The Maldives

I’m pretty sure Instagram was made for the Maldives.

After I saw my first picture of those stilted villas over turquoise waters, the Maldives immediately jumped to the top of my bucket list.  It looked otherworldly; those shades of blue don’t exist on any color wheel.  It was one of those place people say they wanted to go to, but never actually follow through.  It’s too far away, too expensive (valid), too exotic… why go halfway around the world when you can go to a nearby Caribbean island instead?

Nonetheless, I was committed.  I just needed the right opportunity to rationalize making the journey.  And once I discovered the world of credit card points, a trip to the Maldives turned from a pipe dream to a reality.


The Journey

So where exactly are the Maldives?  The Maldives are 26 atolls (ring-shaped islands made of coral) in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka.

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General vicinity of the Maldives.  In the middle of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka and India.

As you can imagine, the capital Malé isn’t exactly an airline hub.  Though oddly enough, Malé is among the most densely populated cities in the world.

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Malé, capital of the Maldives

But you don’t go to the Maldives to go to Malé.  From Malé’s international airport, you take either a seaplane or speedboat to your resort’s individual island.  Some resorts are only reachable via seaplane.  Our resort, Summer Island, offered both options.  We decided to pay a little bit more for the seaplane transfer on the way to the resort, and then take the less expensive speedboat transfer on our way back.

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Boarding the seaplane on our way to Summer Island.  An afternoon rain shower left us on the “runway” for an extra 15 minutes.

It was a snug fit aboard the Trans Maldivian Airways DHC-6 Twin Otter.  There were about 12 people on board, and all of our luggage was stuffed in the back in the cabin.  Yes, they had an in-flight magazine.  No, they didn’t offer us peanuts.

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Snug fit in the seaplane.  NOT PICTURED: the pilots were seriously wearing flip flops.

As you can imagine, the short seaplane flight offered some pretty awesome views.

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Seaplane flight over the Maldives
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The tiny islands dotted the ocean all the way to the horizon.

In this video, you can see one of the resorts.  In most of the Maldives, one resort makes up the whole island.  This particular island in the video was actually quite big; our resort was probably 1/3 that size.

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Landed on the water at the resort’s platform after our 20 minute seaplane flight.

Because each resort is its own island, the seaplane can make multiple stops before eventually arriving at your resort.  Since Summer Island was relatively close to the airport, we were the first stop.  Kind of a bummer since the seaplane flight was a unique activity in itself.

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Nailed that landing. Good job, Trans Maldivian Airways!

Our resort had a boat waiting to whisk us away from the landing platform to our island.

Now for the resort.  Real talk: the Maldives can be SUPER expensive.  Like, thousands of dollars per night expensive.

For some resorts, the seaplane transfers alone are $500+ per person.  And that’s before you even set foot on the resort… where over-water villas can cost $4,000+ per night.  Yikes!  For Summer Island, the one-way seaplane transfer itself was an additional $150 each, which was relatively reasonable.  Because each night in a Maldivian paradise is so costly, we strategically planned our arrival flight to land early in the morning and for our departing flight to leave later in the evening.

When we arrived at Summer Island, we were greeted with welcome drinks and taken to our over-water villa.


The Room

Simply put, an over-water villa is a must-do in the Maldives.  We don’t usually splurge for such an incredible room, but since we didn’t pay for the flight from Washington, DC or Dubai, we were able rationalize shelling out a few more dollars of the quintessential Maldives experience.

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The over-water villas at Summer Island

Some hotels in the Maldives are ALL over-water villas.  The majority of rooms at Summer Island were beachside, and the resort featured about 20 over-water villas at one end of the island.

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Direct water access for each bungalow
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A room with a view

Each villa had a private deck with its own staircase into the water. And THAT. VIEW.  Below are a few videos that provide a walkthrough of the actual villa.

INSANE.  The window on the floor had separate light switch, so even at night you could watch schools of fish swim by beneath the villa.

Obviously, the selling point with these over-water villas is the view and the novelty of staying on top of the water.  The room itself is nice and simple.  There are much fancier/more expensive hotels, but this villa was exactly what we wanted.

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Morning swim?

Even around the villas, the water was incredibly clear, and fish were everywhere.  We saw a group of manta rays swim by while enjoying our coffee one morning.  A family of crabs claimed the staircase leading to the water as their home, so needless to say Taryn was content watching from afar.

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“Hi mom!”

There was great snorkeling outside (and underneath) our villa.  Unfortunately, no manta rays.  Fortunately, no sharks.


The Grounds

The room itself was AWESOME.  But the island itself was also amazing.  Our resort was literally the only thing on the tiny island, much like other resorts in the Maldives.

