Paradise on earth

Hello travellers.

Where have you travelled to this month? Or what have you booked? We’ve just returned from Lisbon and Porto and both locations were beautiful. We’ll have to do another blog for that, but both recommended locations (especially Porto).

As we’re still in the love season! I thought it appropriate to take you back to the Maldives with us; visited last year May for our third year wedding anniversary. People say this place is a honeymoon destination and they are right.

We stayed at the Shangri-La Villingili (closest airport to Gan, rather than Male). We went to the Maldives at the end of a packed trip in Sri Lanka, so a restful break before we flew back home was right up our street.

Upon airport arrival, we were greeted by a private driver sent from the hotel to pick us and a few others up. We waited in the air conditioned bus, and then got driven to the sea where our speed boat awaited us. Hubby and I smiled, as we could have literally walked it! But that’s what VIP treatment is!

We got on the speedboat which was approximately 7 minutes ride to the Shangri-La. As you arrive at the hotel, you can imagine getting excited. Seeing this secluded island, yours to spend for the next few days. We were happy as larry!

As we entered the reception, we were welcomed by a team of 10+ staff, and given coconut water in coconuts whilst we got checked in, and a lovely flower. I’m not a diva, but I was loving the treatment! We got allocated our own butler, who took us on a buggy to our room. Just reminiscing is bringing a smile to my face. I want to go back!

Anyway, back to our room. 2 bikes (free for us to use) were outside our over-water villa. The villa had a beautiful bath that all couples would thoroughly enjoy. Near the bath was an outdoor shower. And then on the other side of the villa was our bedroom area, which opened out into paradise! (also known as our own patio, and you simply walked right into the sea). It is as beautiful and serene as you can imagine, and you can really appreciate Gods magnificent creation.

What was there to do on this beautiful island:
1. Take the bike and ride round the island. The island was 3km long, so possible to walk by foot, but the bike was kind of a necessity (I’ll tell you an embarrassing but fun story shortly, but please don’t judge or laugh at me!!!). If you got tired of cycling or walking, you could request for the buggy to collect you
2. Bring your own equipment or hire at the resort, snorkel gear. Simply jump in the sea from your over-water villa and see the beautiful fishes (for anyone who stay inland, you can still go to designated spots to snorkel)
3. Learn about / watch the coconut climbers. Absolutely fascinating to watch their technique of getting down all the coconuts. Tip: wear lots of mosquito repellent. I stupidly didn’t and got eaten alive! 😦
4. Enjoy themed evenings and happy hour, whilst watching the sunset. You’re in the most romantic place on earth. Enjoy it!
5. Sunbathe. Swim in the sea or infinity pool. Eat & drink lots. And sunbathe some more. And also enjoy your villa (I need not expand on that!)
6. Get a massage. We got a couples seashell hot stone massage on our last day so that we literally flew home even more revitalised. One of the best massages ever (and I like my massages!)
7. Each resort have their own unique experiences so make the most of what’s there. We know other locations that have underwater restaurant or cinema at sunset in the middle of the sea. I want to go back to any of those resorts just for those experiences!
8. If you’re like hubby & I, we need to feel as though we’ve gotten to know a place, so book a tour to see the local town. For us, this was Addu City (in Gan). Addu city is just 17km, with approximately 35, 000 population. We learned some great facts such as Gan airport which we arrived in, was once the secret military base for the British army. Maldives also have free schooling (including uni). It has over 1000 islands (190 of those being resorts). Their origin is Arab / Indian and their religion is 100% Muslim (you can’t marry non-Muslims, and if you do, they have to convert. This really surprised us). Despite some strict laws, most residents stay in the Maldives rather than emigrating. This may also be due to the fact that the government give land to locals for free, with average house price at 161,00 dollars (foreigners unfortunately can only lease, not buy)

Visiting this little city, we were really impressed as it was more developed than we thought it would be, but to live, I don’t think hubby & I would survive as there’s no bars or nightclubs! The resorts are taxed high to serve you alcohol which is why us tourists don’t notice (And yes it is true about the alcohol being seized at the airport, due to the religion – don’t worry, we didn’t bring our own alcohol, we knew the law!).

Finally, for all those who heard the myth that the Maldives may disappear, you need not worry. Local guides advised us that it’s minimal cm of water level rising, so it’s highly doubtful Maldives will disappear!

Before I wrap up, I’ll tell you my embarrassing story! So, as a kid, most of us learn how to ride a bike (I’m pretty sure I did!). However, it’s been many ages since I rode. I didn’t realise we’d need a bike to get around the island, so I hadn’t prepared myself beforehand. First day of getting on the bike, I failed miserably! At this moment, I loved my hubby! He taught me how to ride, which after many attempts I got, but was not comfortable at all; often falling over. I basically resorted to the fact that I’d be on the beach all day drinking and reading (which I was also fine with!). My hubby left me to it, and about an hour later, came back with a teenager size bike. I was so overjoyed! Once I got on that, I was a pro! So, I’m gunna claim it was due to my size that I struggled! I really loved my hubby even more at this point, because he didn’t want me being alone, and despite having to firmly put in a request to reception, he got what he needed to ensure my Maldivian experience wasn’t spoilt! I hope you’re not all judging me now! We all have our strengths and clearly riding isn’t one of mine!

Maldives isn’t the cheapest of locations. We were in a over-water villa with breakfast included, so had to pay for all drinks and food. Costly! So highly recommend all inclusive (although we fully enjoyed this particular resort so have no regrets). But if you can save in advance and visit this absolutely beautiful city, I would highly recommend you do so. It is genuinely a once in a lifetime experience (although an experience we hope to definitely do again!). Depending on your nature, 3-4 nights is good enough if you get bored easily, as the place is literally meant for relaxing.

I’m leaving hubby at home next week as I travel to Slovenia with some girlfriends to celebrate my birthday, so remember to follow us @justAsktina_travels for our travel updates

See you next month 🙂

Tina Benson
T&T Consultancy

PS: for the fun video, visit:

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