The Maldives: sun, sand and sea

We visited Maldives around this time 8 years ago. Facebook is showing these days the pictures that we took and shared on Facebook then. It took me down my memories on this lazy afternoon. Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The name “Maldives” has derived from the Tamil words maalai (garland) and theevu (island). The etymology of the word ‘Maldives’ refers to the remarkable geography of this scattered archipelago. The “garland islands” are indeed draped like a necklace across the Indian Ocean, hanging below the teardrop-shaped earring of Sri Lanka. 

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The Maldives are made up of 26 coral atolls in a chain reaching down to cross the equator. Within those 26 atolls are roughly 1,200 islands and of these around 200 are inhabited and 100 are resorts. The Maldives have a range of different habitats including deep-sea, shallow coast, and reef ecosystems, fringing mangroves, wetlands and dry land.

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Furanafushi island (Image Courtesy: Sheraton Hotels & Resorts)

The Maldives is the world’s lowest country in terms of elevation, and therefore first in the climate change firing line, which makes its natural wonders seem all the more precious, particularly when you meet the wildlife. The average elevation of this country of coral beaches is around 4 feet above sea level, and the highest point in the entire nation is just under 8 feet (about 2.4 meters). This was the reason for us to decide for the Maldives. Of course, stunning white-sand beaches and an amazing underwater world make Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.

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Coming out of the Malé International Airport
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The jetty at the airport for boats to carry tourists to atolls.

We stayed at Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa on Furanafushi atoll. There are few places in the world where your hotel transfer is a huge part of your holiday experience. Forget long minibus rides from the airport or endless hours stuck in a taxi, the unique formation of the Maldives means that to reach your private island resort you’ll get to travel by speedboat! After you arrive into Malé airport, your speedboat will arrive at the jetty just across the road from the terminal. Speedboats are operated by individual resorts and come in various forms, but all offer a comfortable start to your holiday.

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The Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa can be reached within 20-25 minutes by speedboat. On board they handed out water and a well needed refreshing cold towel. The staffs were waiting for us at the jetty with some refreshments and took care of our check-in while we enjoyed our welcome drink. The setup of the Sheraton Maldives (and most other resorts on the Maldives) is that there is only the resort on the island. 

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A tiny speck of an island surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and the whitest sand you’ve ever seen. It’s better than the pictures – the Maldives is where colour comes to life. The turquoise lagoons are crystal clear. These are the most beautiful small islands on Earth.

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Imagine private white-sand islands fringed by crystal blue waters… the Maldives is the ultimate luxury island escape. The water is so clear that we could see the sand on the floor, corals and fish swimming.

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We had booked our stay in a water bungalow. Water bungalows are the rooms on the sea and connected with the island by a wooded alley. We had a private deck with stairs going down to the ocean. The stay inside the room gave a feeling as if we were in a ship, with continuous splashing of waters on the base of our rooms. We could even see the sea from our bed and enjoy the rhythm of waves hitting the base under the floor!

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We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise every morning. We used to go down to the water for swimming in the ocean in mornings. We were blessed with amazing sight of dark clouds on the sky and the rains.

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The Sheraton Maldives has a good variety of restaurants and bars to keep guests entertained. Despite being here for nearly a week, we did not even have the chance to go through all the restaurants, though we did eat at most of them.

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One afternoon we went deep inside the ocean by a boat to see the dolphins in their natural habitat. We saw a school of dolphins swimming by our boat and also their famous jump!

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Lo! There’s a pair of dolphins.
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… and here is another one!

At last came the morning when we had to bid goodbye to this heavenly island and return home after one of our greatest holidays in the Maldives, where sands are white as the smiles of the locals, where fish swim happily in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, where the weather is a dream, and the deep rays of the sun waits to engulf you in their arms (borrowing the lines from visitmaldives.com).

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An idyllic location with crystal white sands, sheltered lagoons, tropical sunshine and breathtaking natural beauty, the Maldives redefines paradise. The explorer Thor Heyerdahl sums it up perfectly in his book The Maldive Mystery:

That afternoon we passed the most beautiful palm islands I have ever seen. With the sun low on our starboard side it threw a glowing sidelight on the tiny islets, which seemed to float by like flower baskets … Under the spell of this picture of an earthy paradise I made an entry in my notebook that the Maldives are even more beautiful than any of the coral atolls in Polynesia.

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