Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Vacation in the Maldives

Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruThe great traveller, Ibn Batuta, came here during the 14th century and called it one of the wonders of the world. Seven hundred years later, this place can still leave you speechless as you take in the picture-perfect scenery: perfectly formed islands of powdery white sands, lush green coconut palms at their center, and ringed by bright turqoise waters that merge into the deepest blues of the Indian Ocean.


The 30 minute seaplane ride from the international airport at Male to the island of Landaa Giraavaru gave us a bird's eye view of the spectacular coral reefs below. It was a bright sunny morning, with only strands of clouds between us and the ocean vistas below. Maldives is the lowest country in the world with a maxium height of 8 ft. above sea-level! This country of about a thousand small islands is but a speck in the vastness of the Indian Ocean: try bringing up Maldives on Google Maps and you will see what I mean. However, it is this very remoteness and small size that makes these islands such a treat to visit.


The coral reefs that ring the Maldivian atolls are abundant in marine life, including many rare species. Colorful tropical fish, manta rays, sting rays, sharks and dolphins abound making this a place of choice for divers. In recent years, these islands have also become home to some of the best luxury resort hideaways. While many of the best resorts cater to honeymooners, there are a few good ones that are family-oriented. I chose the Four Seasons Landaa Giravaaru for multiple reasons: reputation, the kids club, the quality and location of the resort island (far away from the busy Male atoll).

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruThe Four Seasons experience was extraordinary. They were waiting for us as we arrived at the jetty; they even addressed our daughter by her name. The first impressions of our beach bungalow was amazing! Here are some pictures of the living area, the outdoor rainshower, the plunge pool, the thatched sundeck with our own private beach. It doesn't get any better than this!

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruThe staff made us feel like royalty: welcome lomi-lomi drinks at the airport, the sweetest tender-coconut welcome drinks at our room, and a personalized cookie for our girl. We were soon in our plunge pool, the temperature a very pleasant 32 C - a welcome change from the hot Pune summer. They again delighted us by bringing us a champagne ice-bucket for us on the sundeck.

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruWe spent the rest of the day discovering all the nice little touches in the room, sitting out in our little beach watching the astonishing blue hues of the water and skies as the waves crashed on our feet. Our little girl was busy collecting sea-shells until one of them starting walking! She got a quick lesson on hermit crabs and ghost crabs. :)

The earliest people in the Maldives were called Giraavaru; they are thought to have come from South India and Sri Lanka. Ibn Batuta took meticulous notes, which are amongst the earliest documents that describe life in these islands in the early 14th century. The islands of the atolls were even close to each other than now, and navigating ships required help of the locals. He refers to these islands as Dhibat Almahal. He writes about how hospitable the people were - apparently every traveller became someone's responsibility to feed and shelter. The women would even marry travellers for the duration of their stay in these islands - they were not allowed to travel out of the country those days.

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruFour Seasons Landaa Giraavaru has multiple living options: 40 beach bungalows - each with their own pool, sundeck and private beach, 60 water bungalows, and a couple of large villas that have rooms on the beach and over water. This vacation resort also has a very well-run kids club, Kuda Vella - meaning Little Turtles and a varieties of outdoor activities for the family. However, given the size of the property, even the honeymooners can have plenty of privacy and quiet.

Here are some resources I found very useful when planning my trip:

1. The Maldives Resort Guide: Useful description of all the luxury resorts in one place.

2. Atoll Paradise: Our travel agent in Maldives who helped us make the bookings, added a few extras and provided exceptional service throughout. Jhoana, Melissa, Biman and the others I interacted with during this trip were very friendly, helpful and prompt. I strongly recommend using them to plan your own vacation here.

3. Trip Advisor: To check reviews, good and bad, of people who had visited this resort before.

“Travelling: It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story-teller. ” - Ibn Batuta, 1325-1354

Next: Dining at Landaa Giravaaru

11 comments:

mina said...

the water is so vibrant! i can't wait to visit the maldives

Lakshmi said...

now you are tempting me with the pictures and post..sigh !

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

Beautiful, the island, the post and the photographs

Aathira said...

This is one place I have always wanted to go... actually I would want to go to all the beaches of the world :D

Karthik Sankar said...

Excellent writeup about an exotic place. Really a must have for people planning or hoping to go there. I will bookmark this page.

kyh said...

OMG I've longed to go there and u went there! So beautifulllll!

Rohit Khurana said...

Awesome ! Looks like heaven :)

Sukhdeepak said...

Very beautiful place to visit.

indicaspecies said...

Beautiful! Did you go snorkelling?

Shantanu said...

@mina: Oh yes! The water is unique...picture perfect because of its remoteness and also because of the coral reefs.

@Lakshmi: Give in to temptation. :)

@harekrishnaji: Thanks.

@Aathira: I love beaches too.

@Karthik: Thank you!

@kyh: Your turn now. :)

@Rohit: It certainly is!

@Suhkdeepak: One of the best...

@indicaspecies: Not this time. My little one wasn't too interested so we did other things...

Shantanu said...

@mina: Oh yes! The water is unique...picture perfect because of its remoteness and also because of the coral reefs.

@Lakshmi: Give in to temptation. :)

@harekrishnaji: Thanks.

@Aathira: I love beaches too.

@Karthik: Thank you!

@kyh: Your turn now. :)

@Rohit: It certainly is!

@Suhkdeepak: One of the best...

@indicaspecies: Not this time. My little one wasn't too interested so we did other things...