If you’ve long put off booking your dream vacation, chances are that you’re yearning for that trip now more than ever. And you are not alone. The newfound emphasis on bucket-list experiences is known as ‘revenge travel’—a trend spurred by the realization that we can’t take our time (or globetrotting freedom) for granted. After surviving twelve months (and counting) of shelter-at-home orders, people are more eager than ever to escape the shackles and confines of their isolated existence and plan the vacations they’ve long been denied—and there’s no greater revenge travel destination than the Maldives.
And, luckily, the Maldives is safe to visit at this time—and perfect for social distancing, as well. (Isolating comes naturally when you’re on your own private island, after all.) And there’s no shortage of incentives that make 2021 the perfect year to book that last-minute trip—from the ease of international travel to decreased airfare, and more. Read on to discover why the Maldives is the bucket-list destination to visit now.
One Island, One Resort
(Image of islands near Male provided by Katherine Parker-Magyar)
The Maldives consists of 1,200 islands and sandbanks situated atop 20 atolls—ring-shaped coral reefs haloed by circles of turquoise water. The shallows create a polka dot patchwork of islands as witnessed from the sky above. (We highly suggest booking the window seat.) Of these islands, roughly 200 are inhabited—and there are currently 132 resorts on different atolls. The Maldives is famous for its ‘one island, one resort’ structure, with luxury hotels situated on their own private islands—accessible only by seaplane or speedboat from Velena Airport near Male. While this luxurious setup is enticing in any decade, this blissful seclusion is particularly appealing now, when navigating pandemic travel in 2021.
(Image of sunset on Kuramathi Island provided by Katherine Parker-Magyar)
The precautions enforced by both the Maldivian government and the individual resorts make it easier to monitor and contain potential COVID outbreaks, providing a level of careful reassurance to satisfy even the most anxious of travelers. After complying with the COVID safety protocols (visitors must provide a negative PCR within 72-hours of boarding the flight), travelers from all nationalities are granted a Maldivian visa upon arrival. And, thanks to the one Island, one Resort policy, each island is contained. Guests are tested prior to departing from one island to another, to prevent potential outbreaks.
(Image of the beach at Robinson Club Noonu provided by Katherine Parker-Magyar)
Currently, the CDC recommends that only vaccinated travelers visit the Maldives. If you are not vaccinated, we recommend purchasing travel insurance prior to your trip. Ultimately, both the high-end amenities of these luxury resorts (on-site Covid testing at each property, ample private accommodations for each set of travelers) and the government mandates (negative PCR tests prior to arrival, and as a prerequisite for inter-island travel) helps to keep travelers safe. The one island, one resort concept is also wonderful for travelers who wish to have everything taken care of in advance—similar to a luxury cruise, the entire island is dedicated to the happiness (and healthiness) of its guests.
(Image of the Lux North Male Atoll provided by David DiGregorio)
The Maldives is famous for its water villas—known as overwater bungalows in the South Pacific—and these once-in-a-lifetime accommodations can be found on all 100+ resorts. The villas’ popularity is a result of conservation efforts across the archipelago. The Maldivian government mandates each island remain 70% wild—trees cannot be cut down (only relocated) and no building can be higher than the tallest palm. As such, there is limited space for guests to stay on Maldivian land—resulting in a plethora of housing options accessible just off-shore in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is home to roughly 5,000 water villas—and, trust us, isolating is best enjoyed floating atop a turquoise sea.
(Image provided by Robinson Club Noonu)
Another benefit to these conservation efforts? The lush beauty of the islands’ interior. Every atoll is home to a bountiful array of wildflowers and tropical forests—and the air smells like perfume as you meander the sand pathways en route to your oceanic home-away-from-home. But where to stay? For privacy-seeking travelers, we suggest Lux North Male Atoll Resort & Villas, on the island of Olhuhali; lovers of nightlife should consider Robinson Club Noonu, on the island of Kaadedhdhoo, and travelers looking for a mixture of both should head to Kuramathi Maldives.
(Image provided by JOALI Maldives)
But regardless of which overwater option you choose, you’re unlikely to be disappointed, as the entire experience is restorative—consider booking an overwater bungalow as an act of self-care. After all, there’s no greater way to destress than by listening to the rhythms of the sea and appreciating the motions of the earth as the sun rises and sets in spectacular fashion over the turquoise sea—giving way to a luminous patchwork of stars in the night sky. (You will notice the lack of light pollution, trust us.)
(Image of the underwater world provided by David DiGregorio)
While it’s indisputable that social distancing is best enjoyed while swimming in your very own plunge pool—or reclining on your sundeck overlooking the Indian Ocean—there’s far more available on your trip to the Maldives than just rest and relaxation. And lest you spend all your time reclining on a chaise lounge, we’d be remiss not to note that the Maldives is not just for sun-worshippers. There’s so much more to the Maldives than the beach. The Maldives is home to the most aquatic biodiversity on the planet—expect a shark ballet when scuba diving (and potentially even snorkeling.) We recommend an exploratory dive for all travelers, and if you’re interested in getting your open-water certification, there’s no better place to learn. Surfing is also among the best in the world—and, unsurprisingly, the sailing is spectacular. As you might imagine, all manner of watersports here are highly encouraged—glass-boat kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, and more.
(Image of Kuramathi Island provided by Katherine Parker-Magyar)
Additionally, the Maldivian culture—the history, cuisine, art, etc.—is fascinating, and the island hospitality will feel like a warm embrace after more than a year of interacting only with family and close friends. Trust us, it’s a relief and a delight to interact, once more, with strangers. On that note, though the national language is Dhivehi—derived from the Sinhalese language of nearby Sri Lanka—the majority of Maldivians you interact with will speak English. We suggest learning a few important phrases regardless, of course—Shukuriyya, for ‘thank you,’ will certainly come in handy.
(Image of Cuisine in the Maldives provided by Adobe Stock)
And now is the time to look into flight and hotel deals, as you will be able to score savings on cheap flights that won’t be as easily available once the world fully reopens. And if the idea of a last-minute island vacation of this kind feels impossible, would-be travelers should note that now is the time to score exorbitantly discounted hotel stays and flight deals, as resorts are not yet at full capacity. The Maldives won’t stay this accessible forever, so would-be visitors should monitor airfare and hotel packages in order to book their trips soon. (And if you have extra time in transit, the $30 for lounge access at Velena International Airport in Male is well-spent—trust us, you will appreciate the WiFi and air conditioning.)
(Aerial view of Male, Maldives provided by Adobe Stock)
Finally, with the ongoing threat of the global pandemic and the looming catastrophe of climate change—which threatens to submerge the entire Maldivian archipelago entirely—you can’t take the chance to visit for granted. So, carpe diem! If the last year has taught us anything at all, it’s that we don’t know for certain what tomorrow will bring. And in short, you deserve it. Plus, if the past year has taught us anything, it’s to prepare for the unexpected. (And not to take travel for granted—better to book now than regret forever!) Happy travels!