I sometimes joke with my friends that I never need to get married because I’ve already been to the best honeymoon spots. A few of my girlfriends believe some places are too “magical” for a holiday and should be saved. I’m assuming most people only intend on marrying once (even if this doesn’t quite work out in practice!) So why are we scared to visit the worlds most beautiful locations and are they really “just for honeymooners”?
The Maldives is easily the most magical place I’ve ever visited. To this day it is the only place where the reality is better than the pictures. Trust me, when you’re reading your Sunday Times travel supplement, they haven’t photoshopped the sea – it really is that blue. And the sand really is that fine, the sun does always seem to shine and the people can’t do enough to help you. Sound like paradise? Well it is. So why are we leaving it to the honeymooners – we should all be enjoying it now. In fact, if you believe the reports on the rising sea levels, you may not have that many years left to wait for Mr Right to pop the question.
Can you go to the Maldives by yourself or with a friend? Yes of course you can. Recently the government of the Maldives changed the rules relating to tourism on inhabited islands. Previously, to protect the culture of the country, hotels and resorts could only be built on islands that were uninhabited. Now however, the rules have been relaxed meaning guest houses and B&Bs are opening up on inhabited islands. Not only do these provide a cost-saving alternative to the big resorts, but with the requirement to adhere to local rules you’re pretty much guaranteed to avoid any honeymooners! And for those more energetically inclined, there are many companies which offer dive or surf liveaboards. These are a great idea if you want to visit different Atolls and islands and can offer a fun way to meet like-minded people all whilst soaking up the beauty of the country. Of course I’m not ruling out a visit to the big resorts, they’re fantastic if you’re looking for a little rest and relaxation as many have a “no shoes, no news” policy, but this will never be a place if you’re single and looking to mingle.
For those of you happily “coupled-up” you should also not put off a visit. It is an incredibly romantic destination but it’s also one of the best diving holidays I’ve taken. With perfect snorkelling from the steps of your villa the holiday doesn’t have to be all romantic dinners on the beach (in fact when we were there we didn’t do one!) Enjoy the islands for what they are – the closest you’ll get to unspoilt, diverse and beautiful reef and marine life. And if he happens to get down on one knee at the end of it… well it will just be an unnecessary added bonus.
Tipping is fairly customary in the resorts and is done in USD. Change up bigger notes in advance for one dollar bills so you can tip as you go along (particuarly important if you’re on an all-inclusive package).
We stayed at:
If you’re opting for a water villa, the ones on the west side get sun all day and have the best snorkelling (the sea can be a little choppy here if winds get up). Those on the east side are closer to the bar and restaurants, have beautiful sun rises but will be in the shade by early afternoon. Request in advance for your preference, the hotel will do their best to accommodate you.