We just got back from family holiday to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. With faces kissed by the sun and stories retold all the way home, we had an amazing time. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort in Kandooma, Maldives, and couldn’t have chosen a better accommodation for our family. If you were going for a honeymoon or kid-free this might not be the place you choose, but for us it was perfect. The island was about 2km around and each family stayed in a private villa. The pool, the beach, the Kids Club, and all the other activities you could choose from made for an active, but relaxed vacation. We spent four days here and loved every single thing about it!
We arrived on New Year’s Eve, so we knew what that evening would entail – raining in the new year! We rang in 8:00PM – it was a long travel day:
Each day after was spent similar to this:
I was amazed at the color of the water – that’s why people go – to see the water (right?)! The Maldivian waters are so clear and vibrant you can see the sea floor and everything that floats in and around it. We saw jelly fish, manta rays, turquoise, fish, fish like Dori, clear fish, and such – all from just standing and looking down. Try to snorkel and include many more to that list. The best month to find the clearest waters is January because it is more dry – we were lucky. Maldives is in fact the lowest country in the world. The waters here are just knee deep shallow. That is one of the reasons why you can see the seabed through the waters. It was breathtaking, just like the picturesque postcards!
It is said that Maldives will be vanished from the map in the next 100 years or so due the climate change and rising sea levels. The rise of sea water levels, pollution and global warming are making these beautiful pieces of land disappear in a short period of time. It’s a shame that even though science has so advanced and it has been shouting loudly that global warming is a real thing, some people are still blind to their surroundings. Some say it’s too late to save the Maldives. I sure hope that isn’t the case.
We usually bring home a little souvenir from our travels – shells, a bit of sand, a piece of art – but since the large piece of coral I wanted to bring home was the size of my head and wouldn’t fit, I settled on family pictures of us in something other than our swimsuits. I’m so glad I did. It was a magical holiday!
It was hard to leave such a beautiful place, but the beauty of Sri Lanka was just as magical. Ideally, when planning a trip to Sri Lanka, one would drive to various stopping points throughout the country (Elephant sanctuary, safari, etc), but when you have kids who get as sick as ours in the car, we opted for one destination – Galle.
Galle is located on the southwestern tip, 119 long km from Columbo, which is about a 2 hour drive. The population is 91,000. The girls slept (thank you Dramamine) so they missed the drive along the coast as we passed by cinnamon plantations, rice fields, rubber tree fields, and several temples.
We arrived in the afternoon and checked into the Why House, which was a recommendation, and a brilliant one at that! While Ellie determined she needed to rest at the hotel, Olivia and I went out and did a little exploring.
The next morning we made our way to the beach where we spent the day jumping waves, looking for shells, and taking walks along the beach. I refused to compare the two beaches (of Maldives and Galle). They were both beautiful for different reasons. This beach was perfect for kids because it has a protective reef creating a lagoon which ensures safe swimming, and also has a small surf break in front of their restaurant. We had both the waves and the calm. The ambiance was relaxed, fun, beach, eclectic, and just awesome. It became our favorite little hangout (besides the hotel grounds itself) and we came two different nights for dinner and to watch the sunset.
After the beach, we spent the afternoon down by Galle fort, walking the charming side streets, shopping, and stopping for that afternoon gelato. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European (Dutch) occupiers.
The next day we got up at 5am to go whale watching. We had heard some groups spend 7 hours or more looking for these amazing creatures, but we were lucky our experience lasted 3 hours (you know, the whole motion sickness thing). We left the dock and within seconds of reaching our look-out point (which took an hour to get to), the whales were putting on their show – a magnificent sight that not one of my pictures captured well enough.
Like I said, my pictures are duds, but Jeremy posted a couple of videos on Facebook, so check those out if you are interested – you’ll actually see something! The girls were thrilled to see a whale and were not disappointed! We attempted dolphin watching in the Maldives with no luck so when a whole group of more than 50 dolphins came up right beside the boat and traveled with us for a few minutes they were pretty excited! Ellie kept saying, “Mom, we’re not even dreaming right now, this is really happening!!!” Pretty cool! The trip was a huge success and we were back to the hotel by lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool!
On the following day, our last, the girls requested to visit the turtle hatchery. This was quite educational. There are 7 species of turtles found in the world, 5 of which are found in Sri Lanka. Their main objective is saving Sea Turtles for the next generation. The main part of their project is collecting eggs (to keep them safe from poachers) once the mother buries them on the beach, re-bury them in a fenced beach hatchery and release them safely to the ocean upon hatching. They also house a large number of turtles which were sick or injured by fishing nets, which they treat and/or cure and release back to the ocean. Needless to say, we learned a lot about turtles in a little amount of time.
Other Sri Lankan pics:
It was an amazing 7 days of travel to two amazing destinations and we are so grateful for the opportunity to go. There is so much beauty, culture, and diversity in the world and I learn something new in each place we travel. If there is one thing I’d wish for my kids to take away from all of these adventures it’s that I hope it has opened their eyes, hearts, and their minds a little more than they were before and as they continue to grow.
Happy New Year!