The Maldives. This is one of those dream vacations. One of those I must-travel-to-before-I-die places. One of those trips worth budgeting for for years.
In 2006, Walter and I made a list of 100 things we wanted to do together. Visiting the Maldives was one of them. Partially because we’re only a four-hour direct flight away, partially because I got super-excited about a particular atoll after writing about it for Travel+Leisure in May, and partially because we know that when our family size increases to five we won’t be traveling much, we took the plunge and spent five days in the Maldives last November. It was all that it promised to be and often more, thanks to the beautiful, spacious resort in which we stayed. I have so many friends that have asked me about this trip, so I wanted to take you on a photo journey of our time in this beautiful paradise.
A couple of short thoughts prior to the photos:
1. With or without children: This was a hard decision for us and one that continued to weigh on me until we reached the resort. We had never been away from Logan and Katelyn, so the decision to go without them – to a completely different country – was really big for us. Selfishly, but in all honesty, Walter and I wanted a vacation just for the two of us, especially before the arrival of baby number three. We completely trusted those who agreed to care for Logan and Katelyn while we’d be gone. That being said, even a week before the trip, I wavered back and forth on whether to buy them tickets and take them with us. Ultimately, we went without them — and I cried for about 20 minutes on take-off out of Bangkok. However, when we settled in at the resort, Skyped with them, and realized they were doing just fine, it became clear that we made the right decision. Walter and I were able to spend some much-needed, uninterrupted time together. We were able to relax, sleep, swim, snorkel, bike, go on a cruise, eat dinner out every night, order room service without ketchup being smeared all over the sheets (!), finish entire books . . . you know, all the luxuries of life without having children around.
2. Resort Options: There are so many options, so do your research. In particular, talk to other folks who have been and find out what they did or did not like about their resort and resort island. You’ll probably find, in general, that people loved their resort but found the island that they stayed on very small and almost claustrophobic after a few days. We opted to stay at the Shangri-La Villingili Resort on Villingili Island on the Addu Atoll. Addu is the southernmost atoll in the Maldives and requires an extra 70-minute flight via Dash-8 from Male to Gan. How did we make our choice? Addu atoll is made up of four islands – three of which are linked by a causeway – so you can cycle your way (the resort provides all guests with bikes) around Villingili Island (which is big itself) and then explore other islands as well. The resort has a house reef — which is fabulously amazing — and which you can snorkel to from the front steps of your over-the-water villa at any time. If you want to dive, you don’t have to go far. The atoll is home to a WWII wreck (the British Loyalty). And because Villingili is so much larger than other Maldivian islands by comparison, the villas are HUGE. I think our villa had about six showers . . . SIX SHOWERS. Insane. Anyway, here is a Telegraph article I ran across before booking the Shangri-La. It will give you a flavor of Addu atoll and all it has to offer. If you don’t want to hop the extra flight to another island, you can find plenty of five-star resort options that are a speedboat ride away from Male. In general, I’ve heard/read that these resorts are fantastic: The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, The Four Seasons Maldives Kuda Huara (great for families and surfers), and the Anantara Dhigu Resort and Spa Maldives.
3. Expense: It seems nearly impossible to stay in the Maldives for less than around $1,000/night (particularly in an over-the-water-villa, which in my opinion, is the only way to go). So yes, it’s expensive.
Hoping to post a video from our snorkeling trips in the upcoming weeks. Baby sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, eels, massive grouper — pretty spectacular!