The Maldives is a country made up of over of thousands of islands, and it is famous around the world for honeymooners. Just because I'm single, I didn't want to let that stop me from visiting this paradise, so I booked a trip at Sun Island Resort located in the South Ari Atoll on Nalaguraidhoo island with two of my closest friends. I was a bit nervous that every other group at our resort would just be couples, but once I arrived, I didn't feel weird at all. As expected, there were honeymooners, but there were also just regular couples as well as many families.
Since our base was Shanghai, we didn't have to travel as far as we would have had to if we arranged this trip from the States. Even though we were already in Asia, we did still spend a full day traveling to the island. Rachael, Scott, and I joked with each other about how in order to get to our island, we had to take tons of different types of transportation including: a taxi, a tram and a bus in the airport, two regular planes and a sea plane, another bus, and finally a boat. It was an exhausting day of travel, but once we saw Sun Island Resort, it put smiles on our faces. The welcome drink we got also didn't hurt!
Upon arrival, we were each given a card so that if we wanted to buy anything, we could simply show our cards and pay at the end. It was really handy and also nice not to have fumbled with cash. The prices were all listed in USD, and at the end we were allowed to split up our bill on three separate credit cards so we could all pay the different amounts we owed.
I had never stayed at a resort before, and truthfully I was scared that I would feel trapped with other tourists and wouldn't like it. I was also concerned that maybe the people at the resort would be pretentious, but it wasn't the case at all! Sun Island is the largest resort in the Maldives, but because it is the biggest, everything felt spread out and less crowded. In fact, most of the time there were just a few others on the beach by our water bungalows! When Scott and I went snorkeling, we were usually the only ones in the water. I couldn't believe it because I had traveled to beaches in Asia before and they were packed with other tourists. The water was crystal clear in the Maldives and there were some excellent areas for snorkeling, so I figured that there would be way more people. Luckily, I was wrong and I think going to the Maldives spoiled me for life because I don't know if I'll ever be able to enjoy a beach or swimming in the ocean as much as I did there!
To get to the ocean, all we had to do was walk down the flight of stairs attached to our private bungalow and hop right in! I thought we would have to be taken to specific spots to find good snorkeling areas, but Scott and I were able to see coral, schools of tropical fish, sea urchin, and sea snakes right in our "backyard."
We opted for half-board and got breakfast and dinner every day. It was a short walk from our bungalows, and it was buffet-style. We were glad to have so many options and LOVED the fresh fruit. Rachael and I also indulged on the cheeses since cheese is expensive and harder to come by in China. For breakfast they had two staff members making fresh pancakes, omelets, as well as bacon and sausage. At night, someone prepared pasta or stir fry just the way you wanted it. The staff there was really friendly and always tried to engage in personal conversations with us. They thought it was hilarious that we were living in China and even spoke in Chinese to us. I also got asked if I had a husband and then when I said no, they asked me why not, ha ha.
Since we decided not to include lunch as part of our package, we usually went to the cafe by the beach. One day we went to the organic restaurant called Zero and ate lunch in a tree house!
Besides the beach by our bungalows, we also went to the main beach by the cafe and also spent a few days relaxing and reading by the pool. Rachael and Scott are both big readers, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to concentrate on reading again. I finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and started Pretty Girls, one of Rachael's recommendations.
We rented bikes to help us get around on the island, which saved us a lot of time. In our free time (let's face it though, our whole trip was "free time") we rode our bikes around the island, lounged on our deck, relaxed cafes, went on evening strolls, watched the shark feeding, and enjoyed the sunset.
The staff at Sun Island Resort really took care of us and even arranged transport to and from the island. As with many resorts, excursions can also be arranged upon request. For example, Rachael has her diving certification, so she went diving twice and even saw some sharks!
All three of us were thoroughly pleased with our time on the island and know that we had a memorable trip. Of course, we hope to be able to go back one day in the future, too.
How do you feel about resorts? Is the Maldives on your bucket list?