You know how you sometimes look at a picture of an island holiday and think: “That has to Photoshopped. Nothing can be that perfect.” Well, that’s exactly what the Maldives look like – except that it is all real!
As I hold my halasana (a plough pose to relieve stress and invigorate), a droplet of sweat runs down my thigh, onto my knee and plops right into my right eye.
“Inha-a-a-a-ale… exha-a-a-a-ale. Inha-a-a-ale… exha-a-a-ale,” the yoga instructor takes us through our yoga poses.
I have never been so happy, I think to myself.
Here I am, balanced on my sunburnt shoulders on a wooden deck on the beach, while the most turquoise water I’ve ever seen laps just a few metres away and a light breeze moves through the palm fronds. My thoughts drift to the spicy Maldivian curry for breakfast waiting for me, soon to be followed by a massage.
Because that is just how tough life is while holidaying at the Constance Moofushi on South Ari Atoll in the Maldives.
SEE: Maldives: Discovering a culinary paradise
We had arrived here only two days before via seaplane – yes seaplane, the only way to travel when travelling in style – but it felt so far back. Maybe time slows down in the Maldives. Or there are more hours in the day. Or something. I don’t know.
But I do know that two days here equals a week of relaxation anywhere else.
The first thing the team did when we arrived here was to stick a drink in our hands and swop our shoes for slip slops. (You only need slops because the boardwalks get hot, you can pretty much function barefoot.)
They knew my name.
And then they took me to my villa. Yes, my very own villa built over the water and with steps leading down into the water so I could have a quick snorkel whenever I felt like it.
But first things first. I needed a drink in a coconut.
Being on the absolutely all-inclusive package meant we could walk into any of the two bars and order from the long list of cocktails, virgin cocktails and fresh juices.
Sipping my piña colada out of coconut under a palm tree in Totem Bar with wonderful new friends in the lovely heat and humidity of the Maldives was so many dreams come true all at once.
We couldn’t wait to get into the water. It is, of course, warm like bath water and just a few metres from our villas was a small reef , which from the surface looked like a dull rocky outcrop. But the moment you get your face in there you are transported to an absolute paradise. (I wasn’t going to say it because it is corny, but yes, it was like being an extra in finding Nemo.)
With great difficulty, I finally got myself out of the water and into a shower just in time to watch the ridiculously perfect sunset while a dhoni sailed past with its sails up.
And then supper. A lavish four-course affair with wine selected by our sommelier. A night cap and then home. Where a dessert tray awaits. As if I hadn’t just consumed enough calories for a week, of course, I had some. The Constance family sure won’t let you starve!
I went to bed with the sliding door and curtains open to let in the breeze and the sound of the waves.
After the snorkelling taster of the first afternoon, we were very excited about our snorkelling excursion the next morning. Three hours on the water. We saw pretty much all there was to see around here, except rays and whale sharks, but you have to travel much further by boat for that.
The highlight was a turtle that just seemed to hang about for us to have a look at.
I got completely carried away and didn’t even care about the fact that I could feel the sun burning my fresh-from-winter skin.
Between dives, we were treated with slices of fresh-cut coconut and ice-cold water but upon arrival, we were starving from all the hard work and tackled Totem Restaurant’s buffet with a vengeance. Watermelon and tofu salad, curries, macaroni and cheese and two kinds of coconut dessert later I felt ready for a bit of SUPing.
It is impossible to get bored in the Maldives.
Three days at Moofushi, restful and exciting as it is, is not enough.
But at least our adventure was not over yet. A speedboat – very James Bond – was waiting to take us to an even fancier resort just a 20-minute ride away on North Ari Atoll.
While Moofushi is a comfortable luxury option with a bit of a family feel, Constance Halaveli is all high class.
After another warm reception, we were driven in a golf cart along the longest boardwalk in the Maldives to our villas. This time, the villa was significantly larger than my flat in Cape Town – and I had my own splash pool overlooking the ocean.
I kept on waiting for Robin Leach to appear next to me and say:“Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” in that distinctive British accent. (For all you millennials who don’t know what I am talking about: he was the host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous from 84-95.)
The service everywhere at Halaveli is outstanding. Warm and friendly, but with a respectful distance.
And at Jing Restaurant, they have perfected service to compliment the offerings of Spanish chef Jordi Vila. The fine-dining restaurant, built on the boardwalk over the ocean, is foodie paradise – in case the island paradise does not cover all your paradise needs.
By the end of our seven-course feast at Jing, the wind had picked up and all the lamps lighting the long boardwalk were lit. I offered to escort my friends to their villas just so I could linger outside for longer and listen to the sweet sounds of the earth.
When the seaplane arrived two days later to take me away from here, I was not quite ready to let go. It still felt like a dream – had I really been in paradise?
I have pictures, a tan, new friends and memories. So I must have been.
Special offer for Traveller24 readers
Validity: 01 June – 13 July 2017
Return seaplane transfers
7 nights accommodation in a Beach Villa
All inclusive meal basis – Breakfast lunch and dinner daily plus premium brand spirits, wines, beers, cocktails, soft drinks and mineral waters. Afternoon tea and cigarettes from the bar. Mini bar refilled daily. One a la carte dinner per stay. Complimentary snorkelling equipment, snorkelling excursions, a dhoni boat excursion and non-motorised water sports. Complimentary movies on demand, Play Station 3, Ipod docking stations and daily entertainment.
Package price includes a 40% early bird discount for bookings made 60 days in advance = saving of R23 910 per person
The Holiday Factory contact details:
Telephone: 011 233 2300
Prices quoted are indicative rates, per person sharing ex Johannesburg, and are subject to currency fluctuation, airline and resort seasonality and availability. The Holiday Factory standard terms and conditions apply.
- Disclaimer: Hanlie Gouws for Traveller24 was hosted as media by The Holiday Factory at Constance Halaveli and Constance Moofushi in the Maldives, including flights and accommodation.