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Magic in the water!



By Anne Pinto Rodrigues. 

Hubby and I are both island people. Any chance we get, we find ourselves rushing to the most isolated island we can find. What is not to like about sun, sand, surf and minimal clothing!

So this August, we decided to check Maldives off our list. Little did we know that it was going to turn out to be the trip of a lifetime!

Maldives consists of nearly 1,200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. Did you know that the word atoll is the only English word derived from Divehi, the official language of Maldives? It comes from the Divehi word atholu, meaning a ring-shaped reef or coral island.

Just over 200 of Maldives’ islands are inhabited and nearly 100 are exclusive resort islands.

We landed in Malé (the capital) around noon. What most people don’t realize about Maldives is that it is the lowest country on the planet. An average height of 1.5 m/5ft above sea level means there are no hills or mountains here. So climbing enthusiasts, you’ll need to find something else to do. Rest assured, there’s plenty to choose from.

Aerial view of Male

To get to most resort islands in the Maldives, there is usually a short seaplane transfer involved (30 – 45mins flight). Trans Maldivian Airways operates a seaplane fleet of 44 Twin Otter aircrafts that takes tourists from Malé to their island destination.

Our seaplane (a Twin Otter)

Getting an aerial view of the outrageously beautiful atolls, islands, lagoons and bays is a highly recommended experience for any Maldives visitor.

The short flight to our resort in the Baa Atoll meant that we didn’t need to do a separate charter flight later. Sometimes if you are lucky, you can spot whales, dolphins or even manta rays from the air. No such luck for us but the seascapes below were a sight for our city slicker eyes! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

Islands and bays galore

A large, azzure bay

Another spectacular bay!

Baa Atoll is a protected UNESCO biosphere. The hard and soft coral reefs in the atoll harbor an abundance of marine life – a large variety of colorful fish, reef sharks, sea turtles, sting rays among others.

The landing platform, Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Welcome to Baa Atoll!

Hanifaru Bay in the Baa Atoll is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks and big groups of manta rays, thanks to the high plankton density in the waters there. The main agenda of our trip was to get up-close with the manta rays and if we were really lucky, a whale shark.

Jumping into the middle of the ocean was going to take every ounce of courage but the magic of the under-water spectacle would make it all worth it!

This blog is written by Anne Pinto Rodrigues. Anne describes herself as a nature lover, art enthusiast, accidental gardener, polyglot, but to travel and explore new cultures has been a passion. She have been very fortunate to live this dream in her various travels for study, work and pleasure. You can read more from No Roads Barred!


Stories from post-lockdown Maldives holidaymakers



In the eyes of the first guests who completed their Maldives holidays in September and October at the properties in the Crown & Champa Resorts collection, the vacations were all “excellent”, “it was paradise”, and most importantly:

Perfect stay and great anti-Covid measures.

Al_mj_0, London, United Kingdom (9/28/20) – Meeru Island Resort & Spa – TripAdvisor

Maldives was among the first to reopen its borders to tourist. Also having received the Safe Travels Stamp from World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the island nation had been receiving travellers and holidaymakers since July 15.

Guests to Crown & Champa Resorts properties had been having a wonderful time. They felt safe and enjoyed their holidays and never felt restricted by the new normal, the health and safety protocols. Check out their stories in these video testimonials.

For the romantic traveler: Learn the story of Julian and Sonja and their experience at Meeru Island Resort & Spa in September. Meeru supported them through their entire journey to make their dream wedding still come true, despite the current worldwide challenges brought by Covid-19.

For Mr & Mrs Seidner, it was: “Veligandu ist geöffnet. Ihr entlegenes Paradies”:

For Veligandu Island Resort & Spa’s Spanish guests: “Estamos en Veligandu, disfrutando mucho de nuestras vacaciones”.

For the Family traveller: The Kamissarovs had a 13-day vacation in Meeru Island Resort & Spa with their little daughter in September and had a fantastic stay despite the new normal:

Read the guest reviews

SuperMoose_NL from the Netherlands rated Komandoo Island Resort & Spa five-stars and described the island as “a safe haven”, on TripAdvisor. This seasoned traveller and seven-time repeater to the island wrote a 1,800-word review explaining the full experience from the arrival to the departure.

In short, I can honestly say that Komandoo felt like a safe haven from the pandemic. You definitely do notice that there’s a ‘new normal’, due to the preventive measures that the island have in place to ensure everyones safety, but I always felt much safer than I do at home in Europe and would not hesitate to return.

