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Time to make the Maldives yours again!

After nearly two months of travel restrictions, the Maldives reopen to Indian travellers today. Here’s everything you need to know about how and where to go.
The aquamarine waters of the Maldives beckon. Image: Courtesy MMPRC/Visit Maldives.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has announced that the country is resuming visa-on-arrival for South Asian nations, including India. All tourists travelling need a negative PCR result to enter Maldives. The ban was imposed on travellers from across South Asia in May in a bid to contain surging Covid-19 infections. However, after reviewing the current situation and drop in numbers of cases, the ministry took this decision. Rigorous procedures are in place to ensure the safety of tourists and tourism workers. Tourists are required to fill an online health declaration form within 24 hours prior to their departure, as well as have a negative PCR test result, conducted 96 hours prior to their departure.

The State-owned Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC) is working hard to ensure that the destination remains a ‘safe haven’ for all travellers and is thrilled to welcome guests. As part of their ‘I’m Vaccinated’ campaign launched earlier this year in association with the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism, Visit Maldives has also created a microsite – I’m Vaccinated – that promises to give the most up-to-date information about the vaccination process within the tourism industry. This microsite includes the number of vaccinated tourist industry staff as well as information regarding registration for vaccination of employees and the latest HPA guidelines. In addition, the microsite will include updates from the campaign as well as promotional videos, pictures and stories that reflect the immense efforts undertaken by the tourist establishment aligned with the campaign. As of June 23, 2021, 96 per cent of resort employees had received the first dose of the vaccine and 70 per cent of resort employees were fully vaccinated.

Under this campaign, the ultimate target is to make Maldives the first fully vaccinated tourism sector in the world. Along with the unique geographical formation of the islands which offer natural physical distancing, and the stringent health and safety measures in place, a fully vaccinated tourism sector will become an added advantage in encouraging tourists to visit the destination.

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Water sports and surfing for active travellers. Image: Courtesy MMPRC/Visit Maldives.

The campaign will uplift the destination’s beautiful name in the global market and reassure travelers that Maldives will remain one of the safest destinations to travel to during this unprecedented time. In addition, the campaign will also assure travellers from all over the world of the immense effort and investment into ensuring the safety of both the local population and travellers.

Under this campaign, the ultimate target is to make Maldives the first fully vaccinated tourism sector in the world. Along with the unique geographical formation of the islands which offer natural physical distancing, and the stringent health and safety measures in place, a fully vaccinated tourism sector will become an added advantage in encouraging tourists to visit the destination.

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Culinary delights for those who travel to eat! Image: Courtesy MMPRC/Visit Maldives.

Understanding the Maldives: Atoll order!

The Maldives is spread over 90,000 sq km of 1,192 coral islands in 26 atolls. According to Sakis, a talented Maldivian photographer and dreamer, who runs the Dreaming of Maldives (https://www.dreamingofmaldives.com/) blog along with the French Rozenn, who works as a destination manager for a renowned French tour operator, there were 167 resorts operating on the Maldivian archipelago in May 2020. With new artificial islands being created via dredging (that isn’t good for the environment) and almost a dozen new resorts opening every year, the Maldives is constantly transforming.

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Getting around the many atolls in the Maldives requires seaplanes or boats. Image: Courtesy MMPRC/Visit Maldives.

The central atolls like North Malé and South Malé are now quite crowded (by Maldives standards!) and have no more islands to offer for resort leases, so brands are looking further afield at Raa Atoll in North Maldives and Dhaalu Atoll in South Maldives to build new resorts. This is why, Raa, Dhaalu, Noonu, Baa, and Lhaviyani Atolls are the current hotspots for new resorts.

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The tranquillity and social distancing in the Maldives allow for peace of mind of travellers even when the world is gripped by the pandemic. Image: Courtesy MMPRC/Visit Maldives.

