Maldives: Not good enough for Katy Perry, but still pretty great

Chances are, if you read People, or at least glance at it in the doctor’s office, you’ve heard of the Maldives. The Cruises and Katy and Russell honeymooned there (before the latter union imploded) .

This necklace of more than a thousand islands stretches off the Indian coast into the Indian Ocean. It’s no wonder it’s a favorite with celebs. Turquoise ocean, pretty coral reefs. A glamorous backdrop for perfect beach bodies.

I’d been to tropical paradises from the South Pacific to the Caribbean. I’d always wanted to experience the Indian Ocean – minus the pirates. I researched the Maldives and its rival, the Seychelles.

The former seemed slightly easier to get to and a tad more reasonable financially, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap. Even at the start of the monsoon season, when I’d be going. The tipping point was the celebrity factor in the Maldives, and some intriguing stories about whether those islands would even be around much longer  — but more on that later.

Undersea restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

In the Maldives it’s one resort per island. Some, like the W and Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offer glitzy glass hotel floors and an undersea restaurant and wine bar, where you can drink like a fish. Sleep with them, too – the Conrad’s restaurant turns into a bedroom for some princely price.

The only way to get to these places is by seaplane after you land at the main airport in the capital. Either that or hire a boat, which can be just as pricey. Seaplane rates start at $250 round-trip and soar from there, depending on where you’re staying.

My little budget was just enough to buy a little piece of paradise known as the Helengeli Island Resort. Katy Perry would never have set her well-manicured foot near the place, but so what?  It’s still the Maldives, and it’s very popular with serious divers and snorkelers.

    And why not: the same glorious ocean, beach …

…and amazing wildlife.

The island is so narrow, it’s just wide enough for pretty pool …

… open-air bar, good restaurant, respectable spa and dive shop.

The resort is run by a Swiss and Maldivian group, so it’s a big hit with folks back in Switzerland. Think Sound of Music meets Robinson Crusoe. The air-conditioned bungalows are plain (minibar and safe; no TV or phone), but everything is modern and spotless.

The best feature by far: the outdoor bathrooms. In a Muslim country where nudity is verboten, they have outside loos (with high walls, thank goodness.)

Someone motivated enough could sneak a peek. Trust me, the paparazzi aren’t interested in trailing anyone here, let alone using any wide-angle lenses.

Too many people chowing down on the beef stroganoff, beer battered chicken and chocolate goodies at meals. I try to restrain myself.

After all my insect phobias, there are hardly any bugs.  OK, I saw two ants. And no mosquitoes, even at night. Haven’t had to break out the insect repellent. I was feeling great about that until I saw a guy in what looked like a gas mask spraying the property. Oh, well, what can ya do? Pick your poison.

There are a couple dozen Europeans here in the off-season, but with the ocean steps away on all sides, I feel like I have the whole place to myself — with herons, lizards …

… and shy little hermit crabs.

Except for darts and table tennis (how quaint), there’s not much happening. But with views like these, what more do you need?

View from spa treatment room.

This entry was posted in Asia, Celebrities, How to travel around the world with just a carry-on, Maldives, Indian Ocean, Tropical Paradises. Bookmark the permalink.

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