is the dock for the welcoming guests.  Knitted and aesthetic chairs lazed around the wooden dock for you to have that perfect tan and the gorgeous view of the blue waters.

After our sumptuous meal, we looked around. And to my surprise, I have found my new favorite beach. Not because of the luxury and the facilities, but because this is where I saw the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my entire life.  I don’t want to be so overwhelming or anything, but it’s just hands down the best beach ever.

Picture a very fine and the whitest sand you can ever think of. Hugging it is the foamy and aquamarine to turquoise clear water.  Now wouldn’t that be perfect?  There was still no sun yet so we just continued on our tour.

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At the back of the resort is the manmade cottages over the water.  From there I knew that I’m definitely here in Maldives when I saw it.  They were just too pretty to look at during the day and they’re the best backdrop for the travel hashtag you have been thinking.

Fihalhohi is definitely a small resort compared to the others but while scanning through the other resorts, they have definitely great reviews and best rates, they are one of the nearest to the airport so it’s definitely a plus when scouting for a place to stay.  You can finish your tour to the island for only 20 to 30 minutes.

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We had our lunch and thankfully, the sun was out. Oh, I’ve been dreaming for this.  We went back to the beach and took some photos and had a swim while waiting for our boat.  With too much time to just laze around all day, it was time to transfer to Maafushi which they call the public island.

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Maafushi

The most public island I have ever seen on Maldives, is the capital of Kaafu Atoll.  With only 2000 in population, the natives mostly live here.  It’s relatively small and can only be compared to one station in Boracay Island.  You can roam the island in 30 minutes.  Their port is a 5 to 10 minute walk from the hotels which are situated in the Bikini Beach.

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I booked at Kaani Beach Hotel but there are inns and hotels that offer a cheaper rate like it can go down to 1000 pesos per room.  However, I preferred Kaani because the beach is just exactly in front of it.  I heard about Maldives that with their beaches inhabited by planktons, it tends to glow in the dark and sometimes, if you’re lucky you can see it in this island.  But tried going out late at night even with a local guide but it was an unfortunate time for us.  Locals informed us that we have to take a flight to a Vaadhoo Island to see that glowing blue tide at night.

Bikini Beach is the only liberated place in the island. Wooden makeshifts lined as walls along the beach to serve as a border for the tourists to be on their swimwear.  The beach is very clean even if it’s very open to everyone.  It is not as fine as one can expect but it’s very white.  But the water is just impeccably clear and blue.  One can do paddle boarding or just laze around the hammock planted on the water.  Sun beds are laid on the beach to achieve that tan you want.  You can definitely experience paradise at a cheap price.  Keep in mind, when wandering around the island, you have to make sure that your are covered up to your arms and knees. This place reminds me so much of Boracay when it comes to the island vibe minus the nightlife.

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Anantara Resort

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A ten to fifteen minute ride from Maafushi is the luxurious Anantara Resort Dighu and Veli Maldives.  Two resorts are exactly different with the guests they cater.  Although both have wonderful spas they offer with the ever gorgeous view of the island, one is for the family and the other is more for couples, respectively.  We arrived first in Anantara Veli wherein the setup is mostly copied from a Balinese slash Japanese zen.  As usual, you are welcomed with a drink and a cold towel.  We had a little tour first on the island wherein you can roam around in 20 minutes.  After the short tour, we spent most of the time on their own jewelry shop.  They have the most exquisite colored stones I have ever seen.  They claimed to import it from Sri Lanka which is very famous for that.  So if you want a best kept souvenir, you should head here.

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From the entrance, is an infinity pool overlooking the massive waves of the Indian Ocean. Next to it is a bar and blue lazy boys that you can chill in and just soak in the sun.  Continuing the path, is the concierge and their Japanese restaurant.  Just across it is their main restaurant where everyone can enjoy their breakfast.  You can have the option to have your breakfast next to the beach and they set up the table for you.

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On the other route, is a small pathway lined with plants which direct you across the water bungalows and hammocks right next to the white beach.  This is where you find a small port that gets you to the other side of the island, which is another resort, Anantara Dighu.

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Anantara Dighu Maldives Resorts is a more luxurious one with eight restaurants, a spa, gym, and a private island you can free dive or snorkel.  It just promises an ultimate getaway. With a 5 minute boat ride to transfer from Veli, you get welcomed to an unfathomable Maldives experience.  Welcoming you is a spa located on the left side carefully designed in their water bungalows.  On your right is the path to the unparalleled whitest and finest sand and water with indescribable clarity.

Asking the locals; of all the resorts they say, you should definitely see Anantara because it comprises those gorgeous rainbow colors of blue waters that Maldives is very known for.  It is a large resort compared to the others and you can get lost in it.  Thankfully, you get a map so you can work your way throughout.  We were on our way to their private island because I wanted to do some snorkeling and see the underwater.  We first borrowed some snorkeling gears from their watersport and everything was for free by the way.  Their lobby is located near the Fushi Restaurant where the main jetty port is located.  Note that there are two ports on the island, one is for the transfer to Veli and the other which is the Main Jetty to transfer to their private island hideaway called Gulhi Fushi.  It takes about 5 minutes to get into the island and all you have to do is inform the lobby that you want to visit and you get the boat in about 10 minutes.

