The Maldives is the smallest Asian country by area. At a population of about a half million it is the second smallest by population (Brunei on the Borneo island is the smallest). It is located near Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.
After a trip to Sri Lanka I decided to make the trip to this group of islands. I had read so much about this place in other blogs, I was excited to go. I knew it was expensive but I was loaded with SPG points at the time as well as airline miles so I went for it. Unfortunately SPG (the Starwood Group) was consumed by Marriott who have since ruined the unique program.
My destination was the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa on one of the very many remote islands. The Maldives is unique in that each hotel resort has its own small island in the archeology. Your plane lands in the capital of Male, and from there you secure a boat to your resort.
Unfortunately, the boat ride is not free. Anything but! For my resort, one of the closer ones, the transfer was $140 each way at the time so $280 to get to the resort and back after landing. Much higher than a normal taxi to a hotel from the airport.
This post will focus on the boat trip from Male to the resort. A trip within a trip.
I'll start by saying this was not the idyllic place many bloggers tout it to be. It is far too expensive for the experience. This particular hotel is one of the least expensive resorts and goes for about $400 per night in off season. Twice that in high season.
The island can be quiet trashy. Many islanders cast their trash in the sea and it is constantly washing ashore. Makes you wonder how clean the water is, despite the beautiful emerald color in places.
I'll mention also I've read many have moral issues supporting travel to this country. Many see this as a human rights hell and think anyone who spends money there supports the abuse. I don't share this view. Do we believe it improves if we don't circulate dollars into the economy? At least some trickles to the people as well as direct tips. As I've said before, nothing changes without interaction. Only through engagement and others see a different life, then change can be demanded (not easy I know).
Arriving in Male I first had to clear immigration and customs. It was a bit chaotic but I'm used to that, It can also be intimidating to someone experiencing for the first time. I did eventually clear, as did every other tourist. Everyone coming here is a tourist as the locals don't leave the island.
After customs it's time to find my ride to the island. I had to search through the sea of sign waving hotels to find the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort sign.
Then, on to the dock where I saw the hotel patrons gathered near the boat docks awaiting their journeys.
I see my boat and am ready for the island adventure! The boat attendant was eager to take my bags to the boat.
The speed boat can make the short journey in only 20 minutes. $140 for a 20 minute ride seems a lot for me! But this is the Maldives.
Leaving the main island behind. I regret I took no pictures of all the trash around the island. I guess I was so repulsed at the time I didn't think of it. But it stood in contrast to the beautiful surroundings.
The ride itself was rather uneventful. It was one of my earlier trips to Asia so I was still amazed at everything I was taking in. The ride itself was a wonder, simply because of how beautiful the water was.
Finally I was greeted by the hotel staff who eagerly waved at me as I arrive. Nice touch!
On arrival I had very high expectations for this short 2 night trip. I scheduled only two nights because of the expense of this place (even in points!).
I also knew this was not my kind of trip as I generally don't like isolated beach locations. But I was so close being in Sri Lanka, and since this was so (unjustifiably) promoted by so many bloggers, I wanted to see for myself.
I will cover the actual stay on the next post, but I will say I was disappointed in the experience. Maybe because my expectations were so high. But I did have a unique experience I will share on the next post. And it's all about the stories we bring home, isn't it?