28 February 2017

arriving at hadahaa island

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paradise found!

we spent four night and five days on this tiny, pristine, tropical island ^^ and looking back it seriously feels like a dream. and actually it felt like a dream while we were there, too. we had been looking forward to our time at this place for over a year and all our expectations were exceeded. it was truly a magical five days.

as i mentioned in an earlier post, the reason we went to the maldives (and, by extension, sri lanka) was because we we “earned” free nights at an island resort through credit card rewards. both ian and i applied for hyatt gold passport cards and then completed the sign-up spending requirement, and so we each qualified for two free nights at any hyatt in the world. to really max out on this, we chose to spend our free nights at the most exotic hyatt on earth – on a private island in the maldives. and it. was. awesome. i have to say that it was also a bit uncomfortable in some ways because we were a little out of our element as non-fancy people in a very fancy place, and because the experience highlighted some pretty intense income inequality. i felt some weirdness around indulging in luxury when our world is in turmoil and so many are suffering. but i tried to use this time to reflect on how i can do more good, and to practice mindfulness and gratitude.

the park hyatt maldives is the only development on hadahaa island: a tiny, lush dot in the big blue ocean. it takes about fifteen minutes to walk at a leisurely pace on sugar-soft white sand around hadahaa. there are just fifty guest villas at the park hyatt, and when we were there it was only at about 60% capacity, so very often we felt like we had the entire pristine beach and stretches of aquamarine sea all to ourselves. the island is surrounded in a coral reef and dense tropical vegetation fills its interior. the hotel/resort is gorgeously designed and the service is outrageously good. we feel tremendously lucky that we got to experience this special place.

getting to hadahaa was a bit of an ordeal, because it is so remote. we flew from sri lanka capital city of colombo to the capital of the maldives, male. we spent the night there and then took a small plane to a different small island further south in the maldives (where the runway, surrounded in ocean, covered pretty much the entire land area). we then were transported to a boat harbor and rode on a speedboat for half an hour. when we finally arrived at the park hyatt, we were greeted and shown around, and then dropped off in our villa. we both did a pretty good job keeping our composure as we were toured around the incredible resort, constantly backgrounded by the most stunning natural tropical beauty (…my fingertips were tingling with thrill). the second our “host” closed the door of our villa, leaving us alone, ian turned to me and said, “okay, time to freak out.”

and we did. everything was even beyond our high expectations for beauty and luxury and it was pretty fun and exciting.

here’s some photos from our journey to and first hours on hadahaa island!
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^^ so excited on the plane! (with a snoozing mo) ^^
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^^ a view out a window at the airport in male. ^^
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^^ it's not every day you have a boarding pass to kooddoo island (and are somehow mistaken for a "mr" :) ) ^^
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the views from our second flight on this ^^ small aircraft were incredible. did you know that the maldives is made up of over 1100 islands, and less than 200 are inhabited? (another about 100 are resorts.)
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^^ the capital city of male, covering every inch of this island. isn't that wild?! ^^
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clearly i couldn't stop snapping pictures of the intense blues and fascinating dotting islands and reefs!
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^^ mo was such a trooper on all the transit. i was so worried about the airplane ride + overnight stay + small airplane ride + speedboat situation, but he did so well and just charmed everyone along the way. ^^
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^^ see that island on the right almost entirely made up of an airport runway? ^^
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^^ on the boat to hadahaa! ^^
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^^ views from the boat and fellow travelers ^^
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^^ our first view of the island. we took a walk around with our host (past the pool, relaxation areas, restaurant, spa, and then on to our villa)...
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^^ our home for four nights! we actually weren't allowed to stay in one of the over-water villas because we had a baby with us (we also didn't want to pay for the upgrade). but we decided that we would prefer the beach villa no matter what anyway...
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...because this ^^ path, twenty steps from our villa door, led to this ^^ beach!
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we changed into our beach clothes speedy quick and walked all the way around the island and tried to take it all in...
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and then we got mo into the pool and into the sand. he was so so happy!
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more photos from hadahaa coming soon!

7 comments :

  1. Amazing! So glad you were able to enjoy this little piece of heaven!

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  2. Definitely a memorable experience, and I appreciate the awareness you demonstrate of your privilege. I think you were right to feel uncomfortable about the social disparities that over-reliance on tourism promotes in poor, developing nations, and I think you should pay attention to those feelings and learn from them in future travel plans. There's also a significant environmental impact to travel in very fragile ecosystems like the Maldives. More information here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-march-of-tourism-and-a-threat-to-the-maldives-867629.html

    That said, I have no wish to shame you, and really, who could begrudge you an experience that prompted such smiles on your adorable little guy?

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  3. These are stunning! What a beautiful time for your sweet little family!

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  4. This looks idyllic! So clever to find a great deal with Hyatt. What wonderful family memories you are creating. The Maldives are gorgeous and on my bucket list too :)
    Steph

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  5. Thank you for these pictures! I always appreciate your travel posts but especially now that a) I most definitely can't afford to travel at all and b) If I had the means I would still shame myself of doing such things at this day and age. So thank you for the dreamy pictures so I can kind of imagine myself in the white sand in stead of white snow :)

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  6. This feels like a place that you can dig your toes deep in the sand and listen to waves and deeply sense the wonder of God's creations. I would love to experience this beautiful location! We absolutely love south Asia and Sri Lanka is on our list of places to experience. Can I ask you how much and how you arranged your air and boat transfers to Hadahaa?

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  7. Thank you for sharing your travels with those of us who will probably never go there. I love sharing your journeys with my landlocked children. We all play different parts on earth i for one appreciate your documentation, enthusiasm, and love of this beautiful world. Thanks for giving us glimpses of those adventures!

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