The Maldives: The Asian Jewels of the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives, Asian Jewels of the Indian Ocean. Conserve! Protect!

The Republic of Maldives, or the Maldives, is a country comprised of a cluster of jewel-like islands in the Indian Ocean. 

The Maldives is famously known for its surreal shades of emerald blue sea and luxurious hotel resorts. If you’ve heard of the Maldives before, I’m sure thinking about it automatically transports you to the pristine white shores, dancing dolphins, and notoriously playful string-rays of South Asia.

The Maldives, here we come!

The Maldives is indeed a diver’s paradise, but you don’t need to be a scuba expert to justify a ticket to this paradise. The Republic of Maldives is one of those places where you can enjoy the deep serenity and untouched beauty of Mother Nature. Its beauty is so hypnotising that even a modest holiday budget can turn anyone into a romantic poet, budding artist, landscape photographer, or bestselling author—if that’s what you want, of course.

The Maldives has the bluest water of them all! What, you think I am kidding? Well, stay with us as ReachingDelphi takes you on a short trip of words and images through EN’s lenses to explore this charming paradise. (EN prefers to remain anonymous but has allowed me to use her photographs.) I used a magic carpet to arrive here, and as you will note, I am already in a trance . . .

The bluest water on earth.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Maldives is a cluster of small islands. Well, they are actually natural atolls. There are 26 atolls  in the Maldives, covering a territory of 298 square kilometres, from the northernmost atoll, Ihavandhippolhu Atoll, to the southernmost atoll, Addu Atoll. Curious to know more about atolls?

What are Atolls?

The geographical information on atolls is vast and overwhelming yet fascinating. I will attempt to interpret my understanding of them.

Atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs, and one can easily spot them from seaplanes. An atoll can take up to 30 million years to fully form into the beautiful coral rims we see encircling lagoons today. At the rim, on some, you may also notice coral islands. The land area on atolls is minimal, so most resorts are built on islands near the atolls. Atoll islands are naturally low lying, and rising sea levels have a direct impact on the future of these atolls. That means the Maldives is already experiencing the devastating effects of global warming.

A view of the atolls and islands.

I will take this opportunity to remind us all that we, both individuals and corporations, have a social responsibility to ensure we do whatever we can to slow down climate change. We can start with ourselves as individuals first. Next time you decide to chop down the tree in your garden, use unnecessary plastic packaging, choose not to carpool or use the public transport when available, keep your unused electric devices turned on—remember that you indirectly become a contributing factor to climate change and rising sea levels.

Reef-building corals thrive in warm tropical climates, and the Indian Ocean is perfect for this. It is no wonder that the Maldives is home to many amazing forms of beautiful marine life. With clear warm waters around the islands, the Maldives is easily one of the most breath-taking scuba-diving sites in the world.

Warm tropical breeze.

In terms of size, Boduthiladhunmathi Atoll is the world’s largest atoll, stretching over 76 kilometres and containing forty small islands. Vaavu Atoll is the smallest administrative atoll, in the Maldives, in terms of population. Addu (Seenu) and Baa Atolls, on the other hand, are among the popular places to stay.

Most of the photos you see here are from Miriandhoo island, Baa Atoll. Baa Atoll is a biosphere reserve. 

So many interesting marine life facts, right? There is plenty of online reading material available on these atolls, so do check them out.

Overview of atolls in the Maldives.
Do you know where you will stay?

Give Me a Quick Overview on the Republic of Maldives.

Here are the Maldives essentials to know before you purchase your travel ticket. 
  • The capital of the Republic is Male, located on Kaafu Atoll. The capital city has an area of only 9.27 square kilometres. Now that is small! Despite its small area, Male is the most populous city in the country, with a population of 133,412. This is almost one-third of the country’s population. Now imagine 133,412 people in a space of 9.27 square kilometres. Now you see why Male is regarded as one of the densest cities in the world.
  • The climate of the Republic has a wet and dry season. The wet season is from April to January. The dry months are in February and March. The temperature is always high despite the occasional rain. The islands are open all year round, but the wettest months are May and September. Check the weather calendar when you make your travel plans.
Hope it does not rain today.
  • The primary language spoken is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan/Indic language. English is spoken at the resorts.
  • The official religion is Islam. The Grand Friday Mosque (Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu-al-A'z'am) is the largest mosque in the Maldives and one of the largest in South Asia.
  • The currency of the country is Maldivian Rufiyaa. Visitors can only purchase this currency inside the country. The US dollar is also widely accepted, but when used, any change returned will be in the local currency.
  • Visitors do not require a visa for stays less than thirty days. Just make sure your passport has six-month validity.
  • It is not wise to travel here without reservations. I was informed that visitors need to show a confirmed hotel reservation in order to be granted entry into the country. So, visitors who are not in the habit of prior holiday planning, do take note.
Have your hotel confirmation ready.
  • Tourism and fishing are the two primary industries for the country. You will find a fantastic range of hotels and resorts and loads of seafood here.
  • Despite having the world's best resorts, it also is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Let’s Get to the Maldives!

