The next morning dawned bright and sunny. The sky was impossibly blue and the fragrant island air returned. My date to leave Fenfushi drew closer and I felt a bit cheated by the rain gods. That set up some moody blues and I was silent on the porch in the morning. Fenfushi’s Bangladeshi chef, sensing my moodiness tossed up a pseudo-Bengali breakfast and once again, I revelled my decision of overlooking Maldives’s resorts. Post breakfast, Moosa and Suja suggested some more island hopping and snorkelling, and I reluctantly gave in to shake off my blue moods.
Facing a sea-storm turned out to be a local Maldives experience
By the time, we sailed off from Fenfushi pier, the sky once again turned wild and stormy clouds brewed on the horizon. Despite strong winds, the sea was menacingly calm and I found the cerulean sheet of Indian Ocean irresistible. The storm caught us in the middle of watery nowhere and turned the sea into a raving monster. Violent waves slapped us with spray and we all joined hands in busily throwing water overboard. High swells hit us badly and our little boat leapt and jumped over them like a tiny spirit. For the two seafaring fishermen, it was just another bad day while my poor heart constricted with fear at every swell. At one point the boat nearly tipped upright and my eyes hungrily looked around for the nearest landmass. Rain, however, hazed out everything and all I could see were monstrous waves around me.
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The Maldives monsoons are unpredictable
Only my non-queasy stomach stayed calm and I held on to the sides of the boat for stability. The Islanders remained stone-faced calm throughout the entire ordeal and their expertise gave me some iota of strength. So I sat quietly like a mouse, getting wetter and colder by the moment while the time seemed to stretch forever. At one point, being numb to my bones, I even dozed off when a huge spray slapped dashed sleep right off my face. It also washed away the sweetness of raindrops leaving the funny alternating taste of salty and sweet on my battered face. Predictably the rain stopped as abruptly as it had started and soon a clear bright sky emerged. The waves too quietened down like a pacified child and they took us to a beautiful uninhabited island without any further hassle. Once on the ground, we spread out on the beach, napped in relief in the sun and cooked the chicken we carried on a bonfire of dried leaves.
Learning the Dhivehi names of the fishes is a part of local Maldives life
After eating we explored the island, which was larger and cleaner than the one visited the previous day. It was soothing to the eyes to see Maldivian trash free space and the island had flowering trees which bore fruits. Both the Maldivian fisherfolk talked nineteen to a dozen, explained varieties of fishes in their local language and I learned the difference between tholi (flying fish) and kookooni (crab) catching techniques. The water all around the island was rich in marine life and I snorkelled there like a water baby. The day which started on such a dramatic mode concluded in a sublime sunset and I frolicked in the water until rosy rays speckled it with different shades of red.
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The local Maldives residents know where to catch the famous photo-luminescent waves
It was a spectacular experience and just when I thought, that it could not get any better, a lonesome reef shark scuttled by. On my last night, a big full moon rose over the Indian Ocean like a large cheesecake and I went for a final sailing expedition. The night sky was rain washed and the crystal clear visibility showed off glistening flying fishes, luminescent jellyfishes and a mass of blue glowing in the distance. They seemed like fallen stars in the middle of an inky black Indian Ocean and millions of electric blue pinpricks stood out against the darkness. The spectacle was the famous bio photo luminescent waves of the Maldives and it remains the most unforgettable sight during all my years of travel experience.
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This is one unforgettable sight
The bio photo luminescent waves are an incredible natural phenomenon which happens when tiny planktons get washed ashore by waves. More visible on full moon nights, the phenomenon takes place all across the Maldives and best sightings are reported around Vadhoo island and Reethi beach. But like all wildlife sightings, spotting of this incredible phenomenon depends on luck and in my awe struck mind, they seemed like fallen stars scattered on the moonlit beach. It was the most spectacular finale of my eye-opening Maldives trip and I thought about the islanders all the way back home.
The local Maldives is way more than just turquoise water
The Maldives is one of the most desirable tourist destinations in the world and it is indeed picture postcard pretty. Silky golden beaches, stunning turquoise Indian Ocean, open blue skies and atolls teeming with marine life put the Maldives on every travel brochure in the world. These are undoubtedly the glamorous aspects of Maldives and they draw thousands of tourists every year. Maldives‘s lesser-known local perspective is equally enigmatic and the way the Maldivians live is a travel story worth exploration in itself.
Looking for Maldives accommodation on a budget? Read about my Maldives homestay experience.
Local Maldives people are real sea-farers
Imagine being born, growing up and living all your life in an island the size of a small football field, where usually nothing ever happens and where visiting your closest relatives require a boat ride across the ocean. Even going for work entails daily boat rides and the Maldivians are real children of the ocean. Think, how it must be to grow up in a place where the landscape contains the ocean, sands and coconut trees. You will never see a hill or a mountain unless you leave your country and everything you buy is imported. Only fish, coconut and breadfruit are your staples and every other stuff are brought in from the capital island of Male.
Living the local Maldives life may seem claustrophobic
Though the capital of the country, Male is also extremely tiny and you can walk around the island in 2 hours. But, since you hail from a local inhabited island of Maldives, Male seems bedazzling to you and its seafront promenade of a handful of stores, cafes and restaurants make your jaw drop. So, you visit the capital city, explore its traffic heavy lanes and return to the peace of your island by boat at night. Sailing in the ocean does not scare you and you feel at home there, even when thunderstorms rage like evil banshees. Your little island is the world for you and imagine living on it every single day of your life, knowing where you will be buried when you die.
When in the Maldives, get smart and avoid my Maldives Travel Mistakes.
Now that it is possible, experience the local Maldives life
I found the local way of living of the Maldivians to be intensely intriguing and came face to face with it while staying at a homestay in one of the small islands. For many years, Maldives had fiercely shut the tourists off from its local inhabited islands and it is recently that the government has allowed home stays to open their doors to those who are interested in exploring the Maldives beyond the resort scene. The experience is pretty offbeat and though it does get a bit monotonous after a while, living the local Maldivian life is simply unforgettable. So, come with me and explore the sneak peek of the local life of Maldives. It is truly unique.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE