Every so often, we are lucky enough to visit somewhere on our bucket list and that was how I found myself on a flight to the Maldives just a few short weeks ago.
The Maldives conjures up images of far-flung, exotic landscapes but this beautiful destination is an easy flight from the UK. We took off in the late afternoon, had a bit of dinner, watched a film and fell asleep. A few hours later and we woke up in paradise. This makes it the perfect winter sun destination from Europe where the time difference is no more than five hours on any of the atolls.
While I had never visited the Maldives before, I actually planned a trip there 14 years ago but the events of the tsunami meant this never panned out.
Ever since then, it seems that I have always been within touching distance. I have flown over the Maldives more times than I can count and even made a stopover through the airport. But it was not until last month that I finally made it there on holiday. It was certainly worth the wait! This is my story of the Maldives and what turned out to be an incredible start to 2018...
Diving into Paradise
I am a keen diver, and the Maldives is the perfect destination to indulge this pastime. The archipelago lies across different tectonics, which means that all of the islands are quite different – some have deep lagoons, others have shallow waters - to suit all tastes.
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter where you choose to stay as all of the islands have easy access to the crystal clear waters for which the destination is renowned. Just book a boating, snorkelling or diving trip through your hotel to enjoy the very best of the ocean.
Indeed, the main reason why many people visit the Maldives is for this underwater world and it is extremely beautiful. One of the most incredible moments of the trip was when I swam with manta rays. These giants of the sea are completely unlike anything else you will have ever seen with a wingspan that can reach six metres.
There are some shallow dives, but it is so worth to go a bit dipper and dives around 20 metres beneath the surface are the best to see the 'feeding stations' where manta rays come out to play and feed on the plankton. Sitting on the ocean floor, we spent a majestic thirty minutes watching these gracious, giant creatures flying and dancing all around us and above our heads.
The ocean around the Maldives is so rich with fish but I would still advise to go diving as well as snorkelling to experience the underwater on a whole new level.
These are the Days
I spent a week in the Maldives and the days just flew by. From morning yoga it was straight to breakfast and then our first diving trip of the day. After a spot of lunch and an hour or so lying on the beach, it was time for another afternoon adventure.
Take your pick from a fishing trip, dolphin watching, another diving experience or just a chilled out boat trip. Then it’s back to the hotel for a massage before dinner. The next morning, we did it all over again and it felt again as amazing!
It was pretty full on but we loved every minute! If you do decide to take a trip and plan to do lots of diving, I would recommend leaving yourself a few days at the end to be a bit of a beach bum and enjoy the Maldives famous sands.
Out in the Ocean
As diving is such a passion of mine, I took some tests and improved my skills on a new level. This didn’t spoil the relaxation at all – quite the opposite. It actually added more substance to the trip because it’s so fulfilling and useful to refresh my diving skills and learn something new.
With all that exercise and activity, I
also made sure to indulge in some delicious food. Everything they serve is just so fresh with lots of fish and all different types of seafood – more than you can ever imagine.
And the rumours are true, the Maldives is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. It really is all about the ocean so I would recommend choosing an overwater villa or bungalow. You fall asleep at night with the ocean surrounding you in its beauty and wake up to the most exquisite views. You have your very own Indian Ocean swimming pool right by your feet and can jump into the water straight from your bed.
A Match Made in Heaven
Another of our standout moments was watching a movie under the stars in our very own private cinema. We chose a film from the hotel library and the staff set up a projector and screen on the beach with a bottle of champagne and our own personal butler. Cosy under the stars, it is absolutely breathtaking.
What I love is that the Maldives is also perfect for families and groups of friends as it is so diverse. You can make your trip as busy or as lazy as you like and take your pick from the entertainment on offer. Of course, if you fancy then you can just stretch out on one of the many idyllic beaches to unwind and let all your stresses fall away.
Nature's Beating Heart
If you like to really get to the heart of places, I would suggest staying on an island further away from Malé. This would mean taking another flight of around half an hour but the further you go, the more you find untouched seascapes and unique vistas that really show what the Maldives is all about.
From exploring the wilderness to floating on the waters surrounding your boutique hotel on an island with no more than 1600 other people for company, it feels like your very own private place in the middle of nowhere. It’s what I call my wanderlust sensation and a feeling that I seek out when I travel as there is nothing else quite like it.
The Maldives is a great place to visit at any time of year. With so many hotels and flights available, it’s easy to book last minute and even find some great deals. I will definitely return for more diving and relaxing among the beautiful turquoise waters.