Whereas Claire prefers an educated city-break, I (Laura) adore a tropical holiday. Sand, blue skies and turquoise water makes me almost tearful with joy. So when I eventually arranged to visit the Maldives, I was ecstatic,
As ever, I TripAdvised the hell out of where we were staying, assuming that everyone would conclude the Maldives is a little piece of heaven. I was wrong. I came across a review, which gave the resort just one star. The reviewer told the bizarre story of how this island was so small, so relaxed and so private, that his wife actually had a panic attack and was air lifted off the island. The place was so relaxing, it actually made someone anxious. The irony.
It turns out, not everyone loves island life.
True, the Maldives feels like nowhere else on earth. It also feels a very long way from anywhere else on earth. The capital, Malé, looks like something from ‘Sim City’ (hello childhood): a small island, with buildings and towers teetering on the edge of its sandy beaches. From here, you hop on a tiny sea plane that flies over the islands and lands in the sea near your resort (a plane that floats, a massive plus for a flyer with a nervous disposition).
We stayed at the Grand Centara Resort and yes, it is tiny. You can walk around the island in just ten minutes and recognise everyone within a day. You also realise fairly quickly that there is no sight-seeing to be done, no museums to peruse and only three restaurants to visit. The only thing you can do is relax. Lie down. Be at one with your thoughts.
Initially, maybe that is a little unsettling. There’s very little to busy yourself with and thoughts, worries and concerns may rise to the surface. But soon enough, once that initial anxiety has passed, you realise that what there is, is just enough. The sea is like a warm bath, filled with colourful fish. The coral that surrounds the islands is dazzlingly colourful and intricate. The sunsets are awe-inspiring. Yet most importantly, the present moment dominates.
Perhaps it is what makes these remote places to special. Yes, their beauty is unparalleled and the pace of life inherently relaxing, but it is the ability to just let go and live in each sun-drenched moment, minute by minute, that is perhaps most magical of all.