Friday, January 20, 2012

Hop-on, hop-off a seaplane!

Air-taxis are hugely popular in Maldives.

…in Maldives, with its exquisite islands crowding a beautiful sea.  The ‘oohs' and ‘aahs' begin the the second the aircraft breaks through the cloud cover for the descent to Male airport. As far as the eye can see, in all directions there is nothing but water — dark blue in some places, light blue elsewhere and a lovely turquoise in other places. Dotting this beautiful sea are hordes of islands — 1,200 in all. Only 90 are inhabited, including Hulhule, a short boat-ride from the capital Male and our destination.

The adventure for someone from north India, who spends most of his life far removed from the sea, starts the moment the plane lands in Male and you are transferred to a seaplane to reach your hotel. And instead of blaring horns and revving engines, all one hears in Maldives is the slow drone of seaplanes taking off or landing. And rather than cars and buses, what you see on the Male waterfront are fire and rescue ships rubbing shoulders with the various boats that transfer people from one island to another.

It is no surprise then that before long you hear yourself talking about taking a boat to go shopping!

And why not? Considering that 90 per cent of Maldives is nothing but water, the main attraction of this island-state is precisely that, and all activities related to it.

You could start off with a seaplane ride that provides breathtaking views of the islands among the many different shades of blue water. In fact, so popular is the seaplane ride that Maldivian air-taxi organises up to 500 flights a week during peak season.

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