The Maldives welcomes us with clear skies and 80 degrees. Anica shakes each of our hands, calling us by name before we can introduce ourselves. Her barefeet guide us along a raised wooden walkway from the boat to the island. “Take a seat,” she beckons. At this point, we are the only people with our shoes still on. Fine, white sand covers the floor of the lobby and continues into the bar, the restaurant, and the beach. “You never have to wear shoes here,” she tells us. After a brief introduction and overview of the resort from the resident manager we follow Jaleel, one of 150 employees who live on the island, on a tour to our water villa leaving our shoes behind.
Luxury over water villas, calm turquoise blue water, and world class diving and snorkeling. Also, no bugs (at least when we were there in August). Basically, the beach vacation of your dreams.
Part of what makes the Maldives so special is that it can be difficult and expensive to get to, particularly for Americans. The best route from San Francisco is flying Emirates via Dubai. Once you arrive on Male, the main island and capitol of the Maldives, you are bussed to the sea plane airport where you are then flown to your resort island. The sea plane ride can cost anywhere from $200USD to $1,000USD per person round trip.
The island we stayed at literally runs on its own time. Male is one hour behind Mirihi because the proprietors of Mirihi said so. They set all the clocks one hour later so that the sun rises at 7am and sets at 7pm. And who is going to tell them otherwise? They’re re-programming guests to be guided by the sun and it’s fabulous. Every morning I woke up to the sunrise and enjoyed some peaceful moments as light tendrils peeked through the horizon and came to greet us for another fulfilling day. Perhaps the whole goal of a Maldives vacation is to hit a reset button. That and to snorkel until you get pruney all over.
At Mirihi Island, you can snorkel straight from the white sandy shore out into the incredible house reef. It boasts clown fish, sea turtles, giant moray eels, black and white tipped reef sharks, eagle rays and what seemed to be thousands of fish. Our first day we spent four hours out on the water and could have easily spent four more if we weren’t scared of getting roasted by the sun. We quickly found our snorkeling groove for the days to come. We would take out a two person kayak with our snorkeling gear in tow, row to our desired location along the reef’s edge, and take turns jumping in to explore, resting in the kayak when we need a break.
WHAT TO BRING
Snorkel gear - most resorts provide gear, but if you are staying in an over water bungalow, it's nice to not have to stop at the equipment hut before getting in the
Sun shirt - much more convenient and effective than sunscreen when you are snorkeling
You get the idea, it's all sun, swim and snorkel in the Maldives.
The rest is up to you! I really only needed one pair of shoes for the plane ride since it was bare feet at the resort. I brought nice, casual outfits for dinner because I enjoyed getting cleaned up, but shorts and a t-shirt would have been acceptable.
WHAT TO WATCH BEFORE YOU GO
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES
Adults-only Maldives: Water villa resorts with no children by OverwaterBungalows.net
The Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling by Dreaming of the Maldives
Mirihi Island Resort Review by Travellers Planet Blog