Fall in love with nature and the great outdoors
There’s no doubt that The Maldives is one of the most romantic destinations in the world. Not only for its spectacular location, but for its private island stays that languidly swim in the aquamarine Indian Ocean. It’s characterised by protected atolls flush with marine life, overwater bungalows with slides (or steps) into the transparent shallows below, undersea villas, and hammocks slung over palm trees. Expect intimate gourmet beach picnics shaded by palm fronds, food baskets floating in swimming pools, tables set in the ocean water, suspended canopy dining experiences, and Champagne sunset cruises.
After spending much time indoors during the pandemic, the Maldives will make you fall in love with nature again. Take in its natural splendour while snorkelling with whale sharks, gliding past manta rays, or scuba diving in Marine Protected Areas. While on land, the archipelago hosts protected wetlands and mangroves.
Stargazing in the Maldives: One of the best places in the world
Just as there is so much to explore under the water’s surface, so there is so much to see overhead. If you love cranking your head skywards and staring into the past, then here’s a selection of stargazing activities in the Maldives, along with accommodation options for avid lovers of the night sky.
The archipelago’s 1 192 islands float over 90 000km2, about 750km off mainland Asia. There is no more than one resort on each inhabited island. This means there is little light pollution. The vastness of this constellation of islands, atolls and islets means there’s less atmospherics heat interference that’s common over large land masses – especially after they have absorbed heat throughout the day. Perhaps even more importantly is its location on the equatorial latitude. It allows you to observe both the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere constellations. You can do stargazing in the Maldives year round. It’s best during the dry season, between November and April, when the likelihood of a clear sky is greater.
Soneva Fushi has a resident astronomer
Soneva Fushi is a five-star resort on Kunfunadhoo Island within the Baa Atoll. It has 63 luxury beachfront villas and eight water retreats. As well as a resident astronomer, Laisa Mariyam, which cannot be said about many other islands in the Maldives. Along with the resort’s 3D technology Meade Telescope, he hosts daily stargazing activities, and curated stars programmes throughout the year. These includes talks and experiences with guest astronomers and Astrophysicists.
You can also hop onboard a three-hour astronomical dinner cruise that begins as the sun wanes and includes a four-course meal with wine pairing beneath a cauldron of stars. Or you could opt for a Champagne breakfast instead, where you can do sunrise stargazing. Regardless which one you fancy, both of these experiences involve learning about various constellations, globular clusters, Nebulas, Supernovas and galaxies. You’ll be taught how to locate various constellations by using the brightest stars in the night sky and also how to distinguish different asterism – these are patterns of stars that are of a similar brightness (though not necessarily in the same constellation), such as The Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.
The Maldives’s only overwater observatory at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
Sky Bar, as its name suggests, is an open-air bar with endless views of the night sky. This luxurious overwater cocktail bar has a starry collection of lights arranged in the configuration of various constellations on its ceiling. While the wooden rooftop terrace is accentuated by a giant, circular day bed. You can indulge in a three-course meal complete with Champagne or nibble on tapas while relaxing with a shisha.
Follow this with a stargazing in the Maldives experience in the 3.8-metre ash-dome observatory with resident ‘SKY Guru’, Ali Shameem. It houses the research-grade Meade 16-inch LX200, with a viewing capacity of 30 million light years away. It is the region’s most powerful telescope. The Meade can focus on Omega Centauri or Messier 13, a globular cluster of over 300 000 stars. You can name and register a star in your partner’s name, during the honeymoon stargazing activity.
The Dream Eclipse experience at Finolhu’s Beach Bubble
Finolhu translates to sandbank. It’s aptly named, especially when you see it from a sky plane, as this resort’s two-kilometre long beach stretches across four islands in the Baa Atoll – a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve that’s famed for being a breeding ground for manta rays and whale sharks.
A sunset saunter ends in a secluded spot along the sandbank near the resort’s only Beach Bubble. You can book it as a one-night, add-on experience to a stay at Finolhu resort. The ‘Dream Eclipse’ experience includes a private chef and butler who serve a three-course beachside barbecue infused with Maldivian flavours, alongside your choice of drinks, followed by a nightcap as the moon rises.
Watch the Milky Way twirl overhead, as you fall asleep to the sound of the waves gently caressing the shore. It’s a secluded glamping experience that’s not too far off from the resort’s five-star offering. The climate-controlled, transparent inflatable bubble has wooden floors and bespoke furnishings, alongside its adjoining bathroom that’s accessible through a zipper door. This might be one of those rare experiences where the high-speed Wi-Fi goes unnoticed. And before you know it, sunrise brings with it a gourmet beach-front breakfast, along the water’s edge.
How to get to The Maldives
The award-winning Air Seychelles has weekly nine-hour (business and economy class) flights from South Africa to the Maldives, via Seychelles. This makes it quicker than transiting in Dubai, Doha or India, as is the case with many other airlines. Flights to Maldives depart from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on Friday evenings, briefly stopover in the Seychelles, and arrive at Malé International Airport the following morning. Flights from the Maldives to South Africa leave on Friday mornings and arrive in Johannesburg later that day. Air Seychelles also flies to Mauritius, India (Mumbai) and Israel (Tel Aviv). Book with Priority Escapes at [email protected] or +27(0)10-023-1234.
Covid-19 requirements when travelling to The Maldives
Fully vaccinated travellers don’t need a Covid-19 PCR test or booster vaccines, as long as they’ve been vaccinated at least 14 days before travelling. Tourists holidaying on inhabited islands no longer need a negative Covid-19 PCR test when departing. It’s best to look at the Maldives Ministry of Tourism’s website for COVID-19 updates and protocols.
Read my previous post about everything you need to know to plan your trip to the Maldives.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Air Seychelles and Visit Maldives. All opinions are my own, but you already know that! ;) The properties kindly supplied the photos in this post.