Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit (with a variety of inflection in my voice, that was the thoughts streaming out of my mind for the first 5 minutes of our snorkel trip near Foolido Island.
We arrived in the Maldieves and went strait to Foolido island. It is the most remarkable Island chain in the world with over 2,000 tiny little island with the most indescribable beaches I have ever witnessed in my life, which is saying a LOT for just leaving Bali and Nusa Panida. The island we went to had the most electrifying blue and turquoise water and the most perfect white sandy beaches that you could bury your feet in for hours. The island is only inhabited by a few hundred people with nothing more than a few tourist shops, a store, a mosque, and a school. The Island is situated right in the middle of the ocean barely visible on a map and Im almost sure, not even visible on a globe of any sort, ill have to check when I get home. To take a walk around the island it only took 10-15 minutes if you weren't like me and needed to stop every 2 minutes to pinch yourself the make sure it was really real and marvel at the beauty.
We spent the days on Foolido lounging around and really soaking up some relaxation and some sun (a little too much sun for me as I had to bathe in coconut oil and alo vera plant at the end of the night) We also took one of our days on the island and did a snorkel trip. The snorkeling advertised to us that it was a trip to 3 different locations. 1. Shark point 2. Turtle reef 3. Sandbar island. It sounded awesome but I was quite skeptical that we would actually see sharks and turtles. But we had no plans whatsoever in this beautiful place and with the water as crystal clear as it was we couldn't resist.
As we geared up with our snorkels in our mouth and our goggles on our face we slid off the side of the tiny 6 person boat and entered the water. It took a second for my breathing to adjust and my eyes to focus on the deep water underneath me. As soon as I focused I saw a huge black blob swim right past me only 10 feet away. It was a massive fish, the largest I have ever seen snorkeling and must have weighed more than I. After being mesmerized by the huge group of fish, I looked past them and deeper into the water to discover the sharks below me. Oh shit I thought as I looked around to get a glance at Darja, Anne, or Justin to make sure they were seeing this. They were just hanging out at the bottom of the water and there wasn't one or two of them… there were 15 or more of them! 15 Sharks that were all 8-10 feet long! I had seen one before in the ocean in Key West a while ago but it was very far away. This shark was just feet away. Our guide swam down to the shark and nearly touched it. I followed suit and swam close but still keeping my distance because I was scared to death of it eating me. As they swam all around us with the huge fish I began to finally relax and enjoy the view. It was incredible to be this close to such a huge underwater beast.
After coming down from my heigh of swimming with the sharks we landed on a deserted island in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There was nothing but birds on this stretch of perfectly white sand and no land for at least 5 miles in any direction. What an experience to be in the middle of nowhere barely on a map and feeling so tiny in a huge body of water. The waves crashing from both sides of the sandbar splashing up high and covering the small stretch of beach. We stayed for a while taking some photos, running on the sandbar, doing cartwheels (okay, that might have just been me) and resting a bit before our next snorkel. The last snorkel place was turtle reef. Again, this reef was not near any stretch of beach, sandbar or island. The water turned a light color of turquoise and a rope appeared from the water where we tied up our boat. The snorkel spot was in the middle of the ocean with barely an island in site. We slid into the water and the reef was so close below with fish of all colors and so much coral laying tightly on the ocean floor. As we swam around I was sure we were not going to get to see a sea turtle but then our guide called us over to come take a look. We found one! A turtle that was at least 3 feet big and only 15 feet below my flippers as I swam. We took turns as we swam down to the turtle only feet away watching its little mouth nibble on the coral with its fins helping like hands to rip the coral apart. We stayed there for such a long time just observing this beautiful animal in his natural habitat. No aquarium, no fake food, no masses of people poking and looking at it every day. It was just enjoying its life in the middle of this incredible electrifying ocean.
The rest of our vacation in the Maldieves was spent relaxing on the beach watching sunrises and sunsets, swimming in the perfect temperature water, and laying on the bikini beach (the island is a theocracy of Muslim so no showing of skin on the island other than this beach.) We also walked around the island at sunset and meet a really nice local who showed us the most magical thing yet! Sting rays.
Two feet from the waters edge on the tiny jetty where the boats dock were dark blobs swimming under the water. They were sting rays! As the people watched a few guys started to feed the stingrays and I asked if I could as well. The guy handed darja, anne, and I a head of a fish and told me to get closer to let the gentle creature take it right out of my hand. I held my hand out as this massive 4 foot sting ray swam toward me with its body gently flowing under the water. It sucked up the fish head right from my hand as i squealed unable to keep in my excitement. We stayed for a while playing, feeding, and petting the gentle creatures.