Invited to scuba dive & travel Veligandu Island Resort on the Maldives
In my previous travel blog update, you could read how I stayed much longer than planned on the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. There I started with the Splashpacker idea and due to that I ´kind of´ got invited to Veligandu Island Resort on the Maldives. The very first ´Splashpacker fan´, Tobi, was working in the resort I used to work 8 years earlier, and he organised for me to come there as his friend. So I could come to the luxury Veligandu Island Resort as ´staff friend´, and I only needed to pay a small amount for covering some costs like food. The dive centre invited me to dive with them free of charge, and, as icing on the cake, I found an $80,- flight from Bangkok to Malé with Air Asia. (By the way, I am still catching up with old travel blog updates, this is not where I currently am)
Some reflections to my past of working & travelling as a scuba dive instructor
Since a long time I had this idea of returning back to the Maldives, where I worked as a scuba diving instructor in 2010. Before that, I worked for scuba diving centres on Gran Canaria, the Dominican Republic and in Mexico, but the Maldives was as a dream to me. Next to the world-class diving, which nearly could be compared with the places I worked before, it was also a very relaxed time. No problems with finding an affordable place to rent or not feeling safe on the streets at night. On the Maldives, I could do my job in a relaxed way with a good contract and nothing to worry about. It was such a peaceful time in my life working there, I started to meditate every day and also enjoyed massage treatments at the spa, for the first time in my life!
Passing the outer reef on the Maldives: the gate to a diver´s blue heaven
Before landing on the small airport island next to Malé, my eye caught the attention of the Indian Ocean and how it suddenly changed from deep dark blue to turquoise blue after the outer reef break where the atolls of the Maldives started. It looked like some kind of gate to heaven for every diver and my heart was smiling brightly and gratefully to be able to scuba dive this part of the world again. I was really curious if the scuba diving would have changed much. Especially when I started a conversation with a local guy whilst waiting for my speedboat. He appeared to be a dive instructor and told me that they don´t see as many hammerheads anymore and he blamed the liveaboards for that.
Travel by speedboat from Malé to Rasdhoo Island on the Maldives
This time I did not travel from Malé to Veligandu by seaplane, but by speedboat. It´s very easy to do so and it takes only about 1.5 hours. It´s much cheaper and much better for the environment! Reconfirming this boat was a bit confusing and I almost thought I was going to be stuck in Malé but in the afternoon I happily boarded the speedboat to Rasdhoo Island. Packed with coffee filters and some beefburgers from the Burger King in my hand luggage, the two things my friends on Veligandu Island asked me to bring, I finally started to relax. Also, I got absorbed in the culture of the Maldives, which is called Divehi. I was the only tourist on the speedboat!
Reflections of peace by the local people of the Maldives
In 2010, I first needed to get used a bit to the differences of a culture which is 100% Islam by law. But living on the Maldives completely opened my mind that time. I had very open talks with certain people about religion and came to know more about the culture. Before that, I did not even know that Muslims, like Jewish & Christians, have their origins in the same book. So in fact, all those religions are some kind of branching of the same roots. Being brought up Christian myself, there were not even that much differences. I do remember that in 2010 I found that there was ´something´ about the people. What I probably could feel, was their steadfast faith and obedience. The people are very humble to a higher force and this is reflected in a certain peace and politeness they express.
Reflections to the time with my colleague dive instructor from the Maldives
During my speedboat ride, I was also reflecting back to the time I worked on Veligandu Resort. Because on the Maldives you work & live in the same resort, this can make or break it depending on how well you go on with the people. You work together, eat together, relax together and just literally live together on a very small island. My colleague that time, Nooh, became such a good friend and even though we were always together, we never even had an argument! I remember how he really made a big difference to me in the time working there, always uplifting everybody, making jokes and being there for me in good and bad times. We always kept in touch and he is one of those real friends you meet while working abroad and travelling. I was really happy and looking forward to seeing him again!
