We just returned to Doha after nearly a week at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort in Maldives, situated southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. The Republic of Maldives is a Islamic state consisting of over a thousand islands, of which two hundred and fifty islands are inhabited. All major spots – the capital city, fisherman docks, resorts – have their own little island, nearly all are nestled within coral reefs. Most of the tourist we met were from Europe and the Middle East.
Even the airport has it’s own island. When you arrive, you walk out to a pier to locate your hotel’s speed boat. Some of the more distant locations warrant hoping on a puddle jumper to get there faster… not to mention, even from the height of a commercial airline, the view of the islands is amazing. Hundreds of islets poke out of countless reefs.The Sheraton Full Moon resort is a nice four-star hotel. Their beach cottages are well worth the upgrade cost. On our first night, the hotel staff spelled out “Happy Honeymoon” in flowers on our bed. To correct the minor oversight, we rearranged the letters to say “4th Anniversary.” The hotel service was a little sketchy at times, but the grounds and scenery were fantastic. Our beach cottage provided an outside shower in a private garden – something truly unique! The cottage was right next to the beach too. When heading out the front door, you walk through a well-maintained garden of various flowers, shrubs and trees. Out the back patio, your about 15 paces from the ocean.
With snorkeling gear in hand – goggles, breathing tube and fins – we cruised to different areas on a sail boat. We dropped into some great locations: the house reef and a place appropriately called the “coral gardens.” Laila was still new to snorkeling but adapted quickly. She’s even considering diving now. Maldives is fantastic for snorkeling, but I bet it’s heaven for diving.
I really enjoyed watching Laila snorkel. She never thought it was possible for someone who wasn’t a powerful swimmer, but she quickly learned otherwise. While swimming along the enormous house reef, on one side we were only a few feet from the fish. On the other side, it was impossible to tell how deep the water went. Despite the waters great clarity and the habitat’s vibrant colors. At one point, I saw a barracuda swim off the edge below us, but I kept quiet while it swam by.With her eyes lit up from the new experience, Laila compared snorkeling to “Shark Tales,” one of her favorite animated movies. She said it was like observing a saltwater community going about daily business, such as hunting, eating, chasing and sleeping. Even the white coral sands along the beach were full of activity. Almost every shell that could be occupied had a hermit crab snuggled inside. Fiddler crabs of all sizes scurry away from the pounding of human feet.
The evenings were cool and dimly lit; but by day break, everything was hot, humid and bright again. A local said this is their hottest time of the year. The peak summer months are the monsoon season, where overcast days help keep everyone cool. Since I arrived a tad too fair skinned, I had to start putting on SPF 45 sunblock after the first day. But I quickly found myself nursing a bad sunburn. I couldn’t get out of the sun (can’t stay in the hotel room!), so I had to adapt however possible. After a nice dinner in the evenings, we went right to sleep to start another early day in the sun.
The wildlife was wonderful, other than a bird that sounded like an annoying child all day, all night long. But there were less imposing and beautiful birds hanging out too, along with crabs crawling around everywhere, chameleons claiming different trees and bats flying around at sunset. Fish were always close by. Several schools were joined by rays and reef sharks waiting from someone to drop food off the overhead dining areas.
It was a great vacation. After all was said and done, I got a really nice tan during the vacation. But most of all, Laila and I really enjoyed touring the local reefs.