Maldives, a water baby's paradise

Rehan swims with reef shark

The wonder of water, so much a part of my turning an Olympian, makes me think of surf, sand and sky when it comes to a vacation. And there is nothing that quite beats the Maldives with its white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs.

Spoilt for choice 

Resorts in the Maldives are most often located on private islands. Since you are likely to spend a lot of time on the island, your choice of resort will define your holiday. We chose Club Med Kani and their Finolhu Villas because of their all-inclusive policy that unburdens you of the stress of holiday planning. Food, beverages and many activities such as snorkelling, sailing, paddle boarding etc. are included in the booking fees. You can opt for a room in the very heart of the resort or decide on a secluded villa with a private pool if you’re in the mood for luxury and romance.

Things to do 

We started our speedboat journey with a glimpse of dolphins jumping playfully in the distance. Over the next few days, rays and reef sharks swimming past the villas and the underwater world of corals, replete with turtles and psychedelic fish give us many ‘National Geographic’ moments. I recommend you buy or rent an underwater camera so you can relive the wonder. While resorts will give you snorkelling gear if you opt for the excursions offered by them, many of which are free, you should take your own gear if you’d like to explore the reef around the resort on your own. After narrowly missing a sting ray that lay snoozing in the sand a few feet from the shore, I also recommend a pair of sea shoes for you.

Get on a different track 

There’s lots to do over the water as well. You can sail, kayak or paddleboard into the horizon, or get exquisite views of this island paradise with a seaplane ride, parasailing or kiteboarding. I tried flyboarding for the first time and although it wasn’t easy, it was exhilarating! The cloudy weather and strong winds in off season may cause some activities to be put on hold, but do remember to check the other side of the island, for when it is stormy on one side, the opposite shore is often calm and balmy! And if you’re looking to commune with nature, opt for a yoga class on the beach, where clouds create the most spectacular sunsets.

Relish the food

When you are in the Maldives, you eat like the Maldivians. Yes, this is one place for fabulous food with seafood options aplenty. For breakfast, try out the Mas Huni — comprising a bowl of finely chopped tuna, onion, coconut and chili, all rolled up in freshly-baked roshi. Curry-rice is popular at meal time. And if this is not to your taste, never fear, for most resorts will offer a variety of cuisines to cater to an international palate. I even tried my hand at making tuna sushi under the guidance of the hotel chef. So this season, I suggest you plan your heaven-on-earth experience in the Maldives!

(The author is an Olympian swimmer who loves to travel. He blogs with travel partner Gitika Taraporewala on www.travelwithrehan.com)

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