The Maldives are regularly touted as the world’s top destination for honeymooners, and as Emma Krieger discovers, the pearls of the Indian Ocean, as they’re popularly known, indeed live up to the hype.
Situated to the South West of Sri Lanka, the Maldives are made up of a double chain of 26 atolls, or an impressive 1,192 islands, which form a geographically striking – and from a seaplane, a visually stunning – archipelago.
With its cobalt blue waters, fresh lagoons, sandy white beaches and clichéd swaying palm trees, the Maldives is an idyllic tropical haven for honeymooners, and one of the few places around the world where you can enjoy complete and utter privacy.
Arriving in the Maldivian capital of Malé the salt air and startling bright sunshine help to shake away the jetlag cobwebs; the airport transfer to Gasfinolhu Island via speedboat also does the trick.
I am making my way to the luxurious Finolhu Villas, a Club Med outpost which opened to guests in early 2015 in a deliberate move by the 65-year-old French resort chain to branch out into more high-end accommodation options.
Coming into the island’s dock several of Finolhu Villas’ staff are waiting to greet me with watermelon mocktails and ice water. I get my bearings for a moment before hopping aboard a golf buggy headed towards my Sunrise Villa.
With an eight-day package, I spend the first few days sunbathing and simply recharging by the main pool. A steady stream of mocktails (the virgin peach mojito is a must-try) are served at my request by crisply shirted pool staff as I devour magazines left unread for months in anticipation of this downtime.
With its 24-hour butler service, private pools for each of its 52 villas (22 on the beach, 30 on stilts over the water), as well as a larger guest pool, Motu restaurant (with the option of private dining), and a well- appointed day spa, leaving Finolhu Villas seems foolhardy.
But for those wanting a slightly more social experience, the newly renovated Club Med Kani is just a short boat ride away, where you can dine, take in the nightlife or, if you and your beloved want to take a break from all your one-on-one time, join group activities like beach volleyball and sailing.
At the end of each day Finolhu’s nightly turndown service staff leave the following day’s itinerary, which outlines activities such as sunrise or sunset yoga, snorkelling and scuba diving lessons, cinema under the stars and sailing school, all of which are optional.
The beauty of Finolhu is while there are of course other guests staying on the tiny island – many of which are honeymooners – it still feels as though you’re in your own private oasis. Often I have the main pool to myself, and the restaurant and other facilities feel spacious enough that I don’t feel hemmed in by other guests.
For true privacy though I retreat back to my villa for some R&R by my private pool. My private butler for the week, a fabulously attentive Mauritian named Kelly, is never far – just a quick phone call away when I’m feeling peckish or in need of fresh drinks.
He also helps organise my activities, as mid-week I decide it’s time to take things up a notch and elect to sign up for snorkelling and jet skiing.
After a quick swim test in the pool to gauge my capabilities in the water, my small snorkelling group and I are taken out via boat to a nearby reef, where I’m assured the small reef sharks are vegetarian!
Once I actually swallow my nervousness and plunge rather gracelessly into the water (the last person of our group off the boat I might add) I am mesmerised by the reef, which is so shallow I could reach out and touch it were I so inclined (do note that there is a stern “do not touch the coral” policy in the Maldives).
We follow our snorkelling instructor as we make our way along the edge of the shelf reef, the side of which drops down into indeterminable depths; as an explosion of colour – tropical fish of all sorts and sizes – is set off before our eyes.
Next, it’s time to hit the jet skis. Zipping across the waves is a thrilling experience and a nice change from the leisurely pace I set earlier in the week.
Before my arrival I’d also made it a priority to book several treatments at Finolhu’s day spa. The treatment rooms are in fact overwater spa cabins, which look out at the aquamarine Indian Ocean which is as flat as a millpond, the view certainly lends itself to relaxation.
Stretched out on the massage table face down you also have the opportunity to spot tropical fish swimming lazily underneath the room’s glass bottom floor; though it will be hard to keep your eyes open as your trained masseuse gets to work on your stress knots.
The spa is run by British brand Ila, with the friendly spa manager Marvin at the helm of its day-to-day operations.
Honeymooners should opt for the Finolhu Signature Intouch for Couples treatment, a bespoke two-hour experience which includes a deep tissue massage with warm essential oils to invigorate the nervous system, a warm salt exfoliation and a tuberose milk bath soak.
I conclude my week in paradise with a final dip in the ocean from my private beach area, one last mocktail and watching the sunset as I enjoy the last dinner at Motu of fresh seafood and decadent desserts.
When to visit: To soak up the best of The Maldives’ summer rays visit during the dry season (December to April).
Must-do: An ambitious scuba dive in the deep lagoons, where the water is deliciously bath temperature, is a must. Or venture further afield for a guided tour of a local village, a sea flight over the surrounding islands, or visit the capital of Malé and shop at the local markets.
Find out more: Visit www.clubmed.co.uk.