Trip Start May 01, 2010
33Trip End Jul 10, 2010
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Hello from the Maldives! We are finally here and it has overwhelmed even our high expectations. The place is by far the best beach destination we have ever been too.
Anyway, I’ll start from the beginning. We flew from Colombo to the capital of the Maldives which is Male. When we arrived it was pouring with rain which was a real disappointment but we knew it was unlikely to rain the entire time we are here. Immigration and Customs was very easy as there were a very small number of people getting off the plane, the rest continuing on to London. A representative from the hotel was there to greet us and lead us a few metres to where the hotel boat was waiting. The Maldives contain around 1200 island most of which are incredibly small and even the airport has it’s own island. The hotel boat was fantastic with large sofas for us to relax on for the short 25 minute trip to the hotel
The first two nights we are staying in the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, of which our very first night is a wedding gift from my Uncles Charles and John, and what an amazing and generous gift it is! We arrived at the hotel and were greeted with drinks and a short tour of the hotel which included a visit to the hotel’s marine biology centre where we saw tubs of baby turtles which I wanted to keep! We were then informed that as a honeymooning couple we had received a room upgrade to a Deluxe Beachfront Villa which made us even more excited! The room is easily the best room we have ever stayed in. It is a private bungalow looking directly out on to the whitest beach and bluest water you will ever see. There are so many extras in the room that you would never even think of and the bed is a wonderful four posted bed with net curtains. The decking out the front is perfect with a separate thatched roofed cabana even closer to the water with deck chairs and a hammock. The bathroom has no doors or glass in the windows and is completely exposed to the outside and includes an outdoor shower (which I love) as well as the indoor one. We also have our own spa and private decking area with more sun lounges. It is an amazing place and we have been constantly reminding each other how lucky we are to be staying somewhere like this
We are provided with our own floating beds and taking them out into the water was the first thing we did once we arrived. I then went for a bit of a snorkel and saw some wonderfully colourful fish (no sharks yet).
Because we are a honeymooning couple we get several extras one of which is a private dinner on our front decking. A personal Chef and waiter rocked up to our door and invited us to sit down while they served up an amazing seafood dinner. Mango and prawns, a whole lobster each, local reef fish, crème brulee and fruits to finish it all off. All enjoyed with an amazing view of the water and the sound of the ocean. Does life get any better than this?
The hotel is full board meaning that all meals are included in the price which is good. It’s nice to eat what you want without getting a bill at the end to shock you, especially this late in our holiday.
We went for breakfast the next morning which was a large buffet with plenty of options to choose from
After breakfast we decided to go for a snorkel together around the island. The day before I had only snorkelled in the island lagoon so I was keen to see what lay along the surrounding reef wall. We geared up and swam past the turtle enclosure first to see the turtles that were being matured before being released into the wild. Then we snorkelled out a channel in the coral to where the reef dropped away to about 15 metres deep forming a steeply angled wall of coral and fish. Although the coral wasn’t as amazing as the Red Sea there were different species of fish and more variety over all. I was worried how Ly would react when we saw a shark but when I pointed out her first Black Tipped Reef shark she took it very well although I think we were both glad it was only a small one! We had been snorkelling for quite a while when I dropped Ly off back at shore and continued to check out more of the reef. I saw a school of squid, several types of sting rays and lots more sharks. I was still a bit nervous around the sharks even though I knew they were not interested in me. It was usually when I was down quite deep and one suddenly appeared from behind me that it startled me, I prefer to see them swimming below me
Lunch was a buffet as well this time of various salads and meats all served up outside under the coconut trees. Then it was back to the bungalow for some time out in the sun and another snorkel for me (Did I mention I love snorkelling?).
At five o’clock ever day there is a sting ray feeding which we saw that afternoon. The sting rays were quite large and came right up onto the beach sometimes even getting stuck on the sand until a wave would wash up and free them. The resident marine biologist then began to feed them bits of fish while teaching us about them and their habits. He got into the water with them where they seemed to mob him trying to grab the fish out of his hands. I don’t think I would have been so keen to get in the water with that many hungry rays who know you have food!
I then went to a marine biology lecture put on by the island’s marine biology centre which talked about the reef of the island and the conservation working going on there. I had a busy afternoon planned because next I was booked in for a night snorkelling session!
The night snorkelling was probably one of the highlights of this trip for me. I was the only one who had signed up so it was just the guide and I. I was given a torch which seemed much too dull especially when there were sharks around but I was surprised by how well you can see underwater at night. We started in the lagoon and saw lots of small lion fish and a few small shrimp like creatures which I hadn’t seen during the day. The guide showed me how the corals had changed at night, looking much softer as the polyps come out of the hard coral to feed.
After that we moved out to the reef wall which was quite intimidating at night with the water disappearing into the darkness. Suddenly my light didn’t seem bright enough at all! We spent about half an hour diving down the coral walls while the guide pointed out interesting things. One highlight was diving down the wall to some caves which I could see into easily with the torch. The caves contained large Oriental Sweetlip fish which are probably my favourite around here and some very large sleep turtles! The turtles don’t even move when you swim near them and seem completely lost in sleep. Very cool! There were some big Moray Eels as well which just opened and closed their mouth at us trying to look scary (which they are because I HATE eels).
I also saw quite a lot of large lobsters which I wish I could have grabbed for later! They are so much more active at night and didn’t seem to rush away when I got near them like I had expected. I saw a large starfish called the Crown of Thorns starfish which looks great but actually eats and destroys coral and is regularly culled around here
As we were snorkelling along further I shone my torch into the darkness again and saw and unusually large flat fish shape which came in closer. I pointed it out to the guide who told me it was a Batfish which are very friendly, too friendly for that time of night! It followed me around and was incredibly close so that I would turn around with the torch and there would be a fish looking at me only a foot from my face! It gave me a bit of a scare a few times I must admit! It just had a dopey but curious look on it’s face so I had to forgive it. While the guide was ahead I was further back when I saw a large shape swimming into view. It was the biggest shark I had seen as it was much bigger than me but it was no reef shark, it looked like a nurse shark but my shark identification skills are a bit lacking! I kept my eye on it while I caught up to the guide but it swam off into the dark again before I could point it out to the instructor.
As we got further around the reef towards the boat jetty we came across several more reef sharks both white and black tip and then all of a sudden we were amongst the nurse sharks. These were a lot bigger than the reef sharks and there must have been around ten of them swimming around us at one point
I met Ly for dinner which was a buffet of traditional Maldivian food. It was not my kind of food and not cooked very well but at least we didn’t eat too much. Every dish was made of fish, coconut or banana and usually at least two of those. The banana and coconut ice-creams were a nice dessert in the hot weather though.
The next day was our last day and after some more waffles I went out for one last snorkel. By this stage my back is a dark shade of brown from all the snorkelling while my front side is a lot lighter. I look like a bar of Cadbury TopDeck at the moment! I snorkelled back out to the reef wall to see if any turtles were still in the caves. I dove down but because of the sunlight couldn’t really see inside the cave so really had to stick my head in. You can imagine my surprise when instead of a sleeping turtle I was face to face with a huge shark
I swam in and we packed our bags before checking out of this wonderful place, sad to leave but excited to see the next hotel. We will both miss this place which is as close to paradise as we have seen. Perhaps a ten year wedding anniversary might be a good excuse to come back.
Anyway I’m sure the pictures will be a bit depressing with all the cold weather you are having back at home but check them out and you will see why we have been raving about this place.
Definitely wish you were all here to share this with us.
Daniel + Ly