#thatcrazyadventure

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

4D3N in MALDIVES

I gotta admit this has gotta be one of those trip where i die wanting to go but at the same time not wanting to because i knew i will have a hard time dealing with the post vacation withdrawal symptom. It wasn't until the cabin crew shut them cabin doors that i finally assure myself that IT WAS REAL THAT I WAS GOING TO MALDIVES!

Immediately after checking out from immigration, you can smell luxury in the newly renovated airport.  This is probably one of those airport where you can smell the sea before you see them. True enough, 2 steps away from the airport entrance, I see private yacht and boats everywhere.

Best Time to Visit
I spoke to a few locals and were told that their peaks are usually from December up till May. Peak season means higher hotel rates thus prepare to spend more on accommodation. When I visited during November, it was raining throughout and we were dying to see the sun. Gloomy weather = bad photos. You wouldn’t want the sun to hide when you are in Maldives. The water will only be visibly blue and crystal clear under the rays of the sun. With 99% perspiration and 1% luck, we managed to get super sunshine on our last day. 

Getting to Maldives

From Malaysia, your only way to get to Maldives is by taking a direct flight with AirAsia which currently operates 3x weekly from KL flying only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is only one flight per operating day at 6.55pm and flight will take you about 4 hours 15 min thus by hook or by crook, you will land in Maldives at 8.10pm (3 hours behind Malaysia time) and you will need to spend a night staying in gazing in to the dark.

Getting around Maldives

In Maldives, you can travel as far as your eye can see. The country is geographically made up of 1,192 coral islands which is then grouped into 26 atolls thus it’s gonna be you, the sand, the sun and the sea for as long as you stay. To make things simple, they basically categorize all 1,192 coral islands into 26 different regions called atolls so that it’s easy for you and me to explain where we gonna stay and go.
When booking your accommodation, it is very important that your hotel provides airport transfer. If by any chance you will have to take the seaplane, please then be prepared to spend because it cost us about RM1k per pax on a one way trip just from Maldives International Airport to our resort, W Retreat & Spa in Ari Atoll, which is only about 20 minutes flight time away. YES A TRIP VIA SEAPLANE TO YOUR HOTEL CAN COST DOUBLE YOUR FLIGHT TO MALDIVES ITSELF. 

Tips:  
For those on a budget, you will probably book a hotel in Male city or any shared island hotels:
  • If by any chance you booked a hotel in Male City that does not include airport transfers, there are ferries located at the pier just outside the airport arrival hall. The trip costs USD 1.00 and takes approximately 15 minutes. Taxis are available once you arrive but most hotels are within walking distance from the arrival point. Alternatively, if the hotel provides transfers, their representative will meet you at the airport.
For those who stays in private resorts, you will be transferred via one of the 2 options below:
  • Speed boat transfers operate 24 hours per day. These transfers will be arranged by the hotel based on your arrival/departure time.
  • Seaplanes operate from 6:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., 7 days per week. However, schedules vary depending on the arrival and departure times of all guests on that given day. You must arrive into Male before 3:30 p.m. in order to catch a same day Seaplane transfer. Seaplane Carriers are independent operators which provide the resort with schedules in the evening prior to arrival and departures. As such, all schedule timing are solely at the discretion of the seaplane management.

Where to Stay in Maldives

This is where your nightmare begins. Booking accommodation is always the killer in planning trips. To keep things simple, please look at the map below:

Rule is, the further you stay from the airport, the cheaper your accommodation gets.  But it also means that the higher the cost you spend on transportation to get there. So contradicting right! 

Budget travel is totally possible in Maldives!
A good example with nice hotels like Arena Beach in Maafushi, you only pay USD450 (around RM1.9k) for 4 day 3 nights which accommodates 2pax. They even provide breakfast, complimentary airport transfer and snorkeling trips! Which basically means by spending less than RM1k per pax,  you get an all in Maldives trip! Factoring returning flight on AirAsia for RM650, food for maybe RM300 per pax, total cost for a 4 day 3 nights trip to Maldives will only cost you RM1.9k per pax! How is that not budget and exclusive?
I know most of you out there will think that all budget hotels only exist in either Male city or Hulhumale (reclaimed island connected to the airport if you wish to stay the night before you proceed to transit the next morning). Fact is, there’s 1,192 islands altogether after all.  If staying in the city is not your cup of tea, you can always search for other alternative stand alone islands which will give you the same Maldives experience that i experienced. To name a few islands with super nice hotels; MaalhosRasdhooThoddooDharavandhooMaafushi, just to name a few. With 5 listed above, there’s still 1,187 islands for you to explore!

