Visiting Villingili and Hulhule

Villingili island

Apart from the capital, one of the nearest islands from Male where you can witness Maldivians daily living is Villingili island. Villingili is at the west side of Male and going there by dhoni takes almost 5 minutes at an affordable fare of 3 rufiyaas only.

The usual scene in ports of Maldives is like that in the Villingili jetty port in Male. 

Breakwater in Villingili jetty port.

The City of Male as seen from dhoni bound to Villingili.

The jetty port in Villingili island. 

Students walking home after their class. Despite having a couple of schools in the island, most of the residents still send their children to school in Male.

The beautiful beaches of Villingili.

Hulhule island

The reason why I crossed to Hulhule island is to go to Hulhule Island Resort, the nearest from Male where you can have a bottle of beer or cocktails. In Maldives, liquors are only available in resorts.  A gastronomic treat at Uduvilaa (translated as sky among clouds) restaurant on the 4th floor of the hotel started the visit. The restaurant gives a full view of Male and other islands. The airport and the jetty port and the Hulhumale island can likewise be clearly seen from the resto.

The Hulhule Island Hotel. 

Entrance to the hotel.

The Uduvilaa restaurant.

My order of Australian lamb rack with an ice-cold San Miguel beer is truly an unforgettable experience.

Chef’s compliment, spring roll.

View from the restaurant. The hotel’s beach is exclusive only for its residents (top) and Male city (below).

Sunset Deck just outside Uduvilaa restaurant is a good place to capture sunset and view the city and surrounding islands.

Relaxing drinks at the pool to end the Hulhule trip.

 

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Escape to Kuda Bandos

Escaped to this small island lying south of the bigger Bandos, this is what I can say:

Its pristine, azure-colored beaches soothe the restless soul. Its pearl white sand lined up with deep green beautiful vegetation kissing the waves is a perfect place to rest the wandering heart. The cool breeze from Indian ocean continuously touching your body is getting through your nerves swaying you to a deep sleep. And the golden rays from the smiling sun send happy thoughts and reinvigorate you to keep going. In totality, the place is stunning!

Kuda (literally means small) Bandos is uninhabited island frequented by tourists. A tour is usually arranged by resorts for their guests to enjoy a tranquil and peaceful environment.  Kuda Bandos has lots to offer to its visitors which include but not limited to swimming in its clear cool water, snorkeling in its marine rich ground, having a romantic dinner date by the beach with loved one, enjoying a barbecue party  after sun down, or simply sitting down and relaxing with a book on one hand and a refreshing drink on the other, or communing with nature and feeling its energy. Whatever the purpose is, Kuda Bandos is the right place.

These photos are testament to how beautiful  Kuda Bandos is.

Approaching Kuda Bandos is the stretch of white sand ideal for sun bathing, beach game, party and more.

Who does not want to have a life like this? Reading a book in a quiet place far from the hassle of urban life.

Kuda Bandos invites you to go wading into its cool water.

A romantic dinner by the beach awaits lovers here. Someday we will have our own.

I was glad I did not have a second thought spending my afternoon in Kuda Bandos. It was such a wonderful experience putting all the pieces together. Life is beautiful, indeed! #

My Bandos Experience

Maldives beauty is eternal. It captivates every visitor’s heart by its deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, rich marine resources, long stretch of white beaches and green scenery.  It provides a perfect hideaway for an idyllic retreat. It simply is the best.

Maldives has 99 island resorts. One of which is Bandos Island Resort located in North Male Atoll. Bandos was opened in 1972 and was one of the first few resorts in Maldives then. The resort is strategically located with a distance of only 7 kms from Male International Airport. It boosts itself of 225 fully airconditioned rooms  (standard, deluxe, garden villas, beach and water villas), sports amenities, restaurants and cafes, Anggerik spa, a pool, convention center, a mosque among others that its guests can enjoy to the fullest. Bandos is likewise proud to claim that they have one of the best house reefs in North Male atoll. Dive school is available for those who want to learn diving, to see the underwater beauty of Bandos which has 40 dive sites around. Tours and excursions are also offered for those who like night fishing, island hopping or want to experience Male for a day.

Aerial view of Bandos Island Resort. (photos from http://www.bandosmaldives.com)

Aboard their speed ferry No.34 from Male International Airport, we jumped the splashing waves after the other to get to the resort. At 57 knots per mile, we crossed the sea for only 10 minutes and arrived earlier than expected.

A refreshing drink welcomed us at the lobby. A resort staff then approached us and briefed about the resort- the dos and donts and the amenities it offers. A voucher was given to us for a complimentary 10-minute massage at Anggerik spa. Since my room was available, I got an early check in Room 201. My room is simple yet elegant, and most importantly comfortable. I like the location. It is few meters away from the beach front.

Without wasting my time, I began to explore the place walking to every nook I passed by- beach front, water sports, Sundowner’s bar, water villa. The island is 183,180 square meters, thus it would probably take a whole day to go around completely.

The water was so inviting. I could not resist its call. I took a splash and swim until I had enough. Other guests were likewise in the beach either resting beside the shrubs or under palm trees, sunbathing, or dipping in the cool water.

Come afternoon, I went with a group to a smaller island called Kuda Bandos. It took 3 minutes to go the island costing a passenger 5USD for a round trip. (see post Escape to Kuda Bandos – https://clecstrotter.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/escape-to-kuda-bandos/)

It was already evening when we got back to Bandos. I went straight to Sundowner’s bar and grabbed a bottle of beer before joining the other guests for a buffet dinner in Gallery restaurant.

After dinner, I stayed in the lobby to get connected to check my mails (internet is only available at the resort lobby). I met Jessi, a Chinese resort staff, who has been working as an intern for three months. It was her last night at work in the resort as she planned to return to China to work as tour guide. Asked her for a drink and I was delighted she accepted my invitation.

