“Why on earth would you travel all that way when you have beautiful beaches at home?”, a friend asks when I casually mention we’re taking a family holiday to the Maldives. Another question: “Aren’t the Maldives just for honeymooners?” Instantly I have buyer’s remorse. I wonder whether the romantic holiday stereotype, so firmly entrenched with the island nation, can possibly deliver the family holiday we’re after.
In answer to my friend’s first question, obviously, we have incredible beaches, a couple of which we live a short stroll from. But are they found on perfectly formed islands and atolls lapped by serene aquamarine waters? Certainly, there are some, but not in my neck of the woods.
And yes, the Maldives is a long way from home. From the time we leave our house, to the time we arrive at Holiday Inn Kandooma in the South Malé Atoll we’ve been traveling close to 19 hours. It’s midnight when we’re shown to our beach villa and collapse into bed. I decide to reserve judgment on whether the Maldives is family-friendly or not for when I’m thinking straight.
We shuffle outside bleary-eyed the next morning, walking barefoot across the sand to the water’s edge and stare at a shimmering azure coloured lagoon. White curtains on beach cabanas billow in the early morning breeze, crabs march sideways across the sand and palm trees wave against a dazzling blue sky. In the early hours of the morning garden fairies (aka the resort’s gardening team) have raked the sand so everything is picture perfect. We walk to breakfast along the beach, uncertain of which way we’re heading, as our eight-year-old daughter, skips ahead. “I love it here,” she yells to no one in particular. Instantly we’re on island time, and the hours spent flying, negotiating airport queues, and missing sleep are forgotten.
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