Finally meeting my first ´Splashpacker´ (dive & travel blog) fan: a dive instructor on the Maldives
And so when I arrived at Rasdhoo Island, Tobi & Nooh were waiting for me at the jetty. I gave Nooh the longest hug ever and I introduced myself to Tobi: my first Splashpacker fan! It was so nice to meet him finally in real-life after very long Facebook messenger chats! Together with yet another team member of the dive centre, Remo, they came to pick me up from Rasdhoo Island by a little boat from Veligandu. Crossing over the Indian Ocean on the Maldives made me wonder what has happening beneath the surface of these beautiful waters I used to scuba dive daily 8 years before.
The first backpacker who came to dive & travel Veligandu Island Resort!
Once we put our feet on Veligandu Island, Tobi´s words really made me laugh: ” I bet you are the first tourist ever arriving on Veligandu with a backpack!” Veligandu is a very luxurious island resort, nothing that normally fits my budget as a ´Splashpacker´. The island is one of the most peaceful places I ever lived on and I was so so so happy to be here again for 10 days. It really felt like a dream to me! Exactly the same way I felt during my very first arrival when I came to work here, but this time I knew what was waiting for me in the oceans!
Back to this peaceful island on the Maldives made me also dive into reflections of the last 8 years of my life!
I checked in at the reception and I soon realised that a lot of staff from 2010 was still here! So many things had happened to me over the last 8 years, big drama´s but also living happy dreams, which you can read more about in Safety Stop book (soon). But coming back to Veligandu made me feel like time has stood still! For a little moment, I felt myself back in 2010, when I was still much younger, naive and carefree. Back to the time where I started a journey with meditation and questioning certain truths, and back to the time where I started to make ´non-diving´ safety stops in my life on a daily base. And here I realised why. Because this little island has a peace I could not find on any other island in Europe, the Caribean, Asia nor Australia. I wished I could stay to work here again!
Staying on the little staff island, Kudarah, next to Veligandu Island Resort
Because I was visiting as a friend of Tobi, my room was on a little island called Kudarah, next to Veligandu Island. It seemed that during these travels over the last couple of months, something wanted me to continue island hopping! Kudarah gives home to a big part of the staff working on Veligandu. I think I was the only female staying on this little island, so the idea did make me feel a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning. But every single person was so polite to me and I got treated with a lot of respect. I was asked all the time if everything was ok in my room and if there was anything else I needed. They treated me like a guest in the resort. Also, the room, with airconditioning and even an espresso maker, was way more comfortable than any of the rooms I stayed during my travels to Thailand.
So many reflections after one day of travelling from Thailand to the Maldives!
That night I fell asleep like a princess in the most comfortable bed but also with so much going through my mind that day! I was planning to write one post about my ten days on Veligandu. But whilst writing, I realised how much came to me and how much reflection I went through just by arriving back to the place which was my home for a small year in 2010. Maybe I was overwhelmed by certain emotions because now I realised that the time I worked on Veligandu did change me in a more psychologic & spiritual way, while at the time I thought it was just a kind of luxury place I worked for a while.
So in my next travel blog update: more about the scuba dives from Veligandu Island Resort!
I will go deeper into all those reflections in my book Safety Stop. But for now, in my next blog post, you can come scuba diving with me to the beautiful dive spots on Rasdhoo Atoll. It´s really one of those rare places in the world where I realised the scuba diving has only improved over the years. So I actually experienced the contrast of what the instructor waiting for the ferry in Malé told me. Till I have that post finished, you can already read more about scuba diving on Rasdhoo on Splashpacker, check out Ocean dive centre on Veligandu, or keep an eye on Splashpacker YouTube channel. Right now, in the time of the coronavirus, Nooh told me that the fish & marine life has improved A LOT after lockdown. He even saw a whale shark in one of his first days back in the waters!
Stay tuned for more dive travel information, next to personal reflections
And because I had such a good time, I also decided to write a full blog post just about Veligandu Island Resort. You might also be interested to know that Veligandu is welcoming tourists again! Veligandu Island is a very safe place during COVID-19 because they request everybody to do a test before arriving. You can book this resort through booking.com or Agoda. Currently, they offer the most amazing deals from about €1500,- per night for €350,- roughly! If you don´t want to miss out on anything, you can also sign up for my mailing list below. You´ll receive an e-mail once a week with the latest post. Please note that Splashpacker receives a little commission if you book through the accommodation links provided in this post or if you use 12go.co to find your best international flight deal.
Happy Bubbles & Safe Travels!