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Their private island was such a total bliss.  It was scorching hot so I got to witness that majestic view.  Well, I can’t say it again but the beach and the sand and the water are uniformly beautiful and just breathtaking.  Adjacent to the island are the over water pool suites giving you a perfect backdrop.  Did I just mention that you can snorkel anywhere? And if you’re lucky you get to see manta rays.

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While waiting for our lunch, I went for snorkeling.  The current was very strong so I didn’t risk going deeper and farther from the island.  After our delicious lunch, we got back to the main island and had some cocktails in Aqua Bar.  Next to it is the infinity pool and just below it is the beach.  I went for another swim and was aiming to go to the hammock in the middle of the sea but I just couldn’t  lose my life and I haven’t seen any lifeguard on duty.  Finished my tour of the island with just chilling on their beach huts next to the restaurant.  It rained again and went back to Veli to have some afternoon snacks.  We ate non stop that day and had some fine wine, even I was still full.  Thankfully, the rain stopped and we got to enjoy the sunset at its finest.

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With recent changes including locals to be allowed by the government to have their own homestay, guesthouses and build restaurants, Maldives is now more practical and cheaper compared to previous years where the tourists are only confined on luxurious resorts.  Anyone can definitely travel.  You just have to put your mind to it and scout for great deals. I guess you’re now ticked off from my bucket list, Maldives.  You’re one hell of a pristine beach.

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Rates from Maafushi (cheapest):

Snorkeling Trips

Maavilaath (60 minutes) 4 pax: 12USD PP
5 pax + : 10USD PP

Banana Reef & Manta (60 minutes) 4 pax: 25USD PP
5 pax + : 20USD PP

Turtle Reef (60 minutes) 4 pax: 35USD PP
5 pax + : 30USD PP

Coral Garden (60 minutes) 4 pax: 35USD PP
5 pax + : 30 USD PP

Whale Shark Trip (Ari Atoll) 4 pax: 200USD PP
8 pax + : 100USD PP

Night Fishing: 4 pax + : 25USD PP

Dolphin Watching (60 minutes) 4 pax: 25USD PP
5 pax + : 20USD PP

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Island Hopping Day Trip

Fihalhohi Island Resort
Day Trip: 49USD PP
With Lunch: 74USD PP
With Day Room: 93USD PP
Transport: 4 pax: 30USD PP
5 pax + : 25USD PP

Biyaadhoo Resort
Day Trip: 43USD PP
With Lunch: 67USD PP
With Day Room: 80USD PP
Transport: 4 pax: 15USD PP
5 pax + : 12USD PP

Adaran Club Rannaalhi
Day Trip with lunch and unli drinks: 70USD PP
Transport: 4 pax: 35USD PP
5 pax + : 30USD PP

Kandooma Maldives
Day Trip: 150USD PP
Transport: 4 pax: 17USD PP
5 pax + : 15USD PP

Adaaran Prestige Vadoo
Day Trip with Lunch, Unli Drinks and Transport: 100USD PP

img_3963Travel Tips

  1. When charging electronics, they have European adapters.
  2. It’s better to transact in Maldivian Currency and US Dollars. If you’re changing from other currency, opt for US Dollars so you can use it when you’re traveling across countries.
  3. Check with your hotel regarding the time zone.  Other hotels such as Fihalhohi is one hour advance Male time.
  4. When booking for hotels, make sure you know how far it takes from the airport to your destination.  Hotels may be cheaper because they’re farther from the airport but the cost of transportation will be higher.  Choose wisely.
  5. Maafushi is a public beach.  Male is a Muslim country so selling and drinking alcohol is prohibited.  Locals informed us that you have to ride a small boat away from the island if you want to drink.  Furthermore, wearing of shorts and sleeveless is not appropriate.  You can only wear bikinis on their Bikini Beach which is just a short walking distance.  However when you’re in the resort, you can wear and drink whatever you want.
  6. Most of the food served in the hotels are of European cuisine.  Maldivian food is not very much endorsed.
  7. To tell you frankly, traveling by speedboat can be very frightening especially at night.  Waves can be gigantic as it is an open sea and you get to feel every high when you’re in a small group.  Islands are dispersed and can take from 30 minutes to 2 hours on transfers.  Make sure you are ready for the bumpy ride or you get the option to ride a seaplane instead.
  8. Wifi is available in resorts and the airport.
  9. In booking for your rooms, consider if you want to book half or full board meals as you can really save much if you book meals with your room.  If you’re not staying at the resort and have a lot of activities throughout Maldives Islands, you can only book halfboard or just for a free breakfast.  They offer flexible rates to adjust to your liking.

Expenses

Plane Ticket BCD – MNL – BCD14089PHP
Plane Ticket MNL – MALE – MNL 32000PHP
Terminal Fee 400PHP
Water 50 PHP
Travel Tax 3240PHP
Adapter 200PHP
Lunch 710PHP
Snacks 600PHP
Tip 10USD
Fihalhohi (Room and Halfboard) 481GBP
Kaani (Room and Breakfast) 231GBP
Dinner 60USD
Anantara (Lunch and Cocktails) 340GBP
Food 2USD
Water and Sunblock 12USD
Tour Guide 10USD
Pasalubong 75USD
Public Boat 40USD
Anantara Boat 50USD
Lunch 40USD
Snacks 40USD
Dinner 30USD
Ramen 35USD
Lunch and Coffee 850PHP

Total Expenses 143 830 PHP for two
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