Hulhumale’, Maafushi Island and Male, Maldives 5D4N getaway (Dec 2017)

Day 1

We reached JB Central train station at around 11.00 am by Grab car.  We waited for about 1 ½ hours before boarding the commuter train to Woodland. What a joke! Waited for 90 minutes just for a 5 minutes ride across the causeway! I think this must be the world’s shortest train ride across a border!

At JB Central Train station

Then we took the No 950 bus to Marsiling MRT station to take the MRT to Singapore Changi Airport.  The train journey took about 1 hour 40 minutes. It costs only SGD 1.25.

At Changi Airport Terminal 3

Well, our flight to Colombo by Sri Lankan Airlines was at 7.50 pm at terminal 3. So we still had plenty of time to hang around the airport. So we went to Plaza Premium Lounge at terminal 1 to have our lunch cum afternoon tea. Apparently this lounge is slightly better than the lounge at KLIA2.

At Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 1

Getting impatient after a long wait!

We arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo at around 9.00 pm local time. This flight took about 4 hr 50 min. (Time difference is 3 hours)

We waited for another one hour before boarding another flight to Velana International Airport Hulhumale’, Maldives.

What a bad day! The flight was delayed for about 90 minutes due to some passengers who last minute canceled the flight and they had to retrieve 38 baggages from the aircraft!

It was almost 1.00 am when we arrived at Hulhumale’ airport. Immediately we rushed to the bus stop on the left side of the exit door to catch the airport shuttle to our hotel at UI Inn.  Fare is USD 1.25 or MVR 20. The airport shuttle plies between airport and town at intervals of 30 minutes round the clock.

It was really a luckless day! The hotel couldn’t provide us with a room as it was overbooked! After waiting for about 45 minutes, they finally got us another replacement hotel at Pine Lodge nearby. By the time we checked into the hotel, it was 2.00 am!

1: Velana Airport Arrival Hall. 2-3: UI Inn lobby 4-7: Pine Lodge

Actually in Maldives, you can choose either staying in the public island or a private island. There’s even another type of accommodation called liveaboard, where you stay in a cruise ship docked at the middle of the sea.  

Day 2

We woke up the next morning and then we took a walk to the beach nearby. Actually Hulhumale’ is a reclaimed island. Maldives is a country made up of 1190 islands or atolls in which there are only 118 inhabited islands. The population of the country is slightly more than 400,000. Only 1% of the country is land! The airport is built on this Hulhumale’ Island. There are not many facilities in this island. It’s difficult to find a decent restaurant here. Most of the buildings are hotels and residential flats.

1-4: Hulhumale’ Beach
5: View from the hotel top
6-7: A Thai Restaurant at Hulhumale’
8: Airport Departure Entrance facing the jetty
9-10: Airport jetty

We checked out around 9.30 am and walked about 10 minutes to the bus-stop on the main road near flats Block 128. We didn’t want the hotel to arrange the airport transfer for us as it would cost us USD4 per pax.  

It’s another 10 minutes ferry ride to Male’ Island.  From Male’ Island we took a cab to Villimale’ Ferry Terminal to catch another ferry to Maafushi Island. Taxi fare is MVR 35. This ferry takes about 1 hour 40 minutes. The fee is MVR 22. You can also go to this island by speed boat. It costs USD 20 and takes about 25 minutes!

1: In the ferry to Male’ Island
2,3,4,6,7: Villimale’ Ferry Terminal, Male’
5,8,9: Jetty terminal surroundings

Male’ Jetty terminal and surrounding
2. Ferry to Maafushi Island
7. Monument to commemorate the 2004 tsunami

Finally we arrived at one of the island paradise in the world, the Maldives, a country with numerous serene turquoise lagoons and colourful coral reefs! Everyone was keen and eager to explore!

At the harbor, there were hotel staffs from various hotels in the island to greet the incoming guests. We checked into Kaani Beach Hotel at around 4.30 pm.

Hotel staffs holding display-cards to welcome their hotel guests

Kaani Beach hotel and the surroundings

Beautiful scenery of Maafushi Island

Beach road leading to the hotel

Immediately we walked to the beach to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The chalk white pristine sand was really fine and soft. It is contrasted with the tranquility of the emerald and crystal clear water washing onto the shore! We thought we could catch the sunset on the first day, alas the weather was cloudy and we had to give it a miss. Hopefully the next day, the sky would be clear and fine. When night falls, the sandy road along the beach livens up with colourful neon lights and live music!  Dinner was at the hotel beach front open air restaurant with some Maldivian and Indian cuisine. After dinner we strolled along the beach to enjoy the cool sea breeze. We retired early to bed as we were too tired after the long hours of travelling.

Day 3

We woke up early and walked to the beach near the hotel which is facing east. Yes we managed to catch the sunrise.  The water was so clear that you can even see fishes swimming in the water near the beach! We even saw one small stingray in the water near the shore!


                          1. A stingray found swimming near the beach
                           2-5: Maafushi Island beach

Well after breakfast, it was time to go for snorkeling! This trip includes 3 snorkeling sites, a lunch at the sandbank, snorkeling equipment and underwater photography. It costs USD 35 per pax for the 3 hours excursion. We were so happy to meet 2 petite Malay ladies from Penang in our snorkeling group. Soon, mom and the two of them became buddies. The group also included some Indians, Koreans and Europeans.

Newly made friends from Malaysi. From left: Mimi & Rose.

Ready to go… gaya mesti ada!

On the way to snorkel..