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Hotel lobby

There were bigger and fancier resorts (such as the Park Hyatt or Conrad Hilton), but Summer Island was perfect for our short stay.  The resort offered an all-inclusive option, which made for a relaxing and care-free vacation.

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Infinity pool next to the beach
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Beachside lounge

We went in February, which is prime season for the Maldives.  However, we never had any issues with the beach being too crowded or finding a seat at the restaurants.

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Maldivian siesta

We tagged Summer Island resort on Instagram with this hammock picture, but sadly we didn’t make the cut for a re-post.  But seriously, that IG feed is on fire.

We’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t expert snorkelers.  But since the Maldives are made of atolls, the entire country is essentially a huge coral reef.  It was incredibly easy to snorkel around the island and see a ton of different fish.

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Snorkeling around the resort.
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Lunch time?

The resort had two main restaurants.  Because we opted for the all-inclusive package and stayed in one of the over-water villas, we were able to have plated meals at the over-water restaurant for each meal.  The other restaurant was closer to the beach villas and offered a buffet.

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Avi restaurant between the over-water villas and the beach
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Breakfast with a view

The nice feature at Avi was having the option of made-to-order plated meals.  We could grab some fruit and pastries at a mini-buffet line, and then we’d receive our fresh omelets within minutes.

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Avi restaurant, which was part of our all-inclusive package

We typically wouldn’t seek out an all-inclusive resort.  We have a serious love affair with food, but we always seem to eat too much of it when it’s free for the taking (go figure).  As I looked into different options, though, I realized that the room isn’t the only expensive part of the Maldives.  Since each individual resort can only receive supplies via boat or seaplane, the cost for meals can be exorbitant.  I’m talking $100 for a breakfast for two.  And $10+ for beers at the bar.  Since the Maldives were only three days during a 21 day trip, we opted for the certainty of the all-inclusive option at Summer Island.  Better yet, the food was great and the service was always friendly.

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Feeding time?

So. Many. Fish.

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Drinking beer while watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean

Next door to the Avi restaurant was the Hiya bar, where we watched the sunset after dinner.  The resort would host live bands a few nights each week, but unfortunately not when we were there.


Sand Bank Picnic

Our visit to the Maldives was already incredible, but our picnic lunch to an isolated sand bank in the middle of the ocean was definitely the coolest part.  Summer Island only allows one couple each day to go on the excursion, so we literally had the entire “island” to ourselves.

The sand bank itself was about a 45 minute boat ride from the main island.  When we arrived, the crew quickly hopped off the boat set up our spot on the beach.

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Lunch picnic on a secluded sand bank in the ocean

We figured they’d hand us a few beach chairs and towels and point us to the island.  But clearly they went all out.

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Pretty sure this was the first champagne bottle I’ve popped on the beach

This wasn’t our honeymoon, so we weren’t expecting the heart-shaped markers and iced champagne.  But we weren’t complaining.

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An island all to ourselves

After they dropped us off, the boat went off into the distance and left us alone on the island for two hours to enjoy lunch and our private beach.

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SO CLEAR
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Paradise
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Best picnic ever

I didn’t know water could be that clear.  It was crazy having such an incredible island all to ourselves, so naturally we spent half the time taking pictures.

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Far side of the island.  You can see the beach chairs and umbrella in the distance.
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Pretending like we’re photographers
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Coral EVERYWHERE.

Luckily we brought our snorkeling masks, because it was like a whole other world underwater.  So many fish.  So much coral.  It was like swimming in an aquarium.

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Do we have to leave?

Our two-hour picnic flew by.  We tried hiding from the crew so we could stay longer, but there wasn’t a whole lot to hide behind on a deserted island.  It was probably for the better, because apparently we enjoyed the sun a little too much.  A few days later, Taryn ended up with sun poisoning and had to go to the doctor.  Was dealing with sun poisoning fun?  NOPE.  But do we want to go back?  You betcha.


We went to the sandbank picnic on our last day, so we sadly had to leave paradise for our late evening flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Three days and two night in the Maldives was definitely not enough, and we both agreed that we will come back some day.

As you can tell, we aren’t the best photographers. We can play around with our iPhone’s Portrait Mode, but that’s the extent of skills.  For some seriously incredible drone photos of Summer Island and the Maldives, we’d recommend you check out our friends at Getting Stamped.  Their pictures and videos are what pushed us over the edge to stay at Summer Island.

Want to know how we flew business class to the Maldives?  Check out How We Made It Happen, and start your own credit card points adventure by exploring Points for Beginners.

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TAKE US BACK!
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