Athif, our guide… wait! I forgot to mention Athif in the last post… writer fail. Alright, so Athif was our guide for the trip. He was a skinny guy with chin length dark hair, and a curly mustache. Athif attended university in Hulamale for a business related degree. After obtaining said degree, he worked in Male, the capital, until his father got injured, at which point he returned to his home island to assist the family. He worked at the pharmacy on the island, before resigning after he received a job offer from Kinan Retreat. He was working at the Retreat when he met Brad, the owner of the company we traveled with, Beach Life Tours. Athif now works in tourism full-time, carting around beach and travel lovers just like us! Meet Athif…
Fuildhoo, the second island we stayed on, happened to be Athif’s home island. We certainly learned a lot about it because of that! One immediate difference we noticed upon arriving on Fulidhoo was how non-commercialized it was, unlike Maafushi. The island can be inhabited by the approximately 490-500 registered residents of the island, but only 190-200 of those registered currently live on it. The government employs much of the people – either in the health center, pharmacy or school. Fulidhoo does not have motorized vehicles like Maafushi, except for a single ambulance (which has never actually been used, and was, in fact, sitting under a tarp). The island is controlled by a town council, and said council decides on the number of guesthouses permitted on the island, which is currently sitting at nine). The council also only allows guesthouses on Fulidhoo to be a maximum of four stories. Fulidhoo, much like Maafushi, had a decent amount of construction littered about the island.
Athif also enlightened us about purchasing land on Fulidhoo. Those with families are given priority. There is actually an application process, and after one has received word they are going to receive a parcel of land, the government then gifts it to them. However, the new owners are required to purchase only the trees on the property. Those trees could possibly be owned by anyone on the island. Athif owns one near the beach we docked on! Learn something new every day!
Kinan Retreat served as our home for the next three days. A quaint little place with just three stories. Instead of hiding us in a room with only a vent for a view, we were stashed on the second floor. This time with a hell of a view! And a frigidly cold A/C, which I much appreciated.
This part of the trip was mainly for rest and relaxation. And failed attempts at swimming with Whale Sharks. Athif, as awesome as he was, sadly disappointed us. He PROMISED we would get to see and swim with Whale Sharks that we had paid an extra $150 to see. He even said that every… single… time… he’d been out in the speed boat for this purpose, he had seen a Whale Shark. One time they even spotted EIGHT. Lies, all lies. Our spotters didn’t spot even one for us. All I have are a few photos from the never ending boat ride.
They got our hopes up painfully high at one point, even telling us to get ready to leap into the water, but again… nothing.
Sadly, the primary highlight of this adventure was marked by a very LONG boat ride through the open ocean (which was quite bumpy). We made passes of many beautiful islands, and observed lots of napping on the boat by our comrades. Unfortunately, I wish I’d stayed on the island basking in the sun for the day. I call shenanigans on the Maldives being a prime location to swim with Whale Sharks.
While we were not able to swim with the elusive Whale Sharks, Athif successfully got us a swim with Nurse Sharks. And some other devilish-looking fish that were apparently more violent than the calm nurse sharks.
While we were stopped with our spotters searching for Whale sharks, I watched from below as Athif and Carl danced on the roof of the boat. So glad I witnessed this little performance AND filmed it!
As I mentioned previously, our time on this island was mainly about rest and relaxation. One of those rest day included rain and cloudy skies. The rain didn’t stop us from taking a stroll around the island, much like we did Maafushi. This island took much less time to walk around. Gorgeous again…
We were shocked at the huge amount of trash around island. Piles around the less protected side (open to the Indian Ocean), and fewer along the protected side (inside the atolls). Regardless, I began to wonder where this trash eventually ended up?
There was an unfortunate demise of a boat just off shore… while we played frisbee until sunset. We watched as multiple boats traveled to and from the sinking boat to collect passengers, crew and gear. Sad, but still… you asked for it by coming towards shore with an obvious reef.
Later that night, we all strolled down to the Blue Star Club, which is essentially a mini auditorium, for our dinner. Post-dinner we were serenaded by the locals, to include dancing. The dancing portion involved audience participation. Spoiler: Hubs does NOT dance. I “participated” a couple of times. Their dances are not easy and while the sporadic nature of the dances lead one to believe anyone can successfully partake and not look too stupid… you’d be wrong. It was fun watching them dance the obviously-Indian-influenced hustle. Great exercise!
Much like Maafushi, the sunsets were phenomenal. Please enjoy a few (or many, the number is relative)!
While this island was fantastic, picturesque, and quiet, we had to depart eventually, bound for the FINAL island. I certainly did not want to ever leave.
Enroute to this final island, we made a pitstop at a sandbar. The aforementioned sandbar was in the middle of the water, with nothing around it, and nothing touching it except the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. It was absolutely beautiful. We wandered the sandbar for a bit just taking in the scenery.
Then Brad asked all 20 of us to lie on the ground in a particular way. Odd request if you were anywhere else, but in the sandy Maldives, it means using people to form a palm tree! Incredibly amazing image from a drone above us.
Now… on to Thinadhoo. Goodbye, Fulidhoo… until next time.