What to Expect in the Maldives

 I should have counted how many hammocks were on this island!

I should have counted how many hammocks were on this island!

 View from Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon House.

View from Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon House.

For 3 weeks, Kambiz had been telling me that he had the best surprise for our 7 year anniversary/my birthday. I guessed everything I could think of, but could tell I wasn't getting close. He had the best poker face knowing that I would never guess a 10 day trip to the Maldives!!

He surprised me 2 weeks before leaving with a folder of pictures of the resorts and our plane tickets! I must have flipped through that folder a million times trying to imagine what it would be like. However, thinking back, I had NO idea what I was in for. These are the 5 things that really set our Maldives trip apart from any other vacation we have taken. 

 Seaplane views on our way to our island home, Amilla Fushi.

Seaplane views on our way to our island home, Amilla Fushi.

 Arriving to this was jaw dropping!

Arriving to this was jaw dropping!

1. Arriving to the Maldives: The views from the plane alone are mesmerizing with THOUSANDS of turquoise, shallow water pockets spotting the expansive deep blue water. You will likely fly into Male Airport and then take a seaplane (more views) or speed boat to your resort’s island. In my case, we got both. The seaplane dropped us to a platform in the middle of the ocean and then our resort’s speed boat picked us up to continue the journey. It was the best start to a trip to say the least! 

 At Finolhu Resort for a day trip so we can have a harder choice for our next trip- Amilla or Finolhu resort next time?

At Finolhu Resort for a day trip so we can have a harder choice for our next trip- Amilla or Finolhu resort next time?

 Sunset views with no one in sight!

Sunset views with no one in sight!

2. With each resort having their own island, you get an incredibly private experience. There is so much beach even when the resort is full that you feel like you have it all to yourself. Especially at Amilla Fushi, where we kept discovering new places that were pure perfection that we had all to ourselves! 

 Tiki huts raised above the lagoon at Finolhu is the perfect choice for a first experience in the Maldives.

Tiki huts raised above the lagoon at Finolhu is the perfect choice for a first experience in the Maldives.

 Sleek, modern designs in Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon Houses.

Sleek, modern designs in Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon Houses.

3. Each resort has their own vibe so it’s super important to pick based on what kind of experience you want to have. Two new resorts that are really taking it up a notch or ten are Finolhu and Amilla, both in the Baa Atoll Maldives. I don’t think anyone could go wrong here, but it’s still a tough choice. For tikki hut luxury with a fun social vibe, go for Finolhu. And for modern, Miami style luxury that is a more low key, go for Amilla. With either one, you can choose to have a villa raised over the lagoon like you see in all the photos (especially if it’s your first time) or a beach home with your own private pool. Amilla also has wellness focused treehouses and Residences that range from 4-8 bedrooms. 

 We loved every person we met at the amazing Amilla Fushi resort.

We loved every person we met at the amazing Amilla Fushi resort.

 Sunset chats with the team running the show at Amilla.

Sunset chats with the team running the show at Amilla.

4. You are going to be surrounded by and interacting with the incredible staff, which allows you to understand the culture and life in the Maldives. At Amilla, each guest has their own Katheeb (butler) who assist you in planning your time, making any necessary bookings, and are a phone call away for anything you may need. Amilla also made it really easy to get to know everyone beyond our host when everyone was so passionate and happy to be there, that conversation was organic and natural. 

 Biking was our way to get around the island and find awesome spots to lounge and take photos.

Biking was our way to get around the island and find awesome spots to lounge and take photos.

 From Amilla, you can take a complementary boat trip to Finolhu resort to check out this awesome stretch of sand!

From Amilla, you can take a complementary boat trip to Finolhu resort to check out this awesome stretch of sand!

5. There’s going to be so much to do. When we first started trip planning, I didn’t think there would be much to do on an island, but I was so wrong. Amilla’s vision is to be “your island home” and I think the amount of activities and options made it a place that you could really stay forever! The first thing on your list should be their complementary jet lag massage, snorkelling around the island (which is in fact a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve), getting a complementary 45 minute photo session done (1 printed photo is included), trying out some water sports, excursions guided by a marine biologist, yoga, fitness and massage classes, watching the magical sunsets and sunrises, and so much more. By the time we had finished our initial tour at Amilla given by our Katheeba, I had a list so long and it kept getting longer as I discovered more on the island. 

I will not for a second stop missing the sand being permanently stuck to my body, the incredibly difficult decision of whether to shower in the rain shower inside or outside, or the private pool with direct beach access I got quite accustomed to during our Maldivian getaway. However, I don't believe Kambiz will be asking me to 'guess the surprise' any more...I have some BIG ideas now :)


Why the Maldives are Incomparable

Having been to resorts in Hawaii, California, and Mexico, I can, without hesitation, tell you that the Maldives are absolutely incomparable. It is definitely a destination to put on the list, and if it already is on the list, move it to the top! 

 Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon Houses are the best to enjoy the crystal clear, turquoise lagoon.

Amilla’s Ocean Lagoon Houses are the best to enjoy the crystal clear, turquoise lagoon.

 Seaplane views over thousands of shallow water pockets and islands.

Seaplane views over thousands of shallow water pockets and islands.

Right from the start, we were picked up from the airport and put on a seaplane for our second flight of the day! The seaplane landed at a platform in the middle of the ocean where we were greeted by the happiest woman, Stephanie, as she pulled up on a speedboat and introduced herself as our Katheeba (butler) during our stay. 

We felt pretty enthusiastic at that point with the incredibly clear, turquoise water splashing behind us and the anticipation of all that is in store finally playing out in front of us and it was nice to be with Stephanie, who seemed to be right with us, as the smiles were so contagious during that thrilling boat ride! 

