Chilling out in water villas, fishing at night, looking at the sea floor from a glass-bottom spa… there’s enough fun to be had here
“What is it that Maldives could offer that previous beach holidays hadn’t,” I wondered as I packed my bags. Eternal sunshine, sandy beaches, pristine waters and the gamut of waters sports I had seen enough of.
It was a momentary decision to pack and leave for a short holiday, to get away from the chaos of city life. Being an Indian national, I did not need a visa, which made the destination even more attractive. With everything booked online, I was ready to leave.
I got a preview of the royal treatment that awaited me at the airport itself. A young girl from the resort, in summery white and blue linen, was there to receive me. Linh was from Vietnam and had been in the Maldives for two years. She escorted me to the sea plane terminal, from where we were to take the “air taxi” to our resort. That journey was unparalleled to any other flying experience I’ve had. For starters, taking off from and landing on water was absolutely magical. The aerial view of the expanse of the lagoons, the waters and the islands was idyllic. I suddenly felt the urge to take out my camera and record every single moment of pure beauty, but I refrained. I had decided to follow the motto of “no shoes, no news”, which I had seen flashing on one of the resort websites. What this would translate into for me was no telephone, Internet and the works.
The island resort was smaller than my colony back home. If it were not for the lush green trees, one could see water all around. Nature’s bounty seemed to be God’s personal favourite in this part of the world. Everything, including the sun, the water and the air was different; virginal and untouched by the hazards of modernised society. The severity of the humidity suddenly hit and the linen uniforms of the staff seemed enviable. One could see schools of fish in the translucent waters on either side of the pathway as one walked from the dock to the reception. The other sight was of the trademark tourists of the Maldives, the honeymooners. A pang of doubt emerged as to whether coming alone was such a good idea.
I had indulged myself and booked a water villa (villas built on stilts in the water). Built at a distance from the island and connected by wooden pathways, the villas were like time capsules of sorts. The sea was my garden, the island my backyard. A ladder down from the villa immersed me into my share of the sea. Built in a manner that was both aesthetic and spacious, it was fully equipped with everything required or imagined to make a stay comfortable.
I booked myself for diving lessons, spa treatment and night fishing. Diving in the Maldives was an experience of a lifetime. The flora and fauna that lay beneath its cobalt blue water was something to been seen to be believed — full of colour, a variety of fish and coral, movement and activity. The experience of diving lessons was invaluable. Those not comfortable with diving, snorkelling would be a worthy substitute.
Self-indulgence took a new high with the spa and massage facility. A typical spa came with a glass bottom for one to look at and ponder on the seemingly simple life beneath the sea.
It was at the night fishing expedition that I realised there were many more lone travellers. People had come in from all around the world, leaving behind the worries of their jobs, relationships, families and health. The sound of the sea, the rocking of the boat anchored somewhere in the high seas, and the gentle night breeze, all seemed to celebrate us, solitary reapers, in unison. It was a moment of tranquillity and paramount peace. What I realised was that the Maldives could for everyone; a place to find yourself once again.
Back at the resort we were welcomed by the “Boduberu” artists, who presented a traditional Maldivian musical performance that traced its roots to East and South Africa. Though the lyrics were in the local language Divehi, the drum beats found their audience tapping along. With tourism and fishing being the two main propellers of the Maldivian economy, the locals were accustomed to the hospitality concept; almost as if it were ingrained in them. This taste of Maldivian hospitality, though, came at a fairly steep price.