The few hotels I recommended above are individual islands that are not part of the city thus you will still feel exclusive to a certain extend.  In the Maldives, you can reach any inhabited island with a ferry, or a few ferries. They have a really good and reliable ferry system, and it is cheap. The ferry between Male and Hulhumale costs about USD 0.36 [RM1.37] and takes only about 15 minutes.
W Resorts Maldives

Trip Duration

Since AirAsia only flies on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I would suggest you to go with below:
Option 1) 4D3N (technically 3D3N)
  • Fly in on Saturday and fly back on Tuesday
You technically get 3D3N because you will waste your first day and you will need to fly back on the night of your last day. This will be sweet and quick getaway in Maldives which will also save much of your budget with such short trip.
Option 2) 5D4N (technically 4D4N)
  • Fly in on Tuesday and fly back on Saturday
This should be the best option for a solid and romantic trip. Anything beyond this will be a bit engthy. But again, it's Maldives. It's never too much.

Excursions
Use below as simple guideline to plan based on your own interest:
  • Day 1: Arrive Maldives at 8.10pm local time. Sort your transportation and rest up in hotel/ resort
  • Day 2: Go snorkeling, walk around resort, chill and enjoy the breeze. Go for a massage, do some water sports like parasailing to enjoy the view from above
  • Day 3: If you are a diver, oh god damn it you must go diving!
  • Day 4: Just chill and enjoy your last morning in Maldives. Check out and just make sure to be at Male airport 2.5 hours before departing MLE
  • Optional: Just fuck all the itineraries and make babies you are in god damn Maldives
You basically just go with your own pace when in Maldives. Just note that you cannot roam around naked or in bikinis while in Male City or any islands that are not privately owned as Maldives is still a religious Muslim country.

My trip was sponsored by Starwood and I stayed in both W Spa & Retreat (about 2 hours boat ride/ 25 minutes sea plane ride from airport) as well as Sheraton Kandooma (only about 15 minutes boat ride from airport) Sorry with the boring part on top, thus only pictures below. Enjoy =)
Room in Sheraton on the first night 

 After settling in, it was already 12am (technically 3am for my Malaysian brain) I was tired as hell and worried i could not wake up the next day but then i realized i get to sleep 3 hours extra due to the time difference. #win



Trust me, photos doesn’t even do justice to Maldives. Weather was a bit gloomy and photos does not show the best. You gotta be there to see it for yourself. We checked out from Sheraton and proceed to check in to W Spa & Retreat Maldives. 

IT.WAS.DROP.DEAD.AMAZING.GORGEOUS.EXCLUSIVE.LUXURIOUS. (exactly how all of us reacted when we step foot on W) You should know by now how exclusive and luxurious W is. Click here for more.













One of the most amazing thing here in W is that it takes you no effort to spot anything. Like anything. From herons to sharks to turtles to giant bats to squirrels to anything, you name it. They roam free and might just sneak in to your room if you forget to lock the doors.

Here i spotted a Heron trying to take a dip in my pool

Shark
Shark everywhere










One of our itinerary was to wake up at 5am for sunrise yoga. It was one of those rare mornings so quiet we can hear big fishes hunting for smaller fishes. I can hardly do yoga but the view and energy was just. AMAZING. It was just blissfulllll.



 Highlight of the trip was definitely the food! The team managing the feast in W sure knows how to keep their guests’ tummies happy. I have never ever had so much seafood in my life. It was salmon after salmon, lobsters after lobsters, i end up feeling a little turn off, i ate salad for the next 2 days. Kidding. 





And if there’s one thing i miss the most, it has gotta be W’s house reef! Nothing in the world can beat the reefs of W! Snorkeling alone was so much adventurous and we saw so much, so much that no other snorkel comes close. Huge fishes generally swim in deeper water but because of the unique geographical landscape where the sea floor drops from very shallow to very deep, we get to see ALOT OF CRAZY HUGE FISHES. Everything we see underwater was CRAZY HUGE!! No i’m not lying. Everything was at least 3x bigger than those i saw in Malaysia or Thailand. Corals were also generally much more colourful. I almost chocked on my watermelon paying RM1.2k for 2 boat dives off the shores of W. It was all worth it when we found out that we’ve got a yacht to 2 of us with an instructor and 4 other chauffeurs standing by helping us put on our gears. Nothing gets more luxurious than that! After all, it’s Maldives. We gotta act luxurious.

Say hello to Anne who hosted us in W!











Things heat up when the sun set. Sunset was beyond words. All these pictures are lies. You gotta be there to see it for yourself. W is the ONLY resort in Maldives that owns a club called 15below. Yes, you guessed it right, the club was 15ft underground. The club was amazing and on point. We got so carried away with our bottomless orders, we totally forgot we’re on an island.












We ended the trip with a pool party equipped with so much champagne, we were literally having champagne shower. No trip to Maldives is complete without a pool party with bottomless champagne. We DID showered with proper water later and we flew back to the airport via the sea plane. One sea plane can accommodate up to about 18pax including the pilots and the view from above was…..AMAZING!









I was right. I had a hard time dealing with my post vacation withdrawal symptom. Maldives….. W Spa & Retreat Maldives in particular, I SHALL BE BACK.

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