Ever felt your mind too heavy with work and life in a big cosmopolitan rat race? Have you thought about taking a break from the grindstone and finding your inner peace? The Maldives is the perfect place to take a fortnight off, and let your mind wander in the hundreds of tiny coral islands that make up this equatorial nation.
The 1192 tropical islands of the Maldives has a magical serenity about it that begins to make itself felt the moment the doors of the plane open and you step into the brilliant equatorial sunlight. As you step down into the crazy country where there is more sea than land, where the cities and towns are separated not by highways but seaways, you can’t help but realize that life in this country will be completely different from what you’re used to.
The topsy turvy country has exquisite secrets hidden below the surface of the turquoise colored waters that hug every coralline island, and like groups go on safaris to look for lions and elephants in Africa, in the Maldives, the natural beauty is seen by diving and snorkeling groups that go around the pinnacles and reefs that pepper the atolls.
The pure magical feeling is best felt when you’re in complete solitude on an uninhabited island. These islands, usually leased to a villager by the government, are mostly used for farming coconuts from the naturally occurring coconut trees, but there are a few used for agriculture.
Getting on an uninhabited island
Find out a local who’ll tell you about trips to uninhabited islands, if you’re staying in a guesthouse. Once the necessary permits are obtained, you’ll have to engage a Dhoni, a traditional Maldivian wooden boat that will take you to the island sometime in the morning or early afternoon. If you’re on a safari boat, well, all that will be arranged for you, but safaris very rarely do overnights on the deserted island. On a safari boat though, visiting islands is much more convenient as the boat will take you through a range of different islands.
If you’re planning an overnight trip, you can take a tent, if you think it’ll rain, but usually a sleep sack or a hammock with some pillows is all you need as bedding. Of course, you’ll have to take food, drinks and clean water as you can’t solely depend on luck in fishing for food, and climb up coconut trees for coconut water, even though the natives used to live that way when the country was being settled thousands of years ago.
Once there, you’ll immediately feel the difference. There’s absolutely no noise except for the sighing of waves that wash up the beach, breakers on the housereef and the chirping of birds, if any. The beaches are untouched with footprints, and there you’ll find that some islands have distinctly different sand on different sides. Usually the beaches that face a distant housereef will have sand of very fine quality that is creamy white in color, but on the other side, there’s the newer sand that hasn’t had time to break down, and has larger grains, and is a darker shade.
If you look closely, you’ll see bits of shell and coral that make up the sand. It’s amazing how these basic ingredients break down over the span of decades, being bleached by the sun and weathered by wave action until they become almost like talcum powder. Feeling them under your foot is amazing. The rough side feels refreshingly firm and easy to walk on, while on the other side the sand is softer and gives more easily, and flies up in the air easily.
What do you do, when you see the Dhoni leave without you?
A few people panic when they realize that they’re truly alone, but then that fear turns into a form of exhilaration as you realize that you can be as selfish as you like! Snorkeling is the single greatest activity on an uninhabited island. There is absolutely no damage to the corals, and the marine life thrives in the absence of human disturbances.
Turtles come out to lay eggs, there’s tons of squid and varicolored reef fish that swim in shoals close to the beach. Speaking of the beach, this is one place where you can get a tan without any bikini lines as there’s only you and your friends there.
Cook your own meal, or barbeque your catch of fish and enjoy spending time with your loved ones and simply revel in the magical feeling of being in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, where romance colors the skies in reds and pinks with nearly every sunset.
Read more about the Maldives and the great offers on safari boats in the Maldives Dive Travel website and blog!