Maldives, a celebration of love (and so much more)
veryone loves a cliché, especially when there’s crystal-clear water, hammocks and fine sand involved. But guess what ‘honeymooners’? The gorgeous Maldives are no longer the setting for your private party. Sorry! This archipelago in the Indian Ocean is gradually becoming a top recreational destination. Without anyone having to say ‘I do.’
‘Solo travellers’, yogis on a spiritual retreat and ‘millennials’ who follow ‘influencers’ are flocking to the floating cabins that we’ve seen in all those photos. An increasingly affordable luxury that ticks all the boxes when it comes to clichés. You don’t even have to scuba dive to see the fish swimming under the wooden walkways. That’s how clear the water is. Palm trees line the path to the beach and the sun shines all year round, although there might be the occasional downpour during monsoon season.
Infinity pools and underwater spas
The word’s first ‘underwater spa’ opened in the Maldives. Treatments are super relaxing when you’re watching what goes on beneath the waves. You can also unwind in one of the infinity pools that are available in the resorts.
This archipelago’s fame is more than justified: there’s nothing quite like its geography or topography. The Maldives comprise roughly 1,190 islands and sand banks, crowning an underwater mountain range. Each island is surrounded by a lake and protected by a reef that attracts hundreds of species of sealife. No wonder snorkelling is one of the top activities in the Maldives. Hotels usually rent out the gear and organise outings for travellers to venture beyond the lagoons.
This rich marine diversity has made it one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. The Baa Atoll, declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011, is one of the most popular locations. Located north of the capital, Malé, it comprises 75 islands, ten of which are resorts. Besides 250 coral varieties and 1,200 fish species, the atoll is home to a vast population of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and flying fish. Malé is also a great starting point for HP Reef, Manta Point and Banana Reef (the latter is only for expert divers), the best place to ‘find Nemo’ and other colourful fish.
Diving isn’t the only thing this paradise has to offer. Water sports are unsurprisingly very popular in a country where 99% of the territory is water. Kayak trips, surf lessons and some innovative underwater ‘scooters’ are on the menu at most hotels. But it doesn’t always have to be adventure and extreme sports. The Maldives are all about recharging, living it up in the hotel spa or taking a nap on a hammock and feeling so rested that when you wake up that you don’t even know where you are. No need to exchange marriage vows to do all that.
Although if you are in love, don’t worry because there are still plenty of couples around. And not all of them are honeymooning. Some people choose the Maldives to propose. That actually happened last month in the underwater restaurant M6m, at the resort OZEN by Atmosphere in Maadhoo. A mermaid and a scuba diver surprised the bride-to-be by showing a sign saying “Will you marry me?” in the pool. Take a leaf out of their book, lovebirds. That couple went to the Maldives before and after the wedding. (She said yes!).