After Dalgona coffee and all that baking, holidaying in the Maldives became the most flaunted activity on social media last year. Here’s a look at the pandemic-proof destination

Words Chahat Dalal

Maldives has been knighted the new banana bread, well why not travelling to this beautiful destination surely is the current rage. We are amidst confusing times; while the virus is still at hand, we are adapting to the new normal and going about our lives. We have spent 2020 indoors reconnecting with hobbies, discovering our creative side and even surprising ourselves with talents we didn’t even know we possessed. But the love for travel is an unquenchable thirst I possess.

I had been on an obsessive lookout for destinations to escape to, while most countries shut their doors; I saw a glimmer of hope. Two destinatiwons opened their doors for tourists Dubai, UAE and Male, Maldives. Dubai to me seems like catching a flight to Delhi, after living there for a few years it doesn’t satisfy my wanderlust. While Maldives was always a honeymoon destination in my head, and only to be travelled to with thy significant other, I leapt and said yes to the destinations.

As I took the first step towards travel in this new age it seemed like a new world to even a frequent flyer like me. Making sure all my bookings were refundable since we could only be tested 96 hours prior to our travel and the uncertainty of the Covid results felt like a game of roulette. But after jumping a gazillion hoops I looked out the window from the aircraft to see scattered islands surrounded by turquoise blue water. I had to pinch myself to make sure it’s real, while the Dora the explorer mode in me started its siren in full swing. I felt giddy and weak in my knees and no I’m not being dramatic, I am a travel addict and to be able to indulge in it made me feel like a teenager meeting her crush.

Stepping into Maldives is unquestionably stepping into paradise; honestly no picture or image I have seen till date can do it justice. This place has glistening turquoise blue water and dazzling white-sand beaches. When it comes to resorts you can pick from cost-effective stays to over-the-top luxury resorts. I personally only believe in travelling in luxury and hell I deserve it post being in lockdown.  

We have spent 2020 indoors reconnecting with hobbies, But the love for travel is an unquenchable thirst

We booked ourselves a lavish overwater villa at the Hilton property which was on a private island of its own. This place has a dreamlike setting and is the perfect spot to unwind and decompress away from the stressful reality of Covid we live in.

When by the beach, I always feel that it’s heaven on earth. I have been a water baby forever, but Maldives is different there is something you can’t fathom that makes this place so enchanted. I think it’s just the X factor of how the water is a myriad of colours - aqua, turquoise, fluorescent, emerald, green, electric blue, sapphire etc. While all your heart wants to do is gaze into the vast nothingness of the Indian Ocean while sipping cocktails, this paradise has so much to offer.

On my week-long break, I got to experience so much besides sitting on the deck of the villa and gaping at the beautiful fish that swam below us in mystifying waters. Maldives has crystal clear, bath- warm magnificent water which is filled with all manner of tropical fish. Snorkeling is a must in such circumstances where you find jade and purple parrotfish pass by in flocks, tubular blue needlefish dart and dodge, black-tip reef sharks sashay about like they own the place. Dark eagle rays and gigantic stingrays, like magic carpets, steal the show – until the dolphins make a special appearance and upstage them all. While I drew the line at snorkeling which was free, you could also shell out some bucks and go diving. All dive centres, including the ones available at our hotel offer a beginners’ course and the trainers assure you that the shallow reefs are a forgiving training environment for novices.

I enjoyed cycling around the entire island and the hotel made sure to keep us busy with activities like Aerial gymnastics, boot camps and yoga. But, I just wanted to spend all my time in the sea. Sometimes I joined the other guests who had played music at the beach and danced away their worries and sometimes I sat in a circle with complete strangers, around a bonfire in silence, just hearing the relaxing rhythmic breaking of waves by the shore. I spent my days swimming in the ocean, kayaking, staring at picturesque sunsets, sipping margaritas and soaking in the sun.

Maldives even has options for people who aren’t into getting in the water per se. They have a dolphin quest, which is basically chasing dolphins in the wild and watching them in their natural habitat. Do not fret, no hunting involved. You can also go fishing if you have the zest and patience for it; while I lack that virtue, I have seen people enjoying the fresh catch of the day with such pride. I solely enjoy eating the catch, cooked and ready to be devoured by me. They also offer a submarine excursion, to show you the underwater world, which didn’t excite me much since my dad served in the Navy and submarines were a common sight for me. Also been there, done that on my trip to Mauritius, but if you haven’t experienced being on a submarine, I highly recommended it, it’s an experience second to none.

A to-do list for such a vacation is endless, but what topped mine was not wearing a mask. Just as the aquatic world in Maldives is oblivious to the chaos above, I too was oblivious to a world amid a pandemic. A place which I had written off as only a honeymoon destination, surely made me fall in love deeper with life. As my soul perpetually belongs to the sea, I do see how Maldives won my heart as it opened its arms wide and embraced us in a warm comforting hug. It surely oozed of comfort and if comfort to you is banana bread then so be it, but to me, Maldives is my double chocolate chip truffle and mousse cake topped with icing and sprinkles served with ice cream, who’s hangover I do not want to recover from.

While in Maldives, you can chase dolphins, go fishing and also get the underwater experience with a submarine excursion