I have always dreamed of a vacation in this small, unique, exotic, and romantic paradise. And, as dreams are born to be fulfilled, this year, despite the difficult conditions we are in due to the pandemic, I managed to escape for a few days in this idyllic place.
Located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is the country with the lowest elevation in the world. The archipelago consists of 1192 separate islands within an area of 871 km (541 miles) by 130 km (81 miles). Due to climate change, there is an increased risk of sinking on many of the islands, which means that by the year 2100 most of the 200 inhabited islands will be abandoned.
With a tropical monsoon climate, the best time to organize a vacation is from December to April. But, depending on your luck, you can catch good weather in the rainy season or on the contrary, you can have few showers even in the dry season. I admit that, although February is one of the driest months of the year, the weather forecast for the period we chose was not very encouraging. Luckily, we didn’t cancel the trip because in the end we had nothing but sun 🙂
Besides the weather, another important aspect that I took into account when I organized this vacation was the type of accommodation. We could choose an island with a private resort, a local island, or even a cruise. Given that the Maldives is a Muslim country, on the local islands there are restrictions related to alcohol, food and clothing (or lack thereof), especially on the beach. Therefore, we opted for accommodation on a private island resort. Although the costs were a bit higher, I think it is worth living this experience once in your life.
Choosing the resort can be quite difficult, as there are countless offers for all budgets. For us it was important to choose a resort that offers:
- a fast and flexible transfer to the island, as I did not want to waste time at the airport waiting for the seaplane that has fixed hours. Thus, if you arrive later in the afternoon you have to take a night’s accommodation in Male. And when you return, leave the island much earlier. Also, the cost of the seaplane is not included in the cost of accommodation and is much higher than the speedboat and can reach up to $ 500 per person.
- an island with vegetation, relatively wide beaches, and an atmosphere as Maldivian authentic as possible, both in terms of accommodation and food.
- an all-inclusive package. Although initially I started the search by selecting only breakfast and dinner (taking into account the fact that we do not normally eat 3 meals a day), I quickly came to the conclusion that an all-inclusive is better in order to have all the alcoholic beverages included, as well as the flexibility and relaxation offered by this service in which you don’t have to worry about anything. This brings with it its own problems, in that, initially, we tended to ask for the non-existent bill, and by the end we were worried that once we returned home we would just leave the restaurants without paying. 🙂 #firstworldproblems
- a selection of motorized and non-motorized water sports (such as paddle boards or kayaks), snorkeling equipment available during the stay, as well as various excursions. Since some all-inclusive resorts include certain excursions, massage sessions, and access to non-motorized sports and snorkeling equipment, it’s a good idea to check this out, as the costs can be quite high if they aren’t included.
For us, Oblu Select at Sangeli met all these conditions. In addition, it included the fast boat transfer. And, when we announced that we would arrive at 7.30 AM, they told us that the transfer will be available immediately upon our arrival.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, a few days before the holiday they informed us that due to a case of covid they had on the island, they had to transfer us to another resort within the same company. We appreciated the fact that they offered us both an upgrade of the villa and of the resort itself, thus allowing us to stay at a villa with a swimming pool within Ozen Life at Maadhoo. (here is the link to our welcome at the resort and my first attempt at YouTube: https://youtu.be/-TgwzTamXG4 )
As the name suggests, Ozen is truly an oasis of Zen and relaxation. From the first steps made on the pier, you are left speechless with the color of the water, the sand, and the vegetation. The warm hot air caresses your body and transports you to another world. You are greeted with applause and smiles and, without realizing it, any seasickness instantly converts into a wide smile all over your face. We were met by Barry, our butler for the duration of our stay, who took care of everything to the smallest detail. We didn’t stop at the reception to check into our room, and we didn’t even touch the luggage from the moment we were picked up from the airport to the room. Reservations, both for the trips included in the program, and for dinners at the 4 restaurants of the resort were already made for us. They were just as well organized when we told them just 2 days before departure that we would need the PCR test to return to our home (as was news to us as conditions had changed), arranging a friendly doctor to come to our room to administer the test.
