Whether primed to unwind or geared up for adventure, Maldives promises the trip of a lifetime.
Land lovers can while away the afternoon on bicycles, discovering verdure and coconut palms.
“As-salaam alaikum” (peace be with you) was the greeting we received upon arriving in the Maldives, a fitting one as every last trace of urban living magically dissipated. Often revered as the ultimate honeymoon location with pristine beaches and idyllic surroundings, the stunning destination is equally conducive to adventurous pursuits.
The first port of call was Traders Hotel, Malé, Maldives, where most visitors break up the journey before heading off to Villingini, situated on the southern-most tip of Addu Atoll. The elegant 117-room accommodation whet our appetite for island hedonism, providing a glimpse of the alluring water and flawless shores from the rooftop infinity pool. Its proximity to the local fish market provided insight into the commercial hub. Afternoon is the best time of day to experience the bustle, when the catch of the day, tuna for the most part, is displayed in open-air markets.
Only 70 minutes away from the Gan International Airport on Addu Atoll, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives presents a little piece of heaven. Circled by 17,000 coconut trees and six kilometres of flawless coastline, accommodation comes in the form of private ocean retreats or tropical tree house villa with awe-inspiring views.
The quintessential Shangri-La experience revolves around the details, from providing guests with their own private bicycles to a dedicated butler on call around the clock. Nothing goes unnoticed by these attentive staff members, who even sent a care package of bandages and a personalised note after observing a minor scrape.
While attaining tranquillity may call for a pamper session at the decadent CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, there is plenty to pique the interests of outdoor enthusiasts. The picturesque beaches and turquoise surf are ideal for wave surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, deep-sea fishing and luxury cruises.
Boasting thousands of dive sites, one of the most famous in the Maldives is British Loyalty, an oil tanker that was torpedoed by enemy submarines during WWII before settling in its final resting place in the sea in 1946. Now adorned with colourful sea life, the ship is home to schools of fish, including blue fin trevally and sea turtles, and divers can swim through the wreck to savour a piece of history.
Turtle Point is another highly rated dive site for novice divers, showcasing calmer waters but with equally breath-taking sights. Sea turtles are a regular occurrence on each dive, in addition to lobsters, sea lions, sharks and stingrays.
Night fishing is another popular pastime as the nocturnally inclined board boats venturing out after sunset, anchoring on the reef as darkness sets in. Emperor fish, snapper, barracuda, squirrelfish and jacks are abundant, ready to be transformed into gastronomic masterpieces by the hotel’s renowned chefs.
Cycle of Life
Land lovers can while away the afternoon on bicycles, discovering verdure and coconut palms. Villingili is a mere stone’s throw from quaint villages, which can be easily accessed via one of the longest road in the Maldives, Link Road, which stretches for 17 kilometres and connects the five islands. Town excursions are a great way to meet the locals and get a sense of the community vibe.
Addu City encapsulates quintessential Maldivian lifestyle with its lively markets, in stark contrast to the serenity of the mosques. The surrounding islands of Addu Atoll are perfect for nature lovers as the reef forms a natural harbour providing a safe haven from the powerful waves of the Indian Ocean. The wetland environment and marshy taro fields are home to the native white tern, a seabird species unique to the region.
Golf enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives unveiled the country’s first nine-hole golf course on 27 March 2012, sitting on seven and a half hectares of previously undeveloped land at the southern end of Villingili Island. Designed as a fun course for aficionados and beginners alike, the Villingili Golf Course highlights the gleaming ocean and turquoise lagoon along a scenic walking path.
Another spectacular way to bask in the stunning natural beauty of the Maldives is the bespoke Dine by Design service – an array of culinary experiences served in secret locations within the resort. One of the most unusual is Dinner in the Jungle a lavish barbecue feast held in a torch-lit clearing in the jungle. Surrounded by lush vegetation, coconut tea lights and the peep of wildlife, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect conclusion to an action-packed day.
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Its too Good.