- Indian Ocean
Welcome back to paradise – it’s better (and safer) than ever
That Indian Ocean idyll, the Maldives, is ready to welcome you back – and there’s never been a better time to visit. You can socially distance yourself in style in the sun, sand, and sea. After all, you deserve a break
Sun, sea, space is what we’re all craving after months of being cooped up. And a trip to the Maldives delivers all three with aplomb, along with another essential ‘s’: safety. This is the ultimate holiday environment in which to completely relax without a care in the world.
With more than 1,190 tropical islands – dotted with swaying palms, ringed by beaches and scattered across Indian Ocean blue – you might say that the Maldives is the most naturally socially distanced nation on earth. Skirting the equator, it stretches across 90,000sqkm of water, and yet only 298 of that is dry land. With so much of this sun-drenched nation being sparkling ocean – about 99 per cent of it, to be precise – there is more than enough space to spread out, soak up the restorative sun and pretend you’re Robinson Crusoe (if Robinson Crusoe had access to luxury villas, cooling plunge pools and Michelin-worthy restaurants, that is).
The country’s unique ‘one island, one resort’ set-up makes it more paradisical still. With just a single hotel per white-sand-ringed island, a serene, private atmosphere is the norm – whether you’re travelling as a couple, family or solo traveller. But, crucially, this signature resort style also brings peace of mind. All that breathing room, plus high vaccination rates in the Maldives, rigorous healthy protocols for holiday accommodation and stringent entry requirements (all travellers must show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative PCR test conducted 96 hours before departure) means that as soon as you arrive, concerns can evaporate. You can let your hair down and enjoy everything that paradise has to offer.
And, as it happens, that’s quite a lot. Travelling as a couple? Choose the Maldives for its luxurious, adults-only romantic hideaways – thatched-roof villas set on stilts over sparkling turquoise waters, perfect for impromptu morning plunges or sunset dips. Spend days lazing on pristine white-sand beaches, then clink cocktails over gourmet lobster dinners on surf-lapped sandbanks. And be spoiled by the Maldives’ world-class hospitality, whether you fancy muscle-melting massages in the spa or bottles of bubbly delivered to your poolside lounger. As part of a national scheme, vaccinated tourism workers wear an ‘I’m vaccinated’ badge, so you can be reassured that all your interactions are safe.
Don’t think the Maldives is just for couples, though. Busy families can get stuck into activities galore, whether it be snorkelling past turtles in a rainbow coral reef, surfing along frothy waves or even learning about local wildlife in al fresco marine biology lessons (anyone for swimming with manta rays?). Add on the fact that many resorts have kids’ clubs, special children’s menus and fun extras such as beachside cinema nights, and these islands are heaven for little ones as much as they are for grown-ups.
The Maldives is enticing for solo travellers and groups of friends, too. Chic, vibrant resorts and all-inclusives let you get social by palm-lined pools in the morning, join a dolphin-spotting cruise in the afternoon, then chat until late, confident in the knowledge that the rigorous local health protocols have made it OK to do so. You can even choose to go adventurous by booking a liveaboard boat or stay in a family-run guesthouse, enjoying real culture immersion. Just download the national contact tracing app, TraceEkee, on arrival, and you’ll have an extra layer of reassurance that everywhere you visit is safe.
Paradise isn’t just a place; it’s also a state of mind. If you feel secure on your travels – and you can in the Maldives – you’ll be ready to relax. The sun will feel warmer, the water will sparkle more, the rustle of the palm trees will be more soothing. And you’ll finally, after so much waiting, get that holiday feeling you deserve.