The Maldives – the perfect Eid break
Visiting the Maldives has always been a dream of mine. It’s such a short flight from the UAE – only 3.5 hours – and it’s not somewhere you need weeks and weeks to explore, so it’s got to be one of the best destinations for an Eid holiday from Dubai.
We actually visited for Eid in August last year (naughty me for neglecting to write about it till now!) We got a flight with Emirates and stayed four days and three nights at Dust Thani Maldives In an Ocean Villa with private pool, and it was honestly flawless – a truly magical break in paradise (and I don’t use these cliches lightly!)
So to answer all those questions I had when I was planning:
How long do you need for a holiday in The Maldives?
This really depends on the type of person you are? We decided on three nights following the advice of several friends who had been, and who had felt that any longer may have become a little boring. For us, whilst four full days was actually plenty of time not to feel too rushed, we could quite easily have spent another couple of days there without getting complacent. I think this was largely because we indulged in several activities – boat trips, diving, snorkelling, using the gym, cycling around the island, as well as taking the time to just chill and absorb the atmosphere. My advice would be if you’re quite active and are able to, then go for a bit longer!
When is the rainy season in The Maldives?
So, I was really worried about this one – imagine if we only have four days in paradise and it rains everyday?! The research told me that rainy season was pretty much from May-November so we were smack bang in the middle of it when we went, but we decided to take the risk, from what we’d seen the tropical rains, if they came, wouldn’t last all day, and it would still be warm, so we could still be in the sea, or failing that, take a little siesta, or go to the gym or spa while it rained (first world problems!) We were lucky though and had beautiful weather and stunning sunsets for the full four days we were there (As a caveat, I think there was a little rain predicted the day after we left, we were just lucky!)
How do you choose a resort when they all look so stunning?
This was the big question once we had decided to go! The Maldives are made up of 1,200 coral islands and sand banks, clustered in atolls, and a lot of these islands are home to a resort, all of which have stunning photos of crystal seas and white sandy beaches, so where on earth do you start?
We had decided that if we ever visited, we wanted to have the full Maldivian experience with an over-water villa, and that we wanted it to be far enough away from the main island to necessitate a seaplane connection. We started to thin the search down when we decided we wanted a private pool (not a hot tub or bath on the private deck, but a pool) so that we could really make the most of the room, and surprisingly there were not so many of these rooms.
The one thing I had been desperate to do was to see manta rays, and one of the reasons for choosing the Dust Thani was because it is located in Baa Atoll only a short speedboat (25 mins) away from Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO biosphere reserve (the only one in The Maldives) where the manta rays come to feed on plankton, so this location was really the deciding factor for me.
What is there to do on a remote desert island for four days?
Once you’ve picked your jaw up from the floor and pinched yourself, you can be as active or vegetative as you want!
Obviously as a remote island island, most activities are focussed on the ocean, with snorkelling being the most obvious activity, and something we indulged in every day during our visit, making our way around the entire island by the time we left (no it doesn’t get boring, but just remember the high factor suncream, particularly the back of the neck and knees, and/or a rash vest and shorts!)
As mentioned I was all about the manta rays, so our first stop when we arrived was to visit the dive centre and book a trip to see them. From what I had read, the best time to see them on our side of the island was May-Oct, so I was feeling hopeful! The team explained that as a marine reserve, there are limited numbers of visitors per day to the reserve, and that there was no guarantee of seeing mantas. We were on standby, the rangers in the biosphere would radio our island when they were spotted and we would jump on a speedboat and head out there, in the hope they would still be there when we got there. It was therefore a good move that we registered our interest on day one, as we had to wait until day three before they were spotted and we got the call, but at least we were top of the list to head out – and yes, we made it and saw them – on the day before we left! For me, that was probably the highlight of the trip, maybe thirty or forty huge manta rays swimming gracefully past us, performing perfect somersaults as they fed, so close you could have touched them. It was truly awe-inspiring and an experience I will never forget.
If you follow this blog, you’ll know I also love diving, so I was keen to book a dive. As my partner is not so experienced under the waves, we decided to opt for a fairly shallow dive of the house reef, rather than out to the feeding stations, where they had explained that it was deep and the currents could be tricky. The house reef didn’t disappoint though – stunning fish and corals, and a great little cave to explore by torchlight.
We settled quite nicely into an indulgent routine of waking up leisurely, taking our bikes and cycling from our villa to breakfast, having a long lazy meal and then heading for a snorkel before heading back to our villa for some fresh fruit for lunch, then we would either have a trip booked (diving or the mantas) or head to the gym, and then do a spot more snorkelling, before relaxing with a book in the pool and enjoying a couple of sundowners, and finally walking back onto the island for dinner over the water. In writing this now, I realise that’s probably my perfect dream day itinerary, and I could definitely have done a few more like that!!
What should you pack for The Maldives?
Honestly, my packing list was literally: Bikinis, rash vest, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, sarong, buff (to keep my hair out of my face while diving/snorkelling), snorkel/mask/fins, gym stuff, book, headphones, GoPro and charger, and a couple of light sundresses for dinner in the evening – I could probably have travelled with only hand luggage! So liberating – we lived in swimmers for the four days!
What about the cost?
It’s not a cheap break by any means, if you want to do it properly, however from what I’ve seen there are plenty of people offering Eid deals and packages, so depending on your budget, I’m sure there would be an option available, and honestly it’s well worth the investment – I know it’ll certainly be one of those places that I never forget.