50 Shades of Blue
The Maldives is the quintessential honeymoon destination, but it’s also the perfect place to go when you are single and in love with life.
The gal pals and I stayed at a guesthouse on a local island during October break, where we befriended long-term residents (hi, Ali!) and walked around the small atoll. During our meanderings we watched young girls playing badminton, families shopping, boys on the football pitch, friends gathering in front of homes. As the sun set, our fivesome was joined by local dive guides, families on holiday, families on a normal nightly stroll, and canoodling lovebirds. A beautiful combination of many walks of life.
When we landed on the tarmac in the middle of the Indian Ocean, we exited the airport and were immediately greeted by the sea. We ran through the pouring rain, hopped on the ferry, and crossed the ocean to Male. I haven’t yet wandered the streets of Cuba, but Male matched my imagined ideas of Havana, minus the 1950s vehicles. The buildings were brightly colored, all slightly different in shade and shape, and young attractive men idled under awnings waiting for the storm to pass. I could feel the bumping beats of a Cubano groove in my blood.
The ease of transport was a welcome surprise. It was simple enough to find the public ferry to Maafushi, our island paradise for the week, and we were never once bombarded by taxi drivers, or sarong-peddlers, or excursion guides. People in the Maldives are super friendly and helpful, but also super chill. And — have I mentioned — good looking?
All of our activities, of course, centered on the water. That blue-green-aquamarine water, with layer upon layer of color. Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, glamour shooting, cocktail sipping — all of it on or around the ocean.
Our penultimate dive finds itself among my tops dives ever. Hanging onto the reef so the current won’t pull us away, 30m deep, with reef sharks, eagle rays, and fishes galore circling around us — oh so good.
Snorkeling, admittedly one of my least favorite water activities, was glorious. This trip brought us glimpses of a pod of spinner dolphins. We couldn’t get as close to these beauties as my School Without Walls trip did in Marsa Allam, but what adrenaline as we chased them through the blue, following their squeaks and whistles, watching them rise up from the deep to crest the surface of the sea. Our own squeals of delight as we followed these beauties for over an hour drowned out that nagging suspicion that we would regret jumping straight into the sea as soon as we saw the fins without reapplying sunscreen. No regrets, of course, though my sunburned legs begged to differ.
One night, Ali, our guesthouse’s excursion guide and general good soul, offered to bring us to the beach to search out bioluminescence and baby sharks. Um, yes. While we watched young reef sharks and stingrays glide through the shallow surf, we learned a little more about our host island. About the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami. About the changing attitudes of many Maafushians, who have started to appreciate and even welcome the bikini-clad tourists (as long as the borders of Bikini Beach are honored, of course). About his own experiences in the tourist industry as the island develops. About the six cars present on the entire island.
(To be fair, I could stand in the middle of the white-sand road and see the Indian Ocean whether I was looking right or left. Cars are definitely unnecessary, except when schlepping dive tanks.)
I don’t think I know enough synonyms for the color blue to accurately describe the distinct and varied hues we saw. All I know is that the ocean is a language I would like to learn.