Bam! Diving straight in with a shot of the gorgeous, clear water you've probably all seen so much of. Whenever I hear "the Maldives", I immediately think of the lightest turquoise water I've ever seen and the whitest of sand. It truly lives up to expectations.
...But let me backtrack a little. We arrived at Male at about 4pm in the afternoon. Our seaplane wasn't scheduled for another hour or so, so we whiled the time away at the Conrad lounge in the airport, watching the seaplanes land and take off whilst helping ourselves to the buffet food and 15 minute massages.
After what felt like far too long (I was jittery with excitement!), we began boarding.
The seaplanes only hold about 20 people (including crew). If you're claustrophobic, I hate to break it to you but you will not enjoy this ride. It's extremely stuffy; barely any air moves around and there isn't any air conditioning. The aisles are very narrow and seats are small, but hey - it gets you where you need to go! The Conrad is about a 35 minute flight from Male airport.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with refreshing pots of sorbet and introduced to our island host, Naeem. He would be our contact for the duration of our stay and help us with any issues or questions we had. Being as we were both Diamond members, we enquired as to whether an overwater villa upgrade might be possible at any point and he assured us he'd look into it, although the resort was currently at 95% capacity (!).
A quick note on this - despite being a busy time for the Conrad, I was pleased at how easy it was to find peace and tranquility during our stay. At no point did any place feel overcrowded; you could easily find somewhere quiet to lay down on a beach or by the Quiet Zone adults only pool, or wander off and explore the paths on foot and not bump into anyone else for ages.
The lobby, where check in takes place:
Naeem drove us to our room in a buggy where we settled in before heading off for dinner at Mandhoo restaurant.
The pathway below leads straight out to the beach where the house reef lies. It is a fantastic reef to snorkel, honestly some of the best I've ever done.
Mandhoo is definitely one of my favourite restaurants at the Conrad. Set over the water, you're likely to catch a glimpse of a stingray, some bluefin trevally and perhaps even a black tip reef shark as you enjoy organic, healthy dishes.
The food is cooked and presented beautifully and is very high quality. I had the seabass, which was simply moreish; crispy skin and fresh meat that just flakes away, sat atop wasabi mashed potato.
With full bellies, we hopped on a buggy back to our room and promptly passed out. With a navigation dive the next day (we were studying for our advanced open water diver certification, which I can happily say we both now have!), we spent the morning just relaxing outside our villa, snorkelling the house reef and enjoying the warmth of the ocean.
A small note on snorkelling around reefs: it's safe, lots of fun and full of exciting creatures, most of which are harmless. Do watch out for territorial triggerfish (pictured above - there are many different patterns and colours, so give them a Google!) guarding their nests - they'll defend their homes and babies fiercely! Most of the ones here are small and not aggressive. Only one or two little ones chased me away, haha. Just remember if you see one, swim horizontally and calmly away (not vertically up) so that if they nip at anything, it's only your fins. Always keep your hands to yourself. Even if something isn't poisonous or dangerous, at the very least you'll likely still be causing trauma to the reef or the creatures themselves by frightening them.
Next time - sunset drinks and canapés at Vilu and the best diving I've ever done in my life.
This is Part II of a series on our Conrad Maldives trip. See also:
Part I: Etihad Apartments - A First Class Experience
Part III: Diving with Mantas in the Maldives
Part IV: An Overwater Villa at the Conrad Maldives
Part V: The Quiet Island (Conrad Maldives)
Part VI: The Quiet Zone, Conrad Maldives