Maldives: paradise unwrapped – Telegraph India


The Maldives are once again open to tourists. Of course, you need to do some paperwork (this will probably be the norm now for all international travel) … a negative RT-PCR test 96 hours before departure (remember to count from the time you take the test and not from when you receive the report and another test at the station for the return) and a confirmed return flight, hotel confirmation and traveler’s health declaration from IMUGA (Maldives Immigration) site.

If you are not used to filling out all of these forms online, I suggest you arrive at the airport well in advance and ask the airline staff to help you. Vistara was very helpful. You receive a QR code and must present it during check-in. On the way back, you need to complete the paper copy of Indian Health Declaration and Air Suvidha online. There are now direct flights from many Indian cities (Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi) to Male. The flight from Mumbai is a very comfortable two and a half hours. It all sounds like a drag, but trust me, once you see the turquoise water and islands from the plane as you approach Male, you’ll be convinced it was all worth it.

If you’re doing your homework, the Maldives doesn’t have to be that crazy, unique mega-budget vacation you only dream of. Here again are some tips for the mature traveler who’s a hippie at heart, loves great food, and seeks comfort, affordability, and souvenirs.

1 Remember (and you’ll see as the plane nears Male), the Maldives are a collection of islands. Choose carefully because once there it is extremely expensive to move from one island to another. It is not Venice (which is also a collection of islands) that has a very efficient public transport service by boat.

2 Choose a hotel a short distance from Male Airport (15-20 minutes by speedboat), otherwise you will take out a bank loan for the flight or speedboat to your island. It could be more than your ticket from India!

3 We chose Saii Lagoon (saiiresorts.com), which is a 20 minute speedboat ride from Male. Upon arrival, you are escorted to the boat, which is right outside the airport. Affordable, international standard of food and drink, magnificent accommodation and friendly service. Check all my boxes. We had a great beach villa with two bathrooms, outdoor and indoor, and a porch that was almost on the beach and 10 steps from hot water. We were not disappointed.

If you want to isolate yourself, no one will disturb you and the island is big enough that you can’t hear a thing. Activities? Yes you have all the water sports, yoga and kids activity center, a nice spa etc. If you want to party though, there seemed to be a lot of movement and shaking around the pools and their respective bars all day and into the late evening! Saii is described as “created for couples, families and friends looking for a fun destination getaway” and that pretty much sums it up.

4 A novelty in the Maldives and on this island called Crossroads, are the restaurants and shops around a magnificent new marina (crossroadsmaldives.com). Think mini Marbella. You can eat in any of the restaurants in the marina – Indian, Thai, Chinese, Maldivian. They are included in your all inclusive or half board package if you choose to go and they are all within walking distance of the accommodation or a short buggy ride away. Shops are well organized and revolve around fashion, food and art with a very handy Rip Curl store as soon as you walk in

5 For those looking for more upscale dining options, Dharshan Munidasa, a culinary impresario from Sri Lanka, has opened three restaurants here – Ministry of Crab with all of his signature dishes… the crab is shipped direct from Colombo; Nihonbashi Blue (after Maldivian blue… the original is in Colombo and was for many years on Asia’s top 50 restaurant list, as did Ministry of Crab) serves “fine Japanese inspired” cuisine. They serve fresh sushi and sashimi as well as delicious warm tempura shrimp rolls in temaki with wasabi rice. Don’t miss the signature dish, Kake Tai Cha olive oil, a dish of sushi rice, sashimi fish, a pinch of soybeans and an egg yolk mixed with a tempering of sizzling garlic in some olive oil at the table. Quite the showstopper. Their premium Wagyu Sukiyaki is a must-have for lovers of Japanese Wagyu beef.

6 A whole new concept is Carne Diem, serving the finest imported red meats cooked only with sea salt in its specially designed oven. The three restaurants have a more complete wine and spirits list than the other restaurants on the island.

7 Booze. You cannot transport alcohol to the Maldives, neither in your bag nor in the duty free. It is a Muslim country. However, all hotels have well-stocked bars at reasonable rates and also serve pork products.

8 If you’re looking for a more ‘upbeat’ hotel experience, the famous Hard Rock Hotel (hardrockhotels.com) is on the same island as Saii Lagoon and a short buggy ride / bridge ride. There’s music every night somewhere, you have the Hard Rock Cafe with its legendary burgers, a good selection of in-room music, a lovely Mexican restaurant, The Elephant and the Butterfly, and water aerobics in the area. swimming pool with Miguel from Mexico. You can also enjoy all the facilities and restaurants at Saii Lagoon.

9 What to wear Take water shoes / jelly shoes or waterproof Croc type sandals before venturing into the beautiful turquoise sea, as you might come across some nasty rock beds, but these give way to soft sand very quickly. The water is rarely turbulent. Keep your luggage to a minimum – swimwear, shorts, sundresses and kaftans, sandals, sun hats… leave silk dresses, high heels and designer clothes at home. For men, shorts, shirts and sandals are the accepted dress code throughout the island. If you forget your sunscreen or flip flops there is a store in the marina and Hard Rock and Rip Curl can outfit you with the rest.

ten It is in the Maldives that the sea tastes like a brackish oyster, not like a bite of salt. All the hotels have swimming pools but nothing like swimming in the sea. For those who are not good swimmers, fear not, the areas right next to the beaches and water villas are usually quite enough. shallow.

Consider visiting out of season, both to avoid the crowds and to get a better deal. Temperatures are more or less the same all year round with very little rain during the monsoon.


About Dawn Valle

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