I’ve always dreamt of running off to a desert island for a holiday on the beach, snorkeling and eating seafood. To my surprise I found a blogger who does that regularly and has transformed it all into a beautiful blog.
Irene from Maldives Dreamer lives a regular life in Norway, traveling to the Maldives to escape the humdrum of every day life and she takes you along for the ride through her photography and posts which explore these idyllic islands.
Tell me how you first discovered the Maldives?
I have always been a beach lover. I love warm and tropical destinations, the ocean and the relaxing beach life with my toes in the sand. While doing research for different trips over the years, the Maldives kept popping up as one of the best beach destinations in the world and was therefore on the top of my bucket list for a long time. However, I was a student at the time and couldn’t afford a trip to the Maldives so I kept dreaming about visiting one day. Once both me and my fiancée got jobs after finishing college, we started saving up money and finally visited the Maldives a year later. We fell in love with this magical place, and have been returning again and again ever since.
How do you plan your trips there, the islands seem terribly isolated, how do you get there from Europe?
The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, just southwest of India. So yes, it’s a long journey from Norway where I live and from Europe in general. There are several routes from Europe, for example British Airways (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich) and Meridiana (via Milan and Rome). The easiest route for us is from Norway to either Frankfurt or London, and then a direct flight to the Maldives from there. When we plan a trip to the Maldives it involves a lot of research. There are over 100 resort islands to choose from, and the islands are more different than you might think, so it’s important to know that the island you end up with is a good match for your criteria and preferences. Once we have decided on an island, we book either directly with the hotel or through a travel agent. The hotel will then arrange transportation from the airport to the island, normally by seaplane or speedboat.
You live in Norway and visit the Maldives often, how do you manage this, is there a terrible culture shock or do the two places have something in common?
Because the Maldives is a Muslim country, there are of course some differences regarding our cultures. However, the locals in the Maldives live on separate islands away from the resort islands in order not to blend with the tourists. This means that you will not be able to experience a lot of the local culture and traditions on any resort island as the locals live elsewhere (except for the staff working on the resort islands). You can of course go on excursions to the capital etc. to get a closer look at their way of living. It is also possible to stay in guest houses at local islands instead of tourist/resort islands, but if you do this then you have to follow strict Muslim laws meaning no alcohol, no bikinis or swim wear at the beach (cover up at all times) etc. At resort/tourist islands these rules do not apply however it is still important to show respect for their culture. Suntanning topless is for example forbidden and something you should never do in the Maldives. The closest I have gotten to a culture shock in the Maldives was during Ramadan; the Muslim staff does not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. I remember offering a staff member a bottle of water when we were on the seaplane together as it was so incredibly hot. He said he couldn’t drink anything before after sunset. Not even water. It was boiling hot and he had to go all day without water but he was used to it.
How would you describe your life in Norway?
My fiance and I live in one of the biggest cities in Norway and we love the city life. I am an accountant while my fiancé works in IT. We both love what we do and we work hard. Our everyday life is very regular and nothing too exciting really, it is mostly work along with spending time with friends and family. And we travel as much as we can. Like you probably know, we have a lot of cold weather in Norway and lots of rain too all year round. Our summers can have unsettled weather and in order for us to be guaranteed some sun and warm weather, we have to travel further south. This is one of the reasons we like to travel so much: to escape the cold weather at home.
How would you describe the Maldives to someone who has never visited them?
The Maldives is heaven on earth. It is such a beautiful place with a unique geography; 1190 small islands dotted around in the turquoise Indian Ocean. The islands are lush and green, surrounded by warm water, and with some of the best beaches in the world. And the best part is that you have the beaches almost to yourself. There are no crowds of tourists quite simply because you can only fit so many people on a tiny island. You will experience remoteness, picture perfect views, peace and quiet, romance and barefoot luxury at its very best. Just when you think it can’t get any better; the Maldives also offers world class snorkeling and diving. You can’t visit the Maldives without having a look underwater the coral reefs and marine life is nothing short of spectacular (given that you choose an island with a great reef, of course). In addition to hundreds of tropical fish, turtles, reef sharks, rays, eels etc. you also have the chance to see whale sharks here the biggest fish in the world (up to 15 meters long).
Do you think the world is becoming a smaller place?