Travellers love the Maldives for its ‘one island one resort’ concept, not to mention the pristine beaches, aquamarine water, luxurious over-water villas and teeming marine life. Divers love to explore the channels connecting the ocean to the lagoons, where they can enjoy close encounters with beautiful manta rays, whale sharks, sea turtles and multitudes of colourful fish, corals, and other oceanic treasures. Some resorts even offer submerged underwater accommodation, dining and spa facilities positioned meters beneath the ocean surface, so you never have to leave the sea behind! There are plenty of other activities to pick from and you can choose which atoll, island, and resort you want to stay at depending on what you are in the mood for on this vacation.

Here are some ooh-inducing options

The very exclusive One & Only Reethi Rah is on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll, and boasts a dozen private beaches, a 30-metre lap pool, serene spa, over-water Chi Pavilion for meditation and yoga, aerial yoga, Watsu pool, chartered yachts, moonlit picnics, scuba diving at their PADI Gold Palm Resort Dive Centre, five restaurants, each with its own top chef, featuring everything from Nikkei cuisine to outdoor cooking, three bars/clubs, island treasure hunts and Maldivian drumming at the KidsOnly for four-to12-year-olds, etc.

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Bespoke spokes that speak of privacy and luxury. Image: Courtesy One & Only Reethi Rah.
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Screenings by the sea. Image: Courtesy One & Only Reethi Rah.
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Wake up to this view. Image: Courtesy One & Only Reethi Rah.

The Cheval Blanc Randheli, an exclusive refuge on the Noonu Atoll, offers unforgettable experiences like private snorkelling and scuba diving, moon-lit yoga, family desert island adventures, in-villa spa treatments (although their dedicated spa does span an entire island!), sunset cruises, and more. Five refined restaurants and three bars, from the relaxed to the celebratory, offer a range of cuisines. And signature experiences curated to evoke beautiful emotions span every sensory facet.

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White sands and azure water. Image: Courtesy Cheval Blanc Randheli.

The Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa is located on Hembadhu Island in North Malé has its own dedicated reef and offers you unique opportunities such as swimming through an authentic shipwreck, helping to regenerate the ecosystem by bringing coral back to life, or opting for a private romantic getaway to the Blue Lagoon.

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We heart the heart-shaped island. Image: Courtesy Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa.
Time together in relaxed luxury. Image: Courtesy Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa.
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Sensational sunset decks. Image: Courtesy Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa.

Getting to Dhaalu Atoll involves a flight and as well as a boat ride, but Kandima Maldives, perfect for every age group and budget, is worth that effort. It offers everything from proposal-worthy settings, Maldivian massages for two in an award-winning spa, castaway private island experiences, great food (they even do a floating lunch now!), bicycling space around the 3km long island, one of the longest pools in the Maldives, to a really good kids’ club, sky-diving sessions, aquatic adventures, and night snorkelling lit by a waterproof UV torch!

Unique layout in a beautiful setting. Image: Courtesy Kandima Maldives.
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Floating lunch is the new must-do. Image: Courtesy Kandima Maldives.
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Night snorkelling is a treat. Image: Courtesy Kandima Maldives.
Sky-diving is an option too. Image: Courtesy Kandima Maldives.

The third resort from Soneva, the first group to offer over-water villas in the Maldives, Soneva Jani, is on Medhufaru Island on the Noonu Atoll, spread over a cluster of five small islands. It has villas that allow you to access the sea and sky whenever you want to (think floor hatches and retractable roofs), observatory, floating cinema with Bluetooth headphones to keep the peace, wine tastings, spa, gym, yoga studio, kids’ club, barefoot butlers, and fab dining options.

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Gorgeous environs. Image: Courtesy Soneva Jani.
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Stunning suites. Image: Courtesy Soneva Jani.

Read more.

7 unique experiences for a memorable vacation in the Maldives

Book a luxurious island getaway at the Ritz-Carlton Maldives this June

10 best travel destinations to lift your lockdown blues