Let loose at Thulusdhoo (+ Birthday getaway!)

You reach a certain age when you stop expecting a big treat from anyone on your birthday; you just gotta give it to yourself.

Too bad, I reached that age this year.

Living in the Maldives, it’s obvious that one would want to spend their birthday in a resort. For days, I was doing my research on which resort would fit my budget-- but it was too challenging. With time and fund constraints, I decided to seek professional help from Indulge Maldives. Kristie, the Managing Director, willingly indulged me on my cry for help. She informed me that no resort can accommodate my limited budget and the days of my supposed getaway (why was I born the day before Valentine’s??).

“However, we can arrange something amazing for you at a local island!”

Yes, please. Just take me away from Male’.

Despite a few minor hiccups, Indulge Maldives has planned out everything for me, from the speedboat transfers and lodging to the excursions, a week before I was supposed to go. Kristie was very helpful and patiently attended to my concerns. It made me more excited for the birthday trip.

Until it came.

I realized I'm already on board River Speed boat on the way to the promised island of Thulusdhoo.

Facing the other way made me more dizzy, but the excitement overpowered the seasickness.

Firu, the owner (himself!) of Akiri Surf Retreat welcomed me at the jetty. He had a pickup waiting to take me to the guesthouse, which was a rich treat since Thulusdhoo is a tiny island so four-wheelers are hard to come by.

Akiri Surf Retreat
Getaway home, Akiri.

Can I say that Kurumba is Maldives' national fruit? haha

Akiri hasn’t officially opened yet, so I was the only guest at the time. They have only 3 rooms, and the entire property was so homey—complete with a kitchen, an open dining area, a living room with TV (and NETFLIX!), and of course, these cutie kitties.

It was such a delight to stay at Akiri so I’ll make a separate post about the place.

First order of business was to check the bikini beach. To my surprise, the area was bigger than expected, and the sunbeds were free unlike in Maafushi.

Thulusdhoo bikini beach
I'm loving you, Thulusdhoo.

Thulusdhoo bikini beach
Ahhh, freedom!

After a refreshing dip, I just drove around the island with my bike until I came across the fish market.

Thulusdhoo fish market
Welcome to Thulusdhoo's fish market!

Thulusdhoo smoked fish
This is how smoked fish is made.

It was remarkable that these fishermen from Thulusdhoo also export smoked fish to Sri Lanka and other neighboring countries.

Thulusdhoo walkway
They throw fish heads here so rays would come to feed.

For dinner, I headed to Toulouse by Salsa. Firu highly recommended their pasta and pizza, but they also had rice meals for my cravings that night.

There was no any kind of island “night life” in Thulusdhoo, unlike in Siargao or Boracay, so I just biked home, briefly joined an invitation of shisha outside Akiri, and then retreated quietly to my room to catch up on my book.

Hey, it's my birthday! ๐Ÿงก

I immediately jumped into my snorkeling clothes and welcomed the new day. It was eerily quiet at 8 a.m., so seeing Firu with my breakfast was such a welcome sight. He told me we would have to wait until noon to check if we can do the excursion today. There were strong winds, and it's not pleasant for water activities.

While waiting, I wanted to make my favorite kinilaw (Cebuano ceviche). I sent Firu the ingredients and he was happy to do the shopping for me. The yellowfin he brought back was such a jackpot. Even the Akiri people, although most of them don't eat raw fish, loved it!

The waiting for the snorkeling excursion was moved to 4 p.m., but I decided not to push it anymore. Plan B was to explore the island and go for a swim somewhere less traveled by.

Thulusdhoo public beach
Not A Bikini Beach. Point taken.

Thulusdhoo public beach
God allowed me to have the whole island to myself on my birthday. Great!

Thulusdhoo public beach
Such bliss!

It was interesting that this place's name is "not a Bikini Beach". There was nobody around! I felt like I own the whole island. The water was warm enough, the sand was extra fine and white, and the weather was perfect. It was the best place to be spiritual, especially on the day I celebrate my life.

The setting sun was so mesmerizing; I realized I'm at Thulusdhoo's best location to view the sunset. Right on cue, I turned around and saw a flock of tourists and locals going their way to the sand strip to watch nature's daily enchantment.

Thulusdhoo sunset
Sunset spectators are starting to flock... 

Thulusdhoo sunset
You're such a show off, Sun.

After freshening up at the guesthouse, I decided to have some quiet time (again!) on the other side of the island. The bike led me to Reef Edge where they were gracious to have let me stay on their swing while sipping on an unfortunate fruit juice that was too bland for its price. I noped from that place soon enough and roamed around the island, looking for a cake so I can at least blow a candle. I couldn't find one so I worked my way home to Akiri for a BBQ night that was included in my package-- but surprise, surprise!

Birthday at Thulusdhoo
Happy kid right here!

Birthday at Thulusdhoo
Keeping up with traditions

THEY HAVE A CAKE FOR ME! They even had it sent over from Male'! It was such a beautiful surprise from people who only met me a day ago.

The BBQ night was made up of grilled reef fish and garudhiya. It was a simple local experience with the Akiri guys who even joined me for dinner. Never have I imagined that one day, I will be having my birthday dinner with people I barely know. It was unexpected, nonetheless it was fun and even heartwarming. All these people prepared my food and celebrated my special day with me, knowing well that I'm miles away from home.

Never have I imagined also that one day in my adult life, I'll be celebrating my birthday without alcohol. But Firu's mango passion fruit fresh juice was such an incredible alternative.

What a blast with these guys!

There was a little bit of dancing afterwards, until they allowed me to vamoose to my room for another quiet time and to catch up my greeters online.

The weather cleared on my last day!

Everything on my Thulusdhoo list was ticked except seeing the sunrise. I woke up insanely early on my last day and headed to the Bikini Beach.

Sunrise at Thulusdhoo
Good morning, Thulusdhoo!

Back at Akiri, I was met with good news. The winds tamed down and we can go snorkeling by 10 a.m.! I was the happiest! I gratefully gobbled my breakfast, hopped into my snorkeling clothes and played with the kittens until it was go time.

Snorkeling at Thulusdhoo
Edge of the reef!

Snorkeling at Thulusdhoo
Like a real merman
The turtles and bigger fish were elusive that day. Perhaps, they're giving me a reason to come back.

It was scorching hot so I headed to my friend's recommended restaurant, Vakaru, for drinks. I met Halley, a Filipino who is in-charge of the place. He cooks, serves, makes your drinks, and clears up your table-- amazing multi-tasking skills! Halley served me his bestsellers: a monster beef burger, grilled octopus with rice, and (surprise!) mango passion fruit fresh juice! Needless to say, it was such a great treat after the tiresome snorkeling, but I wasn't able to finish everything in one sitting. Still, it was great to have some for takeaway. My afternoon snack was solved. ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Vakaru Thulusdhoo
The hidden pescatarian in me was happy.

I spent my remaining hours in Thulusdhoo enjoying the free beach lounge at the Bikini Beach, people watching, and falling into naps every now and then. 

It was finally time to leave the island. Firu and one of the Akiri boys took me by bike to the ferry and told me I am always welcome at their place. He also told me to bring friends next time.

Only after a few minutes in the speedboat back to Male' did I realize it's Valentine's Day. What a beautiful way to celebrate love and care for myself, not just from me but from strangers. I'd surely be back. ๐Ÿ’—

I'm glad I chose Thulusdhoo. I will see you again!


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