The Maldives: a naturally distanced paradise
The Maldives is synonymous with paradise — made up of 1192 tiny islands dotted across the Indian Ocean, with crystal-clear waters, coral lagoons, sugar-white beaches, and an underwater world that's ripe for discovery, this unique nation is an ideal holiday spot.
As the UK has added the Maldives to its corridor list, and as the Maldives has launched its own Border Miles loyalty programme, now is a perfect time to plan your dream holiday to your own slice of turquoise tranquillity.
First things first: is it safe to travel there?
The Maldives was recently awarded the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council, which means it's safe to visit, and has enhanced standards of hygiene in place. With its one island, one resort concept, hotels in the Maldives are naturally socially distanced.
Allied Insurance has also teamed up with the Ministry of Tourism to offer new Covid-19 insurance cover, giving you extra protection while travelling.
Temperature checks and health screenings take place on arrival.
Check the latest UK government advice before you travel.
Fun above and below the water
A holiday to the Maldives is all about being in the water, which averages at a gorgeous 28ºC. Whether you're diving into a coral lagoon or trying your hand at wakeboarding, you won't be able to resist a dip into the azure waves.
Watersports are huge here — resorts offer a range of activities, from a family ride on a banana boat to a thrilling wakeboarding session, or even just a relaxed paddle around the island in a canoe. If you want to try something a bit different, flyboarding is a thrill-seeker's dream — shoot up into the air and fly above the ocean, propelled by jets of water.
There's plenty going on under the water, too. The Maldives is home to many amazing diving spots, including underwater shipwrecks, as well as opportunities to get up close to some spectacular marine life. Go whale-shark diving, snorkel with manta rays, and swim amongst sea turtles and thousands of fish.
The Maldives is also home to the first underwater restaurant, Ithaa; the underwater bar/nightclub, Subsix, which hosts a Glow Party on Wednesdays and Sundays; and the first (and only) underwater spa, Huvafen Spa. Where better to unwind than eight metres under the sea?
Dine on local delicacies under the stars
After a day on the water, it's time to tuck into some delicious local cuisine. There are dozens of specialities across the different atolls of the Maldives, most of which are (unsurprisingly) made with fish.
Some of the more typical dishes are golha riha (a curried fish ball), muran’ga baiy, a rice dish made with fish paste, onion, chilli, and lemon, and mas huni, a mixture of tuna and coconut, served with a Maldivian flat bread. Finish off with a naroh faludha, a dessert known as the Maldivian donut.
Don't leave without trying the mas riha (fish curry) — which CNN calls "creamy and decadent".
Of course, there are still plenty of international cuisines on offer, too. If you're travelling as a couple, many resorts provide romantic dining experiences, such as floating breakfasts or dinner on a private sandbank. After dinner, kick back on the beach for the ultimate movie night under the stars.
It's not just a couples destination, though
Although the Maldives has been long-established as a blissful honeymoon destination, there are many islands that cater to families, too.
The one island, one resort concept provides safe beaches for children to play, and all-inclusive dining means meals are taken care of, with something for everyone.
Many resorts have a kids' club with extensive activity options, so the little ones can have fun while you kick back and relax. Think child-friendly watersports, dolphin spotting, treasure hunts, and coral adoption schemes.
Give something back
As the world's lowest-lying country, the Maldives faces the very real threat of rising sea levels. The government, local communities, and many hotels and resorts have launched a number of initiatives to keep the islands pristine and eco-friendly. These include beach and reef clean ups, developing renewable energy sources, educating locals on safe fishing, and phasing out single-use plastics. Many turtle rescue centres have also opened up in recent years.
Protecting the islands' coral reefs is a big priority. In 2015-16, around 60-90% of the Maldives' coral suffered from bleaching due to unusually high water temperature. Coral conservation projects have been set up across the atolls, providing employment, and helping revive the coral. A lot of resorts have also turned this into a guest experience — look out for snorkelling trails and coral planting, so you can give something back to these stunning islands, and preserve them for your next visit.