As I perched on a palm tree, wind in hair and not a care in the world, it sunk in… I had made it to paradise!
Heaven on Earth, The Maldives has long sat on top of my holiday ‘Bucket List’. Many a rainy day in Melbourne, Australia I had longed to be soaking up the sun and relaxing in a tropical paradise. The lure of pristine turquoise waters, coconut trees, and private luxury overwater bungalows had reeled me in.
Now it was a reality.
As you sun-loving North Americans are basking in the summer sun, we Australians are just into winter, making it the perfect time for a sunny vacation in the Maldives.
If you’re like me, my vacation must include the right mix of excitement, adventure, yoga, R & R, and luxury. After drooling over glossy brochures and scrolling countless internet sites, I pieced together a thrilling itinerary.
Reaching the first destination involved 2 international flights, 2 speed boat trips, and a cart ride totalling over 18 hours of travel. The island of Maafushi is in Kaafu Atoll, south west of the capital Male. Maafushi is a traditional small island home to a few hundred locals. It offers fishing village charm without the big resort developments and price tag. Life is slow and relaxing, but not boring. Every water sport activity is on offer. There’s scuba diving, para-sailing, wake-boarding, paddle-boarding, canoeing, sailing and sunset fishing to name a few. Whilst I was recovering from jet lag, snorkelling, sunbaking, and sipping fresh coconut juice was the perfect energy booster.
Island hopping is a great way to see the country. For an indulgent day trip, take the 30 minute boat ride to the picturesque five star resort of Adaaran Prestige Vadoo. This island resort is renowned for its luxurious day spa treatments at Chavana Spa. We were greeted with a refreshing island drink, a quick tour and then the island was left to our disposal for the day. Long late breakfast was followed by a snorkel and infinity pool fun. Following the banquet lunch on the beach, we had their signature ‘Chavana Massage’, a wonderful 90 minutes of soothing deep tissue massage. A good tip is to book your spa treatment on arrival so you don’t miss out. As day visitors receive 50% off the spa books up quickly.
We floated out of the day spa and headed to the pier for daily feeding of the sharks, then onto sunset drinks at the over-water bar before our boat whisked us off.
One stand out highlight was the seaplane rides. Next stop was Gangehi Island Resort located in the far north west of North Ari Atoll. The thrill of flying high over the Atolls remains with me today. The colours and formations are just incredible.
We were greeted at the pontoon by the resorts private ‘Dhoni’, a traditional Maldivian wooden fishing boat
The resort was everything I thought it would be and more. There was lush forest inland, plentiful wildlife and beautiful traditional bungalows surrounded by a vast expanse of clear blue water. It had a lovely tranquil and elegant feel to it, relaxed but still luxurious.
Daily yoga was included in the tariff, and an appealing option for me as not many places offered it. It took place each morning at 10:30 on the deck of Veli Overwater Restaurant. Our instructor was Bianca Hanika from Austria, who has been teaching around the world for 10 years.
The Hatha yoga classes were beginner to intermediate level, easy to follow and enjoyable. Typically we would begin seated with breathing exercises and slow rotational movements to warm up. Next was sun salutation, a series of movements broken down to allow connection with each pose before performing 3 to 4 faster paced flows. With the intense heat, we were often limited to seated or lying poses before Śhavāsana.
For those with a little more of an adventurous side, aerial or acro yoga was on offer whilst I was there. Enrique from Spain was also a therapist at Ginger Spa, the resorts day spa. He is a life-long yogi devotee and eager to teach aerial yoga to anyone up for the challenge. I was.
Without hesitation or fear I was instantly at ease and this allowed me to be lead through some amazing sequences, the most challenging for me to-date. He had seen me doing my own beach yoga sessions and suggested this could be done on his feet suspended in the air. Well you only live once, so I decided to give it ago. What did I have to lose? After rounds of drills and prep we put it altogether and Yes, I did Eka Pada Rajakapotasna, Mermaid pose, acro aerial style!
The days peacefully slipped away and it came time to depart. What a magical place, tropical paradise as many call it. For me, it will always be remembered as Heaven on Earth.
When you Go:
Maldives Atoll Transfer Boat www.atolltransfer.com
Maafushi Island www.maafushimaldives.com
The WhiteShell Beach Inn on Maafushi www.thewhiteshell.com
Adaaran Prestige Vadoo www.adaaran.com/prestigevadoo
Gangehi Island Resort www.gangehi.com