Knocking Off a Bucket List Item in the Maldives

In all honesty, my bucket list is getting shorter all the time. But right at the top of the list was going to the Maldives and staying in an overwater bungalow. So, sometime in 2020 when Mike found a deal for a resort in the Maldives, we jumped on it. Needless to say, it took a while to actually plan on going to the Maldives. Fortunately, we were able to find time to use our vouchers. We told some friends about the deal and they decided to join us for the last five days of our 10-day stay.

The Maldives is a nation of islands spanning across the equator in the Indian Ocean. The country is comprised of 1192 islands that encompass 35000 square miles.  Male is the country’s capital and it’s the jumping-off point for other islands. Most of the resorts occupy an entire island, but there are also islands with larger populations of mostly locals. The only way to get to most of the resorts is on a seaplane.

Getting to the Resort

We had originally planned to go to the Maldives from Vienna, but as you may know, we had to return to the Bay Area for a month to look after family beforehand. Our new flights took us from SFO to Dallas and on to Doha in Qatar, then to Male. Not done yet… Then we had to take a seaplane to our resort island of Furaveri. I think the total travel time was about 40 hours, but we finally made it.

I can tell you that business class on Qatar Airlines was really nice. We got pajamas and our seats had a door so I could actually sleep. I have never slept so well on an airplane. I kept the jammie shirt, too. Once we got to Male, we were met by reps from our resort and moved smoothly to the seaplane terminal. Turns out Trans Maldivian Airlines is the largest seaplane operator in the world. The ride to our resort island took us over many many coral islands surrounded by colorful water.

Over Water Bungalow

After a 45-minute seaplane ride, we arrived at our resort. The resort was fairly large and spread out over the entire island. So we were driven in a golf cart (aka buggy) to the pier for our bungalow. Our overwater bungalow had a patio and several really comfortable chairs in addition to a really comfortable bed. Strangely, we had a jacuzzi on our balcony but in 10 days we never used it. It rained quite a bit the first few days, but even with the gray skies, it was beautiful. We were quite a way from the reception desk and the dining room but the walking did us good. Buggies looped around the resort and you could just hop on and off, but most of the time we didn’t bother waiting for one.

Waking up every day and looking at the ocean and the lagoon was truly awesome. Watching the tides was really interesting. At low tide, the water was probably only about 2 feet deep but the ladder going down was treacherous so we didn’t enter the water from our bungalow. I could stand on the balcony and watch the sea life, including small black-tip sharks. Every time we walked along the boardwalk to and from our bungalow, we watched the water on either side for wildlife.

A View of the Resort

I have neglected to tell you about the rest of the resort. The only road on the island is a circle that goes from the boat and plane pier all the way around to reception, the spa, the dive shop, and the restaurant. There were two piers with bungalows and you could take a buggy or walk on the sandy road. It took about a 1/2 an hour to circumnavigate the entire island but it was beautiful and they had orchids growing on most of the trees. It was a really peaceful environment.

Comment on the Food

Our resort was all-inclusive with 2 specialty restaurants. One of them was Mexican, so there was only one specialty restaurant that we felt like trying. The buffet food was pretty good and the food wasn’t why we were there. The drinks were pretty good, too. The buffet dining was just behind the pool and next to the bar. Since it was open air, there was no mistaking the tropical location.

Seeing the Maldives Fishies

Of course, we figured that one of the highlights would be diving, but we didn’t really like the policies or the attitude at the dive shop. They wanted us to do an orientation dive and they kept pitching expensive classes and services. While we were prepared to dive on our second day there, we decided not to. Then I got a head cold, so we never did go diving.

After my cold was better, our friends joined us. The weather improved so we went snorkeling using the free gear. We were able to snorkel directly from the beach in front of the pool. There was a fantastic reef only 6 to 10 feet down so we were really close to the fish. Boy, there were lots of fish. The snorkeling was so good we felt we had no reason to go to the trouble of diving. If you swam to the edge of the reef it dropped off like a wall. I’ve never gotten the wall feeling when I wasn’t diving before. It was an awesome experience. There was a large grouper hanging out in the deep blue watching me but I didn’t see anything bigger.

I did see the largest tropical reef fish I have ever seen, some kind of giant Parrotfish at least 2 feet long. We were also up close and personal with some big fish with teeth and large schools of smaller fish, and eight-inch wide clams with really colorful lips. I can’t even list all of the fish we saw but it was really a great snorkeling experience, the best ever. Sorry, there are no pictures, we don’t do underwater photography.

The Rest of the Time

We were on vacation so we didn’t really do anything besides sit by the pool and watch the bats. Yes, huge Fruit bats or flying foxes. I thought they were birds at first but there were at least three living around the pool eating the fruit on the palm trees. They were probably a foot tall with a four-foot wing span. It was really interesting watching them fly into a tree and flip upside down. They would use claws on their wings to climb around the tree.

Nearly every day there was a big downpour. If we were at the pool, everyone would go sit in the bar until the rain stopped. If we were in our room we just watched it rain or took a nap. After all, we were on vacation relaxing. It was so much fun enjoying this with good friends.

We also took two boat rides, a sunset cruise and a trip to a nearby island. The sunset cruise was nice but uneventful and didn’t include drinks. I think they were looking for dolphins but we didn’t see any. Our trip to the local island included a walk around the island which was mostly modest homes and a few boat-making facilities. Overall, it wasn’t very interesting.

Final Comments

For years now, I have wanted to go to the Maldives and stay in an overwater bungalow. The pictures of stunning turquoise water have always been a draw along with the secluded experience of the little, self-contained islands. I was a bit disappointed we couldn’t snorkel right off of our deck, but overall it was as wonderful as expected. That said, I would return to the Maldives if it was fairly convenient, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. The overwater bungalow was nice but I wouldn’t pay extra for it either. For me, there are so many beautiful beaches in the world that I still need to check out, it isn’t likely that we will be going back.

Where would you be willing to travel over 24 hours to get to?

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  1. Mark and I flew Qatar Air and the Q Suites blew us away. We also kept the jammies! We thought the food served were equal to some high end restaurants. We remember the short ribs vividly. We agree with your conclusions. Once to Maldives to check off the bucket list was good enough.

  2. Indeed, curiously strange that you had a Jacuzzi on the balcony of your overwater bungalow. The pictures of the wildlife are awesome!

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