By Ashley

Where I go: Maldives

Don’t go to the Maldives and expect to do very much. You drink, you dive, you spa (ideally not in that order, though no one would really attempt to stop you) then you rinse and repeat the entire process. A week-long stay would never suffice because the days turn into nights and nights melt into days and you just don’t know where all that time goes while you’re lying on a lounger soaking up the sun and sipping on some sangria and wondering why in the world you never seriously considered leaving your boring corporate job for the blissful island life.

The most difficult decisions you’ll have to make during your week there are as follows: should I do a full day dive or a half day dive? Swim in the pool or the ocean (always opt for the ocean, you have a pool in your condo at home no?) Margarita or Daiquiri? (Now this is truly difficult – I could not pick between the two) You’ll find yourself sunbaked to such perfection that the regulars at Fabutan will wonder which colour you opted for and so relaxed that the thought of returning to the real world will never even enter your mind as you entertain thoughts of staying on forever. 

Wearing: It doesn’t matter what you wear, you could go with nothing for all I care. The best thing about the Maldives is that you’re unlikely to run into anyone you know as each resort is sparsely populated and guests like to keep to themselves. So wipe off all your makeup and leave the fancy duds at home – be comfortable, be casual, be completely at ease. I survived the week alternating between dive gear and bikinis with an occasional cover-up over top.

Reading: No news. Revel in the absence of buzzing phones, breaking news from the NYTimes, and boring updates from your office-bound friends on twitter.

Watching: Fish of every shape and size and colour of the crayola box swim under your over-the-ocean-luxury-villa-with-a-view.

Take a dive. This is by far the best place on the planet to get certified. Pool sessions? Pish posh. You’ll do your pool dives in the turquoise blue calm clear waters off the floating pier where the only spectators are the fish – it’s infinitely less embarrassing than a pool session with onlookers to witness your awkward gaffs.

Depending on where you are, there’s a whole host of dive sites to explore from shallow coral reefs filled with crayola coloured tropical fish just waiting to shake fins with you, to mesmerizing deeper dives off sunken wrecks with sharks. Ask your dive instructor – they’re a great bunch!

If memory serves correct, the PADI Open Water course involves about nine dives and five theory classes and you’ll need at minimum 4 days to complete it.

Eating: A liquid diet of fresh fruit cocktail concoctions served in hollowed-out coconut shells. Also, a lot of fresh fruit and grilled fish (mainly tuna). Something about being out in the sun all day makes me shy away from fried and oily foods, and traditional Maldivian cuisine involves a lot of simply-prepared seafood (as is expected).

There are some things you’ll do only once-in-a-lifetime, and dining on your own private island is one of them. So while you’re in the Maldives be sure to book an entire island to yourself for lunch. Yeah, you can be baller like that. Ask the resort to pack you a picnic luncheon (and this is no modest park-picnic fare) and arrange for a day of doing nothing on your very own plot of sand. They’ll ferry you out to the island for a fee and pick you up at a stipulated time. On the way out, you’re likely to see some dolphins and maybe a manta ray or two – take the chance to plunge right into the deep blue and enjoy a swim with these majestic animals.

Toting: The only thing you’ll really need is sunblock and lip balm to keep your skin hydrated, so there’s really no need for a carryall – I use my Marc by MJ nylon pouch that fits the essentials perfectly (lancome sunblock, kiehl’s lip balm with SPF, canon ixus to capture the moments, some cash for tips and sunnies). It’s nylon, so if there’s sand or sunblock on it, it wipes right off!

Trotting: No shoes. Your toes will thank you for the opportunity to sink into the invitingly soft, warm, silky white sand.

Listening: Sit under a palm tree and enjoy the view of an endless azure ocean with no ships in sight to break the horizon, listen as the waves crash softly on the sand and let it lull you into a late afternoon nap.

Loving: Manta Rays. The brilliant thing about diving in the Maldives is that you’ll actually have a chance to see these incredible creatures up close, I know divers who have done upwards of 30 dives and never even had a glimpse of these awe-inspiring things. And if you’re lucky, as we were, they’ll perform their beautiful underwater ballet for you and just maybe brush by your fins.

Also loving, the bathrooms! Most resorts in the Maldives offer over-the-ocean-villas with almost 360° views of the deep blue. Often times, these bathrooms have an indoor/outdoor concept going on – that’s a bubble bath on some serious real estate. Do your research, make sure you book a room at a resort with such options.

Also loving, beachy hair! The one advantage to hair that can never make up it’s mind is that on beach holidays, it becomes that perfect tangle of wind-swept surfer-girl curls. But bring leave-in conditioner to make sure the ends don’t dry out.

Where I sleep: Club Med, Kani

For dive enthusiasts, Club Med is the way to go in the Maldives. You’ll have the privilege of diving with others from around the world who share your passion, and you’ll be led by instructors with years of experience under their (dive) belts.

If the lull of island life isn’t enough to relax you fully, check yourself in for some R&R at the resort’s spa. With an international selection of massages available – from Thai to Balinese to Swedish and more, there’s bound to be something to help you unwind those cranky muscles and get you into full relaxation mode.

What I bring: Whatever it is you choose to lug along, just remember this simple rule – No news. No shoes.

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