The Anggerik spa was visited the next day to avail of the free 10-minute massage. The spa has Southeast Asian theme and architecture. Cabanas and villas offer privacy and total relaxation. Services range from from facial treatment to Balinese therapies to Thai maassage to volcanic stone massage to facial and foot reflexology.  Spa attendants, mostly from Indonesia and Thailand, are very accommodating, smiling widely while greeting every guest coming in.

Lunch was at Sea Breeze Cafe. The ambiance is definitely a winner. It has a perfect view of Kuda Bandos. Chin, a Pinay resort staff, I met at the lobby joined me by then. We had a talk about her work experiences in the paradise especially on handling recalcitrant and unruly guests. She’s definitely a good buddy with full of stories to tell.

“Goodbye Bandos, till we meet again”, were the last words I uttered upon embarking the boat bound for Male International Airport. My stay was definitely awesome. It was a break from monotony, an escape from the scuffle in corporate world, a profound  retreat, a  spiritual rejuvenation. Now, I am ready for Kandy.

Below is the resort map provided to guests upon arrival. Also, you may visit Bandos Island Resort website, www.bandosmaldives.com for more information and booking.


A Night in Male

The feeling of excitement cannot be explained as I step out from Mihin Lanka Airbus A320 from Colombo. I can’t believe I’m in MALDIVES!

Mihin Lanka flight from Colombo to Male, Maldives. Mihin Lanka is a low cost airline of Sri Lanka, providing quality services at affordable price.  

Maldives is one of the sought after destinations. It is a  group of island lying south of India and Sri Lanka in the vast Indian ocean. Maldives, known as the sunny side of life and the jewel of the south, is truly a paradise.

It was midnight when I arrived in Male International Airport. There were few passengers arriving, so getting all the docs checked in the immigration took only less than 5 minutes. Tourist visa is issued upon arrival in Maldives, as such there is no need to secure visa before travelling.

Male International Airport situated in Hulhule island. The airport is a modern facility providing an array of services that cater to the needs of passengers. It includes even a shower room to refresh oneself before boarding.

I headed to jetty port right outside the airport to get to Male. Even late night, “dhoni”, Maldives passenger ferry like our jeepney, is still available to take passengers to capital for 20 Rufiyaa (1.3USD). The dhoni was quite fast. Despite the rough sea, it took us only 10 minutes to reach Male. As seen from dhoni, Male seems like a floating castle swaying in the middle of the sea with bright lights illuminating its shores and with its skyscrapers coloring its skyline.

Ferry terminal just few steps from the airport (top). Dhoni, a passenger vehicle cruising the islands of Maldives (below).

Male, the center of commercial activities in Maldives, is urbanized with its entire area almost utilized. Buildings vertically built side by side racing to reach the sky. All roads are paved but are narrowed. Motorcycles are flooding the streets, but cabs are likewise available. Male is crowded with almost a third of the country’s population residing in the island.

The street in Male – parking area  in one side of motorcycles plying the city.

Maldives is a Muslim country. And like other Muslim countries, it is conservative but to a lesser extent than Saudi. Liquors and pork and its by products are banned (except in resorts). It is not a place for party owls who like to booze on alcohols as there are no bars nor pubs. However, restos and cafes are lining the streets if one wants to get a dose of caffeine or to quench a thirst after a long walk around the city.

Nothing is so spectacular in Male, but the stay is worth having found two gorgeous and bubbly Filipino friends, Imee and Odette, who are both working in the city.

Male’s lovely faces, Odette and Imee. 

We made the night  fun, strolling around Male  hopping from one place to another.  We started with a good meal and ice cream treat  in Seagull Café. Then our feet brought us to the Grand Mosque for a postcard shot, and spent a couple of minutes in the presidential jetty port. Imee even asked a coastguard for photo ops in front of the magnificent Presidential palace. We got a feel of the artificial beach at night and ended up in Oxygen bar right in front of the beach to get a sip of their in house drinks. As much as we want to stay to spend the whole night, the waiter politely reminded us that they would close at 2 AM. We call it then, a NIGHT!

Here are some of the many things you may want to do when in Male:

Take a dip in artificial beach – it is ironic but true, there is artificial beach in Maldives. Made for the residents of the city so that they don’t need to go to other islands to enjoy the crystal cool water of Maldives.

Cool off with Seagull’s Italian ice cream – Seagull has probably the best Italian ice cream in town.

Relax in Oxygen – the cafe opposite artificial beach has a relaxing ambiance, ideal to refresh oneself with fruit juice or coffee.

Tour the spots – a visit is a must to the Friday Mosque, the Presidential palace and jetty port, and the museums.

Stroll in Fareedhe Magu for a bargain – a stretch of stalls and boutiques where you can find a good bargain for RTWs, toys, souvenirs among others.

Sit and relax in Raalhugandu – the place is called the Surfer’s point. The best time to visit the place is during afternoon where you can sit and relax while watching surfers gliding over the waves.

Watch the sunset from the promenade – you may not miss the beautiful sunset viewed from the promenade facing Villingili island.

Drink buko (young coconut)  juice –  kiosks along Henveiru park adjacent to surfer’s point are erected every afternoon. Grab a fresh buko juice to get more chilled after a swim in artificial beach.

Visit Villingili or Hulhule island – the two of the nearest islands in Male. Villingili is a five minute dhoni ride from Villingili ferry terminal. You can hobnob with the locals and swim in its crystal blue water. Hulhule island is where the Hulhule Island Hotel is located, the nearest resort for an alcohol sip.

Get a fresh catch from fish and vegetable markets – fresh catch are brought daily in the fish market while the adjacent vegetable market is a place to savor local fruits and pick fresh vegetables.