With one daughter on her way to Australia for a gap year, what better way to pacify her sister than with a luxury holiday in the Maldives? And there are deals to be had too – we travelled in June when the prices are competitive. Yes, it did rain, but usually at night and always over quickly – quite refreshing.
So why head to the Maldives and not New York?
Why not? For the average 16-year-old, I guess there’s an attraction to a big city like New York, but we decided that totally exotic, totally chilled and heavy on spa treatments was more our thing.
Flying from the UK
We flew with Qatar from Manchester to Doha where there was a short wait before our connecting flight to Male. On arrival in Malé there was transport to greet us and take us to the small seaplane terminal just minutes away. We did have a wait of around an hour or so for the seaplane, but a nice lounge with refreshments helped us get acclimatised.
Tip – take a cardigan or sweater for Doha airport, the air-con is fierce and you can’t get outside!
Once you get on-board a tiny (about 16-seats) seaplane and take off over the multi-hued ocean, you know you’ve arrived in the paradise islands of the Maldives. They’re exactly as portrayed in the glossy magazines and every bit as magical. We sat behind the pilot - who wore flip flops – it’s a hot climate! It took just over half an hour to get to our little island of Kuredu.
Tip – make sure you have your camera in your hand, the photo opportunities are superb and you can get great shots or videos as you descend for your lagoon landing.
The best bits – snorkelling
We were both snorkelling first-timers, so it was great learning something new together. We signed up for the beginners course which was just perfect. We were given lots of information about the ocean, the coral, the fishes and of course the mask and fins!
Kuredu, and most Maldivian islands, has a house reef – a coral reef close to shore that can literally be be waded out to. The coral in the Maldives is so close to the surface and there were so many sites to explore that we didn’t take the scuba course. Of course, there are superb dive sites in the area as well as wrecks if you want to try it. We were so smitten that we booked on the turtle course too! There is little in life more memorable than the site of manta ray or hawksbill turtle swimming towards you.
Tip - lots of people opt out of a ‘snorkel course’ because it all seems too obvious – but if you are offered, take it. You’ll get so much more out of it and you’ll get to meet other people on the island too.
The best bits - Spa
As we were staying on an all-inclusive basis, pretty much everything – apart from spa treatments - was taken care of. Compared to prices in other parts of the world and especially city hotels, they were very affordable. As we were ‘two’ we opted for a couples’ double suite for our treatments – scented room, semi-outdoor with rain-shower - we still giggle about it now as the therapists seemed to think it was so cute. What could be more of a mum-daughter bonding experience than being fully covered with mud together!
Tip – check out the regular offers on treatments, they make them even more enjoyable!
The best bits - Food and drink
When you’re staying on an all-inclusive basis at a luxury hotel, you can expect the best – all day and night. Bizarrely, we often missed breakfast as the room was perfectly cooled and dark. The alternative was to set an alarm, but is that right when you’re on holiday?
So, lunches and dinners were a highlight, but here we had our a la carte versus buffet debate. The buffets were like a daily wedding banquet, but a 16-year-old does not want to eat methodically and we often found ourselves ‘out of sync’. I’m also a slow eater. So, as I nibbled my way through my main course, there was often a pudding on the opposite side of the table. Buffet dinners became more of a sprint. I preferred the a la carte option - a civilised, gentle marathon.
Best bits – Unexpected
Outdoor bathrooms are the way forward – outdoor toilets are quite liberating!
When you lock yourself out of your villa – the best thing to do while you’re waiting is make shapes in the air!
Nemo is not the only cool fish in the sea.
There’s something wonderful about daughters, and the time you spend with them is precious. Once boyfriends are on the scene there may be little chance to create special memories – for just the two of you – this is one of our best!
Read more in my Mums & Daughters – take-two to the Douro Valley.