Sunday February 13th 2010,
We arrived in the Maldives on the 23rd of January after a pretty rough but fast eleven day sail from the Similan islands in Thailand. What a relief to see the palm lined islands appear on the horizon as the beautiful clear calm waters of North Thiadhunmathee Atoll rose up beneath us. The Maldives have been a republic since 1968 with a population of around 222,000 people predominantly Sunni Muslims. There are 19 Major Atolls and over 1200 coral islands. Our stop was off one of the far Northern islands called Uligan, an extremely pretty and quiet island with a small population living in houses made out of old chunks of coral.
With the help of our agent ‘Imad Abdhulla’ we were able to restock on fuel and water and even replenish our fresh food stores once the supply boat had arrived on its weekly schedule. Imad arranged a local boat to take us and 18 other cruisers to visit some of the other islands in the atoll as we were restricted to keeping our own boats anchored only off Uligan (unless we were prepared to pay around $2000 US for a cruising permit!). The coral reef is abundant with fish and new life is thriving after being destroyed by the ash from Indonesian forest fires eight years ago. Huge manta rays would swim around the anchorage daily so we spent most of our days snorkeling with some of the prettiest reef just a few fin strokes away from Blue Moon’s stern.
Life on land is basic but extremely peaceful with each island having a chief who oversees medical care and teaching facilities. Many of the men from the islands work in the capital of Male further south in the island chain so we would often only see women, young children and elderly men walking around. Fishing seems to be the main industry in the smaller islands although with the increasing amount of hotels being built throughout the Atolls tourism is fast becoming the higher earner.
After just eight days enjoying these beautiful islands it was time for us to leave for our next leg across the Arabian Sea to Oman. Uligan was a great place to just relax and spend time with other cruisers all heading the same way. The local people are friendly, welcoming and extremely accommodating so a great destination to add to the itinerary!
Agent ‘Imad Abdhulla’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Total clearance fees: US $34
Cost of Diesel per Liter: US $1.20
Cost of Petrol per Liter: US $1.30