If you have ever visited another country and loved your time there, you are probably like me and now follow dozens of travel-based Instagram accounts. Second to actually visiting beautiful places, I love to look at images of them. One of my favourite places to see pictures of, as most people can agree I’m sure, is the Maldives. I feel like the Maldives is one of those places on many bucket lists, probably up there with Bora Bora, Fiji, Greece and Italy.

For a good chunk of time in September, I visited Sri Lanka with my fiancé and his family. It’s a country I’ve been to before and love so visiting again was fantastic. In a lot of ways, I think that a second visit to a place you loved is more magical than the first visit. That unknown fear of typical travel concerns is gone and you can fully embrace and enjoy your time. I’ll be writing a couple different Sri Lanka-themed posts that will be released over the next couple weeks. For today, I wanted to write about my experiences on Thulhagiri Island in the Maldives.

The flight from Sri Lanka to the Maldives is only an hour, so after a brief wait we stepped off of the airplane to a wall of humidity and heat. I’ve been to a few different airports in my life and never have I seen one which showcases the beauty of its country the minute you step out of the doors. I was floored when I exited Male International Airport and saw the crystal clear ocean that so many pictures have shown me before! And here I was, just standing two feet from the airport.

My first dip in the ocean. Photo by Catherine Hsu, @catmaikeup

Getting from the airport in Male to any island, you have two choices: sea plane or speed boat. We were lucky enough to take the speed boat as Thulhagiri was only a 25 minute ride and I’m glad for it! It was such a unique introduction to a country. We passed dozens of stunning islands on the way to ours that I’m sure would be worth the visit should I ever go back again. Thulhagiri Island, like many islands in the Maldives, is a resort island and small enough that you can walk its entirety in just 15 minutes (or less). While the boat itself and the airport had already impressed me, arriving to dock at the island was even more exciting. I’ve never seen water so pristine before. It didn’t seem real! In my head, I remember thinking that I had seen this image thousands of times on Instagram – the turquoise ocean, the white beaches, the water huts stretching as far out as the reef. It was picturesque.

Beautiful beach huts over turquoise water. Photo by me.

We were greeted by a lovely man named Ashok who quickly became one of our favourites on the resort.  In fact, every staff member at this resort was fantastic and remembered our faces for the whole of our trip. Ashok gave us some lovely juices to sip on while the check-in process was completed and we drank them while wandering around the dock areas. I felt like I was ten years old! Our check-in could not come soon enough. It has been years since I’ve been to a sandy beach that wasn’t a lake, so I was eager to get in the water.

Right off the bat, it was clear how strong the sun was in this country! We immediately dressed and prepared to swim for the day and unfortunately, all of us neglected to properly apply sun screen. We were so burnt! I guess being too excited really is a thing…but either way, enjoying the beach that first day was seriously magical. I have never in my life seen a beach so clear. I don’t know what it is about this country…maybe the white sand, perhaps the clear air and lack of pollution…but the water is completely indescribable. I remember at one point after swimming for a while, I came up on the sand and just laid down flat on the beach. It was the most relaxed I’d been for a while. It was quiet. Peaceful. I love a city, but there is something magical about closing your eyes and hearing only the sounds of waves and budgies chirping in the distance.

Blissfully floating in the ocean. Photo by Catherine Hsu @caitmaikeup

Beach aside, I think my favourite thing about this beautiful island was the vast aquatic life visible just a few feet from my cabana door. I’m from Canada. We have beautiful, natural scenery and abundant wildlife throughout our entire country, but unless you live directly on the west or east coast (which I do not), seeing any kind of ocean-life is exclusive to aquariums. The amount of fish and aquatic life we saw was astounding. It felt almost like a dream. I was seeing fish and creatures that I had only ever seen inside aquariums or museums and it blew my mind a little.

I remember it really hit me when we were snorkeling by the reefs and I saw three or four Angelfish together. Witnessing the beauty of hundreds of species coexisting peacefully around the reefs is special. It breaks my heart a little that many of our world’s reefs are dying due to pollution or sun bleaching. Through our week, we saw Black Tipped Reef Sharks and their pups feeding in the shallow areas, beautiful purple Crown Jellies, sting rays, tunas, and thousands of small fish ranging in size and colour. I’m not sure where they will all go once the reefs die completely, but I can say that the experience has made me really consider ocean conservation and perhaps changing small things in my own life that can contribute to the issue.

Overlooking the reefs. Photo by me.

Resorts like Thulhagiri are expensive and far away for most. I get it. But if you have the opportunity to visit at all, I would consider budgeting for it because there is nothing comparable to this experience. It was relaxing, peaceful and interesting in the best ways. There may not be another beach good enough for me after this one – Thulhagiri and the Maldives ruined them all for me!

I’m sure my in-laws are reading this right now, but I am so grateful and thankful for them including me in this once-in-a-lifetime trip. They are the real MVPs.

Sunset in the Maldives – goodbye beautiful. Photo by me.

I’ll be writing up a couple more posts about my travels through Sri Lanka – we saw some beautiful things during this trip, including high grown tea estates and the beautiful countryside. I’m excited to write them up!

Hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend so far friends!

Deanna xo

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