At the first snorkeling site, we managed to see some squids. In fact the instructor managed to catch one octopus! If got luck, one may get to see manta, a species of the stingray. Actually Maldives is renowned as one the top destination for scuba diving in the world because of its clear water and beautiful reefs as well as the abundance of marine lives. However, I personally feel that the corals are not as beautiful as the one you could find in the Islands of the coast of Malaysia as most of the corals here are dead corals!   

First time taking picture in the water

One octopus caught!

At the second snorkeling site, we saw some turtles swimming in the water. Everyone was chasing after the poor turtle!

Everyone was chasing the poor turtle!

continue our search..

Blue sea urchin.

Then we got down to the sandbank for lunch. The sandbank is actually a small atoll with white sandy beach with some plants scatted over the atoll . It is uninhabited. From what I observed, all the islands we had visited or passed by, there is no hill or highland on the islands. it was reported that one of these days some of the islands may be submerged in the water and disappeared. So it is not impossible as the highest land above sea level is only 7m! Our boatmen setup some tents and distributed the food to us. It was just rice, salad and sweet & sour chicken, one apple and bottled drinks.  Some of the group members took the opportunity to snorkel around this sandbank also.

The sandbank

Tents were set up for lunch…

Other groups also came. The two cruise ships are liveaboard ships.

3. Flyboard at the liveaboard

Flyboard is a very popular sport if you stay at the liveaboard

Didn’t want to miss out the chance to soak in the crystal clear water

After lunch, we continued our snorkeling trip. This time we were supposed to see nemo fish. We didn’t go down as the sun was very hot and we were also too tired.

Didn’t go down the water but instead taking some photos on board

We were back to the hotel  at around 3.00 pm.

We took a rest and then we went out again at 5.30 pm to try our luck to catch the sunset and also to take some photos at the beach.

This time, the sky was clear and we were able to catch the sunset! The boat and children playing on the beach were silhouetted against the golden hue of the sunset. You could see a lot of visitors busy clicking away their cameras or hand-sets to catch this beautiful sunset glory.

Day 4

Our itinerary for today was a visit to Adaaran Club Rannalhi at a private island. A visit to Maldives is incomplete without visiting one of the private islands as only the private island will give you the Maldivian feel! Of course it will be much better if you choose to stay at one of the private islands at a much higher price!

This Dutch man from our same group went to the private island 3 times just to enjoy the liquor(I presume) which is prohibited in public island.

Ready to go..

On the way to the private island

Our speed boat took about 25 minutes to reach this private island. Upon arrival, it was sunny. Everybody was busy taking photographs. 

Diving centre at the resort just next to the private jetty

The friendly French Danny from the Caribbean

Jetty to the resorts

Paradise for photography

Weather wasn’t good, you could only see cloudy sky.

More photos before it started to rain..

In front of the water bungalows


However, the weather changed real fast. It started to rain! Then the rain went away. Quickly I jumped into the sea to get a feel of the clear water of Maldives. Luckily I brought along my water shoes as the sea shore was full of broken corals.

Water shoes bought at SportsDirect JB – very suitable for beach walking and swimming as well as snorkeling

We had a sumptuous buffet lunch at the resort. This resort serves a wide variety of Sri Lankan and Maldivian as well as Western cuisines, a unique gastronomical experience for all visitors. After lunch we walked around the resort to take more photos for remembrance.

Big and spacious restaurant at the resort


We departed from the island at 4.00 pm sharp.

Arrived at the harbour. Last photo with Mimi and Rose as they were leaving one day earlier than us.

Still not enough for the swimming, we went swimming again at the hotel front beach the as the sun went down. 

Day 5

Today was the last day of our trip to Maldives. In the morning we took a walk to explore the other parts of the island. Actually Maafushi island is only 1270 m in length and 265m in width. 

One of the icons of the island: the dolphin sculpture. 

1: Locals selling tuna fish just caught from the sea
2: Boats anchored at the jetty at the Maafushi island
3: Secondary school
4-5: Health centre
6: Pre-school
7: Electricity supplying station
8: Prison
9: The mosque
10: Waiting room for visitors

Selfie maniac!

Some symbolic icons at the island

We checked out at 12.55 pm and took a ferry back to Villimale’ Ferry Terminal. We then took a cab to the local market to explore the local culture. With a trolly luggage each, we walked around the local market then to the fish market as well as the Friday mosque. This mosque was built in 1656. You could see Arabic writings carved on the exterior and interior of the walls of the mosque. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter the mosque. We also visited the Independent Square, Islamic Centre and the Musical Fountain. 

At the local market and fish market

Outside the fish market

Independent Square

The Friday Mosque. Notice our luggage on the floor?

We were delighted to find a dessert café nearby after walking for so long! Yes, the Seagull Café. Without hesitation, we went in for some ice-cream and tuna sandwich [USD21.90]. It has a nice ambience and a wide variety of ice-creams.

Seagull cafe serves delicious ice cream

Arrived at the Velana International Airport, Male’ 

This is the bus-stop on the left side at the exit of the arrival hall

Then we walked back to the jetty to take a ferry back to Male’ Airport for our flight back to Colombo and then Singapore ending our 5D4N memorable and exciting trip!

Boarding Sri Lankan Airlines at Velana Airport. There is no aerobridge at this airport.

Managed to catch the sunrise on arrival at the Changi Airport

‘Vakivelan’ or ‘dhanee’ (informal)

It means goodbye in Dhevehi, the official language of Maldives.

 

1USD ≈ 15.4 MVR (Rufiyaa)

1MYR ≈ 3.77 MVR

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About HP Lim

An experienced Form 5 chemistry teacher from Johor Bahru.