Heaven on Earth: the Maldives.

For as long as the internet and travel shows have existed, I have wanted to visit the Maldives. And with the devastation climate change is having on the world, and sad reality that this magical place will not be around forever, the Maldives was at the top of my dream-travel-bucket/wish-list. But there are a few practical considerations that stopped me from visiting before now: (1) difficult and long trip to get here from the US, (2) expense of getting here, and (3) expense once you’re here. As it turns out, the Maldives are only 4.5 hours from Bangkok, and there’s a nonstop flight on Air Asia for around $300 (I think I paid $350 after adding checked baggage, food, seat selection, etc). Let me say that again: 4.5 hours and $350 to get to the Maldives. DONE!

An aerial view of one of the atolls in the Maldives, seen from the plane en route to my resort.

The cheap and “quick” flight just nixed two of the three factors that prevented me from visiting here before. (FYI: “quick” because, even once you get to Male, you’ll have a wait for 1-2+ hours before you head off for the domestic flight, or flights, to get to your resort/island, so add another 4+ hours onto whatever time it takes you to get to Male. Totally worth it.) The third factor, expense once you’re here, is what it is. It is crazy expensive. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip (unless you’re super wealthy; if I could, I would return here over and over again). But this entire trip around the world is just that for me, so I decided it would never be easier or more affordable than now. BEST DECISION EVER! img_2366

But this trip didn’t come together all on my own. Not surprisingly, most people don’t decide to travel to the Maldives two weeks prior to arrival, so there was a lot of scrambling involved. Thank God for Briony Harris, friend and travel agent extraordinaire, who helped me find this magical resort (Sun Siyam Ira Fushi) that still had availability.

Aerial view of Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. I snapped this photo from the seaplane as I was departing.

And rooms left in overwater villas. Click HERE to see a video walk through of my amazing villa, and some of the marine life you can see on a daily basis just walking on the jetty to the villa. I’m posting a few photos of the villa too.

The Maldives is paradise. On Earth. Here’s the first glimpse of the island I got when my feet touched the ground…

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Loading area for the speedboat to reach Iru Fushi.

If you were given the ability to create the most perfect tropical paradise, you might not even be able to imagine the insane beauty this place has in reality. I pinch myself daily. It’s like God thought: Aitutaki (in the Cook Islands) is good, but I can do even better. And He created the Maldives. Words can’t describe it, so this post is just going to show you the magic of this place. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me. I’ll just provide a few bits of advice from my experience: (1) go with a travel buddy (close friend, romantic partner, whatever) because this is not a solo destination; (2) do not try and bring alcohol into the Maldives- this is a Muslim country and it’s against the law (don’t worry, you can buy all the alcohol you want at your resort, and while the resorts are crazy expensive, the alcohol prices are actually quite reasonable); (3) if you forget sunscreen, buy at the resort and not airport (cost at the resort = $25 for a bottle, but you’ll pay $35-$40 at the airport); (4) when booking a room, get a package that includes at least half board (that’s breakfast and dinner)- meal prices here are crazy expensive so you don’t want to be paying for each and every meal, better to buy upfront. I found the half board to be more than enough, since I’d almost always eat a late breakfast that was more like brunch anyway, so didn’t need to eat again until dinner. Oh, and say goodbye to doing anything except relaxing…

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The look of a very happy and chill woman.

Sunsets were definitely my favorite part of the day in the Maldives; click the following link to see a montage of daily sunsets: https://youtu.be/NtCCGDLGEvM

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But sunrise from my villa’s balcony wasn’t too shabby either: https://youtu.be/cAWCKUIq_44

I imagine all the resorts on the various islands provide impeccable service, and that’s certainly what we had at Sun Siyam. Each person/couple/family has their own butler (but he’s actually more of a concierge, not someone coming into the villa or cleaning) and you get their personal cell # to message (or, better, WhatsApp) with any questions or needs. My room included free daily aqua therapy sessions at the spa, with access to a sauna, steam room, and hot and cold pools, which was more amazing than I imagined. The service at the buffet restaurant was, well, WOW. The food itself was good but the moment I mentioned to the restaurant manager (Iru Restaurant is the buffet restaurant included when you buy half board) that the selection of vegan/strictly vegetarian options was limited, he brought out the head chef who prepared meals just for me every single night. At no additional cost. And one of the servers, Ashraf, went above and beyond every single day! He’d put together special platters of traditional Maldivian food to try, and on the last night created the most artistic display on the dining table to wish me “Bon Voyage.”

I’d return to this resort for the service provided in Iru alone. Not even kidding. And the desserts… they must have poached top pastry chefs from France or somewhere else in the world because I’ve never consistently had such good desserts prepared in large quantities. The level of thought and detail put into everything at this resort ensures you need do nothing but arrive and then relax. Or, if you want to do water sports or dive, they have great diving available. This place truly is heaven on earth, and I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to visit and see this place for myself.

View of flights departing the Maldives:

Up next: from the middle of the Indian Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa! Stay tuned for more adventures!

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7 thoughts on “Heaven on Earth: the Maldives.

  1. Awesome sauce my fellow globetrotter! I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing. was in the Maldives in December with plans to return this December. It’s truly amazing.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read! Such a magical place!! I’m envious you have an upcoming trip to look forward to!

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  2. Wow, such clear blue water. Looks like an amazing place.

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    1. It really is spectacular!! If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend a visit. It’s expensive but so worth it!!

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  3. Hi Annise!

    I came across your blog while obsessively researching for a coming trip to the Maldives, and what caught my eye the most is that your left your biglaw job to follow a non traditional path. Nice!! I am a former corporate attorney (I do illustration and graphic design now), and it’s always so lovely to bump into others who’ve had a similar path. It is NOT easy! I’m going to Maldives in June and hoping to have a good time there like you did!

    – Sneha

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    1. Sneha, it is SO lovely to hear from you! Sounds like you have had such an interesting journey yourself, and that you have a super interesting job now! Kuddos!! Even if it’s just for an extended break, there are definitely more and more of “us” who need- and are taking- a break and focusing on what’s really important in our lives vs. just climbing the corporate ladder. The Maldives was really magical and is breathtakingly beautiful! So worth the cost and time it takes to get there. Keep living your best life 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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