The Maldives!

 

Girls trip to the Maldives!!

 

  With love - the maldives 73

 

 

This is a long intro...but stick with me!

 

 

  Pier



What a special trip this was.  My friend Jane was celebrating her Big 50, AND her friend Sue and my cousin Maria were visiting from the US.  So we planned a few girls' trips around Asia. 

 

 

With love - the maldives 4

 

Wait until you hear what Jane and I did to surprise Maria and Sue.  We asked them where they wanted to go, and they picked Cambodia and Koh Samui (KS), Thailand, as they wanted to see a beach in Asia.  When Jane and I were planning the trip, we were having a hard time getting a good price on the tickets to KS and we found a great price to the Maldives.

So.... we purchased tickets to the Maldives, planed the entire trip, but did not tell Maria and Sue.  We wanted it to be a surprise.  I knew it was a dream trip for my cousin, but when she had asked early on about the Maldives, I told her it was just too expensive... which it normally is!

We wondered how far we could get them before we had to tell them where we were really going.  D took us to the airport, as he wanted to see their reaction.  Check in... D keeps them distracted while Jane shows all of our passports to the ladies at the desk.  We whisper to them it is a surprise.  They keep quiet. 

 

 

With love - the maldives 5

 

 

Next, passport control.  None of the guards say anything.  We go through the gate and they hand us landing cards, which do say THE MALDIVES.  I jump in front of everyone and say I'll take those.... I am the tour guide".   

 

Hey Sue and Maria - show us where you are going...

This photo makes me laugh, as they still have no idea!

 

 

With love - the maldives 6

 

And by now you are asking  - really... how could they NOT know?  It says Malé on the boarding pass, as this is the main city in the Maldives.  We tell them Malé is the airport in Koh Samui.  Neither have traveled in Asia - they have no idea.   We laugh and say we are going to "male" for Jane's big 50!  

Jane was not the only one with a surprise; we had a crown and beads for her to wear for her big celebration.

 

 

With love - the maldives 2

 


We actually get on the plane and they still had no idea!  The announcement comes on and they say enjoy your flight to Malé.  Perfect.

 

 

Toast

  

 

After the plane took off and we had our champagne in hand, we gave them this printed itinerary....

 

 

Invite

 

Were they surprised?

 

  Plane

 

 

We were only there for three nights but was pure perfection.  We stayed at the AMAZING Banyan Tree - Vabbinafaru - where the hotel is on its own island (photo below).   In Maldivian, Vabbinfaru refers to a round island circled by a round coral reef.

I did not take the photo below (pulled from Google images) but I wanted to show how AMAZING this island is.  

 

 

 

 

These are my photos, along with some by the girls...

 

 

Island2

 

 

We also visited the sister property Angsana, where the snorkeling was drop dead gorgeous!  Yes, the water is actually this color in the shallow part. 

 

 

With love - the maldives 16

 

 

Pose

 

Cousin Maria and I shared a Villa and Jane and Sue shared one.  Each had an outdoor shower, pool, and jacuzzi.

 

 

With love - the maldives 11
 

 

With love - the maldives 14

 

 

<untitled>180

 

 

The back of our room opened up onto this view of the beach.

 


With love - the maldives 13

 

 

For the record, this trip tied me with D for the number of countries we visited, 54!! 

I told you I was going to sneak off one day...

 

 

With love - the maldives (3)

 

 

We woke up early each day and enjoyed the sunrise and coffee on the beach.

 

 

With love - the maldives 22

 

 

With love - the maldives 20

 

What is great about an all girls trip is you can pose for corny photos - which we did!    The pictures where I am in the photo, or all four of us, are taken by photographer extraordinaire, Sue Harris Photography.

 

 

With love - the maldives 25

 

Girls2_edited-1

 

 

With love - the maldives 17

 

 

With love - the maldives 18

 

 

With love - the maldives 19

 

 

Girls1_edited-1

 

 

 

With love - the maldives 23

 

 

It was interesting how the blues of the sky and water changed at different times of the day.  We were told by the hotel staff that on a scale from 1 to 10, the day we were there would have been around a "3" for water color and clarity.  Only a "3"?  It was stunning... I cannot even image what a "10" day looked like!

 

 With love - the maldives 29

 

 

  With love - the maldives 27

 

 

Meet Moosa, the adorable guide we had for snorkeling and all marine life activities.  He started us off with a one-hour presentation on what Banyan Tree is doing to help sustain the Maldives, which are disappearing.  

 

 

 

With love - the maldives 28

 

The Maldives is the lowest lying country on Earth, at just 8 feet above sea level.  Within 100 years, the entire country will be under water.  

 

 

With love - the maldives 26

 

Snorkeling! 

 

Angsana is said to have one of the best house reefs in the world.  I believe them!  The sea life we saw was more of the level you see when you are scuba diving, not just snorkeling.  You can see from the photo below we were not in very deep water.  Moosa took these photos for us with his underwater camera.

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 14

 

 

Yet, what we saw was incredible - with a punch of color.

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 2

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 3

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 1

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 8

 

 

Sealife_edited-1

Snorkle - the maldives 4

 

 

I have to share this image even though it is not the clearest one.  Jane had never been snorkeling and we were very proud that she gave it a go with us.  What a great thing to try on your 50th Birthday!

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 5

 


And look at Sue go - she was really going deep in the water!  I had to stay at the surface - but it was so clear you did not have to go very deep to see the splendor!

