16th April, 2018
After a few weeks time out due to a combination of poor wifi and fast travel, I am back and getting stuck in – thanks for hanging around.
Unlike so many – the Maldives has never been on my bucket list.
I know what you’re thinking: stunning beaches, over water bungalows, beautiful weather and all the rest…I must be mad right? Perhaps I am, but it was never on my radar until we were in Sri Lanka and being so close, we decided to make a trip over, on a special mission for Spencer’s 10th birthday. His dream, for a long time, has been to swim with sea turtles – so the search was on! #turtlepower
We flew with Emirates for the first time and oh.my.goodness – SO flash! Not only a TV each, with all the latest movies – but a hand console with games as well. Delicious food and beverages and wonderful service. We were all very impressed. It was a shame the flight wasn’t longer…!
Arriving late at night into Male, the country’s capital – the ferries and speedboats had finished for the day – so we stayed the night in Hulhumale at Planktons Beach.
(If you’re staying at one of the private 5 star resorts, they usually have their own speed boats, and can collect you from the airport when you arrive if pre-arranged, so you won’t need to worry about additional accommodation on the main land…)
We were staying on Thulusdhoo Island. A local island located north of Male and super popular for its surfing spots.
Thulusdhoo is a half hour speed boat ride or a 2 hour ferry ride from the mainland.
Now, I don’t know about you – but our option was pay less than $10AUD for the 4 of us via ferry, or $200AUD for a half hour speed boat (one way)…needless to say – we chose the ferry.
It was an old rickety thing – but got us there safe and sound and it was nice to cruise slowly past all of the big resorts you see in the glossy magazines.
There are quite a few options for accommodation on Thulusdhoo. We chose to stay at Canopus Resort for around $220AUD per night.
Canopus is one of only a few hotels on the island located right on the beach which is where we started each day for breakfast.
Hammocks swinging from palm trees, fresh tasty food from the hotels restaurant and friendly staff – we had all we needed.
We were invited into the home of a local family for dinner one evening, along with some other guests staying at Canopus.
We sat around the dinner table feasting on traditional Maldivian cuisine and talking with other travellers from Slovenia and Holland. It was pretty special!
Other Accommodation Options on Thulusdhoo:
Another gorgeous property is Samura at around $400 per night. Samura is booked out months in advance. Like Canopus, it is located on the beach and has the most stunning decor. I was swooning every time we wandered past.
Season Paradise is also lovely for approximately $250 a night. Set a little further off the beach, but has a rooftop pool with a terrific view of the ocean and also a great restaurant where we enjoyed dinner a few times.
There are also quite a few guest houses and smaller hotels for a reasonable rate, if working with a tighter budget.
Our days were relaxed – foraging for hermit crabs, wandering the island, exploring all of the beautifully coloured streets and enjoying the magnificent sunsets.
We also spent some time over at Club Med Kani. The resort is a 15 minute speed boat ride from Thulusdhoo and it is incredible!!! We have done the Club Med thing in the past and we love the fact that everything is done for you. No need to think about a single thing when staying at a Club Med property…besides which cocktail you’d like to order at 11am…
Club Med Resorts are all-inclusive. Accommodation, all meals including morning and afternoon canapés, beverages – including selected alcoholic beverages, activities, kids club, selected water sports and entertainment.
We once said – when staying at a Club Med property in Indonesia – that it is like being on a cruise ship. Super cheesy staff – always happy and over enthusiastic, and we simply love everything about it!!!
Daily rates at Club Med Kani start from $2,100 for 2 adults and 2 children, up to $6,000 for over the water bungalows with panoramic views – all inclusive.
Day Passes are also available for $180AUD for adults and $90AUD for children.
A day pass allows access to those not staying at the resort – but who would like to come for a day trip and enjoy some luxury,
The pass is valid from 10am – 5pm and includes food and beverage as stated above, as well as limited water sports and access to the resort facilities.
We woke the big 10 year old in typical ‘Travelling Tribe’ style with handmade cards and paper decorations. He eagerly opened his gifts and spoke on the phone with family and friends back home, all whilst proudly donning his birthday crown.
Did We Find A Turtle?!
Dreams do come true kids!!
We hired a speed boat and an awesome driver who took us out snorkeling at the most beautiful sand bank I have ever seen. We then headed out into the open water where we jumped in and within moments, Andrew and Lily spotted a solo sea turtle cruising so gracefully through the water. I quickly scooted Spencer over and could hear him screaming through the snorkel mask. He was so, so thrilled. We all were. Andrew and the kids all had life jackets on so they could just bobble in the water and not worry about the strong current, but I wasn’t wearing one, so I dove down and it was just incredible swimming along side such a beautiful creature.
It felt like time stood still for a few moments. Andrew got some great video footage of the kids – I can’t wait to share that with you!
The birthday boy was spoilt with not one, but two cakes and declared that it was “The very BEST birthday ever!!”
Being a local island – there are certain rules and laws tourists must respect and abide by.
The Maldives is an Islamic country. Therefore alcohol is banned for the local population.
In saying that – if you’re staying on a private island (5 star resorts etc, this will not apply).
Alcohol is not available to buy on Thulusdhoo, but this didn’t worry us too much.
There is ONE spot on Thulusdhoo where you’re able to get into your bathers and swim or relax on a sun lounge, and it is called Bikini Beach.
So whilst the beach is RIGHT OUT the front of Canopus, we had to wander up to the corner of the island to swim and respect the rules. It was only a few minutes walk anyway – the island isn’t very big.
There are a couple of little stores around the island where you’re able to stock up on snacks and drinks (soft, of course!), sunscreen, toiletries etc. (Luckily we also found some wrapping paper for Spence!!) Also, the opening hours are very loose. A few times we walked up for some supplies only to find the door locked and a closed sign up.
Cash Money Moolah-
The island, like most of the Maldives, runs on the US dollar. Hotels, mini marts, the mens Barber down the road – all charge in US dollars.
There are NO ATM’s on the island – but the Season Paradise Hotel will allow you to get cash out at their reception counter for a fee of $5US.
There are quite a few dining options on the island.
-Fusion by Canopus:
We had a lot of meals at Canopus as we found their menu to be extensive enough for us, and great value.
-Season Paradise was also super delicious and nice for a change of scene. Scrumptious curry and rice dishes.
-Toulouse by Salsa was also really good. BEST iced coffee on the island! Great for lunch or dinner. Huge menu and super tasty food!
-Contagious Pizza was closed during our stay – but apparently it is AMAZING!!
Be sure to take mosquito repellant with you – the little biters are everywhere!!
So in conclusion – yes, indeed you can do the Maldives on a budget. But personally, if I had $250-$300 per night to spend on a tropical getaway – I would head elsewhere.
The true Maldivian experience really should be done at a 5 star resort (if you have the budget of $1000’s per night…)
In saying this – our goal was to find a sea turtle for Spence – and we did it. In the Maldives. And we will always remember that!