Maldives Vacation Report 2016

Just spent 9 days in Maldives doing nothing! So here’s a writeup and a bunch of photos.

“Magical”, “paradise”, “heaven” and other things, they say. So we decided to check it out for ourselves. Another factor was that after driving-heavy vacations in some previous years (e.g. USA or Iceland), the kids wanted to just do nothing for a bit. Sit in the water & snorkel, basically.

So off we went, all four of us. Notes in random order:

Picking where to go

This one’s tough. We don’t like resorts and hotels, so at first thought about going airbnb-style. Turns out, there isn’t much of that going on in Maldives; and some of the places that have airbnb listings up are actually just ye olde hotels or guesthouses anyway.

Lazy vacation being lazy, then it was “pick an island & resort” time. This primarily depends on your budget; from guesthouses at the low end to… well I guess there’s no limit how expensive it can go. “Very” would be an accurate description.

There are other factors, like whether you want to dive or snorkel (then look for diving spots & reef information), how much entertainment options you want, whether you’re bringing kids etc. etc.

What kinda sucks about many of the blogs on Maldives, is that they are written as if an honest impression from some traveller, only to find in a small print that hey, the resort or some travel agency covered their expenses. Apparently this “travel blogger” is an actual profession that people make money on; a subtle form of advertisement. Good for them, but makes you wonder how biased their blog posts are.

We wanted a smallish resort, that’s kinda “midrange” in terms of prices, has good reviews and has a decent house reef. Upon some searching, picked Gangehi (tripadvisor link) kinda randomly. Here are basic impressions:

  • Good: nice, small, clean, good reef, nice beach area for small kids.
  • Neutral: food was a mixed bag (some very good, some meh).

Going there

It feels like “hey it’s somewhat beyond Turkey, not that far away”, but it’s more like “Sri Lanka distance away”. For us that was a drive to Vilnius, 2.5hr flight to Istanbul, and 8hr flight to Male, and from there a ~30 minute seaplane flight to the resort.

Seeing the atols during the plane landing is very impressive, especially if you haven’t seen such a thing before (none of us had). They do not look like a real thing :)

Maldives is a whole bunch of separate tiny islands, so the only choice of travel is either by boat or seaplane. None of us flew that before either, so that was interesting too! Here it is, and here’s the resort’s “airport”. After this, even the airports we have here in Lithuania are ginormous by comparison:

Maldives with kids?!

This is supposedly a honeymoon destination, or something. Instead, we went about 14 years too late for that, and with two kids. Punks not dead! It’s fine; at least in our resort there weren’t that many honeymoon couples, actually. There was no special enternainment for kids, but hey, water that you can spend full day in, snorkeling and sand. And an iPad for when that gets boring (whole-family-fun this time was Smallworld 2).

There are some resorts that have special “kid activities” (not sure if we would have cared for that though), and I’m told there are others that explicitly do not allow kids. But overall, if your kids like water you should be good to go.

Maldives in July?!

July is very much a non-season in Maldives – it’s the rain season, and the temperature is colder by a whopping 2 degrees! This leaves it at 31C in the day, and 28C in the night. The horror! :)

The upside of going there now: fewer people around, and apparently prices somewhat lower. We lucked out in that almost all the rain was during the nights; over whole week got maybe 15 minutes of rain in the daytime.


Now, none of us are divers. We have never snorkeled before either. Most of us (except Marta) can barely swim as well – e.g. my swimming skills are “I’m able to not drown” :) So this time we decided “ok let’s try snorkeling”, and diving (including learning how to do that) will be left for another time.

It’s pretty cool.

Apparently the current El Niño has contributed quite a lot to coral bleaching in Maldives; the same reef was quite a lot more colorful half a year ago.

We’re the ones that don’t have any sort of GoPro, and considered getting one before the trip for taking pictures. However, we don’t care about video at all, so went for Olympus TG-4 instead. RAW support and all that. The underwater and water splashing photos are from that camera.

The other photos on this post are either Canon EOS 70D with Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II lens or an iPhone 6.

What else is there to do?

Not much, actually :) Splash in the water and walk around:

Watch an occasional bird, stingray (here, cowtail stingray, pastinachus sephen) or shark (no photos of sharks, but there’s a ton of little sharks all around; they are not dangerous at all):

Build castles made of sand, that melt into the sea eventually. Watch hermit crabs drag their shells around.

Take pictures in the traditional “photo to post on facebook” style. Apparently this makes you look awesome, or something.

That thing with houses on top of water is a cute hack by the resorts. The amount of land available is extremely limited, so hey, let’s build houses on water and tell people they are awesome! :)

Take nighttime photos. This is almost equator, so the sun sets very early; by 7:30PM it’s already dark.

Just walk around, if you can call it that. This island was maybe 150 meters in diameter, so “the walks” are minutes in length.

Go on a boat trip to (try to) see dolphins. We actually saw them:

Another boat trip to see a local non-resort island (Mathiveri):

Oh, and the sunsets. Gotta take pictures of the sunsets:

And that’s about it. The rest of the time: reading, sleeping, doing nothing :)


What would I do differently next time?

Spending 8-9 days in a single place is stretching it. The amount of photos above make it sound like there’s a lot of things to do, but you can do all that in two days. If you’re really prepared for a “do nothing” style vacation, then it’s fine. I’m not used to that (though a friend told me: “Aras, you just need to practice more! No one gets it from the 1st time!”). So I’d probably either do the whole thing shorter, or split it up in two different islands, plus perhaps a two-day guesthouse stay at a local (non-resort) island for a change. Apparently that even has a term, “island hopping”.

Would there be next time?

Not sure yet. It was very nice to see, once. Maybe some other time too – but very likely for next vacation or two we’ll go back to “travel & drive around & see things” style. But if we want another lazy vacation, then it’s a really good place… if your budget allows. This trip was slightly more expensive than our US roadtrip, for example.

So that’s it, until next time!