- Indian Ocean
The Maldives: paradise in the Indian Ocean
Planning ahead for some winter sun or hoping to tick off a bucket-list destination in 2022? Look no further than the fabulous Maldives, a sparkling archipelago promising spectacular scenery and unparalleled service. This month, we put paradise through its paces…
Worried that your Maldives mega-break might be all a bit too… shiny? Believe it not, the country is much more than its iconic over-water hotel scene. It’s also fragrant curries and coconut, hard-working locals brought up in sunshine, lively markets, dance-inducing drums and guesthouses run by Maldivian families excited to whip you up a traditional breakfast of flatbreads with fresh tuna. That’s not to say the flashier resorts won’t cook up some culture, too. This year, Joali, the country’s first ‘immersive art resort’, will be running a Women in Art project to celebrate female Maldivian visionaries alongside an array of workshops and residences from local artists.
Wet and wild
You can’t drool over the Maldives without mentioning its supermodel waters. One long parade of turquoise blue and abundant coral, the country attracts scuba-dudes and expert divers from far and wide. Having said that, local divers (usually found working in-house at the resorts’ own diving centres) will get even the most water-shy beginners up to scratch. All islands tend to have exceptional underwater experiences on the menu, but only Vakkaru Maldives’ 50 Shades of Blue programme will put you on a Big Five sea safari in the Baa Atoll – this year celebrating its tenth anniversary as the country’s only Unesco Biosphere Reserve.
One island, one resort
No man is an island but, in the Maldives, every man gets one. With so many to play with, the country has developed a predominant ‘one island, one resort’ framework, where single hotels serve up whole islands exclusively for their guests. With so much space, social distancing is a breeze, and, with all the correct PPE in place, the staff serve up reassurance alongside glorious sunsets, out-of-this-world attentiveness (the Maldives is famous for it) and diversely good grub. While most resorts are honeymooning havens, those wanting something outside of the Maldives box should make a beeline for the Rockstar Villas at party island Finolhu.
Come for the views, stay for the food
Much like its Indian Ocean neighbours, this archipelago has a secret – a delicious culinary identity centred on such favourites as coconut, seafood and even good old-fashioned tea. Hedhikaa (or, ‘short bites’) are the stuff of Maldivian snack breaks (think fried fish cakes and bondibai rice puddings), while ‘long eats’, as they’re known here, will see bigger-than-their-belly eyes confronted with rice-laden feasts and fish curries. For the best buffets in town, all-inclusive Constance Moofushi is the height of generosity – although you might want to go easy on the free-flowing Champagne.