 First views of Amilla coming off the dock.

First views of Amilla coming off the dock.

 The best kinds of walkways!

The best kinds of walkways!

The Amilla Fushi resort is stunning; a mix between modern Miami and cultural, fun Greece with white modern buildings, blue accents, and luxurious and inventive details. It was better than we could even imagine and also completely different from other resort in the Maldives that go for more of a tiki hut vibe. 

 Breakfast spot at Amilla Fushi.

Breakfast spot at Amilla Fushi.

 Amilla’s four bedroom residence is one for the books!

Amilla’s four bedroom residence is one for the books!

After our first day going from one hammock to another by way of our bikes around the island, getting a complementary 90 minute jet lag massage in a wooden pod, and having an exquisite meal with our toes in the sand, I came to see how different this was to any other experience I’ve had. 

First of all, it’s the perfect mix of adventure and R&R. When we first pulled up to our beautiful beach house via golf cart, two cruiser bikes were parked out in front and without even realizing or planning it, we used these bikes every day. After waking up at 3am our first morning (thanks, jet lag), with four hours till breakfast started, we decided to catch the sunrise from the beach that is a two second walk from our private pool (yes to fantasy dreams becoming reality). As the sky became brighter, we decided to use the remaining hours to explore the island- by bike! It was the best adventure: finding awesome spots we knew we had to come back to and checking out all the good photo spots. And just like that, anytime we felt like we were resting too much, we would jump on the bikes and go looking for an adventure. 

 His and her’s.

His and her’s.

 Two second walk to the beach to catch this awesome sunrise.

Two second walk to the beach to catch this awesome sunrise.

 Our transportation for the week- these awesome bikes!

Our transportation for the week- these awesome bikes!

Second, the people make you feel like family. It was awesome to not feel waited on (wait, what?). It’s right though; instead, I felt like I had immediate friends that were so passionate and happy to help me out, joke and make me laugh, and answer questions in a way that felt like catching up with friends. I walked around the resort excited to see my housekeeper, who works so hard, but will also have a conversation with me. I wanted to be friends with every single person at the resort because they made it personal and their happiness is contagious. I left having awesome memories, not just of me and Kambiz, but of awesome people I’m so glad I met, which made leaving that much harder. 

 Great people at Amilla Fushi.

Great people at Amilla Fushi.

 Cheers!

Cheers!

 Everything looks different early morning.

Everything looks different early morning.

Everything about the Maldives is beautiful and now knowing how incomparable this island getaway is, I know I must go back! 


Manta Rays in Hanifaru Bay, Maldives

Landing in the Maldives is the start to an experience that feels like a complete dream with the most unreal resort, amazing food, and topnotch service. But if you step away from the resort and jump into the water, you can see the true magic of the Maldives first hand. 

 An over-the-water oasis at Amilla Fushi’s Lagoon Homes.

An over-the-water oasis at Amilla Fushi’s Lagoon Homes.

 Taking the morning to soak in this view.

Taking the morning to soak in this view.

After our first day of riding our bikes (each home at Amilla includes transportation- bikes!) around the beautiful island to find awesome new spots to lounge, basically from one hammock to another, we knew we needed to get into the water. We had already heard about the infamous Hanifaru Bay being just a 30 minute boat ride from Amilla and how the manta rays are currently feeding here. Not all resorts have access to this area so we felt SO lucky to have this opportunity and weren’t going to miss it. 

 Every resort should have bikes; they were so much fun!

Every resort should have bikes; they were so much fun!

 This water makes my heart happy.

This water makes my heart happy.

The boat ride was amazing, watching the color of the water change as we left one turquoise lagoon and arrived at another. There is always a chance that you don’t see manta rays and since you only get 45 minutes to be in the water, it helps to have incredible guides and the marine biologist to pick out a spot. 

Once the boat stopped, everyone became quiet with anxious excitement, not wanting to get our hopes up. We then got confirmation from our guide that mantas were there and it felt like electricity ran through my body giving me crazy chills and the biggest smile ever.

We hurried to get our gear on and I remember watching everyone jumping in thinking I needed to remember how to do this! The guide immediately pointed out the manta that was feeding below us. It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in the water and I immediately sucked up so much water, not even from the tube, but from my actual mouth, even with the mouth piece in my mouth. Totally not remaining calm at all. 

 From the tanning deck to the titanic photo opportunities- we loved this boat ride!

From the tanning deck to the titanic photo opportunities- we loved this boat ride!

 The most amazing animals I’ve seen underwater.

The most amazing animals I’ve seen underwater.

After that first sighting, it was like an incredible show started with us in the middle of it. I had a super friendly manta swim right in front of my face. More water sucked up in my mouth- you guessed it. It was awesome to see them being so brave and friendly with us, as they gave everyone a front row show. 

The coolest part about mantas are their feeding pattern where they swim one direction and then immediately turn around to go back, so they never swim out of sight once you are in the area with them. At one point, one turned around and came face to face with me and then swam directly under me. The guide had to hold up my flippers so that I didn’t kick it on accident; it was that close. 

 As huge as they are, they are so gentle.

As huge as they are, they are so gentle.

 This is me very, very happy.

This is me very, very happy.

In between the manta sightings, schools of fish swam by and it was just absolutely extraordinary. I basically had the time of my life in that 45 minute time frame and am so, so thankful to experience something like that. 

I cannot wait to come back to this very special spot during this time (May-August) with the hopes that I can see fifty or even a couple hundred swimming together since it’s quite common!

If you end up staying at the beautiful Amilla resort, it's going to be tough to leave even for a couple hours on an excursion, but I guarantee this is an experience of a lifetime.