4 ways to explore the heart of Maldives

4 ways to explore the heart of Maldives

An alternative guide

Text: Janice Sim

What's a vacation in the Maldives without a soaring seaplane ride and fancy villa? Janice Sim tells us about her enriching experience on the atolls — one that came without a hefty price tag

Tell anyone you've been to Maldives and you'll hear exclamations of wide-eyed envy. The reactions don't come as a surprise — especially since the country is known for its crystal clear waters and luxurious resorts perched on pristine white sand. Honeymooners flock there in droves for their once-in-a-lifetime stay in paradise. Spending a couple of thousand a night on your accommodation in the Maldives might sound excessive, but is definitely not unreasonable. After all, this beautiful country has hosted royalty — Prince William and Kate Middleton graced their shores in 2014, checking in at the stunning Cheval Blanc Randheli Resort. maldives, travel, explore, sea, ocean, travel

With that in mind, I wasn't convinced that I was going to be able to afford Maldives. Forget sipping piña coladas from lounge chairs at the Six Senses Laamu — instead, a bunch of my fellow millennial friends and I activated Plan B; one that was friendlier on the wallet and which turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime. Perhaps one that you might want to try someday.

1. Live like the locals

Here's where no seaplane will ever land at. Home to some of the locals in Malé is Kaani Magu, located a 15-minute drive away from the airport. We settled into a small boutique hotel within the area, that overlooked the beautiful ocean. Not many tourists seemed to reside nearby; rather, we were surrounded by quiet cafes and eateries. The neighbourhood was no love-at-first-sight, but as we took long walks on balmy afternoons, we stumbled onto quaint streets that exuded charming Wes Anderson vibes — colourful yet untouched. Soon enough, we enjoyed sticking out as the only foreigners, only at the expense of breaking the peace and stillness of our little village.  

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2. When in doubt, go with the flow

The best thing about the snorkelling scene in Maldives is that it offers the same breathtaking views, wherever it is you're staying at. We engaged a guide from our hotel and quickly set off to sea. Waters were as clear as day and decidedly Instagram-worthy — jump right in to discover the most brilliant marine life you'll ever see, right before your eyes. I almost lost my cool seeing the schools of manta-rays and reef sharks swimming below me.

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3. Book an outstanding third-party boat crew

When in Maldives, you snorkel and go on boat trips. That's pretty much where all the adventure happens. While in the process of it, you might find yourself lost in a sea of dodgy third-party agencies. Thankfully, we felt like we hit the jackpot with ours. Check out Secret Paradise Maldives, which offered us a memorable experience of fast-and-furious boat rides, a trip out to the sandbank and sea turtle chasing. We were even lucky enough to witness a school of dolphins emerging at sea. Honestly, I don't see how that could have panned out any better.

4. Run with a bigger group

Without a doubt, travelling to Maldives with your significant other is a cosy and romantic affair. But on the other hand, travelling in a group of five means that you get to split all costs, whether its transportation, water activities, or even your luggage load. It got a tad bit rowdy at times, but it's all in the name of fun, especially if you're rolling with the right squad. Would I do it all over again? Yes, yes and yes.