Lying to the west of Sri Lanka are the nearly 1 200 islands that form the archipelago which is the Maldives. Of these, only 200 are inhabited by local Maldivian people, nearly 100 islands have been developed as tourist resorts and the remaining islands are uninhabited. Sunny all year round, with azure seas like nowhere else, the Maldives is generally warm and humid, and has a monsoonal climate. There are two distinct seasons: the dry season (with the north-east monsoon) begins in November and runs through to April, and the wet or rainy season (with the south-west monsoon) begins in May and lasts through to October.
Club Med is renowned internationally for its fabulous holiday packages. In the Maldives, you can revel in a romantic breakaway or a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure on the postcard-perfect island of Kani. The resort comprises 75 luxury rooms and suites, and for the ultimate indulgence, you can dive straight from your suite into the ocean if you stay at the 5-Trident Luxury Space overwater bungalows. There are also 52 luxury villas available at the exclusive Club Med The Finolhu Villas, adjacent to Club Med Kani. Designed by the world’s most inspired architects and designers, the rooms, suites and villas are unique. Whether you sleep in in the mornings and steal as many naps as you possibly can in your exquisite private space, or laze endlessly on the beach or around the impressive pools while sipping on creative tropical cocktails, you’ll be hard-pressed to match the experience.
I was glad to have been advised to wear light, cool and comfy clothing, as the heat upon arriving in the Maldivian capital of Malé, compounded by the humidity, was most uncomfortable. Don’t forget your travel pillow – what with the overnight flight taking about 10 hours from OR Tambo to Singapore, and then the connection to Malé taking four-and-a-half hours. Thereafter, all you really need is a beach bag, sunnies, sunscreen, a hat, swimming costume, sarongs, casual evening wear and light clothing for other activities during the days.
Paradise for watersport lovers
I was totally mesmerised by the colourful tropical fish and turtles swimming around us as I tailed our guide into the crystalline water, having put on my snorkel and flippers. For something less genteel, a speedboat ride might just be the thrill your spirit is yearning for, while other marine activities include scuba diving, submarine and glass-bottom boat excursions, and a coral preservation programme. The pristine turquoise water and always perfectly flat horizon of the Maldives are really something to behold.
Eating and dining out
Five speciality restaurants feature on the island, including the Sunset Beach Bar and Velhi restaurant, offering scrumptious buffets daily. The cuisine at Club Med Kani is some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and is a fusion of Japanese, French, Italian and Chinese. Beach barbeques with entertainment and evening parties were most certainly a highlight for me, with a big plus being no charge for alcohol as it’s included as part of your package.
When in transit…
Use your trip to the Maldives as an excuse to explore a little bit of Asia. A free Singapore tour whilst in transit affords you the opportunity to enjoy a walk through history at Merlion Park, or take in panoramic views of the city with a backdrop of the Singapore Flyer ferris wheel and Gardens by the Bay. There are two different tour routes to choose from. If your stopover is five hours or more, add the free Heritage tour to your itinerary. And if it’s six hours or more, you can enjoy the City Sights tour. Each is two-and-a-half hours long, and is jointly organised by Singapore Airlines, the Singapore Tourism Board and Changi Airport. Simply register at least one hour before the start of the tour by visiting the Free Singapore Tour (FST) registration booth (near Transfer Lounge F in Terminal 2, or Transfer Lounge A in Terminal 3) upon arrival.
Money money money
The currency is the Maldivian rufiyaa, with a rand exchange rate pretty close to 1:1. However, it’s advisable rather to convert your rands to dollars – they are the preferred currency that’s accepted everywhere. To give you an idea of what your rand can afford, I bought a sarong at the resort boutique for 120 rufiyaa, which amounts to about R120 (approximately $9). Tips are recommended, and switching some dollars (or rands) into rufiyaa for this purpose is advisable.
Top things you need to know
· Dress modestly in Malé, as it’s largely a Muslim city and island.
· South Africans don’t need visas for the Maldives or Singapore. However, if you travel via Dubai and plan to leave the airport during your layover, a visa is required.
· January to April is the best time to travel to the Maldives because it’s the dry season, with no monsoons and balmy temperatures.
· The Maldives is one of the safest destinations in the world.
· Free Wi-Fi is available.
I was totally mesmerised by the colourful tropical fish and turtles swimming around us
Use your trip to the Maldives as an excuse to explore a little bit of Asia