Arriving Airlie Beach at seven in the morning I had only an hour before the boat left, so I jumped into a taxi from the train station and made it just in time for my sailing trip.
I had booked the British Defender, a boat accommodating as much as 30 people, but still being quite a fast and steady sailer. Steadier meant having a deeper keel, so we could not go into the more shallow and turquise waters like the catamarans, but we still got to see the beautiful waters from a distance.
Our first stop was a part of the Great Barrier Reef where everyone got an hour of snorkeling and some lunch. Visibility was poor and the coral were mostly dead which was dissapointment, but it was all made up for when we got to our next stop at Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven is known for having the purest silica sand in the World, making it crystal white, always cold even on the sunniest days and as turquise as the waters in the Maldives.
The city where the Whitsundays boats are departing from, Airlie Beach, was pretty small so I jumped on a train continuing up north the same night.
I have put together a short video of last week’s trip to the Maldives:
This weekend I will travel to South and North Korea and the Silk road from Beijing to Istanbul by rail, so stay tuned!
Our trip had just the perfect ending with a sail trip to Ari Atoll, a trip arranged by Rasdhoo Dive Center. Ari is one of the biggests of the twenty Maldivian atolls, laying just a couple og hours South West of Rasdhoo. Sailing from the Northern part of the atoll to the Southern part of the atoll with the boat we were on would take ten hours, which is quite a lot more than each of the legs that we covered last week on the Dhoni cruise.
The first place visited was a coral reef where we saw sharks and rays at just a five to fifteen meters depth. Afterwards we sailed over to a beutiful spot in the middle of the ocean where it was a really shallow sandy bottom, so that we would have the light turquise color all around us while eating lunch.
The rest of the day was spent snorkelling around and visiting one of the other local islands called Ukulhas. While the crew prepared a barbeque meal on the boat we were let off to have an hour of exploring and watching the sunset from the tourist beach on the island.
On the way back we were just laying silently on deck watching the stars brightly lit up on the sky above us. Looking down at the side of the boat we could also see the bioluminecent plankton sparking up around the boat as the water splashed off the boat, also leaving a trail of light behind us. The sound of the water splashing and the pitch dark, with only some light of the stars and the plankton made it feel like we could easily have fallen to sleep. At the same time it felt like we were already in a dream. A dream that we would first really wake up from when getting on the plane home.
On day two of our boat trip started with a two and a half hour drive from Bodu Veli (Veli meaning sand) to Kudi Boli (Boli meaning shell). This was the first time I got to join the crew for spear fishing. Together we caught lots of fish, all making fine dinners for us in the evenings. We also caught a big octopus that was used in a delicious curry dish prepared for us at Bongo Beli, where we spent the night by the sand bank.
The crew had prepared a surprise for us at the next stop at Bodumohoraa just an hours drive away. While we had been relaxing on the boat, the crew had dug out a seating section in the sand, laid a table cloth woven out of palm leaves in the middle and put up lots of lanterns made out of coconuts around. With some romantic music in the background and a good meal on our sand table it was quite a good athmostphere.
The next morning we had just another drive to Hulidhoo reef, right next to the atoll capital, Felidhoo Island. Spending the night there was quite a different experience than the night before. The plan was to see what the local life was like on the island with 615 inhabitants. At first we were shown the school, mosque, police station and hospital by our guide Nanuu. People passing by greeted us friendly and one old random guy also invited us in for coffee and crackers in his home. He explained that since he had worked all his life as a teacher, the government provided him with 5000 Rufiyah, roughly 350USD a month. Even though The Maldives was a bit expensive for us as tourists, he seemed to get along fine with that money. After all, there was not much for the locals to do on the islands.
One thing the locals do to pass time in the evening was to put up a traditional party called “Boduberu” (meaning big drum) where there were five people were playing drums and around ten people standing behind and singing. The rest of the people were dancing some of the weirdest dances I have ever seen; some people did Gollum-like dancemoves, where others were doing monkey moves and when we joined in with Macarena moves and disco moves it was all quite suitable as everyone were dancing differently to the drum beats. It was all quite interesting to be part of.
On the way back towards Malé we also passed by some resort offering activities for those interested in that. Alimatha Resort had a daily launch for diving, but I found the price of 120USD for a single dive way too expensive. I had been more looking forward to going surfing, but when we header over to Kommando the waves were much too small to do so.