A sinking wonder

Dishari Palit and Ayan Banerjee
Saturday, 13 April 2019

Maldives could go underwater in a few decades because of climate change. Before the magical islands disappear, do make a trip, and also think of how we can save our planet

It was our first time snorkelling — the sand was white, the water emerald green, and beneath the water were colours we had never seen and a world we had never experienced before. We also realised what a magical world we had been missing for so long.

As the day passed and the sun bid us goodbye, the night sky was lit by countless stars and a full moon. We were at our water bungalow deck, sipping wine and I remember telling my husband, ‘This holiday can’t get any better,’ and the next moment we saw manta rays and a couple of other fishes swimming right below our deck. This was another ‘first time’ for us. Before this, we thought one needs to snorkel to see fishes swimming at night. But this little paradise, Maldives in the Indian Ocean proved us wrong.  

The islands in Maldives do not have names unlike Thailand — they are part of atolls, which are more like districts — the islands are named after resorts that are put up there. We stayed at an atoll located in Male. The best time to visit this beautiful destination is between September and April end, however, if you are on a tight budget, avoid visiting Maldives between December and February as the prices are really high around that time of the year because of New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.  

REACHING THERE
More than 50,000 aircrafts use Velana International Airport, Male’s runway. So stop being lazy and just google the flight details. For hotel transfer, almost every resort offers free pick up and drop services either in a seaplane or speedboat depending on how far your resort is from the airport. Ours was a speed boat transfer. If you are island hopping, check with your resort in advance  to find out how they plan to transfer. Keep your camera ready to capture some amazing clicks on your way! 

THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION
In the Maldives, the resort you choose to stay at depends on your budget. Our suggestion would be to opt for a resort with an ‘all inclusive package’ since they mostly include unlimited breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner, along with a wide range of alcohol, cocktails, and mocktails to choose from. A few resorts might also include snorkelling day trip, sunset dolphin watching trip and a couple of water sports activities in their package! The resorts mostly experience full occupancy, hence it’s advisable to book your freebie slots in advance.

LIVING ON WATER
Our stay was in a jacuzzi water bungalow. We would sit at our bungalow deck every evening watching the sun set and welcoming our evening guests — baby sharks and baby mantas. We strongly feel that staying at an overwater bungalow is a must in the Maldives (irrespective of the resort you are staying at) because of the view and experiences it offers. For budget travellers, even a one-night water bungalow stay will be worth every penny you spend. The island we were staying at was home to two beautiful herons and many colourful macaws. Our activities included snorkelling, snorkelling and some more snorkelling. Maldives is our ‘Coral Reefs and Marine Life Mecca’. In fact, our first ever encounter with a water turtle was in the Maldives and if you are in luck, you might even spot whale sharks. One evening, we opted for a candle light dinner by the beach. We both loved the sound of crashing waves and with the moonlit sky. We couldn’t have asked for a more romantic setting. 

There are around 1200 islands in the Maldives of which 200 are uninhabitable. The remaining ones are mostly occupied by resorts. Usually, a single resort owns an entire island meaning your food options are restricted to your resort’s restaurants only. Also, check with your resort beforehand as to which currency it deals in. Most resorts in the Maldives accept dollars only.

JET SKIING
We also tried our hand at wind surfing and jet skiing. After 30 minutes of training, I saw my husband on his jet ski boat, waving at me and the instructor while accelerating towards the mid sea. I did not join him though. It was too sunny and I was too scared to ride the boat alone!

ENVIRONMENTALLY SPEAKING
Unless you live under a rock, you would already know how beautiful the beaches of Maldives are and how rich is its marine life. So instead of talking about the established facts, I want to draw your attention to a reality most aren’t aware of. The earth continues to suffer from the effects of climate change (thanks to us human beings!). With the sea level rising as a result of glaciers and icebergs melting, Maldives is predicted to be completely submerged if this trend continues. Now, you have more reasons to travel to the Maldives before it vanishes! 

Imagine telling stories to our little ones about a group of islands which once existed, where the setting sun paints the sky a shade of crimson red that you may not have seen anywhere else. Or the deep blue waters embrace the sky at the zenith, so close and yet so far. Now imagine explaining to them why this land vanished? Little effort is all that’s needed to keep the magic alive, to keep our earth alive.

(The writers are a traveller couple who blog about their experiences at @the_spirited_travelers)

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