As tropical island getaways go, Maldives has always loomed large in my imagination. Think over-water bungalows, crushing sunsets and that luminescent ocean, a glorious distraction that commands attention every second of the day. Maldives is everything you’ve dreamed of, and more.
THE PRETTIEST ARCHIPELAGO IN THE WORLD
Located south-west of Sri Lanka, the Maldives archipelago is a cluster of twenty-six atolls and over a thousand coral islands. From above, it’s like an exquisite strand of floating emeralds, each encircled by a halo of bright white sand. If you’re flying in on a clear day, it’s a picture-perfect intro to paradise.
DREAM VACAY, NO MATTER THE WISH LIST
Each island in Maldives is a resort in and of itself, smartly designed to suit any vacay itinerary. Whether you’re an ocean adventurist or a family with toddlers and teens in tow, Maldives has your name on it. For mindful travellers seeking to disengage from the world for a while in a conservation-conscious environment, Maldives has you covered.
DIFFUSHI ISLAND – A LOOK AT LOCAL CULTURE
Learning more about local heritage and culture is a privilege when holidaying somewhere new. Diffushi, across from Meerufenfushi is a slip of an island one kilometre long and two hundred metres wide, tucked away on the North Malé / Kaafu Atoll. It’s quaint and old fashioned, a place sense of life being on pause.
There are few cars here, so people walk, scooter about or take a boat.
A BUSTLING MICRO ECONOMY
The population is a little over a thousand and residents are friendly and welcoming. Diffushi might be diminutive but its micro economy is bustling. Fishing is the main industry with tourism-related businesses a close second, and the island is flush with small hotels, beachfront resorts and guest houses.
RESPECTING THE LOCAL LAWS
Being a strictly Muslim nation means the Maldives is conservative by Western Standards and travellers should to be cognisant of attire and protocols. Drinking is only allowed in hotels and when it comes to sunbathing, three ‘bikini’ beaches have been allocated for ‘outsiders’ enjoyment, exclusively for tourists and service industry providers. It sounds a tad draconian but with the pervading relaxed atmosphere, it really doesn’t feel that way.
Exploring with a guide is recommended as not all parts are open to tourists. I was glad to be in the company of someone in the know, au fait with where we could and couldn’t go and able to unpack the history of Diffushi.
QUAINT & QUIRKY
We strolled down pretty little lanes, surprised by the bright doors and an eclectic assortment of road side paraphernalia like the handcrafted bench chairs made from iron and plastic rope (👆loved them!) and the retro café furniture and umbrellas made from giant plastic leaves 👇.
TASTE LOCAL FARE
Traditional food includes tasty dishes like garudhiya (fish soup), mas huni (shredded, smoked tuna) and bis keemiya (samosas). There’s nothing pretentious about Diffushi – what you see is what you get and it’s a refreshing experience.
SWING IN THE SHALLOWS
It was a laidback kind of day and when I spied a swing at the waters edge I claimed it for a contemplative moment, toes dangling in the ocean as another magical moment swept over my heart. Behind me children played soccer in the sand, shell traders arranged their wares, and gents socialised over a board game.
If you’re not up for a tour, book to go dolphin watching, take a sandbank excursion (exceptional, see my below pic), go fishing, snorkelling (try it at night too) or skim about in the bay on a jet ski.
The Maldives is an abundant destination. Everyone needs to go, at least once. Add it to your wish list.
KEY INFO- things to note:
- Getting there: Air Seychelles from OR Tambo and via Seychelles, a 9 hour flight which is brilliant news! In an exciting development for island-deprived travellers since the advent of global lockdowns, AIR SEYCHELLES (HM) by popular demand is pleased to announce the start of a great partnership with Visit Maldives, following the resumption of the airline’s weekly commercial flights (in July) from Johannesburg to Maldives, via Seychelles. (By the way, the long haul with other carriers ca be as much as 16 hours!)
- While rules around pandemic travel are in perpetual flux, it’s advised to check the Maldives Ministry of Tourism’s website for COVID-19 updates and protocols: https://www.tourism.gov.mv/covid19
- The main requirement being a PCR test 96 hours prior; and then another 72 hours prior to your return to South Africa.
- Dress modestly in public places, in and outside of resorts.
- Maldives is a 100% Muslim country so leave all religious texts at home and please don’t bring in alcohol or tobacco products from Duty Free in transit. If you’re planning a walkabout anywhere outside of the resorts, do dress modestly. Unlikely to encounter infringements at the resorts though but be aware of high holidays like Ramadan when certain shops might be closed on the island.
- Accommodation is from as little as R680 a night when specials are on offer. Remember that 2022 is Maldives Tourism Golden Jubilee Year and there are sure to be fabulous celebratory options.
- Check the weather – you’re in monsoon territory so be sure you know what to expect. Rainy season is May-Oct but even then there is plenty of sun
- Maldives is a 100% Muslim country so leave all religious texts at home and don’t try to bring in alcohol or tobacco products from Duty Free in transit. If you’re planning a walkabout in Malé you would need to dress modestly too; be respectful of the local customs. Unlikely to encounter infringements at the resorts though but be aware of high holidays like Ramadan when certain shops might be closed on the island.
Until next time,