Dark blue eyes encircled by white and green rings in the midst of a bright turquoise water looked alluringly up at us as we gazed down from our tiny jet. We were about to step into the magical land of Maldives.
We walked out of Ibrahim Nasir International airport in Male to be welcomed by the azure blue sea that surrounded the miniature slither of land. Our first destination was Male where we intended to stay for the night. The small but densely populated capital city reminded us of any other Asian metropolis. A leisurely walk around the city took us to noteworthy places like Huskuru Miskiiy or Friday Mosque, which was built in the 17th century. The coral stone that was originally used to create this heritage structure had been kept intact till date. The ancient walls were intricately engraved with traditional Islamic verses giving a very spiritual feel to the place.
Places like the bustling Chandaani Magu bazaar, the National museum and the Islamic centre were all within close proximity.
While exploring the city we suddenly felt peckish, which took us to a local restaurant known for it's traditional Maldivian cuisine. Fish and rice play a major part in the Maldivian kitchen and this was quite evident as we glanced through the menu. Kulhu Boakibaa or spicy fish cakes were truly delightful. This was followed by Garudhiya, a traditional spicy fish broth served with fragrant rice, fresh lime and chilli coated tuna steaks. A refreshing glass of freshly prepared watermelon juice accompanied the delicious meal.
The next day started early as we prepared ourselves to come up close with the natural beauty that Maldives is known for. We were headed for the Bandos island resort. As we got off the boat the first thing that captured our attention was the amazing clarity of the azure water and the array of multi coloured tropical fish that swam in it. Our Maldivian experience had just begun and the feeling of sheer bliss was immediately elevated by the warm welcome and the impeccable hospitality of the resort staffs. Just like most of the other Maldivian island Bandos too was tiny. The island almost seemed like a fine work of art that nature had created with extreme love and care, bestowing it with undefinable beauty. The crystal clear sea and the exotic water life was a heaven for both nature lovers and adventure seekers. The resort offered a range of exciting activities from snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming with the sharks, night fishing, island hopping, water sports as well as the option of relaxing and unwinding in the spa. As we snorkelled amongst the mesmerisingly colourful corals and tropical fish there were initial moments of adrenaline rush when baby sharks swam right beside us. However we soon realised that they were tranquil creatures and just like everyone else even they had welcomed us into their territory.
The gleaming blue water and the white sandy beach often proves to be the perfect setting for a wedding or renewal of vows. Bandos Island resort was no exception to that. The opportunity of even having an underwater wedding ceremony was on offer!
A traditionally styled thatched roof restaurant was idyllically situated atop stilts in the middle of the crystal clear water. Sitting there with our chilled glasses of cocktails, we feasted our eyes with exotic marine life and soothed our senses in the natural serenity. Just as the sun slowly went over the horizon and the sky bathed itself in the most breathtakingly beautiful colours, it became clear to us that we had arrived in paradise.