Most visitors stay in the island resorts. But to get to the islands, international visitors will have to first fly into Male. Velana International Airport is the international airport serving the Maldives.

On the way to the Maldives (Kochi).

There are regular direct flights into Velana International Airport from major Asian cities, including Kochi, Bangalore, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Colombo, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Hong Kong. There are also regular flights from several European cities.

That's Male.

Choosing Where to Stay in the Maldives.

Do you recall me mentioning that visitors don’t stay at the atolls but on the islands around them?

With 26 atolls, 1200 islands over a territory of 298 square kilometres, and over 132 tastefully designed (mostly eco-friendly) resorts, how do you choose where to stay in this paradise? Though it could be a difficult decision for some, the budget and value-for-money would be a first-level filter for me.

The Maldives is not just a place for the super-rich to visit. I know, I know. The promotional materials always give you that impression. But, to give you an idea, you can get a room for as low as USD 22 and as high as USD 3,400. You’ll also need some spending money for your local expenses, of course.  

A pretty cool looking hotel option in the Maldives.

An option with more privacy in the Maldives.

To know more on how to get the best hotel rates, checkout booking tips here.

There are many types of accommodation. Sea villas cost more, but you do get the chance to see friendly sea visitors (beautiful fish, turtles, dolphins) right outside your door. It’s a view to consider. For personalised services, some resorts offer personal butler services for their guests. But I think I’d rather have some private space instead . . .

Enjoy the secluded beaches in the Maldives.

Getting around the island or opting for the à la carte services (food, activities) can be a pinch to the pocket. I prefer to get an all-inclusive package (sometimes known as full-board) with the resort so everything is bundled together—accommodation, airport transfers, meals and drinks, coffee, coffee, coffee, and water activities. If you have special dietary requirements (e.g., vegan, low-sodium, low-gluten diets or allergies), do alert the hotel. You don’t want to travel all the way to find out you are stuck with limited options on the island. Check out all the options available (full- and half-board, seasonal promotions) with the hotel before you decide.

Plenty of vegetarian choices are available.

Do take note that each island and resort is different in terms of cost and experience. But that bluest of the blue ocean is yours, no matter where you choose to be in the Maldives.

Getting to the Resort in the Maldives.

So, you have landed on the best holiday rates using my booking tips. Superb! You are on your way to your next sun-and-sea vacation.

Your next ride is here, found the right one?

Once here, you need more than a buggy ride to get to your resort. All resorts are located on the islands, and remember—there are over 1200 islands! Some islands are closer to the international airport on the island of Hulhule, while others are not. Obvious as it seems, but sometimes we forget to note which island our hotel is on. A map and some early preparations will come in handy.

Be sure to know your flight arrival times into Male and the pickup times to the island you’d be staying.

Transfers to the resorts are by speedboat, dhoni (multipurpose sailboats), seaplane, or domestic flights.

Our next ride.

The seaplane ride is one of a kind experience where you’d get to see the stunning atolls on the way. Check this video out!

Do take note that the seaplane services operate only during the day, so you’d need to make prior stay arrangements at Male if you arrive there after sunset or if you have an early flight out of the Republic.

Arrived at the island resort .

Once in the Maldives, I am sure you know what to do and expect. I am off to get some coffee while you go through your daily plan. By the way, since EN has boycotted coffee and tea in recent years, I do not have pictures of any local Maldivian coffee. Instead, here is coffee I had in Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), the place where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet. Triveni Sangam. No, the Maldives cannot be seen from this point, but wait—I feel a hint of Maldivian breeze when I look at this picture. Feel that?

Sending you some Arabian breeze back.

You’ll never run out of exciting things to do at the islands. Even if you are not a certified diver, snorkeller, swimmer, or jet-skier, or if you just prefer not to get your feet wet, you can still enjoy the glorious skies and deep blue sea by taking long walks on the powdery white-sand shores, counting the stars in the open skies, speaking to the fish, serenading to the moon (don’t worry, even if you are tone-deaf as I am, the fish will applaud you), or catching up on the latest novel. That one cup of coffee comes in handy, doesn’t it?

Relax. Where is my coffee?

What can you do in Maldives? Just to recap, the popular activities here include water activities like diving, swimming, kayaking, jet skiing, water skiing, dolphin watching, and island hopping. Remember to bring your water activity gear. Visitors can get them on the islands, but the choices are limited. Non-water activities include trekking, indulging in the spa treatments, visiting local villages, and just relaxing on the swings or under the sun and stars.

The choppy sea. Water activities were canceled.

Because the sea was rough the week EN was in Maldives, all water activities were cancelled (just in case you’re wondering why we are short on pictures of water activities ). But they did get to see three dolphins from a distance. 

The unfiltered beauty of this paradise humbles me and will always be a constant push-factor to plan for a trip to see the ocean. The tranquil shots in this post are reminders that we, humans, are just one of the millions of temporary occupants on Earth. We are hardly a dot in this space, but we are also the only species with the capacity to both protect and destroy the earth. Choose to protect the earth. Choose to conserve this beauty for our siblings, children, grandchildren, and for all generations yet to come. Today! Now! 

