Maldives Holidays – Heaven on Earth?

What is it about the maldives? It only takes a few holiday reviews, a little bit of background research, and a glance at some typically jaw-dropping pictures to realise that people just love the Maldives. Anyone even vaguely aware of the place is likely to go ‘Ooooohhh…’ at the very mention of the islands, a sentiment echoed by the ‘Ahhhhhh…’ people emit when they arrive there and the majesty of it starts to sink in.

Palms in the Maldives

Visitors return with overwhelmingly good feelings for the Maldives, to the extent that most customer reviews of holidays there are so bursting with happiness that readers could suspect they were written by a travel rep. But no, look around, and the evidence mounts for my case – are the Maldives really heaven on Earth?

Whether you call it a tropical paradise, the perfect island fantasy or a picture-postcard dream, everyone can relate to these powerful mental images.

Shipwrecked in the Maldives? Yes please

For many people, finding heaven on Earth is all about peace and quiet, solitude, and getting away from the stress, dirt, pollution and chaos that characterise our surroundings in modern life. Just like the classic Robinson Crusoe adventure, the Maldives are a place where you could be shipwrecked forever and never miss home. Your supermarket would be the bountiful seas, coconut palms and fruit-laden branches. The odd barrel of Rum would float ashore, and who knows, maybe even a companion.

Relaxing Indian Ocean luxury

Other kinds of traveller can think of nothing more heavenly than lounging year-round in the perfect tropical climate, with kind, attentive hotel staff bringing fine food and drinks at the ring of a bell. Days would pass in bucolic satisfaction, gazing at the sparkling sand and glittering waves, taking a dip, reading, living like royalty might in a better world. As the sun sets over a calm ocean, fine dining, flickering candles and good conversation feels all the more natural knowing that your refuge is just metres away, and there is no work in the morning.

Coconut on beach

Intrepid adventures in the Maldives

For those with a more adventurous spirit, all 1000sq.km of the Maldives island chain becomes a sun-drenched tropical playground. Exploring the hundreds of uninhabited islands by boat could be a lifetime’s work, and no-one can claim to have seen every spectacular reef, teeming as they are with tropical fish and exotic sea life. In their vision of heaven on Earth, days are filled swimming with Dolphins, scuba-diving into the fantastical submerged realms of the Indian Ocean, claiming undiscovered coves and sunken ships.

Boat and Atoll

Are the Maldives all things to all people?

Whichever of these visions of a Tropical heaven might suit you best is largely unimportant; most travellers to the Maldives enjoy a combination of all of them. The luxury market orientated, high-quality resorts and facilities in the Maldives are testament to the local understanding of why we love their islands; tourism is by far the largest industry, and with the ‘high season’ being almost all year round, providing a great experience for visitors is at the heart of many people’s lives.

As for what kind of package – the choices are vast. I for one love the freedom of live-aboard accommodation; waking up to a new view every morning, navigating the reefs and lagoons, and putting ashore wherever catches your eye is a fine way to experience the stunning beauty of the Maldives. If a resort, well-appointed villa or even a private island is more your style, all inclusive packages can be a great idea as you never have to count your pennies.

After all, who needs their wallet in heaven?

 

Gerry Bern is an independent writer who loves travelling, music, food and all the finer things in life. Gerry is currently getting excited about getting away this year, watching out for the best Maldives holidays deals, and counting the days…

Petite Ile and the Other Attractions of Reunion island

For most people, a mention of the Indian Ocean automatically conjures up images of its most popular islands, which are Seychelles, Mauritius, and the extremely expensive Maldives islands. This is actually quite normal since these islands rely a lot on tourism as a major part of their economy. As a matter of fact, in the case of the exotic Seychelles and Maldives islands, you can even say that they rely exclusively on their tourism industry. Mauritius is a bit different in that it has successfully managed to diversity its exports, which include sugar and textile, but it is also heavily dependent in tourists as a source of revenue.

Petite Ile
Image by françoise_b (http://www.flickr.com/photos/francoise_2006/)

One island that most people are however quick to forget is the small island of Reunion, which is located a mere half an hour from to the west of Mauritius. This is quite normal as, contrary to its Indian Ocean neighbors, Reunion does not advertise its tourism industry as heavily. Although the island does have a thriving industry with a lot of tourists visiting the island every year, it does not rely on it so much. Indeed, because Reunion is French territory, it could pretty much ignore its visitors completely and still get on fine.

However, just like its neighbors, the island of Reunion also has its fair share of attractions and is an exciting place to visit. While it lacks the beautiful beaches of the other Indian Ocean islands, it makes up for this with some unique sights and incredible coasts and forests. In fact, the extraordinary differences from town to town are just one of the most remarkable aspects of Reunion. As an example, Petite Ile, located in the south of the island, is filled with flowers, some of which are unique to Reunion, while Saint Paul is popular for its buzzing street market.

You can also find the Domaine du Relais in Petite Ile, which is a park where visitors can either ride horses or simply go on a long walk punctuated by a picnic. The Domaine du Relais is one of the most famous places of the whole island as some of the views are simply amazing. It is however still far behind Reunion’s most popular attraction, the Piton de La Fournaise (usually called the Peak of the The Furnace in english) volcano. Most people will have already heard about La Fournaise, which is also one of the world’s most active volcanoes and whose last eruption occurred as late as December 2010. As you would have guessed, La Fournaise is the main tourist attraction in Reunion.

Another widely famous tourist attraction in Reunion is its High Plains, which offers the most amazing scenery of the island. The High Plains is a huge forest bordered by verdant cliffs and with incredibly dense vegetation. It is located near the Piton de La Fournaise Volcano and the views from the top of the plains are quite breathtaking. It is however recommended to rely on a guide when visiting the High Plains as it is all too to get lost in this huge forest.

Ashvin Sawmynaden, now based in Petite Ile and Guito Ramoune, is a travel blogger who blogs mainly about the Indian Ocean destinations