Maldives : Island Getaway

  

Just four days in Sri Lanka wasn't enough to experience all it has to offer, especially the city of Colombo. There's so much to see and document. Will have to leave that for next time. It's time to head south west to the Republic of Maldives - an island nation so small that you can hardly even spot them on the map. And Sri Lankan Airlines takes me there.

After checking in our luggage, we were given an exclusive invite to use the airline's executive lounge, the Serendib Lounge. Located on the first floor of BIA's departure hall, this lounge is where you pamper yourself before boarding your flight.

 

The lounge has a very chill and relaxing ambience.

 

You'll be greeted with warm Sri Lankan hospitality.

 

The Serendib Lounge offers sitting capacity up to 80 pax and dining capacity of 20 pax. And if you need to send out some urgent emails or print some documents, there is a business centre that offers printing, photocopying, internet enabled PCs, wifi connectivity, and phone and laptop charging stations. There is a napping lounge with massaging chairs that you might want to take advantage of. You don't have to worry about missing your flights as the staff will wake you up according to your boarding call time.

 

The lounge has a nice view of the aircrafts parking bay.

 

There is a self service liquor bar that offers a wide variety of booze for your drinking pleasure.

 

You have a selection of wine, whiskies, vodka, gin, beers and even champagne for your enjoyment.

 

Chiller for the beers, champagne, soft-drinks and even juices.

 

And, best of all, Camus XO!

 

Cheers! Camus XO on the rock.

 

Feeling peckish? The lounge offers a selection of hot and cold delicacies, from vegetarian, Arabic, Asian to Western.

 

Fresh juices and Ceylon tea; up to a selection of 16 high quality Ceylon tea.

 

Cold cuts and salads.

 

Local delicacies and desserts.

 

Here's my selection.

 

And I finish it off with a glass of champagne.

 

Cheers! I had just enough time to enjoy this glass of champagne before my flight's boarding call was announced on the PA. Time to board!

 

Here it is, looks amazingly comfy. My seat onboard flight UL115 from Colombo to Males.

 

The seats can recline all the way down and be a flat bed. It also has a massaging function.

 

Actually it looks and feels more like first class than business class.

 

Itadakimasu! My in-flight lunch with champagne. My personal rating for this meal is 7/10.

 

Done with lunch so it's time to chill and enjoy the flight. Let's try out the flat bed feature.

 

Feels great to be able to lie down flat while flying. The in-flight entertainment has a nice collection of chill out lounge music, local and international movies and even games. You can navigate the screen with a small console controller that's equipped with a trackball. Since it was only an hour's flight from Colombo to Males, I didn't get to enjoy it as much as I would love to.

 

As the plane was descending this particular sand bar caught my attention. I was lucky that I manage dto capture it. It looks like a smiley face! I wonder if it's natural or man made.

 

Maldives is an island nation made up of 26 natural atolls. Atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef or a string of closely spaced small coral islands, enclosing or nearly enclosing a shallow lagoon. There are bout 1,190 islands in total.

 

Maldivian are known for their hospitality and friendliness. It's country with a population of 341,256 locals and 60,000 registered foreigner currently working mainly at the resorts and as seaplane pilots. Maldivian ancestral roots can be traced back to Sinhala’s of Sri Lanka, Marathi’s and Guajarati’s of India, Arabs, Malays and Northern African dispositions. The national religion of Maldives is Islam and the common currency used there is US dollars. So if you are going there, it is advisable to bring USD and remember to have them is small denominations that you will be using as tips.

 

Male International Airport. Photo from www.maleairport.com

 

I'm finally here!

 

The main form of transportation is water taxi or seaplanes. Off to Chaaya Island Dhonveli resort on the speedboat from Male International Airport. I just realized I had a similar selfie of myself on a speedboat taken in Belize Central America in 2002 (pix below).

 

 A selfie of myself on the speedboat from Belize city in Central America to the Norwegian Sun back in 2002. Shot with Nikon F4e + 24-85mm f/3.5-4 IF ED on Fuji Superia 200 film.

 

The arrival jetty at Chaaya Island Dhonveli resort.

