***We’ve (Hali) gotten a bit behind on posting! Been enjoying the last two weeks too much! Sorry for the delay***
We arrived pretty late into the Male from Sri Lanka, but our flight was earlier inbound then expected. As soon as we arrived, we had to go to the local Sim card office at the airport because GoogleFi (our current cell phone service provider) was not yet available in the Maldives. Not a big deal, because it is available in all the countries we are going/have been two except for two (Nepal being the other). With coverage in over 200 countries and provinces for no additional charge, we’ve had incredible luck with this service and recommend it to anyone at home or abroad alike. (Okay, done with a side rant). After we collected our sim cards, got some local cash, and met with our air bnb host, we were on our way to a transit stay on the main island before heading off to an island the next day.
The accommodation was basic, but it was exactly what we needed before heading to Thoddoo. Their breakfast, however, was atrocious. Wrinkled, microwaved hotdog, toast, and fried egg whites. Not the best part of the day for sure. After stomaching that disaster, our hotel arranged for a taxi to take us to the airport, which also happens to be the port for boats to transit to islands. We got a cheap Blizzard from DQ and headed on our speed boat to the local island, Thoddoo. The speed boat took about half an hour, and brought us directly a dock, where we were then placed on a golf cart with other tourists and escorted to our homestay.
Thoddoo Island is known as a local island, so there are many customs to consider. Unlike the handful of resort islands in the Maldives, we chose local for a different feel and because it was loads cheaper. The Maldives is a Muslim country so there is no alcohol or sales on the island (resort islands you are allowed to drink and purchase alcohol), you are not allowed to show affection in public (kissing, hand holding-unless you’re married, etc.), women must wear clothing to their knees and shoulders covered, and there are specific beaches that tourists can be on in a bikini (wearing a bikini on other beaches is prohibited). We didn’t know how strict these rules were enforced, but we didn’t want to find out. It was easy to cover up when necessary, and we aren’t big drinkers, so there wasn’t a problem!
After we were dropped off at our homestay (we were told it was the nicest) we noticed it was the only three-story building on the island. There were a lot of tourists around, specifically Russians, but we all mingled easily with the locals. Our place provided excursions, snorkel gear, bikes, and an assortment of beach toys. We found that the island is so small that there were no cars, just scooters and bikes. Also, being a small island, it had VERY few food options. Unfortunately, by the last day, we were eager to eat anything other than the food we had been eating on Thoddoo,
The biggest downside to the island, noted above, was the food. There were maybe 10 restaurants and shops on the island selling basically all of the same food. They offered pathetic western food attempts, we tried spaghetti and we think the sauce was ketchup, but how do you blame them when they are a little island in the middle of nowhere trying to appeal to western tourists. The other dishes we tried were fried rice, which was actually chopped up packets of instant ramen noodles with a fried egg on top, chicken and chips (our go to option for protein) and we had BBQ fish one night. The fish wasn’t bad, but it was pricey and didn’t have a lot of flavor. Our only saving grace was the market had Magnum Ice Cream pints that we splurged on for a few evenings (probably my new favorite ice cream “crack-it”- rich vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls and solid chocolate layer on top. Literally chocolate in every bite!! Currently drooling just thinking about it). Scott said he had never seen me so depressed to eat. And if you know me, food is a passion, so the Maldives was really soul crushing in that regard.
But, lets be honest, if you aren’t staying at a fancy resort in the Maldives, you can’t expect fantastic food. AND food shouldn’t be the reason for visiting there. It’s for all the other wonderful things of island life, and we definitely enjoyed that.
We woke up each morning, wandered to breakfast, and then rode bikes to the beach. The ride to the bikini beach was maybe 5 minutes by bike. On the way we went along sandy, dirt roads, through palm tree groves and massive fruit fields (Thoddoo Island is the largest exporter of watermelon in the Maldives). The beach is upkept by locals and clean, and the water… it’s everything you imagine the Malddives being. Crystal clear, many shades of turquoise and white sandy beaches. It doesn’t get much better than that. Each day we spent hours there, swinging in our hammock, reading, and best of all snorkeling.
The reef off the beach was only a couple hundred feet away and the water was generally flat, so it was easy to get out to. We have our own goggles and snorkels and the home-stay luckily let us borrow flippers. As soon as we reached the reef, we knew this was the best snorkeling we’d ever get in the world. The water is the clearest and the reef is the most untouched we’ve ever seen. You could actually see the color of the coral and take pictures with the GoPro to capture all the fish. We found that there was a family of four turtles living the reef and they were always easy to find and fun to swim around with. There was the largest, most diverse amount of fish we’ve ever seen in one place, and we found that each day we saw a new type. Scott even encountered an eel! It was absolutely beautiful, and everything we were looking forward to in the Maldives. Everyday was an easy day at the beach, and in the evening, we relaxed in our room, watched the massive bats fly from palm tree to tree and then listen as the nightly rainstorm came in.
I forgot to mention one of the funniest part of the Maldives (for Hali). Obviously, from the pictures you can tell that the Maldives was THE spot to have the drone. Our main intention for getting a drone was for the Maldives specifically. On our second to last day, not only did Scott go swimming with his phone in his pocket (he was able to successfully revive it with minimal damage), he also sent his drone directly in the ocean. I was reading on my kindle at the time, but saw him fly it into the ocean and I immediately jumped into the ocean and went after it. Luckily, the water is so clear I found it quickly and removed the battery. After some research though, we found that the drone will no longer function, and ours wouldn’t even turn on. So no drone for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, or the Philippines (many of these places you can’t even fly though). On the bright side, we have insurance on it, we were able to retrieve it, and hopefully we will have it back by Australia when Scott’s parents can bring it with them when we see them.
Honestly, the Maldives (specifically the island) was amazing. It was the most picturesque place and you can’t beat being able to swim in the ocean with fish and turtles every day. We did agree that if we were ever to go back, we would definitely want to stay on a resort island for a few reasons. One, being better food, but the other, is that luxurious “Maldives” feel of being able to walk out of your over-ocean cabana and pop into the ocean. Maybe someday! But for today, we are happy and content and feel so lucky to have had this experience! Our next destination is Thailand. Yay, finally some good food!