The last time we went looking a whale was in the remote city of Tromso, Norway. Our boat anchor got tangled up and we needed to be rescued by the coast guard…lets hope that doesn’t happen again but the upside is that at least it ain’t minus 10 degrees and pitch black at 2pm in the afternoon.
So it was that we ventured out for our last full day in the Maldives. The 8am start gave us plenty of time to go looking for the elusive whale shark although given that it hadn’t been seen for while we weren’t overly confident. Never less it was another day on the water and who knows what we’d see given the last two days.
We are becoming quite familiar with the routine and the people working on the boat with us. This is the kind of place where you go to that you can do heaps or do nothing. Everyone is friendly and extremely accommodating and truly want you to have a good time. Tourism is the island people’s friend although there are some that worry that it may become overcapitalised like other islands such as Maafushi and lose its charm. We also share their concern given the construction that you can see occurring and the number of Indians, Sri Lanka’s and Bangladeshi’s working in our resort. It’s a double edged sword – they need it but how do you stop a runaway train! It’s nice to know though that we have been here when it was like it is, a little like Bali before the American dollar completely took over (although having said that here most things are in American dollars as a protection for the Maldivian currency exchange).
The boat ride out took us the length of the island and past a number of others until we got a channel where it appeared that there were a number of boats all lined up in a row; a little like the game Battleship. Each boat had their part to play in trying to spot the elusive whale shark. There are no spotter panes here and no sonar detection. It is all by eye and word of mouth.
We waited for a little while before being told to jump in the water and have a bit of a snorkel – buying time more like it, but hey it was another opportunity to swim in the warm sea currents of the Maldivian atoll and enjoy some of the fish life below. At this location, the snorkelling wasn’t great and we spent about an hour here before being called back onto the boat to slowly make our way back to port. The workers continued to look for the whale shark but really without much hope (particularly when the majority of the other boats had already given up).
On the way back we stopped at Fish Bank for another snorkel. This was the place that we had been yesterday and we were pleased to be able to have another opportunity to swim here. The current was a little stronger today but the sea life was just as colourful and bountiful as it had been yesterday. Another turtle was spotted from a distance although Philip (aka Aqua Man) managed to once again use his “superpowers” to dive down a considerable depth and take a few more images on the very impressive underwater camera that we had purchased.
Upon returning to the shoreline, we proceeded straight to the dining room to grab some lunch even though it was late. The service here has been impressive and there is nothing that is too much bother. This is quite contrary to some Trip advisor reviews which have indicated that the food and service may have been a little overrated and needed improvement.
After food, time for another dip in our plunge pool, and then Claire and I went for a walk down our favourite trail (about 4.5km return) whilst Philip checked out today’s photos. Nothing too complicated or stressful but hugely enjoyable.
Now yesterday we were informed of a 17 course BBQ dinner that was to take place tonight. We were asked if we were interested and promptly told them that we were. Now unfortunately the takers for this option were few and far between and the BBQ was moved to Christmas Day when we had moved onto the next location. Therefore we were offered a 5 course menu on the beach. Again keen to a take advantage of any unique experience offered through Elliot travel we said that we would be keen and were told to meet at the beach at 7:30 pm. Now what we found was a Christmas memory that we won’t ever forget. There were crosses dug in the sand. In each cross there were candles lit up to show the path and encircle two tables. These tables were lit up by a red light from power that had been run in a trench under the road to the beach. Water lapped at the sand only metres away and stars lit up the night sky. On the horizon everywhere the lights of nearby islands created a magical picture. It was totally surreal and all done just for us, whilst back at the restaurant a bunch of Russian tourists were eating burgers and chips. When the food came out it was an absolute feast, way beyond what we could possibly consume. Hot sweet and sour soup, lobster, a chicken roll, various vegetables, rice, bruschetta and to top it all off a plum cake complete with cinnamon cream and custard.
When we we returned to our rooms there were flowers laid out on the bed and a palm frond woven basket complete with a range of shortbreads. Very impressive
We couldn’t believe how much effort people had gone to and started to ponder the cost of such an experience (which apparently is limited to New Years Eve). Upon getting our final bill for the four days we were to learn that it was round $50 pp including drinks which was incredible for the experience, food and uniqueness of the night. What a way to top off a magical four days in the Maldives even if we didn’t see the whale sharks (hmm might have to come back!)