Choosing the Maldives…
We always thought the Maldives was about the rich and famous, big resorts, coconut trees, rich blue water, and white sand beaches. And, although it looked like a stunning destination; resorts aren’t our thing.
Last year, we found out about a little island in one of the outer atolls, with a population of only 600. There are no vehicles on the island, no resorts, and only a choice of the three small guest houses right in the middle of the local village; and we added it to our list of places we’d love to visit.
The best thing about it was; it really was exactly as we had imagined the Maldives might be… The coconut trees, rich blue water, white sand beaches, but with the added insight into a beautiful culture that perhaps is otherwise overshadowed by the rich and famous and those big resorts.
What we loved…
The pace of life
It felt like we hadn’t actually strayed too far in our time on the island, but we’d wandered loops of the island and wound our way up and down all of the small roads of the village that reach from the beach to the jungle.
The corners of the roads have small hubs with swing chairs where the locals sit, some chatting, some dozing, some working on small tasks – weaving or plaiting the coconut fibres, or parcelling up the fronds for salting and thatching.
Everyone is busy in their tasks but at a relaxed pace, and without the outward atmosphere of stress that so quickly consumes us while at home.
The women weave the coconut fronds and make them into thatching, and braid the coconut fibres in to rope, to be salted in the sea (to make them longer lasting) and sold to the outer islands and resorts for decoration and roofing.
[It feels about as close to insight into life on a modern day deserted island as we could get!] 😊
Snorkelling and sand bars
Snorkelling was undoubtedly a highlight for us. We wondered how it would actually work, taking a four and six year old snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, but they absolutely rocked it! We were guided by our host, Aslam, who took us out each day showing us different areas, and really supported all of us in getting comfortable snorkelling. The boys swam with life jackets on, and comfortably floated out to the ‘drop off’ to see all the marine life and coral. Harry and Aslam spent lots of time together, and he so quickly gained confidence and could literally snorkel unaided for hours! For Oscar (4), he floated holding on to a life ring, and came right out into the deep water with us. We saw huge schools of fish each day, and swam around with turtles right below us!!
We seem to end up with a fisherman’s tale from each destination as long as it has water!
Half the island here is jungle, and there is no transport, so on day one we had actually set off for a wander around the island – we weren’t planning on fishing; but, we met two families fishing on the other side and the next minute both Harry and Oscar were out in the water bobbing around and fishing with them!
We had satisfyingly wrinkled fingers most afternoons after that; mastering the technique of Maldivian beach fishing…
… often fishing until sunset, while the sound of the call to prayer rang out across the island; magical.
Where to stay
We stayed at Dhonfulhafi Inn, a guesthouse on Maalhos Island in the Baa Atoll, and would definitely recommend it! We were excited by the opportunity to see what community life in the Maldives was like, as opposed to the the much-publicised resort side, and it certainly satisfied our cravings. Haneef and Aslam were fantastic as hosts, and guides both on the island and on day excursions out to the sand banks, reefs, and during island transfers. We booked the ‘all inclusive’ package, which included accommodation, meals, drinks, water, and two excursions, and enjoyed a very memorable week on Maalhos.
There are no cars on the island! Aside from a few bicycles, and a couple of electric scooters, the only way to get around is on foot. Getting TO the island requires a domestic flight from Velana International Airport in Malé to Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport. From there, you need to get a water taxi, or boat ride from one of the nearby islands to Maalhos (but the guesthouses all arrange and provide water transfers from the closest airport).