One of the best parts of Ozen Life was the food. No matter which restaurant or bar you are at, you will be treated to an endless supply of delicious choices, whether local Maldivian fare or more familiar selections. In particular, we were delighted to discover an Ozen Life original cocktail called the “Salt Curry” (first encountered during our night at the Indian restaurant). The bartender was even gracious enough to give us the recipe. The quality and service never ceased to amaze us, with all the staff, no matter the level, stopping to chat us up at every opportunity with a friendly smile.
This little Heaven on Earth is the perfect place, both for a vacation where you can just relax in a hammock in the sun, enjoying colorful cocktails, having romantic dinners on the fine sand under the light of the stars, as well as for an active vacation of water adventures (scuba, snorkeling, fishing, etc.). You can stay all day with your face underwater marveling at the coral reefs and the countless colorful fish. So, I tell you honestly, you won’t get bored. The days passed too quickly and we would have liked to stay longer. (click here for another video: https://youtu.be/_Fk2MmXm4Eo)
For a full experience in the Maldives, I recommend you try at least a few nights in one of water villas. They have an obvious charm and are stereotypical of the Maldives. It is amazing to fall asleep to the sound of the water hitting the pillars, and to wake up with the image of the boundless ocean with its magnificent colors.
Besides the exotic beauty of the islands, the elegance and quality service make the Maldives a unique holiday (worthy of a bucket list). A unique experience was our dinner at the M6M underwater restaurant. Imagine serving fine dishes while watching the fish and sharks swimming leisurely in front of you. And, to realize that only a few hours before this experience you were in the middle of the ocean for a photo shoot and probably the very same shark passed by with equal ease only a few meters from you, you will know the experience is complete!
We peppered our schedule with walks around the island, which although not deserted, seemed to belong only to us. You could always find a deserted patch of beach to enjoy a few hours of silence on the sand so fine and white. And when the sun started to burn too bright, we took shelter in the shade of the palm trees by the pool, enjoying all manner of delicious drinks.
Because we wanted to liven up the holiday program a bit, we enjoyed a sunset cruise to admire the dolphins (but we were only visited by sharks), a fishing excursion (on the traditional Maldivian boat called a Dhoni), and a snorkeling session at a local reef away from the island. We couldn’t miss the relaxing massage at Elena Spa & Wellness, where we tried for the first time the blue tea, or Butterfly Pea Tea.
The only regret was that, due to the pandemic, we did not have the opportunity to go on a trip to a local island to experience the native culture. We would have liked to have had this experience as well, but we certainly won’t miss it next time!
And how else could I end this article if not with some amazing images of the Maldivian sunset. You can’t help but fall in love with this wonderful place!
Good to know:
- The visa is easily obtained at the airport, without taxes or other documents, apart from a valid passport. You will not have to exchange money in local currency, because all prices are displayed and can be paid in dollars (as well as euros though you will get change in dollars).
- If you do get a water villa, be aware that swimming without the land to shield you, will often result in some strong currents.
- Be prepared to see all manner of sea creatures, including sharks and stingrays, but they pay you little mind, even if you want them to (I’m talking to you baby shark)
- The coconut tree is the national symbol of the Maldives, and their wood is used in the construction of dhoni, or doni, ships (the oldest known maritime ships in the Maldives, made by hand).
- The sand of the Maldives is made of coral, which is why it resists the sun, and you can walk comfortably even on the hottest days.
- In the past, the inhabitants used coral to build houses. There are traditional homes made of coral, which can be admired in the capital Male and on some islands, but is now strictly forbidden as coral reefs are protected worldwide.
- The Maldives has some of the smallest islands in the world, some only a few square meters, and the largest barely reaches 6 km in length.
- The Maldives is the first country in the world to hold an underwater government meeting. The president of the country, together with 13 ministers, wanted to sound the alarm on the effects of global warming.
- Is the Maldives among your top places to visit?
- What places or resorts do you recommend in the Maldives?