I have never been into sand or sun or beaches but visiting the Maldives changed my mind. It seemed as if the water was not as salty as in other tropical places. But, maybe the fact that I was touched by a giant manta ray, has influenced my opinion. We paid the $48 for an outing to swim with giant manta rays, sea turtles, and fish. When we got into the water, the giant rays swam around us like a flock of kites gliding around our amateurish flailing limbs. I assumed that this was a popular feeding ground that the guides knew about and I also assumed that seeing the rays was a guarantee. Apparently it is not. So I feel even luckier. I am fairly sure that I was touched because I had stopped flailing around and was simply floating away on my back, totally ignoring the manta rays. Once I had been patted on the back by the ray, it had all my attention!
It is possible to take a one day boat trip out of Dhaka. We used a company that charged around 2,500 Taka per adult if there there at least 20 adults. The boat is spacious (and shaped like a peacock!) and we had it all to ourselves. Lunch and several touristy stops were included: we had a quick walk to an old estate, a stop for a swim (dolphins were also promised but alas), and a visit to a village where the laborers make “jamdani” saris. The “jamdani” clothe is a woven gauze and very expensive due to the labor involved in weaving it.
I enjoyed sitting on the rooftop deck, in a comfy chair, watching the river float by. Plus, there is a toilet on the boat. So the day out included two hours in traffic, six hours on the boat, and an hour back to Dhaka.