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One of my favorite aspects of living abroad is the collection of fascinating destinations in such close proximity. From Bangkok, places that felt virtually unreachable from the United States are now short jaunts. It’s not just about the travel hours required. Traveling long distances with small children can at best be described as an ordeal (I’m eagerly awaiting the age when it will no longer be that way). That is why living in Southeast Asia feels like such an exceptional opportunity for us to see as much of the region as we can before we move back West.
This trip to the Maldives was without our little ones, though after our visit, I can’t wait for the girls to be old enough to enjoy its idyllic beauty. Our hotel rooms were the opposite of childproof, and they are not strong enough swimmers – yet. Snorkeling off the deck of our hotel room and from boats, it was incredible to watch the diversity of amphibious wildlife up close in the ocean. I only hope it lasts long enough for them to see it. To say that it completely outshined the beauty of beaches I’d seen before is an understatement.
Packing for this trip, I tried to be minimal, practical and comfortable. Now that I think about it, perhaps that is what I aim for all the time. Not the point. It was important on this particular trip to pack light, which meant making each item that went into our bags count. Overall we did a pretty good job on that front, with the exception of the giant floaties. It sounds fun, in theory, to float on a peacock in the Indian Ocean until you remember that the waves will carry you away. Other people had the same idea and brought their flamingoes and popsicles poolside, but it didn’t seem to hold the same appeal. Next time we make a trip like this, I’ll replace the floaties with a Go Pro.
We landed in Malé late, so we spent the night there. We did not have time to do much more than take a short stroll before returning to the airport to connect with resort transportation, but I would have happily wandered and soaked in the cultural attractions (This Traveller article has a concise rundown of what to expect).
A fleet of boats and small planes shuttle travelers from Malé to the other islands. We decided to split our time between two resorts so that we could have the opportunity to take both modes of transportation.
Despite skimming numerous Instagram photos and reading just about every blog post I could find about the Maldives, I was still unprepared for just how beautiful it was. It almost seemed to demand our reverence in ways I hadn’t felt in other tropical places. Time seemingly ran together. Amidst the coral and sparkling water, it felt perfectly reasonable to entertain dreams of continuing life against this brilliant backdrop indefinitely.
My husband and I returned to Bangkok with its imprint on our spirits and a yearning to see the Maldives again. I doubt we will soon forget that place. Apart from the dazzling beauty, there were three unforgettable moments from our adventure:
Taking a small plane.
I was terrified by the prospect, not out of any fear of flying, but more because of all the horror stories about horrific crashes in small, private planes. After I got over my initial reluctance to fly in such a small vessel, it was one incredible view.
The dining experience of a lifetime.
My husband and I really enjoy the dining experience; an inviting restaurant, attentive and knowledgeable waitstaff, the whole nine yards. This dinner we had at the Conrad stood out as a singular experience “under da sea.” I can’t say that I’ll ever have a better backdrop for a meal.
Seeing a stingray and shark underwater (up close)!
We’d only gone snorkeling once before, so this was game-changing. It was so easy to step out into the Indian Ocean from our hotel room to see what had to be thousands of small fish about. It was like we had a front-row seat for underwater Fantasia or something. We also went out snorkeling from a boat, which was how we had our run-ins with the stingray and shark.
Let me know if you have visited or are planning to visit the Maldives.