“Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!” Our boatman exclaimed excitedly as he tried to stabilize our dhoni using his feet to steer its rudder on the Maamigili’s roiling waters. “Jump! Jump! Jump!” He further shouted. Without thinking, I quickly donned on my mask and snorkel, and jumped. The deep blue Maldivian waters surrounded me. And right in front of me, two of the largest animals I’ve ever seen underwater gracefully swam. Whale sharks. I was frozen. It took a couple of seconds before I recovered and popped back up the surface to breathe.
|ARIADHOO ISLAND NEAR MAAMIGILI|
We were granted four free sea excursions during our stay at the Whale Shark Inn [CHECK ROOM RATES & AVAILABILITY] in Maamigili. For USD150.00 per person, inclusive of our five-day stay, daily breakfast and island transfers, we couldn’t believe how affordable everything was, considering we were at Maldives, a country where most backpackers veer off fearing they would empty their bank accounts in a couple of days’ stay.
|ISLAND TOUR ABOARD A DHONI, MALDIVES’ TRADITIONAL BOAT|
It was just our luck that the weather was in a foul mood when we docked at the port of Maamigili. We thought it would improve the next day, but it didn’t. Still, we pushed on with our island hopping activities.
We brought our own snorkel sets, but Whale Shark Inn does provide one, including fins and floating vests for guests.
|NOT THE BEST WEATHER FOR A MALDIVES ISLAND TOUR, EH?|
The waves proved too large on our second day in Maamigili and we have to turn back as we tried looking for whale sharks within its waters. But we were unfazed.
|SNORKELING ON A VERY CHOPPY SEA|
What we did was transfer to another location, a shallow reef right in the middle of the sea, for snorkeling. I was actually surprised at the water clarity even with the crazy waves and all. The area was replete with colorful corals and fishes, but it was just too bad that we had to call it off as the rain was turning into a squall. The current was getting quite strong, dragging us along at its mercy.
|CORALS NEAR ARIADHOO ISLAND ALONG THE SOUTH ARI ATOLL|
The sun finally shone the next day. We still didn’t spot any whale sharks but we did snorkel again on a reef near Ariadhoo Island. The water was calmer, so we took our sweet time swimming and ogling at the fishes below.
|RESORT LUX* WATER BUNGALOWS|
|DIVING FOR TABLE CORALS|
We did snorkel almost every day of our stay at the Whale Shark Inn. On our fourth day, we went further, out on the island of Dhidhdhoofinolhu where the Resort LUX* is located. With resort bungalows as background, we swam the day away, taking pictures of the massive table corals within its house reef.
ISLAND PICNIC AT ARIADHOO
|DOCKING AT ARIADHOO ISLAND|
On our third day, when the sun finally showed itself, we docked at the nearby island of Ariadhoo for a picnic lunch. We brought with us packs of lunch that we bought from one of the restaurants in Maamigili, I had mee goreng, of course, and enjoyed it on a shaded part of the island.
|MALDIVES HAS THE SOFTEST SAND!|
The sand was superlatively fine, my feet sinking several inches every time I set it down. And the water, oh my goodness, it was absolutely azure. I was taking a picture on the wooden causeway where we docked when I noticed a huge dark shape swimming just a few feet from me, a manta ray!
|SPENT THE DAY DOING NOTHING AT THE BEACH|
We lazed off the whole time we were here, the only thing missing, really, were bottles of beer. But we were good boys and girls, alcohol isn’t allowed on Maldives except on resort islands. Finally, after days of rain, we finally had a glimpse of the Maldives that we see on magazines and TV shows.
SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS
|LOOKING FOR WHALESHARKS|
It was on our third day of looking for whale sharks that we finally found, not one, but three whale sharks. Off the reef in Haiyfushi, we jumped from our dhoni, unmindful of the choppy sea, and witnessed the raw beauty of these creatures up close and personal.
|WHALE SHARKS SPOTTED, FINALLY! ~ PHOTO BY BLISSFULGURO|
It was both a thrilling and scary encounter. The sheer size of these fishes would make you fear them, they could actually swallow you whole! But once your logic kicks in and you remind yourself that they actually have no teeth and only feed on planktons, then you start to relax and enjoy swimming with these gentle giants.
|SUNSET FISHING ALONG THE WATERS OF MAAMIGILI|
On our last day of stay at the inn, we boarded our usual boat one afternoon and headed off to the eastern side of Ariadhoo Island. We’re going sunset fishing! We anchored several meters away from the island itself, positioning the dhoni on its deeper trenches. Loops of fishing line were given to us, with its hook baited with chopped fishes, which we then threw into the sea.
|QUITE A CATCH!|
After a few seconds, I felt the line vibrating, fishes were actually nibbling on my bait! As soon as I felt it catch, I quickly brought up the line. My bait’s gone but there was no fish! This went on endlessly as my friends caught one big fish after the next. I suck at fishing! Giving up, I just went to the roof of the boat and enjoyed the setting sun from high up.
|FISHING UNTIL THE EARLY EVENING|
The sky darkened, the moon rose, and still, we fished—or at least my friends did. And it’s a good thing too, since our dinner depends on what they caught. Back on Whale Shark Inn, a barbecue greeted us. Our host, Ahmed, skillfully prepared our catch and added a few more dishes for our feast. It was the best farewell dinner we’ve had during our Beach Hop Asia trip.
~ WHALE SHARK INN HOSTED OUR PACKAGED STAY IN MAAMIGILI ISLAND. ALL VIEWS & OPINIONS ARE MINE.
Whale Shark Inn
Address: Neelufaru Magu Street, Maamigili Island,
South Ari Atoll, Maldives
Contact Number: (960) 779-6188
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GPS Coordinates Map: 3.478282, 72.836724
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