When we visited Mauritius the year before, we thought we’d found paradise: that ideal beach holiday, which ticks off all the must-haves, like hot weather, blue-green waters and – depending on the time of day you’re out on the beach – icing sugar-white sands. But if you found Mauritius or Seychelles enchanting, first views of your island hotel in the archipelago of Maldives could leave you a bit delirious. It really has that effect, trust me. For a day or so, I just couldn’t come to terms with the colours of the waters surrounding the hotel! The shores are powder-white, flanked by dense green vegetation and coconut trees on one side and sparkling waters – dotted with colourful fish within a couple of meters off the beach – on the other. The turquoise shallow waters – the clearest I’ve ever seen – morph into a Lapis lazuli at the end of the coral reef, flagging a drop-off point.
Confession: I love parrotfish
Baby sharks, stingrays, Triggerfish, surgeonfishes, and a solitary turtle were just some of the sea life we saw while snorkelling near Hanifaru Bay. But my favourite reef dweller has to be the parrotfish. Almost mermaid-like, the parrotfish can be found in gradiated colours of blue, pink, turquoise, and purple. It certainly doesn’t make for a fascinating story, like snorkelling with baby sharks or barracudas (and in all honesty, parrotfish are found abundantly in shallow tropical seas), but like the turquoise hue of a shimmering lagoon, there is something refreshing, calming about observing them in the shallows; in fact, I returned for a few hours on the day of our flight to snorkel with some larger parrotfish in the waters.
Don’t forget reading material on your holiday – trust me!
A lot of travel blogs and articles would suggest you avoid carrying reading material because you’ll be having too much fun but the weather in Maldives can take a turn for the worse really quickly. We experienced sudden, un-forecasted torrential rain for a day and a half, during which poor internet access meant there was very little to do on the island. I would suggest packing at least a couple of magazines along with a book or two. I would, however, agree with other writers that the Maldives isn’t perhaps the time to read an equivalent of War And Peace; for example, I packed Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and while the book was gripping, it was at times melancholic. The realisation that you’re on a tiny island at the mercy of the Indian Ocean and at the centre of a tropical storm can cause a bit of nervousness. So, it was quite a relief to pick up my latest edition of British Vogue and read up on the spring and summer season. Holidays are a great time to get started on your book bucket list but keep the option open to switch to lighter reading!