When we added Maldives to the Aardvark Safaris’ portfolio in 2017, I spent a happy few weeks sourcing images and writing descriptions for a plethora of idyllic sounding tropical island resorts. By the time I’d finished I had written ‘barefoot luxury’ so many times I confess that I did wonder if this island nation could possibly live up to its lofty reputation as one of the world’s most lovely beach destinations.
Roll on four years and, after the chance to experience it for myself, I’m delighted to report that it certainly does live up to the hype.
Departing Malé on a seaplane (I love a pilot in shorts and flip flops) you get a glimpse of what’s to come with tiny islands and their famous over water villas stretching out in the azure seas below.
Maalafushi, the larger of the two, is on Thaa Atoll about 60 minutes’ flight south of the capital. Disembarking the plane onto a waiting speedboat has something of a James Bond feel to it and zooming around the neighbouring uninhabited island into the resort would certainly not have disappointed 007 himself.
Swept up by Joy, our butler rather than emotion (though joyful we were to have escaped winter for this heaven), a quick tour followed. Spa, bar, beach, two restaurants, water-sports and fishing huts all ticked off – no chance of getting bored – we decanted into our gorgeous beachfront suites.
There ensued four happy days enjoying the sun-drenched surroundings, fabulous food, snorkelling on the house reef, kayaking, and a blissful spa. As for barefoot luxury – this is the epitome. No stress, no pretentions, just easy charm in an exquisite setting.
Heading back towards Malé, Como Cocoa Island is smaller than its sister property and unique for its all over water accommodation, with 30-odd villas inspired by the local Dhoni boats. Though the activities are much the same, the atmosphere was completely different. Romantics will love it for dinners under the stars by the pool and scuba enthusiasts for its easy access to myriad dive spots. We just embraced the peace and calm, drifting along the walkways spotting all manner of marine life, paddling about in kayaks and walking along the pristine white sand bar. As a place to relax and de-stress it’s got to be up there with the very best.
The final bit of fun was a 30-minute speed boat back to the airport – pulling in just steps from the international terminal. If only arriving at Heathrow was that easy!
The ‘we’ I refer to was myself, husband and two grown up sons. So perhaps not your typical Maldives’ travellers. But as a destination for the four of us, it worked so well. Enough to do, yet enough not to do – we’d be back in a heartbeat.
Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to visit the Maldives, do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.