 

 And here's my room.

 

 It's very spacious.

 

 

And a huge bathroom.

 

 It is equipped with an outdoor bath tub and shower.

 

Upon checking in, you will be issued a wrist band and it must be worn throughout your stay. This is the Standard All Inclusive package wrist band. This band allow you to drink at any of the bars and dine at any of the restaurants during your stay. However, ala carte items will be charged.

 

A chef serving me hopper during breakfast.

 

Breakfast before island hoping and hotel inspections.

 

The first stop is Bandos Island. Photo from Google.

 

Bandos has a total of 215 rooms and is conveniently located just 7km from Male International Airport. It has everything you need from spas, medical clinics,  dive center, restaurants, bars, etc.

 

 Living room of the water villa.

 

 The king sized bed.

 

 The bathroom.

 

Personal jacuzzi.

 

View of the water villa from the sea. Photo from Bandos Maldives.

 

This is the Jacuzzi beach villas which is located on the white sandy beach overlooking the lagoon. It was fully occupied that day so we couldn't check out the room. But here are some pic I took from their website.

 

The bedroom upstairs. Photo from Bandos Maldives.

 

Your personal jacuzzi in the backyard. Photo from Bandos Maldives.

 

 This is the Jacuzzi Pool Villa with cabana sun deck and a private infinity pool overlooking the beach.

 

View from the cabana sun deck.

 

 Your very own jacuzzi in the bathroom.

 

 The room.

 

 Next stop, we head over to Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa. It's 20 minutes by speedboat from the airport island.

 

This is my personal favourite out of the 3 resorts. We didn't get to check out all the rooms they as they were occupied. So we inspect what's available. Shot with Sony RX100 Mark 3.

 

 Chentara is an adult only resort so no kids are allowed. Ideal for couples and those who just wanna get away from the noisy kids. Guests must be 12 and above. So let's check out their rooms! LOL

 

 This is the Deluxe Water Villa.

 

 The bedroom.

 

 Sunset view of the room. Photo from Centara's website.

 

 View of the sun deck. Photo from Centara's website.

 

 The Viu Bar.

 

 This bar is located near the lagoon and it's on stilts.

 

 One of its unique design is the center of the bar where guests can sit and drink while looking into the water. Well, you're not supposed to jump in although it's definitely very tempting to do so.

 

 A simple gazebo by the beach for small wedding receptions.

 

 Ocean Front Beach Villa

 

 With your own beach chairs

 

 Massage room in Spa Cenvaree

 

 Chill out lounge

 

La Brezza restaurant near the pool. All the bars and restaurants' floor are filled with white sand. It's really nice to chill and dine with your shoes off. A really relaxing experience, a barefoot paradise.

 

 The pool side sun deck

 

 The pool

 

 The beach front

 

An aerial view of Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa. Photo from Centara's website.

 

 And the last island we visited was the Paradise Resort Island. Located at the North Male atoll, this resort is huge!

 

 Sun deck of the Ocean suite

 

 With your own bath tub on the sun deck facing the lagoon

 

 Bathroom that allows you to access directly to the sun deck

 

Path way connecting all the water villas and suites

 

Dining hall of Farumathi seafood restaurant.

 

 This is the Haven Suite.

 

Comes with your own private pool deck.

 

I was told the President of China stayed in this suite when he was in Maldives.

 

 Huge bathroom area.

 

 Makeup area.

 

 The bedroom.

 

 Superior beach bungalow

 

Aerial view of Paradise Resort Island. Photo from tropicaldestinationmaldives.com

Due to time constraint, I didn't walk around the islands that we inspected. For the most parts, we were driven around in a resort buggy. That's why I had to grab some of the photos online to give you a better idea of those resorts. It was an interesting day doing hotel and resort inspection with the owner of Hybrid Holidays.

 

Good morning! A chef doing Chinese style fried noodle for me during breakfast.

 

Breakfast of the day.

 

The next few days is gonna be free and easy after I'm done shooting my client's travel portraits. This is the view of the lagoon at Chaaya Island Dhoneli taken from the beach front near the spa.

