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.
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.
The island is so narrow, it’s just wide enough for pretty pool …
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.
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.
Except for darts and table tennis (how quaint), there’s not much happening. But with views like these, what more do you need?