I wanted to share my experience of a kind of "atypical" journey to the Maldives. Still, upon arrival I was almost blinded by the "typical" beautiful white sand and turquoise water reflecting the coconut palms that you usually see on postcards. I enjoyed the trip so much that I can't wait to go back again.
I went there in April 2019 with an Italian university from Milan - Bicocca. They were offering a course on tropical fish and being a marine scientist and advanced diver, I just couldn't resist. I payed a fee for the course which included all the food and beverages as well as the accommodation - we were staying in the research center so it was no luxury resort and no alcohol was permitted on the entire island. Alcohol is illegal in the Maldives and only the resorts and some restaurants in really touristic cities like the capital Malè have permits to sell it. Another thing that is not allowed in the local islands, contrary to the resorts, is bikinis. Showing skin is inappropriate in the Muslim religion and you are not allowed to have shorts or walk around with no shirt. Nonetheless, the food the local women prepared for us every day was super tasty and they made different specialties everyday. We even had flower arrangements set out as decorations. It was really wonderful. My flight was an Etihad airlines from Madrid, Spain with layover in Abu Dhabi and arrival to Malè some 18 hours later. The university organized transport from the airport to the island where we stayed and on average two dives per day for the 10 days of our stay. Usually we would have classes in the afternoon and we would work on mini projects in the evening. The island was so small we didn't even need a lot of free time to be able to visit it. It was around 700m long and more or less 300m wide so in half an hour you could pretty much visit it all. The locals were very friendly and would try to talk to us in english or teach us local words. However, the real attraction for us was underwater. I would advise anyone going to the Maldives to at least do some snorkeling 'cause without it you don't see the best part of the country - in my opinion. Another thing I learned was that there are "Guest houses" on the local islands in every atoll and they cost much less then the resorts (seen that it is not luxury and no alcohol is allowed). On our last day we visited Malè and the typical fruit and veg markets as well as the world famous fish market. Overall, I would say that it was an amazing way to be introduced to their culture and enjoy the beautiful reefs and tropical fish of the Indian ocean. Surely, a short post like this is not enough to transmit all the feelings the Maldives arose in me, but I tried my best! Keep traveling and smile! 😊✈️