Definitely. People travel much more than before, the travel industry is constantly growing, and it’s becoming easier and cheaper to visit destinations that was considered too remote 10 years ago. There are more possibilities now, more destinations to choose from, more airlines to get you there, more travel agents and websites to help you research. Travel is more common and affordable than before and I think this is great; everybody should get a chance to travel and discover the world.
You have built up quite a following on your blog, do you have any advice for new bloggers?
My advice for new bloggers is first and foremost to love what you blog about and be passionate about it. That makes blogging much more fun! I would also look around on other blogs, get inspiration, comment on other blogs that you are interested in, and get a feel for how the blogging community works. Search for tags that are related to your blog and let them guide you to other great blogs in the same category. Try to give your readers a clear picture of what your blog is really about, and keep it organized so that is’s easy for readers to navigate and have a look around to explore your blog.
Tell us about your blog … what led you into the world of blogging?
After having visited the Maldives many times, and falling in love with this amazing country, I really wanted to share my knowledge and experience with other travelers. I started thinking about creating a blog as this would be a great way to not only share my passion but also get to know other travelers in the blogging community and take part in their journeys to different corners of the world. So I decided to give it a try why not? Now I get to follow so many amazing blogs that inspires me and I really enjoy reading other people’s stories and adventures around the world. And I also love all the amazing feedback I get from my readers.
What do you think about the expat life? Why do you think so many people choose to be expats?
Well I’m technically not an expat as I don’t live in the Maldives I just travel there frequently. I think many people choose to be expats because they are curious what the world has to offer, they want to explore and see more of the world. When you are an expat you get much closer to the culture and people than if you visit for a couple of weeks on holiday. You get a whole different experience by living there permanently; the every day life, the routines and a closer view on the culture. I can see why that appeals to many adventurous people.
If I ever get to the Maldives what are five things I should defiantly do.
1. Unwind and relax. Enjoy the beauty and the remoteness.
2. Snorkel/dive. The coral reefs are world class and exploring the underwater world is a must!
3. Go on a whale shark excursion. You have about an 80 % chance of seeing them.
4. Have a private candlelight dinner on the beach with your feet in the sand listening to the waves and watching the stars.
5. Start planning your return trip :)
What are the five things you defiantly would never leave home without on a trip to the Maldives
1. My fiance
2. My camera (incl. underwater camera)
4. Sun lotion
5. Chillout music
Books can take us places without leaving home, do you have a favourite travel book which you think best describes a certain place or the art of travel for those who are unable to.
I actually don’t own any travel books. I prefer to do all my research online. The only travel related book I have is a book about the marine life in the Maldives which identifies all the different fish species that we see while snorkeling. And that’s about it!
You always have the best photos on your blog, so tell us what camera do you use and perhaps a little advice on how to get a decent photo.
Thanks! I am very passionate about photography, and have become even more interested in it after discovering the Maldives. It’s such a picturesque destination that I literally have thousands of pictures from our trips. I use a Canon EOS 1000D for most of my pictures. In addition I use a Canon Powershot D10 and D20 for underwater pictures. Taking pictures underwater can be a bit tricky because of the lack of lighting, the waves and currents and also because fish don’t really stand still. So you have to be quick. Sometimes you need to dive down a couple of meters to get a closeup shot, zooming in is not always the best solution. I have never attended any courses for photography techniques or anything like that, I’m 100 % self taught. So if I can learn, anyone can practice makes perfect!
So what’s coming up on Maldives Dreamer that we can look forward to …
Well, I am getting married in June, and after the wedding we are off to the Maldives for a long honeymoon. We are staying for 7 blissful weeks, and visiting 5 different islands, so there will be plenty of updates from new islands in the Maldives to look forward to. Stay tuned :)
Have you discovered any other wonderful travel/expat blogs that we should be reading?
I am reading lots of great travel blogs at the moment, here are some of my favorites (with links):
Cheers to Irene who managed to find a moment to do an interview despite organizing her wedding next month. All the best to you and be sure to know we are all extremely jealous of your plans to run off to the Maldives for your honeymoon 😉
Be sure to keep us posted on your experiences in this beautiful part of the planet and may you have many more adventures on Maldives Dreamer.
Thanks to Irene for the photos too!