As a non-surfer I was surprised to see the number of boards being loaded off the plane. I didn’t realize that one or two of the atolls were ranked in the top 30 best surfing spots in the world. My prior knowledge was mainly about the over water bungalows, expensive resorts, and the fact that the country is sinking! This is the closest I got to one of those luxurious accommodations:
I stayed with the locals on the most populous island of Male, also the capital city.
While it took forever to get there from here….San Diego to Seattle to Tokyo to Singapore to Colombo to Male and many many hours in airports between flights….it was an enjoyable visit albeit much shorter than the journey.
The streets were more like alley ways and bikes were the preferred method of travel along with boats. Because it is part of a traditional trading route, the food embodies the spices and tastes of Indian food combined with lots of fish. Since it is a Muslim country one is not allowed to bring in any alcohol or pork products. And one is forbidden to take out any sand or seashells! Tourism and fishing are their major sources of income.
Villingili is an island just a short ferry ride away where one can leave the heavy foot traffic of the city and enjoy some peace, quiet and cooling feet in the warm Indian Ocean. Western style swimsuits for women are restricted to the private resort atolls.
I was lucky to discover an alternative to exploring the underwater caves and reefs. There is a submarine that has been outfitted with a large porthole at each seat that descends over 130 feet stopping to see colorful reefs, fish and even what looked like a two-headed eel!
Truly a paradise….hard to tell the sky from the sea!