Conserve this beauty today!

EN, thank you for sharing these beautifully captured photographs with us. This article is not just about the beautiful Maldivian treasures, but your photos have reminded us about the soul-filled oceans and seas we need to protect.

Sun set over the Indian Ocean.

With every sail, every country, and every town, across each sea, we are one nautical mile closer to ReachingDelphi. The Maldives is a stop on the way. Stay tuned, the next post continues on a related subject. There are more stars to count and more coffee to drink. Our journey to Delphi continues.

Counting steps, counting miles, counting stars.

General information on Maldives and map -
Atolls -
Maldivian Atolls -
Hotel prices - Booking websites.

A Day At The Illusion 3D Art Museum, Kuala Lumpur

Our very own 3D Art Museum in Asia

I have always been fascinated by the vibrant colours of 3D street art. Having seen it pop up in my social media feed, I often wondered how it would feel to be face-to-face with one of these large images. Would the actual wall paintings leave me as astonished as the images I had seen online? Or would I need to upgrade my lenses to equal the surreal effects? I recently visited the Illusion 3D Art Museum to find out.

A day at 3D Art Museum.

The 3D Art Museum is located at the Central Market (Pasar Seni) complex in Kuala Lumpur. I must admit, I wasn’t aware there was such an entertaining gallery anywhere in the city. My three friends and I stumbled upon this place during a recent outing.

Illusion 3D Art Museum is located on the second floor of the Central Market Annexe. The gallery brings its one and a half floors of gigantic, vibrant paintings to life. Wait, that’s not all. We also got to see augmented-reality scenes of space and ocean; these are video shows. We had a lot of fun that morning as we rolled and tossed on the floor, trying to catch a few flying dragons, dinosaurs, and the clever seals.

3D Art Museum, Pasar Seni.

The museum is a great place to have fun and explore creative boundaries. My friends proved themselves naturals at it—they knew just what to do at each corner and each wall as they got into character. Déjà vu for them, I’d say.

The 3D paintings can transport you into different worlds within split seconds. That’s the effect of a good the 3D artwork! Do you remember the 2008 film The Jumper? This is very similar, and we felt the Jumper effects at this local museum too. The girls giggled non-stop as they travelled the walls, performing ‘Let it Be’ with the Beatles, resolving the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, and trying to get some conversation time with Barack Obama. If we had no time restrictions, I am pretty sure my companions would have found themselves here, camping on Mars.

Head spinning shot!

According to the museum’s website, you can see thirty-eight bigger-than-life hand-printed masterpieces here, each of them painted by talented artists. The names of the artists, unfortunately, were not available, but they are very gifted in bringing these images to our attention.

Take me back to Earth.

Where Is Illusion 3D Art Museum?

The museum is located at Central Market Annexe in Kuala Lumpur. For more information on the museum, visit their homepage. 

3D Art Museum, Pasar Seni

Entrance Charges.

The entrance fee, in my opinion, may be a stretch for those travelling on a tight budget. Students, senior citizens, and government staff are entitled to reduced entrance fees.

Do check out the museum’s website for the latest rates and opening times. Visitors usually spend approximately one hour at the museum.

How Do You Get to Illusion 3D Art Museum?

If you are new to the city and are exploring the city by foot, the best way to get here is to follow the walkway I suggested in a previous blog post titled ‘Traffic Signals’. 

What do You Do After Visiting the Illusion 3D Art Museum?

  • How about a cup of coffee to relax? Go on, grab some coffee, put up your feet, and scan through those amusing photos you just took at the museum. You will notice a couple of decent restaurants within the Central Market complex.

Find a cafe for coffee.

  • Our coffee suggestion for the day is a local one from Chinatown, just a few hundred metres from Central Market complex. The one I had today was a very strong local coffee. 

  • Did you have so much fun that your feet hurt now? Try a fish spa to relax those aching toes and heels.

Those fishes look fierce.

  • Visit the different stalls at Central Market. Get a souvenir or two for your friends back home.

I want them all!

Suggestions for First-Timers to the Museum.

  • If your travel group is large, do book ahead to avoid long waits. You’ll want to go right in and start snapping your favourite moments here.
  • Visit the gallery on a weekday, when it’s not too crowded. You will avoid photobombers and appearing in someone else’s photo.
  • There are no toilet or restaurant facilities inside the museum, so do the needful before you enter. Remember, your entry is time-bound, so you won’t be able to stay here all day.
  • Wear easy walking shoes for pain-free fun.

  • Leave your bags at the entrance counter. You don’t want to be seen fighting Gollum with bags, do you?
  • Relax, laugh, and have fun.

Happy memories at 3D Art Museum

We left Central Market with loads of photos and happy memories. More importantly, we had a fun day out in the city, reaching for the innumerable stars in the Galaxy Room with Reaching Delphi.