Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vilingili Island, Maldives - Value for Money Getaway

The Maldives, country with around 1190 small coral islands is one of the most beautiful must-visit-place on earth, a paradise. It is one of the top destination for honey-moon couples, and it is on the top list of the best diving sites in the world. And with almost 100 resorts across the nation, it is also a promising hope for workers.

For us who just moved here a couple of weeks ago, it is now our home. Just like more than a quarter of other Maldivians, we chose to live in Male' the capital city of Maldives where all the offices and the 'money' are located. 

As the island get more cramped each year, Male' has become a really hard place to live. Greedy developers are building more apartments in every corners available. More cars and motorbikes on the narrow streets with hardly any place to park. The easiest way to travel is by walking, but now it is not safe to walk anymore on the busy traffic. As the land becomes scarce, the cost of living gets very expensive. 

There are not many entertainment place in Male' like in other capital city. There's no shopping complexes here, or cinema, or even zoo to go on the weekend. Resorts are catered for loaded foreign tourists. Locals are craving for a place to relax with family and friends. 

The best getaway activity on weekend is to go to nearby islands. There are many inhabited islands nearby Male' as so several nearby resorts. Vilingili is one of them. Located only 5 minute from Male', it can be accessed easily by dhoni, the public ferry which operates daily from early morning to late at night. Many also  chose to live here as they cant afford to live in Male'. 

Vilingili is smaller compare to Male' island. But it looks as though the government has learned a lesson from the capital city with its poor infrastucture, they made it up in Vilingili. With the estimated population of 7,000 people, the island is surprisingly calm and relaxing. And you will notice it very soon, unlike Male', there are no cars or motorbikes in sight. Stacks of bicycles park in rows, tall trees shade the island from the fierce sunlight, rows of apartments structured nicely to please your sight, friendly people greet you with big smile, children play on the street, groups of friends and relatives hanging out on the beach. I can feel the warmth that the island brings to its people.

Kurumba drink from a local stall

Looking up to Male'

Hangout with friends

You cam freely swim in the sea, but remember that Maldives is a 100% muslim country. So you can't wear your bikini here. I suggest you wear an old t-shirt and shorts below your knees to swim. There's a Pay Toilet available near the beach, where you can pay Rf. 2 to wash after.

Locals swim in the beach in the afternoon

 You can walk around this small island, but there are shuttle cars available to take people around. There's only 1 restaurant here because not many people dining out. If you have local friends here then you are lucky. They often gather with relatives at night at the beach for barbeque and play local fun beach games until midnight.

Barbeque at night

Vilingili is a treat for Male' people to getaway from the cramping capital. I hope it stays as it is in the next years to come.

Vilingili Island
North Male' Atoll
Getting there: Take ferry from Vilingili Ferry Terminal in Male'
How much: Rf. 5 for adult and Rf. 1 for kids above 3

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