Serenity and sunshine welcomed Samantha Gibson from Flight Centre New Plymouth when she visited the Maldives on her recent surfing holiday.
Nestled in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a coral island with breathtaking views and sheer beauty. It is perhaps one of the most luxurious destinations you'll ever encounter with cobalt blue waters, bright blue skies and all year sunshine – making the Maldives the perfect paradise for honeymooners, sun lovers, divers & snorkelers alike.
Immediately upon arriving I can feel the sun dancing on my skin, the miniature heat waves hovering over the surface of my body. It is the same heat you feel when sitting too close to the bonfire while roasting marshmallows on the beach. The glowing circle in the sky is strong and it feels amazing on my winter white skin. The lapping of the ripples on the lagoon shoreline is all I can hear. Complete serenity. This is the beauty of the Maldives.
The airport is located on its own island. The capital, Male, is the next island over. It takes roughly a day of travelling to reach the Maldives from Auckland; we broke our trip up by spending a week in Sri Lanka first. I highly recommend this as not only do you get to experience the colourful culture and diversity of Sri Lanka but you also adjust into the time difference which comes with Asia holidays, arriving refreshed for your island holiday.
The harbour is directly outside the airport; we piled up our bags and surfboards and raced to Thulusdhu Island. It is a small island in the Northern Atolls of the Maldives. It takes roughly 30 minutes by speed boat. The island is known as the Coca Cola Island as a factory is located near the wharf. It is the only factory in the world where the famously addictive drink is made from desalinated water.
Visiting this local island is not for the luxurious holiday makers looking for a home away from home. This adventure is for those that are hungry to experience a place which takes you out of your comfort zone, a gorgeous island getaway with a twist.
Maldivians are Muslim but while the locals are strict on their beliefs it is also part of Thulusdhu’s charm. You are constantly reminded that you are far away from home, completely outside the safe walls of western culture. You must respect the culture and make sure you are covered up when in the villages. Bikinis are acceptable in the lagoon, surfing and on the beach in front of your home stay, so a tan is possible to boast about when you return to the land of the long white cloud.
We arrived at Thulusdhu Surf Camp thirsty to go surfing. It is a 3 minute walk across a crystal clear lagoon and a pathway through the forest to the waves. There is a clearing with a seat made from a bright red snapped surf board. You paddle out along the reef being mindful of the sea urchins awaiting naive bare feet.
Our first surf was at Chickens, a breaking wave visible from Thulusdhu camp across the islands’ channel. The current is too strong to attempt to paddle across. We boarded a local boat to the waves and dived into the warm water. It is incredibly clear; it is like jumping into a tank at a marine park. There are numerous beautifully coloured fish cruising around their coral homes. A rumour of tiger sharks hunting in the waves right before we paddled out made my nerves shake, however I was assured by the crew that all the sharks roaming the reef are well fed and are friendly.
All our days were consumed with ocean fun, village roaming, sunbathing and local encounters. The day that highlights in my memory is the day I was filming surfers cut through the waves’ glassy face at Cokes. I let my skin absorb the warm rays of the sun as I focused the camera lens on the ocean. Staring at the rolling swell I spotted a dolphin spin out of the deep ocean. There were in fact hundreds of them. The deep channel that separates Thulusdhu Island from its neighbour has dolphins pass through at sunrise and sunset. This was the first time I had seen so many in the middle of the day.
Somewhat nervously, I squeezed my feet into some flippers and squashed my face in an extremely tight snorkel mask before jumping into the warmth of the Indian Ocean. My eyes widened as I saw the glowing blue shadows of spinner dolphins gracefully powering through the deep. Hundreds of spinner dolphins surrounded me; they spun, jumped and circled each other.
There is a misconception that the Maldives resorts are only for the rich, famous and honeymooners. However you can definitely experience these beautiful islands on a shoestring budget. The stunning island of Thuludhu offers backpackers accommodation right on a surf break known as Cokes. The boutique well-priced rooms at Thulushu surf camp have air conditioning, a bathroom, a fan and warm water showers.
The Maldives is known for its strong surf community and it is targeted at surfers, though non surfers who do not mind something raw and a little rough around the edges will enjoy the simple life of the island. The locals greet you with warm smiles and amazing English. If you surf, love snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, marine life, experiencing a culture which is nothing like the westernized views and being somewhere completely different to New Zealand, then this is the place you want to venture to.
Looking for more information on holidays in the Maldives? Contact a Flight Centre travel expert – 135 stores nationwide. Phone 0800 24 35 44.