Where we’re at: I’m recapping my trip to The Maldives in March 2022. Read Part I here and Part II here! Interested in setting sail with us? Check out our next ScubaSpa retreat to Raja Ampat! There are two spots left.
And as the sun rose on the sixth day of Wander Women Maldives, I made my way to the top deck to join in a morning yoga practice with the onboard instructor, and reflect on my gratitude for the week.
Thanks to Wander Women, thanks to this vision I had and the incredible team I have that helped me execute it, twenty five women flew to the Maldives for what pretty much became honeymoons with their dang selves. With each other. And we made it totally our own. Joy, beauty, bliss.
It was a career milestone. And like all good things, it too had to come to an end.
Our dives that day were deep and wild, a double dive at Miyaru Kandu and a final dip at Dhevana Kandu. Once again we were blessed with so many shark sightings that at this point, we barely bothered signaling them to each other. Even having been there, myself, seeing these sights with my own two eyes, I still marvel at the photos.
A little treat, for this round? Eagle rays, majestically passing through the dive site on their way to what I imagine were even bluer waters.
I was already starting to feel the “last of” pangs of nostalgia — last sandbar trip, last drone flight, the works. But that only made me savor it more.
Thus far, all our sandbar trips had been totally private, making us feel as if the Maldives were totally our own — only a hint of overwater bungalow roofs at the distance reminding us of reality.
This particular sandbar, in comparison, seemed like a party, with various nearby resorts setting up beach chairs and shuttling their guests back and forth. Our ScubaSpa Maldives crew did the same for us, blowing up the pool floats I’d hauled across the world (it’s not a Wander Women Retreat without them!) and setting up umbrellas and beach poofs for us.
The marketing materials that lure travelers the world over to these islands are not, I’m pleased to report, an exaggeration. The striking aquas, cerulean blues and blinding white sands are as vibrant in person as they are on a postcard.
Not to brag (okay, I’m bragging) but while anyone can book a ScubaSpa, I think there are about a million reasons to do so with Wander Women. A pretty much guarantee of fabulous fellow guests, added perks like our signature yoga classes, and arriving to over-the-top welcome bags are a few.
But it’s hard to beat having Wander Women photographer Rayna of Ocean Rays Photography onboard. Equipped with a drone, several land lenses, and an underwater housing that could take its own plane seat, she truly captures the trip from all angles and is always thrilled to create memories and art with anyone.
And yes — she’ll be on Wander Women Raja Ampat with us!
Back onboard, it was happy hour — not that every hour on this trip wasn’t happy, to be real.
And perhaps that contributed to the joy that exuded from Shannon’s yoga class, shortly after. When she told me she wanted to teach a full Disney-themed class, I hesitated for a half a second before enthusiastically cheering her on.
While the Wander Women Studio may be a mobile one that travels all over the world, it’s a teaching team I’m so proud to be on — and I’m inspired all the time by Shannon’s playfullness, creativity and full heart that guide her classes. It’s simply a joy to be her student.
That night, we were delighted to have dinner on the top deck, the winds finally having died down from the night before. The smiling ScubaSpa team BBQed under the stars for an evening to truly remember.
The next morning, the “last of” heartstrings were being plucked again as I realized it was our last full day aboard our beautiful floating home.
The final dives at Fihaalhohi Giri and Kuda Giri really did feel like a party and celebration of our time together, and a little sampler of everything we’d seen — a wreck, colorful corals, and more.
The dive team who had taken such incredible care of us had a surprise up their sleeves, too — handmade underwater signs for the two birthday girls onboard, which they dramatically unraveled at depth.
It was the cutest!
After our final dip, it really did feel like a dhoni dance party as we leapt off the deck holding hands, blasted our anthems from the speaker, waved to fellow dive boats (which suddenly appeared for the first time as we got closer back to Malé) and dried off having heart to hearts in the sun.
And then we were back onboard, the party really ramping up now that there were no more dives or snorkels to stay sober for, ha.
(Just being silly of course. The downside of the alcohol restrictions in the Maldives is the prices of it where you can find it are exorbitant — the upside being less vacation hangovers to contend with.)
