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No shoes, no news: welcome to the Maldives

Stuart Armsby March 25, 2014

When I think of the Maldives, I think crystal clear waters, stunning coral reefs, breathtaking white sandy beaches, fascinating marine life and swaying palm trees.  While it is the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch the sunset with a cocktail or two, it is also a geographical wonder. Knowing that there are thousands of fish swimming around the vibrant corals just a few metres away from where you sit is a wonderful feeling.

The only negative thing I can honestly say about the Maldives is that it will stop you from wanting to visit any other country in the world, it really is THAT magical.

A lot of people see the Maldives as one of those destinations where you have to dress up smart due to the high standard of the hotels but they really couldn’t be more wrong. The saying “no news, no shoes” really is spot on as the Maldives. This attitude allows you to leave all of your day to day working lives back in the U.K, so you can just kick off your shoes and relax. I would actually recommend that you don’t even take closed shoes when going to the Maldives. All you will need are some flip flops and sandals, so save that extra room for your snorkel and mask!

On most of the islands, the reception, bars, restaurants and probably about 90% of the resort is covered in the finest sand (not the usual type that sticks to your feet and irritates you) so you’ll find yourself in barefoot luxury most of the time!

I have now been to the Maldives three times and last stayed there in 2012 with my fiancé Steph at the stunning Meeru Island Resort in the North Male Atoll. Meeru is one of the larger islands in the Maldives but I would personally recommend the bigger islands to the smaller ones. In the past, a lot of people have said to me, “surely the bigger islands will be overcrowded and too busy” but it’s the total opposite (look at my picture above!).  With more choice of swimming pools, bars and restaurants, you can walk along the beach and sometimes not see a single person – heaven for those wanting to get away from it all.

Meeru will always remain very close to my heart; I actually got engaged on the island in 2012.  A few months before travelling, I decided that I was going to propose whilst away and after a couples massage at the overwater spa at sunset and a candlelit lobster dinner on the beach under the stars, I got down on one knee and popped the question, to which (thankfully) Steph said yes!
Although Meeru is a personal favourite of mine, there are around 1,192 islands in the Maldives and 105 of these are resort islands. Obviously, I won’t be talking about all of these here but there really is a vast amount to choose from.

One of my favourite things about the Maldives is the different choice of room types available. From Beach Villas with doors opening directly on to the pristine white sand to Jacuzzi Water Villas built on stilts over the sparkling lagoons, you really are spoilt for choice. There are a lot of destinations nowadays where, unfortunately, you can get pestered by locals the minute you step on the beach but this will never happen in the Maldives, as all of the resort islands are privately owned - there is only one hotel per island!

Depending on which island you choose to stay at, you will arrive at your resort by either speedboat or seaplane from Male Airport. For someone who has never been to the Maldives before, the seaplane transfer will leave you lost for words and is more like an excursion rather than a transfer. The wildlife in the Maldives is incredible and just strolling around the outside of the island, which can take about one hour for the larger Islands and 15 minutes for the smaller ones, you are likely to see the resident heron, many varieties of tropical fish, reef sharks and if you’re lucky a couple of sting rays – this is a nature lover’s paradise. Each time I’ve stayed in the Maldives, I have booked to go on a sunset dolphin cruise which is available all year round and I would highly recommend it. The feeling you get as you sail along, whilst the sun is setting on the horizon, and you see dolphins jumping out of the water is incredible - a true once in a lifetime experience.

The best time to travel to the Maldives is generally January to March, however, with the average temperature at about 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year and with the islands not being costal, there really isn’t a bad time to visit this magnificent country.

To sum up, if you haven’t travelled to the Maldives in your life time then you haven’t lived but do be prepared that once you go there, you will want to go back year after year.

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