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 7

 

And I lost my breath (we all did!) when we saw this - A SHARK!!!   I was hanging on to sweet little Moosa for dear life.  I wished they had taken a photo of my face at this exact point.  What we saw are black tipped reef sharks and they are not dangerous.  We saw several of them, each time giving us a jolt of excitement!

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 9

 

 

The most spectacular scene was at the very end - and of course we ran out of memory space on the camera at that exact point!  Moosa went deep and swam directly into this school of fish.

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 11

 

I am not even sure how to describe this.  The fish started to swarm around him in a circle.  If he flipped his arms out they would break away in perfect formation and then come right back to the circle.  He would kick out his leg and they would do the same thing.  It was like nothing I have ever seen.

 

 

Snorkle - the maldives 12

 

 

After an amazing day of snorkeling... it was hard to imagine that the evening could be better... it started off with another surprise by Jane and this time I was not in on it! 

A sunset cruise...

on a yacht....

 

With love - the maldives 38

 

 

with just the four of us...

 

 

With love - the maldives 39

 

with champagne and appetizers...

 

 

Boat

 

 

We had to recreate the scene from the Titanic.

 

 

Yaught

 

 

Had the night ended there it would have been perfect.... but there was more!  Look out into the ocean...

 

 

With love - the maldives 50

 

 

Can you see that very small island (technically a sandbank)?? 

 

 

With love - the maldives 51

 

 

As we got closer..... 

 

 

With love - the maldives

 

 

We could see two adorable young men holding 4 glasses of champagne...

 

 

With love - the maldives 47

 

 

the moon, and a beautiful table set for four!

 

 

With love - the maldives 55

 
 

Really?  Dinner on a private island?  And we are the only guests!

OH MY GOSH!

 

 

With love - the maldives 53

 

 

With love - the maldives 56


 

With love - the maldives 57

 

 

Cheers cousin Maria!

 

 

With love - the maldives 48

 


With love - the maldives 60

 

 

As the sunset, it cast a delicate pink hue... like a dream.

 

 

With love - the maldives 54

 

 

Here's to Jane... Happy Birthday!

 

 

With love - the maldives 65

 

With love - the maldives 66

 

 

Our dinner was impressive given we were on a small island with no electricity.  Everything for the dinner, including the grill was carried on the yacht to the island.

We started off with a grilled shrimp salad, followed by lobster, chicken, baked potato, and corn.  Then we enjoyed a second main of grilled lamb and veggies and we finished with a fruit and cream brulee.

 

Dinner

 

 

Where did they cook this amazing meal?? 

On a very small grill!  

 

 

  With love - the maldives 62

 

 

The entire meal was catered and cooked by these five men.  They also took  great photos of us.

 

 

With love - the maldives 63

 

 

 It was an incredible evening! 

What a PERFECT 50th Birthday we had... I mean Jane had!

 

 

With love - the maldives 67

 

 

When we got back to our rooms, they had decorated for Jane's Birthday.  But there was a gift for each of us - a sarong with our names embroidered on them.  You will see us wearing them in a group photo towards the end of this post.

 

 

With love - the maldives 68_edited-1

 

 

Other fun things we did during our holiday...

No photos - but we all had one-hour massages - ahhhh so relaxing!

The marine center (our guide Moosa) does a daily feedings of stingrays and sea turtles.  It is fascinating that wild stingrays know to come to a specific location on the beach everyday around 4:30 to be fed.

 

 

Stingray 1

 

 

With love - the maldives

 

 

Stingray 6

 

 

We took a demonstration cooking class to learn how to make Maldivian food.   We learned how to cook Mas Goulah (fish balls) with coconut Roti, Kulhi Boakibaa (tuna dish), and chicken curry.  They cook most dishes with coconut milk so I was in heaven.   SO YUMMY!

 

 

Cooking class

With love - the maldives

 

 

We went by speedboat to visit one of the local islands.  The Maldives is an Islamic republic, which lies off the Indian sub-continent. It is made up of a chain of nearly 1,200 islands, of which only 200 are inhabited and around 90 are developed as resorts. 

 

 

With love - the maldives 78

 

 

The islands are spread over 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 sq mi), making it one of the world's most dispersed countries.  We were on the North Male atoll area.

 

Map-Maldives2

 

The population of all of the islands is only around 350,000.  Alcohol is prohibited in the Maldives, but resorts are allowed to serve it.

 

 

With love - the maldives 32

 

With love - the maldives 31

 

 

A very interesting fact about the Maldives...they have a 98-percent literacy rate among adults and 100 percent of children are enrolled in primary school, with a 99 percent graduation rate to grade five.  

 

 

Color

 

With love - the maldives 33

 

With love - the maldives 35

 

Our last day - Jane's Birthday Breakfast

 

We finally got to surprises Jane by wrapping 50 presents for her to open on her special day!

 

 

Jane v3

 

 

 

With love - the maldives 75

 

With love - the maldives 76

 

Exactly how many cakes did you have Jane?

 

 

Cake2_edited-2

 

More group photos on Jane's b-day with our matching Sarongs (note our names at the bottom).

 

 

With love - the maldives 71

 

With love - the maldives 72

 

 

With love - the maldives 21

 

  Msg jane

 

Most of the staff came out to wish us well when we left.  I just hope that I can one day go back and visit this beautiful island!

 

 

With love - the maldives 79

 

This was a fantastic girls trip - one we will always remember!