I can’t remember when I first found out about a place called the Maldives, but I do remember the effect discovering such a paradise had on me: instant, intense feelings of yearning and strong desire, no - NEED to go there.  I must have been in the travel section of some book store, and stumbled upon a cover photo of a beautiful desert island, with white sand, turquoise waters, azure skies, and a hammock effortlessly strung up between palm trees, swaying lazily in the breeze.  Or maybe I came upon it while doing an internet search.  In any case, once I was aware of it, i knew I MUST one day go.

The Maldives are made up of 26 atolls with over 1000 islands, off the coast of India and Sri Lanka, in the Indian Ocean.  They are very shallow; in fact, 99% of the country is under water.  Many of the islands disappear during high tide, but all of them are beautiful, with pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear water, swaying palm trees, and breath-taking views.

It always seemed like a far away dream, but fast forward to two months ago, and the brilliant idea popped into my head.  I knew I would be going to India, and the Maldives is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, right?  It was the perfect opportunity.  It only took a little persuasion from my Japanese neighbor, who had been there a few years earlier, and the tip from my sister that the islands are actually sinking, to convince me that it was now or never (I am very open to suggestion, especially when travel is involved).   So it was decided, we were going to paradise!

I didn’t realize that you have to really want to go to the Maldives to get there.  It’s not an easy trip.  There were no direct flights from India, so we had to fly through Sri Lanka, spend the night in the Sri Lankan airport, fly to Male the next morning, and then get on a speedboat for an hour in order to get to our island.  Of course, I thought it was all worth it for the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow, but I could tell all this travel was wearing on my parents.  I kept reminding them how amazingly beautiful it would be when we got there, but I had the feeling that, with each delayed flight, they were believing me less and less.  Truthfully, I was having to go overtime to convince myself too.

See, we were supposed to leave Delhi that evening at 7:15pm, arrive in Sri Lanka at 10:40pm, check into our hotel and sleep a few hours, and then leave for Male at 7:30 am the next morning.  Sri Lankan Airlines had other ideas…  Our flight was delayed until about 11pm and did not arrive in Sri Lanka until 2:30am.  We figured it would be pointless to go to a hotel and sleep for at most an hour, so we decided to settle in at the Sri Lankan airport with all the other passengers on lay overs.

They should really think about making that airport a hotel.  Either that, or fix the flight schedules!  Practically the whole place was filled with people camping out, waiting for flights, and it was hard to find an empty row of chairs to use as a makeshift bed.  I think I got at most an hour of sleep that night - probably 30 minutes is more accurate.

Then our flight to Male got cancelled and moved to 11am.  But then that got delayed another hour.  I think we ended up finally leaving the God forsaken Colombo airport at 1pm, and I truly believe it was a miracle.

On the plane, I pushed past my fatigue and started to get excited again.  We were so close!  I got a window seat and had my camera ready for what I anticipated to be amazing photos of the islands on our descent into Male.  Upon my first glimpse of pale turquoise water, I started taking shots.  It was so beautiful!  I couldn’t wait to be off this plane and into paradise!!!

a glimpse of a far-off island 

beautiful turquoise water

After claiming our luggage and taking the boat transfer to our hotel, we finally got to our resort.  The room was so nice, and the bathroom was amazing - it was half covered by the thatched roof, and the other half looked up to open skies.

the shower opened right up to the sky

On the back side of our room, there was a small patio, which led to the beach.  I could see the bright turquoise water through the lush tropical greenery and was so excited to rush down and start taking pictures.  The pathway opened to a shallow lagoon, with a few stingrays swimming along the edges.  As far as you could see, everything was turquoise and green, with pops of fuchsia and orange from the tropical flowers.

a view of the lagoon 

I love this pop of pink against the bright green leaves

a sting ray, skimming along the edge of the water, looking for food

There were lots of interesting creatures and plants on our island, and we spent the next morning exploring and taking photos.

coconuts on a palm tree

these lizards were everywhere!

I love these palms!

a little hermit crab

a view of the beach

there were so many hibiscus, I had to put one in my hair

Since it was monsoon season, it was a bit overcast, but that did not make it any less beautiful.  There was usually sun in the morning, and the clouds rolled in around two or three in the afternoon.  

If it did rain, it was still hot, so the rain felt good.  My mother and I spent a lot of time combing the beach for shells and tiny pieces of coral.  It was so nice to be in such a beautiful, relaxing place.  I think all the hassle in getting there was worth it, and I would love to go back.  The last night, I took these pretty photos:

I would love to go back someday, when I have more money and more time!