For our time decompressing before many flew out the next day (as with all retreats, we had to follow the guideline of no scuba within 24 hours of a flight, to allow nitrogen to off-gas from the body), we were treated to an afternoon of watersports.
This was a COVID-era alternation — in previous years, an island visit was on the itinerary this day. But considering that those super keen to understand local life had the ultimate experience on our Wander Women Malé Cultural Extension, I feel like this is a change I’d request to keep permanent on future charters.
I mean truly, it was the most fun. I don’t think anyone had as many spins around on the bouncy couch than I, the adrenaline addict.
For those looking for a chiller pace, there were stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and of course my pool floats also at our fingertips.
And then it was time for more cherished lasts — last spa treatment, last yoga class.
Though we didn’t go zen for this one.
Instead, I’d cued up a playlist of my favorite confidence-boosting, energy-giving songs and sequenced a powerful final class to capture all the incredible vibes we’d created together that week. With many arriving to their mats cocktails in hand, it was a joyful final flow.
After a truly serene savasana, we retreated to our cabins to get fresh and flirty for our final night onboard.
Never ones to miss a chance to wow us, our ScubaSpa crew had set up a toast on the top deck that celebrated all our onboard certifications and milestones — and time together.
With so many repeat Wander Women onboard, it was like prom night as we broke off into groups for “alumni photos” of various retreats.
And of course, one dream team snap — I loved working with Shannon and Rayna to give this boat the full Wander Women treatment!
Would you just look at this group of beauties. Heart so, so very full.
At this point, no one should be surprised to hear that, erm, the surprises weren’t over yet. When we’d let the crew know we had two birthdays onboard we wanted to celebrate with a cake of some sort, we expected a small confection we could pop a candle into.
We had no idea what we were in for.
I’m sorry, whale shark cake by ScubaSpa? Handmade undersea cards by our onboard illustrator Lauren of Green Blanky?
Methinks it was a birthday to remember. And what started as a toast to our girls Jiné and Shirley evolved into a cheers to so many of the occasions everyone onboard was celebrating that week that I’d learned about — new jobs and relationships, long-needed breakups and resignations, promotions, apartment lease signings, house purchases and beyond.
And, at the end, an invitation for anyone with a milestone I’d missed to shout it out; leading to lots of applause, laughter, and cheering on of some of the important life moments women work so hard for that we as a society sometimes miss celebrating.
The next morning, it was time to disembark — but first, a tradition that I love, a little ritual to close out our retreats that I’ll keep somewhat a surprise for future guests but that I can assure you ends in laughs, tears, hugs, and a natural high that for me, takes a long time to fade.
This trip, to the Maldives, I felt a deep and meaningful theme emerge. There we were, twenty five women spanning from their twenties, thirties and forties, with a diverse resume of careers and passions, from all over the globe.
Yet there was something we all shared. A love of travel, yes. But moreso, this deeper calling — travel not as a means to escape but as a way to get back in touch with the deepest sense of who we are. A way to strip back all the layers, all the titles.
I’m at that age — and thus, as are many of my customers — where everyone around me seems to be getting boxed in by the world as a wife, a mother, a future wife or mother, or someone failing at becoming a future wife or mother.
This trip, I heard in so many words, over and over again on that top deck, gave each of us a reminder of who we are at our cores, under all the roles we wear at work and with our family and in our communities and on the internet and wherever else.
For me it was a really special moment. It gave me focus. It reminded me: this is your why. This is why you built this. To create this space where women can reconnect with the truest version of themselves — and each other.
So many of our guests have used the phrase “trip of a lifetime” describing this retreat. And yes, the dream yacht and the incredible underwater world and the spa treatments and all of that certainly were divine.
Thank you to each and every Wander Woman for the privilege.
I’ll see you on the next adventure <3
Amazed by this one? Don’t forget to check out our next liveaboard coming up this March, with spots for divers as well as snorkelers and spa-goers! There are two spots left, and this is the one and only time Wander Women will charter this boat!