During the trip we visited five new countries- Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
While planning the trip, Kim and I knew that our visit to the Maldives wouldn’t be the classic experience. (Most people think of the Maldives and picture overwater bungalows and luxury.)
I had originally planned to visit the island nation around a year back. The plan was to use our Hyatt free nights from the credit card sign up bonus to stay at the Park Hyatt. However, when I priced the cost of the seaplane ride to get there, that idea quickly disappeared. (Instead, we used our Hyatt free nights on a family visit to the Park Hyatt St Kitts.)
When factoring in the problem of seaplanes being super expensive and that I get seasick, we were limited as to where we’d stay during our time in the Maldives.
After much debate and research, we settled on a budget friendly (while still not cheap) visit the the island of Maafushi.
We booked a three-nights stay at the Arena Beach Hotel which had very solid reviews. The cost of our stay was $169 per night, including breakfast and dinner. With various taxes and fees, our total came to $694.77. (This did not include a $36 fee owed to the hotel.)
In the end, our $169 per night room came to over $240 per night!
We also booked a fourth night at a cheap hotel close to the airport for $98.32.
Overall, our lodging on the Maldives was much pricier than we usually spend. Regardless, the hotel got the job done and we didn’t break the bank in doing so. The only thing Arena Beach is was missing is a pool. Just outside the hotel there’s a beach which we spent a good amount of time at. The kids loved playing in the sand while I preferred staying in the water most of the time.The water just outside the hotel was pretty rocky but if we went just around a breakwater, the water was smooth as could be. I wish we figured this out on day 1!There wasn’t much to do on Maafushi but we did wander around a bit, visiting some small shops. We also saw locals sitting on these interesting seats made from metal (and what reminded me of basketball hoop) nets.We took some time relaxing the ways the locals do, enjoying awesome views of the crystal clear water.We also liked seeing these signs and sculptures.
While hanging around the beachside dining area at Arena Beach Hotel, we did one of our favorite beach activities.We had fun catching and playing with the hermit crabs. We love seeing all of the different sizes of the crabs as well as the variety of shells they take up residence in!It’s also pretty ticklish as the hermit crabs walk across the palm of your hand!
We took one group excursion to go snorkeling, see dolphins and have lunch on a sand bar. We had hoped to do these kind of trips a second time but the schedules didn’t work well for us.
The excursions offered by Arena Beach Hotel were reasonably priced and the staff were incredible. For a full day trip with lunch and snorkeling gear included, I think it cost $25 per adult and half for our seven year old Lucas. There was no cost for Theo who was two at the time.Visibility in the water was excellent and we saw tons of fish. This was primarily due to the fact that the boat crews chum the water to entice the fish to come close by.
Kim and I took turns snorkeling and I’d say that we probably spent around an hour at the first stop.We then moved on to an area where we’d see turtles. The water was very choppy so I didn’t get off of the boat. Kim went snorkeling in the area and saw quite a few turtles.
One of the guides dove down a bit deeper to get this shot of a turtle for us with our underwater camera.
I couldn’t wait to leave the area for a calmer part. I was also excited at the prospect of seeing dolphins!After a short boat ride, we were all excited to see loads of dolphins swimming in pairs or groups. We’d see a few, they’d disappear and then we’d see more elsewhere. We even saw a few dolphins almost completely dive out of the water!
During our last day, we took it easy before catching the hotel’s boat back to Male. We had an early flight to Sri Lanka to catch the following morning so we needed to be close to the airport.
Just an FYI, boat transfers aren’t usually included with your hotel stay. We paid $25 each way per adult and half for Lucas. Theo was free since he didn’t take up a seat.We enjoyed the hour- long boat rides since we got glimpses of other islands, some of which had the famed overwater bungalows.While having an early dinner during our last day in the Maldives, we enjoyed doing some plane spotting. It was amazing to see just how many seaplanes were coming and going.
Overall, we had a great time on the Maldives. Beach vacations aren’t my ideal kind of trip but I can manage for a few days. Also, spending four days out of a month- long trip on these islands isn’t the worst thing to do! We were there off season and had perfect weather.
Considering I’d like to visit as many countries as possible, I was happy to visit the Maldives and check it off my list!
Many people would say that the Maldives isn’t an ideal place to take kids. I wouldn’t exactly disagree but our kids had a great time. We also saw quite a few other kids on Maafushi who also looked like they were having a great time!
If you’re a family living in North America and want to go away just to spend some time on the beach, the Maldives probably isn’t the best option. Considering we were traveling South Asia for a month, it worked out very well for us!