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When it comes to a self-isolating holiday there’s nowhere better than the Maldives. The country boasts more than a thousand coral islands in the Indian Ocean, many of which are uninhabited – apart from the luxury resorts, that is. Although restrictions are in place due to Coronavirus, you can still enjoy the natural wonders of the Maldives. After all, what better way to keep your distance than by basing yourself on your own private island?
Stay in luxurious (and safe) resorts in the Maldives
The quintessential Maldives experience is staying at a resort with over-water villas and bungalows. Happily, this style of accommodation is also ideal if you want to social distance. Staying at a resort in The Maldives definitely minimises the risk of rubbing shoulders with other guests. The “corridors” are open-air boardwalks, suspended above the shallow turquoise waters of the lagoons below. Self-contained villas for every party add an extra touch of privacy. Some resorts have bungalows with their own private swimming pools, too. Not that you’ll need it: the still and warm waters are perfect for swimming in.
Enjoy paradise beaches all to yourself
The islands of the Maldives are famous for their white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters. Most resorts sit on their own private islands and because they’re so self-contained, nobody can access the paradise beaches except for hotel guests and staff. This means you get long stretches of private sandbar beaches pretty much to yourself. There are more than 150 incredible resorts to choose from in the Maldives, and all of them have private stretches of sand or sandbank for that extra level of tranquillity.
From summer to winter, the beaches are even more magical as you have a chance of spotting bioluminescent plankton. These tiny creatures glow brightly when they’re agitated, for example as the waves break or as you wade through the sea.
Go snorkelling around colourful coral reefs
The islands of the Maldives are set among coral reefs which are home to thousands of colourful tropical fish. Although it’s a relatively small country, it’s home to around 5% of the world’s entire global reef area. There are more than 250 species of coral and a thousand different species of fish living just a short wade from most of the beaches in Baa Atoll, which is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
It’s easy to see a bit of the underwater paradise by popping on your snorkel. As well as colourful fish you might get to see majestic manta rays gliding through the ocean, as well as gentle giant whale sharks who flock to the ocean around the Maldives to feast on plankton. Both of these incredible creatures spend a lot of time near the surface, so you don’t need a PADI license to get up close and personal with them. The most popular place to see them is Hanifaru Bay.
Banish the winter blues with tropical sunshine
If Britain’s dark and dingy winters leave you feeling a bit down in the dumps, you’re not alone. According to research from The Weather Channel, one in three Brits experience low moods as the days get shorter and colder. A holiday in the Maldives lets you step back into summer, even if it is just for a week or two. Because the country is near the equator, it’s warm all year round. Temperatures tend to sit at a scorching 25°C to 30°C, even in the depths of December, and the sun shines from dawn to dusk in the Maldives so it’s always bright and beautiful. How’s that for a mood booster?
Maldives Coronavirus FAQ
Although the pandemic has reached some of the most populated islands in the Maldives, many parts of the country haven’t had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at all. The destination has stringent measures put in place to ensure the safety of tourists and staff working in the tourist establishments. As a result, The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) awarded the Maldives with a Safe Travels Stamp. Currently in use by over a hundred destinations, the stamp signifies that health and hygiene protocols are in place.
You need to have a negative COVID-19 test at most 72 hours before your flight. Bring a copy of your negative PCR test as proof. You’ll also need to fill in a Traveller Health Declaration form 24 hours before you go. Once you land at Malé Airport, someone will check your temperature and screen you for symptoms. For the safety of yourself and other travellers, it’s recommended that you download the contact tracing app ‘Trace Ekee’ for the duration of your stay in the Maldives. This will let you know if you’ve potentially come into contact with anyone who has COVID-19.
Once you arrive, you’ll be expected to observe social distancing. This means staying three feet apart from each other and not gathering in groups larger than five.
If you’re staying in the Greater Malé area (Malé, Vilimalé and Hulhumalé), you’ll need to observe the curfew from 10pm until 5am each night. Wear a mask when you’re travelling by boat or plane, for example to your resort’s island. At the moment you’re not allowed to travel between resorts or islands without quarantine. The exception is moving from Malé Airport to your hotel.
Currently tourists are only allowed to stay in resorts. Hotels in the greater Malé area and guesthouses located on the islands aren’t yet open for visitors, although that may change in the coming months. Tourists staying in resorts aren’t allowed to travel to inhabited islands at the moment, either.
Remember, these rules are subject to change and are correct at the time of writing on September 21st. Always check the government’s official travel advice before setting off.
Private beaches, luxury villas and plenty of sunshine: The Maldives is ideal for social distancing
Although things are a bit different during this “new normal”, The Maldives is a seriously special place to visit. There are peaceful beaches to relax on, crystal clear waters where you can swim with tropical fish and lots of year-round sunshine. With so much privacy, it’s hard to think of a holiday more in tune with social distancing.