As I stood at the edge of a jetty lounge, where a warm sea breeze brushed my skin, ruffling layers of light scarves and flowing maxi skirts, and the glowing sun set over a horizon of placid, clear, cerulean water that lapped a postcard-perfect little island paradise, I felt the need to apologize. Maldives, I am truly sorry for deeming you unworthy of my attention or interest for so many years.
Oops, my bad.
As friends and strangers alike around me in Dubai waxed lyrical on the endless pleasures of the Maldives, a pearl string of paradisaical atolls in the Indian Ocean, I turned up my nose and sniffed that no, lounging – nay, trapped – on some private island in the middle of nowhere was simply not my cup of tea, no sirree. What a bore.
But I can admit when I’m wrong, and after a business trip required I spend a week in this awful bore of a holiday destination, I take every ounce of negativity back. True, I was essentially “trapped” on an small private island that contained only the resort I was staying in – and I only really realized just how small it was, when on the first morning I went for a jog around the shore thinking, “This will be a good 30-40 minute workout before I get back to my villa”… only to arrive at my room’s doorstep a mere 10 minutes later, inclusive of a brief jogging interlude taken when I spied a reef shark in the water. But that beautiful lagoon water, the swaying green palms, the relaxed meals with sand between your toes, and the evenings under a blanket of stars twinkling unimpeded away from civilizations’s lights – it’s natural beauty at its finest and something that’s very difficult to become bored with indeed.
What I will admit to, is spending one week at the same resort probably would induce a certain level of ennui- at least for me. Luckily, I had the opportunity to jump from one to another midway through (on a terrifying yet humorous speedboat ride), and the change of scenery and vibe between the two resorts kept things interesting.Constance Halaveli after a 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé – not air conditioned I should add, and cannot stress enough the importance of dressing for the muggy transfer – I arrived at my first minuscule island home, where I was quickly handed a refreshing juice and whisked away to my luxe beachfront villa. Halaveli’s claim to fame is that it’s got the longest jetty in the Maldives, from where overwater villas branch off above the sea, but after years of desert-dwelling, I was thrilled to stay on land where lush tropical flora nestled the residence, which featured the most spectacular outdoor bathroom I’ve had the pleasure of using.
Ideal for honeymooners (and the place was absolutely brimming with them during my early-June stay), the resort’s serene, intimate atmosphere coddles guests with chic lounges and restaurants and unique experiences such as wine tasting in the lagoon – literally. Add in boat trips, sunrise yoga, plenty of spa options, and of course, snorkeling and diving excursions, there’s really no reason to be bored unless that’s your goal.Constance Moofushi. Despite being under the same brand, and just a short speedboat ride from each other, the difference in character was felt and seen immediately. Where Halaveli was replete in sleek, chic island style, an intimate atmosphere and undeniably couples-centric, Moofushi had a bit more of a bohemian atmosphere and look, and I felt like it was potentially even somewhere that I could holiday with a small group of friends. With tiki-themed beach bars, vibrant evening entertainment, loads of easily accessed water sports and funky – but still luxurious – villas, it had a more all-around-fun thing going for it. And staying in an overwater villa this time around – from where I could snorkel out from my terrace to a small forest of coral and fluoro-colored fish – was the ideal (and I must get a replica of the travel-trunk wardrobes – amazing).
But the highlight of it all? The snorkeling. While I had a fine time of it going out to sea for a morning from Halavali, the marine sites near Moofushi for snorkeling and diving were sublime. Just under the crystalline water was a bright and fantastic world where schools of hundreds, maybe thousands, of fish shimmered in the sunlight, and clown fish darted in and out of swaying anemone, while the odd sea turtle munched on vegetation and black-tipped reef sharks (not to worry, totally docile) slice through the water sleek as can be.
Next on my checklist? Learning to dive and heading right back down that “boring” marine paradise.