The Maldives is a place I have always dreamed about travelling to. It’s the kind of destination most girls, and probably many guys, pin to their mood boards and set aside for the future. The kind of dreamy illusion that most people in the world view as an unobtainable fantasy, while a small view will make it a reality. One of the world’s premier honeymoon destinations, I guess I always thought that’s what would take me there too. I never, in a million years, thought I would end up on a solo adventure to the beautiful Vilamendhoo Resort Maldives.
When I turned 30 earlier this year, I honestly felt a little bit lost. I had recently completed my “life-long” (apparently the ripe old age of 30 seemed terribly old when I was a child!) bucket list goal of travelling to 50 countries before I turned 30. I had only recently quit my full time job, a job I was actually very good at, in pursuit of living life on my own terms. Life as a freelance writer and digital nomad was, surprisingly, turning out very well and I was making a pretty nice income in between trips abroad. When I won a place on a 2 week blogger trip in Kerala in India, I know that was my chance to really give life on the road a go. I had a one way ticket to Asia with very little plans indeed.
As a 30 year old backpacker, you see and experience things a little differently from the rest of the backpacker crowd. Sure you get drunk and go on crazy party cruises every now and then, but I felt like I didn’t always fit in with the crowd being a good 10 years older than the majority, and certainly didn’t feel like following the crowd on a regular basis. Pub crawl? No thanks. Another pub crawl? Again…no thanks. At times I felt like I was turning into my Mother, reminding girls much younger than me to cover up going to the temples and to be careful when heading out at night time.
Around half way through my trip I knew that I needed to change things up. Sticking to the banana pancake trail with the throngs of other young backpackers for four months simply wasn’t going to satisfy my desire for adventure and off-the-beaten track destinations. I started an online poll on my Facebook page where I asked my blog followers to vote on which country I should fly to at the end of May. They had a choice between Maldives, China, Indonesia, Brunei, Myanmar or Laos. As you can see from the poll below, Maldives won by a long shot. And thus starts the story of how I found myself on a one way flight to paradise with not much of a plan at all!
My original plan was to travel the Maldives on a budget using Couchsurfing and Airbnb, in an attempt to prove that you most certainly do not have to be rich or married (!!) to travel in paradise. While I 100% feel I achieved that, I decided no trip to the Maldives would be complete without splashing out on a night on a resort island. I wanted the full experience, the one people dream about. Being whizzed around in a fan speed boat, sleeping in a over-water bungalow and being transported from one island to another by seaplane. So many things to tick off the bucket list, experiences I would never forget.
I settled on Vilamendhoo Island Resort for many reasons. First of all, it’s located in the South Ari Atoll, and i was keen to explore a new part of the country having spent most of my time in the North Male Atoll. Vilamendhoo Island is also one of the best value-for-money resorts in the Maldives, offering all the luxury for half the price tag. Exactly the type of place I adore, and i knew my readers would appreciate! Oh…and the only way to get here is by SEAPLANE. Jackpot.
I took a morning flight from Male to Vilamendhoo Island with Trans Maldivian Air, known to be the best seaplane operator in the Maldives. Oh, and home to the friendliest (and not bad looking, if i may say so!) pilots I’ve ever encountered. You know you’re on holidays when even your pilot is wearing flip flops and a pair of shorts!
The flight was incredible, and one of the Trans Maldivan crew members even took my camera and took some kick-ass shots from me from the back of the plane where he had the best view of the tropical islands below. The view of Male city (the most compact capital city in the world) was pretty spectacular form the air, as you can see form the snap I took below out the plane window.
The plane landed smoothly and we disembarked onto a very small pontoon floating about 200 metres from Vilamendhoo resort. It was pretty strange getting off a plane onto a tiny pontoon in the middle of the ocean!! We were then met by a boat owned by the resort, which transported us (all 8 of us!!) to the island of my dreams.
My first step onto Vilamendhoo, ever before I had seen the infinity pool or my incredible beach villa, or the insane buffet and open bar, I already knew I was in heaven! The General manager actually offered to give me a short tour of the island which was great, especially as it showed me featured and facilities I never would have found by myself. untruth though, I was keen just to jump into the water so was pretty happy the tour only lasted an hour!
He showed me my picture perfect beach villa, complete with a welcome bottle of wine (!!) and panoramic views of the ocean. I honestly believe I had the best room on the island. There was a bannock right outside, hanging off a tree in typical Maldivan style (different from the hammocks we know back home).
The manager set me up with a snorkelling trip around the island, which pretty much just involves strolling from the beach to the reef, and spending an hour swimming along the edge of the island surrounded my hundreds of thousand son tropical
fish. Vilamendhoo Resort is quite unique in that the reef is just metres from the beach. You don’t need to take a boat or anything, you can go on snorkelling trips and ocean dives, straight from the beach.
You can also spot turtles and small sharks just off the beach. I spotted two sharks circling around right under the water villas at the other end of the island. i just stood there for 10 minutes watching them, sort of in shock at how close they were to the shore. if you’re feeling brave, the hotel organises day trip to go swimming with whale sharks. Sadly I didn’t have enough time but if i go back I will DEFINITELY be doing that day trip!
What boggles my mind about the Maldives is the entire hotel and resort set up. Almost half the entire country consists of privately owned islands. On each of the island is a private resort, with absolutely everything a 5 star resort might need on the island. Think swimming pools, restaurants, tennis courts, water tanks, food supply…everything. Vilamendhoo Resort Maldives is no different. They have a boat that arrives on the island with enough food and drink supplies for the entire week. Heaven forbid there should ever be a storm on delivery day!
Everything and anything you might want or expect at a 5 star resort is available, all within this small but stunningly beautiful private island. The spa is by far one of then highlights of the entire resort. The treatment rooms have glass squares in the floor so you can watch all sorts of marine life passing by as you get your massage of choice. The view from the relaxation room is also out of this world – i could have sat there for hours!
While I was only on Vilamendhoo Resort Maldives for two days (what I would have done to stay longer!!) I managed to fit a lot in and there was no stage when I thought, “Oh how I wish I was here with someone else”. I think when a place is that beautiful, you can appreciate the beauty all on your won. Sometimes having time to yourself, time to think about where you are in life, and time to simply unwind, relax and just be is so important.
Sure I had a lot of fun trying to take some cleverly posed pictures for Instagram, and got a few strange looks every time I set my camera on timer and ran down the beach to pose, but if anything it made me enjoy my trip even more.
From that one incredible breakfast, to jumping on the islands private tall ship to pose for some Titanic-esque photos, my snorkelling adventure, cocktails by the pool and just wandering around the island of my dreams, it’s hard to believe how much I managed to fit in to a two day period. of course I recommend you to stay longer, but if just one night is on your budget….go for it! It’s an experience you will NEVER forget.
If you are thinking of visiting the Maldives, be it on a luxury solo adventure or on your honeymoon, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try answer any questions you might have as best I can.
Many of my travel blogging friends have also has the pleasure of spending time here, so you might want to check out their great articles below.
Blog posts about the Maldives:
Honeymoon Of Our Dreams – Girl Tweets World
Rejuvenating in Male – Getting Stamped
Maldives On A Budget – Be My Travel Muse
Hanging Out In The Maldives – Young Adventuress
Here’s some more of my favourite pics from my trip, and what a trip it was.
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Many thanks to Vilamendhoo Resort who very kindly sponsored my stay in the Maldives and to Trans Maldivan Air gifting me my first ever seaplane flight. While sponsored, all opinions are of course my own, as always!
Looking for more luxury travel inspiration? Why not check out this post about travel in the Seychelles.