An air of melancholy hangs over as Ahmed, our wonderful host, brought us to the ferry that will bring us back to Male. The gloomy weather at six in the morning wasn't helping at all. I waved back at him as he was running towards us with a takeaway pack with him. He was bringing us our favorite Maldivian breakfast of Mashuni and Roshi. Seeing Ahmed and his friends at the port, I fought my tears back as the ferry started its voyage. Leaving Maamigili Island and its people felt like leaving my hometown and my folks. The island and the people who took care of us for a week and showed us nothing but the warmest welcome was too hard to leave behind. This is the real Maldives, not the ones you see on postcards.
We are nearing the last part of our two-month Beach Hop Asia 2016 summer backpacking trip and after exploring the beaches of Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, we came to the most awaited beach paradise of the trip, the Maldives. Yey!
I don't really like making (or following) a rigid hardcore trip itinerary, but for this particular leg of our trip, I informed my buddy that I will be taking charge of the planning process which totally surprised him. So he let me do the nitty gritty part of analyzing each and every detail of the trip. I did so much research but then everything turned out differently from the way I envisioned it, in a very positive way.
|Quiet neighborhood in the local island of Maamigili|
|Late afternoon siesta|
After spending our very first night at Clear Sky Inn in Hulhumale Island (where the airport is), we took a fifteen-minute local ferry from Hulhumale to North Harbour in Male (MVR5.50 | US$0.36) then took a cab (MVR25 | US$1.62) that brought us to Petrol Jetty in Male. A representative from Whale Shark Inn was there to assist us.
|Ariadhoo - an uninhabited island near Maamigili Island|
|Getting ready for our sunset fishing|
It was drizzling when we arrived at Maamigili Island. By the looks of it, it seemed like it have been raining for a while. Ahmed, our host, picked us up at the port and brought us to one of the two taxi cabs on the island. A minute of driving and then we arrived at the comforts of Whale Shark Inn.
|Our usual chill spot at Whale Shark Inn|
|White sandy ground on our backyard|
Our room was big enough for me and my buddy. It has a queen-sized bed with comfy bed linens and fluffy pillows, TV, wardrobe closet, vanity dresser, coffee and tea-making facilities, in-room safety deposit box, complimentary drinking water (1 liter per person per day) and AC.
Maamigili Island measures 1.350 km. in length and 0.775 km. in width with 3,000 inhabitants. The island is a regular community with a school, infirmary, soccer field, private beach, mini groceries, restaurants and shops. There's also an international airport with daily domestic flights that caters to tourists who are staying on nearby island resorts. I haven't noticed if there's a police station, or maybe there is none. Crime rate in the country is low so it's generally safe 'coz where would an offender possibly go when he commits a crime on the islands of Maldives? Also, women should be aware of the acceptable attire such as covered shoulders and legs. Good thing I brought with me some harem pants from an online apparel store.
|Our gracious host, Ahmed, surprised us with Holsten Non-alcoholic Beer on our last night! :)|
|Mashuni, Roshi and Fried Egg. My favorite Maldivian breakie! :)|
(MVR75 | US$4.22)
|Chicken Fried Rice with boiled egg|
(MVR60 | US$3.90)
(MVR80 | US$5.20)
|Sea excursions every day! :)|
|Exploring Maldives' underwater world|
|Well, hello there!|
We spent three days as well in search for that elusive wild whale sharks which are common in Alif Dhaal Atoll. What I love about the local community in Maamigili Island is that they do not feed any sea creature for tourists or even go close to the whale sharks (especially not touching them). They are very well-educated on how to preserve and maintain the natural order of things in marine life.
|The search for those gentle giants is on!|
And there they were, three of them happily swimming. I watched them from a distance and was in pure awe as the whale sharks seemed to be enjoying their morning play. And it was just a lucky day. After failing for two days, we found them which made everyone cheer as we emerged from the water. I did a high five with our boatman who did a great job with the search. It was totally one of the highlights of our Maldives trip.
|And yes, we found them after three days!|
|Surreal experience to be meters away from the whale sharks|
|Our boatman teaching us how to fish properly|
|This is not my catch though, haha.|
During the entire time, my twin friends were enjoying so much that seeing them fulfilling one of their biggest dreams (to go to Maldives) made me happier, really.
|Our last night on Whale Shark Inn with our great host, Ahmed, and the rest of the gang|
All of the rooms at Whale Shark Inn were occupied at that time and all of us converged at the yard and exchanged wonderful stories during the course of our stay at Maamigili Island. Together with our boatman for four days and the attendant at the inn, we were all laughing as we talk about some trivial details of the excursions. It was fun, as we shared laughter and food that was prepared by Ahmed and his wife.
My friends who are not acquainted to backpacking chose to fly back to Male instead of taking the ferry; me and my buddy, with our meager means to survive our backpacking trip, chose to take the ferry.
Ahmed brought us to the port, for the last time, and bid his goodbye. I returned the gesture with a promise of coming back next time. I sat on my chosen bench, opened up the window and took one last look of the island. He was still at the port when the boat started its voyage. I was waving goodbye not only to him but to Maamigili Island who welcomed us wholeheartedly. It was one of the saddest departures for me abroad.
|Goodbye, neighbors :)|
Whale Shark Inn (check for discounted rates here)
Aafathis, Adh. Maamigili,
South Ari Atoll, Republic of Maldives
Contact Number: (+960) 779.6188
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org