I felt the need to share this country with all of you as soon as possible, because with climate change and rising sea levels, it won't be around much longer.
Ever heard of The Maldives?
Don't worry, most people haven't. In fact, it's not even on most maps.
Let's zoom in a little.
Here's Southeast Asia. The Maldives is a chain of islands located on the southwest coast of India, it should be in the bottom left corner of the above picture. See where all that ocean is? Yup, somewhere in there, that's The Maldives.
Even though it's not on a map, I think that everyone needs to visit this little treasure of a country. It's made up of about 1,200 islands, only one of which is inhabited by Maldives Islanders. There's 199 more that are home to resorts, and the other thousand are completely untouched. The bigger islands are bordered by rings of coral reef, creating beautiful dimensions of blue. When you're flying in from Europe or India, the beauty of The Maldives will take your breath away before your plane even lands at the airport on Male (pronounced Mah-lay).
Once you arrive there's a pretty big selection of resorts ranging from about 300 to more than 800 dollars per night on the islands surrounding Male, as well as budget accommodations on the island capital. If you're staying on Male, it's important to remember that this is an Islamic country, and you should stay more covered to respect the locals and their beliefs. Indian rupees are also not allowed into the country, so make sure that you exchange them to US dollars (the currency used in The Maldives) before departing if you're coming in from India.
However, most people go for the resorts, reached by boat or seaplane, and opt for over-the-water bungalows or villas. When my family and I went in 2012, we decided to go for a "garden bungalow" at Kurumba, which was significantly less expensive. The best part? Even with this discounted room, it barely a minute to walk to the beach.
The four days spent on Kurumba were pure bliss.
This is the case with a few of the islands, but Kurumba is especially known for its shark population. Mother black tip reef sharks come to the calm lagoon surrounding the resort to give birth, meaning that there's a lot of baby sharks hanging out by the beach! Like this one, who we called Timothy, who had a brother named Jimothy (I know, super creative).
We also learned to stand-up paddle board while on the island, which cost about $30 per person including equipment rental for the day. However, the highlight of my time in The Maldives was the snorkel safari that my sister and I did (approximately $100 per person).
Snorkeling on the coral reefs that surrounded uninhabited islands was incredible. The water was crystal clear, and we were able to see the ocean floor. Clownfish, tangs, and sea anemones were abundant, and we were soon joined by turtles and three different species of sharks. Whenever I'd read about sharks being eight to ten feet, I never thought much of it. That seemed on the smaller side, especially compared to the sixteen and twenty feet great white and tiger sharks. Being in the water with these graceful, agile, powerful creatures that are twice your size is the most humbling experience, that I'll never be able to fully articulate.
Growing up I was a huge nerd, especially when it came to the ocean. I've been dreaming of interacting with sharks in the wild ever since I was in kindergarten, and I'd always stood by the idea that sharks aren't vicious man-eaters. Not only was I able to live out my childhood dream on this trip, I've also been able to come back and talk to kids about the misconceptions about sharks.
The Maldives sound pretty great, right? Well you'd better hurry and get down there since they won't be around much longer.
This country is the world's lowest, with its highest point being seven feet and a majority of it sitting below sea level. As our climate changes and ocean levels rise, The Maldives are quickly sinking. It's estimated that this country will be completely underwater within the next fifteen years.
That seriously sucks. If you're like me and want to honeymoon here after getting married, you'd better put a ring on it really fast. Unless we seriously turn our actions around and combat the damage that we as humans have done to the environment, The Maldives won't be a place that our kids and grandchildren get to see. WE might not even be able to see it. It's easy to brush the idea of climate change under the rug, to think it's not a big deal, but we are drowning a beautiful and amazing country.
The Maldives are one of the last pristine, untouched places on earth where you can experience nature above and underwater first hand, and they hold a special place in my heart. I hope that every person who reads this is able to experience it. In the meantime, raise awareness! Talk to people about climate change and about The Maldives.
If you'd like to get seriously involved, visit the "Making Waves" tab to learn more about my new campaign (more on that next time), and if you're planning a trip, feel free to get in touch with me for any questions!