I had flown in a little seaplane once, in Alaska, so it was not an entirely new experience when I was mid-air again a few months ago, just tootling along from Malé, the Maldives capital, to my island resort.
With few exceptions, whatever gorgeous resort you choose in the Maldives (and believe me, they are all beyond gorgeous), you too will almost certainly fly there in a little seaplane with one of the Maldives’ “barefoot” pilots.
It’s the experience of a lifetime. Dozens of tiny little islands – some with palm-fringed beaches, others so tiny that there would be no room for both Robinson Crusoe and Friday – dot the impossibly blue-turquoise-indigo-sapphire ocean. Your flight could take 20 minutes to 45 minutes, and it’s unforgettable.
None of the islands (even the one you’ll be staying on) are more than a couple of meters above the water. I stayed in a water villa, perched on stilts in the ocean and reached by a long wooden boardwalk. I could sit on my private deck and watch glorious sunsets or choose to climb down my little stairway, sit on the bottom step to put my snorkel gear on, and either wade or swim to the nearby reef – only a few meters away. The water around the villas is only a meter deep, and it’s home to a never-ending marine cabaret.
Black-tipped sharks (quite harmless), rays, brightly coloured tropical fish of all sizes and shapes, solitary swimmers and shoals thousands strong, patrol the waters day and night.
I’m a wimp, who needs warm water if I’m going to swim or snorkel. The Indian Ocean in the Maldives is always warm and welcoming, the golden sands flat and inviting, the sun mostly shining.
Dining is barefoot, dress ultra casual, and all you’ll need to pack are a couple of sarongs, swimsuit, sun protection, hat and light clothing.
Many of the resorts offer an all-inclusive holiday package. Go for it. It may cost a tad more, but everything you need for a perfect holiday is included – from pancakes on the beach at teatime or wine with meals, to water sports, yoga classes, dance and cabaret, to noonday piña coladas or late, late nightcaps.
Nearly all the resorts have great programmes for toddlers and teens so that the adults can have time to themselves.
I stayed for only four nights, but I wanted to stay much longer. Given the opportunity, I’ll certainly go back…