 

This is actually my beach bungalow.

 

The view from my beach bungalow.

 

Double storey beach bungalow.

 

 

Chaaya Island Dhonveli is surrounded by greenary. Everywhere you walk there are nice trees.

 

 

And there are lots of crabs running free as well as dead corals on the rocky beach side.

 

 

 

 

 

Raalhu Bar at Surf Point.

 

 

 

Outside Raiyvilaa main bar.

 

This is the Raiyvilaa which is the main bar.

 

Raiyvilaa bar.

 

Raiyvilaa bar.

 

The arrival point at the jetty.

 

 

Surf point.

 

Surf point.

 

Water bungalows(left) and beach bungalows(right).

 

 

 

Beach bungalows overlooking the lagoon.

 

 

 

 

All the shots of the surfers below were shot with Nikon D750 + AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VR on DX cropt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset shot with the Sony RX100 Mark 3. Too bad it was pretty cloudy and wasn't that warm of a sunset.

 

Tried it on BW with Sony RX100 Mark 3.

 

Some of you who are are following me on FB or IG would have seen all the food shots I've been posting each day. So here are some shots of the restaurant I ate in every day. It's called Maakana Restaurant.

 

It's all buffet style unless you order off the menu.

 

 

 

 

This is my breakfast of the day. Freshly fried sunny side up egg. After breakfast I decided to visit a new friend I made when I was on the speed boat from the airport to the island. She is the manager of the spa on this island. They were giving free short shoulder massage that day as it was Global Wellness Day.

 

 

 

 

Getting my shoulder massage on the beach outside the spa.

 

 

Shot this with the Sony RX100 Mark 3. The image coming out of such a small camera is amazing.

 

 

 The spa is made out of multiple small chalets where each have different facilities and privacy.

 

This is the massage room. I didn't visit all the rooms as some were occupied by guests. 

 

This is Vera.

 

This is Yani the spa manager in her Balinese pose. I met Yani on the speed boat from the airport. But we didn't talk as the engine of the boat was really loud. I happened to bumped into her again the same night when I went to the bar for a drink and she was friendly to chat with me as I was alone.

 

 Vera in her Balinese pose.

 

 Vera has been working in Maldives for a few years and she's loving it. Well, it's Maldives who wouldn't?

 

Yani changed out of her spa uniform and requested me to take this shot of her. LOL
And she then asked Vera if she would like to have some pix taken by me in the spa's massage room and so we did.

 

 Vera in the bath tub having a bubble bath.

 

Vera has never done any shoots before.

 

But she's doing well so far. So her boss Yani even suggested that we do a bikini shoot of her. LOL
And we did. I'll post that up in my next post.

 

On the massage bed in the main massage chalet.

 

The chalet has glass walls all around the massage room so you can see the garden outside while getting massage or you can also close the curtain if you prefer privacy.

 

The view of the lagoon from the spa. Chaaya Island Dhonveli is really a place to relax and get away from the hectic city life. But for me, 4 days here is more than enough. As you can see from all the photos above, there's only so much you can do on this island unless you go out on island hoping excursions during the day. Most of the guests here are either honeymooners, married couples on their anniversary getaway, or those traveling in a group like these Korean girls I met on my last day here. Pics below.

 

They were on day trip island excursion.

 

I bumped into them when I was walking around the island killing time before departure.

 

So we took some fun shots.

 

Selfie with the Sony RX100 Mark 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boat ride was so bumpy and windy that their hats nearly flew off.

 

Sayonara Maldives! It was a great experience. But definitely a lot more to explore in Maldives. With 1,190 islands in Maldives, it'll take a life time to explore them all. Hope I get to explore Maldives again in the near future!

 Special thanks to Sri Lankan Airline for the great hospitality and for the upgrade to business class.

For those of you who are interested to travel to Maldives, contact Hybrid Holidays and they'll specially tailor a package just for you. Remember to tell them how you heard about them!

70% of the images in this post were shot with the Sony RX100 Mark 3 while the remaining were shot with Nikon D750. Thanks Sony Malaysia for the test unit.