Out of focus: The Maldives done differently

Out of focus: The Maldives done differently 
The Maldives, done differently. (From two ends of the budget spectrum)
Earlier this year both myself and Meag made two separate trips to the Maldives; ask us both why we went... the surf and the sun. Ask us both what our favourite part was... the surf and the sun.
Our answers were the same, but our trips were significantly different, or were they?
Meag was travelling for an entire month, as with all our team in January, and needed to stick to a tighter budget in order to maximise her time in the water. My wife and I on the other hand opted for a short and sweet 1 week mission, and not just any mission; a honey-mission. For us, it was indeed the trip of a lifetime, a trip we have both dreamt about for years; a trip that devoured our savings account, and luckily a trip that over delivered.
Upon our return, Meag and I started sharing stories and comparing notes. After a few minutes of back to back jabbering it was apparent that although our trips were at different ends of the luxury spectrum they had one highlight in common; the ocean.
The ocean in the Maldives is like no other, a fairy tale of underwater wildlife, with waters so transparent I didn’t even need a snorkel. At the end of every day my eyes were bloodshot red from staring at fish with every duck dive. Surrounded by black tip sharks (the safe kind), trigger fish, sting rays and millions of others, it was soul touching to see what a healthy reef really means.
We thought it would be interesting to share a bit of opposing visits to the Maldives, to show you that visiting this paradise need not be the ‘once in a lifetime’ trip or as out of reach as once thought. To start with there’s the flights; us honeymooners flew direct with BA, we booked our trip on a package deal with flights included, but if you’re happy to sit at the back of the bus, you are looking at approximately £1000 per person (not the cheapest flights out there). Meag took an alternate route as she popped over during her month long break to Sri Lanka, it would have been rude not to, as the flight is only an hour. Connecting flights are the cheaper option, and if you have the time, Sri Lanka seems to be the place to go for some food and culture on your way through.
If, like my wife and I, you're headed straight to the Maldives, I’ll be honest, the expensive route felt worth every penny. We were whisked through the airport into an Anantara air conditioned lounge with fresh drinks and cold face towels (yes the hotel has their own lounge in arrivals), whilst our bags were loaded onto a luxury hotel boat for our transfer. We were checked in seamlessly in the airport, transported to the island by speedboat and escorted to our room more smoothly. I still have not had to carry my own surfboard since check in at Heathrow. On the flip side, Meag arrived already sunned from her trip to Sri Lanka and had an equally smooth journey through the airport and onto an island hopper speed boat. The only difference so far, less air con, less face towels, and she had to carry her own board.
We landed at our separate locations; ours was Anantara Veli. The butler took us straight to our oversized, over the water bungalow, with a pool. The room was simply breathtaking, with a huge bar, snacks and all the extra luxuries you can imagine. At Anantara Veli, the general status quo seems to be, if you want something they will bring it to you. The reality however, is that we were two vitamin D deprived brits in search of one thing and one thing only, sun and surf. Just like Meag…
Meag checked into Thulusdoo Island, 28km north of Male. Like us, she arrived at a small white sand coated island that she could circumnavigate in minutes. She checked into the Twin Palms hostel on the island and describes the ‘vibe’ as the best she has ever had on a surf trip. Friendly owners, hammocks and fresh fish cooked for dinner every night. The only money she spent was on her surfing; daily boat trips to Chickens (surf spot) were 10 dollars, and 25 dollars to the famous Honkeys surf spot. She reckons the whole week cost her £700 max, and is continues to ascertain it was the best trip she’s ever been on and it wasn't even prime surf season. 
Ours was also our greatest trip to date. Luxury on top of luxury, we had never experienced anything like it. On our first morning Mrs J asked for an oat milk latte at breakfast. She was of course completely unfazed when this was not an option and just ordered an American. The next day however, we sat down to breakfast, and the waiter immediately offered her an oat milk latte. They had gone to another island for oat milk, we have never seen customer service like it. A gobsmacked Mrs Jordan, smiled from ear to ear and relaxed further into her holiday. The Anantara Veli (adults only) connects to Anantara Dhigu which allows families. The beauty of having an interconnected network of islands is an amalgamation of facilities. 
We had access to more restaurants than we can handle, two spas, two gyms, an over water yoga deck and pretty much everything you could ever imagine or want. Literally floating in fantasy land. It was expensive, but it certainly felt like we had good value for money as we dined out on tuna steaks and lobsters (included in our room rate).
Surfing of course was as high on my agenda as it was on Meag’s. I pinpointed Ananatara Veli because it has its own reef which means you can paddle out without having to take a boat trip. If you’re really lazy, a butler will drive you from your room to the break in a golf cart. I didn’t feel comfortable doing this so I enjoyed the walks to and from over the many jetties. The left hander at Veli is very much an advanced wave, so don’t book this hotel if you’re new to the sport. To be honest, I loved it. I surfed it solo pretty much every time, the current is relentless so bring your paddle fitness. It’s a fast, hollow, shallow left. For other surf options Anantara offers boat trips via Tropic surf. A 3 hour trip costs about 250USD per person... but you do get free sun cream and water. If I were a beginner, it would have been worth it, but on comparing notes with Meag, we got the raw end of the deal here, and if you’re already an accomplished surfer, you’ll know that boat luxury is wasted money, as you spend your entire time in the water. The surfing however, was incredible. We were dropped on a random reef in the middle of the ocean and surfed solidly for 2 and half hours until we dragged our sun-fried faces back to the boat to enjoy our free waters. It was my honeymoon, and it was worth every penny.
In conclusion, if you focus on why you really want to go to the Maldives, the chances are not ‘customer service’ and ‘nice mini bars’. So yes, you can spend a fortune, and I am happy to say, yes, it definitely felt worth it, but on the flip side, you also don’t need to. The sun and the surf is why we went, and the sun and the surf is what we celebrated. Two journeys, at two price points, experiencing the exact same thing. Both of us feel strongly that whatever your budget, If you can get there, get there. It truly is the paradise from the pictures.