SuperMoose_NL, Tripadvisor

Jennifer L. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA wrote a heartfelt five-star Tripadvisor review on September 16:

My husband and I had an excellent and very unique experience at Veligandu amid Covid-19. We hope to come back to paradise soon! I’d like to first mention that we were impressed with the safety measures put in place throughout the resort – hand sanitising stations, staff wearing masks and social distancing measures during dining – we felt safe our entire stay. They check your temperature every morning, FYI. I say we had a unique experience because there were only a handful of couples on the resort during our 11 night stay. It felt like we had the entire island to ourselves and the service was impeccable! We will miss Naaem, Akram, Abdulla, Naail, Adam, Rifau, Alex and all the wonderful staff at Veligandu.

Jennifer L, Tripadvisor

Julie Antju from Gainsborough, United Kingdom wrote on TripAdvisor after her stay in Hurawalhi Island Maldives:

A truly relaxing, five-star holiday never to be forgotten. Snorkelling and diving top class. 5.8 underwater restaurant not to be missed. Covid precautions in place far superior to any western countries. Feel safer here than the UK! Thank you for a perfect holiday.”

Julie Antju, Tripadvisor

Crown & Champa Resorts has rolled out enhanced health and safety protocols across its collection of resorts.

The enhanced and expanded hygiene and safety procedures, collectively known as the Safe Holiday Experience in Paradise, include additional Covid-19 protocols and best practices that meet the recommendations set by the World Health Organisation and public health authorities in the Maldives.

After closing all of their resorts in April in the wake of the Maldives border closure, Crown & Champa Resorts has now reopened all of the resorts in its collection.

Crown & Champa Resorts, a leader in the Maldivian hospitality industry with over 40 years’ experience, operates nine resorts and a city hotel — each targeting a unique traveller with the aim of offering experiences at great quality and value in different segments.

Its diverse collection of resorts include Hurawalhi MaldivesKudadoo Maldives Private Island by HurawalhiInnahura Maldives ResortKomandoo MaldivesVeligandu Island Resort & SpaKuredu Resort MaldivesVilamendhoo Island Resort & SpaMeeru Island Resort & Spa, and one city hotel, Champa Central Hotel.

The group had earlier announced plans to open its ninth resort, Kagi Maldives Spa Island, later this year.

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An Insider

First post-lockdown guest speaks: Lily Beach is ultimate safe holiday destination



Lily Beach Resort & Spa was one of the few resorts in Maldives that remained opened during a four-month lockdown imposed by the Maldivian authorities to contain the coronavirus outbreak. This allowed the resort to begin welcoming new guests right after the country reopened its borders on July 15.

A Hungarian traveler and his family were among the first guests that arrived in Lily Beach after the border reopening. Although it was his first time booking directly with the resort, it was his third visit to the island!

Having experienced both pre- and post-pandemic holiday experience offered by Lily Beach, he definitely recommends you to pack your bags and jet off to the island resort! Why?

“You will likely be safer there than you are at home. They do free PCR testing on site for guests in case you need one, so no reason to not visit,” he says.

Lily Beach Resort & Spa is offering complimentary PCR testing for its guests.

The resort will offer free testing for two adults and one child per booking, Any additional person will be charged $200.

This new offer will make it easier for guests who require Covid-19 test results for their return home.

For instance, travellers returning to the United Arab Emirates are now required to carry a negative Covid-19 PCR test result. The test must be taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure.

A 25-minute scenic seaplane journey from the Maldives main Velana International Airport takes you to a luxury resort, which has been ranked as the best all-inclusive resort in Asia and No. 11 among the top all-inclusive resorts in the world at the 2020 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

“You’ll love the top-quality food and the top shelf drinks all included in their package: Prosecco, Champagne, Johnny Walker Black, Russian standard, 70-80 different wines – you name it,” the Hungarian visitor explains.

“You’ll enjoy the excursion and the fact that you don’t even need to bring snorkel gear (just ask for it at the watersports centre when you get there, and before you fly home just drop it off).”

One of the most popular family resorts in Maldives, Lily Beach is making sure that your vacation to this idyllic paradise is safe, with the promise that returning here would be the best decision you will ever make.

A series of enhanced safety procedures have been implemented, in line with the guidance issued by the Maldives Health Protection Agency (HPA), and will be reviewed over the coming weeks and months.

Your temperature will be checked upon arrival and regularly during your stay.

While hand sanitisers will be available at the reception and all public areas, the team at Lily Beach will be wearing face masks for your comfort at all times.

All the villas will go undergo additional deep cleaning during guest stay, with an extra level of care taken on air conditioning filters and private swimming pools. The rooms will be cleaned only when guests are out of the villa.

Laundry, linen, and swimming pool towels will be washed at high temperature, while the laundry will be disinfected daily.

At all restaurants, à la carte service with digital menus will be available. Buffet services along with shisha service will be suspended for the safety of guests.

There will be at least two metres between each table in the restaurants. Sun loungers at the public swimming pools will also be placed with a minimum distance of two metres between them.

All public areas, including the reception, restaurants, bars, fitness centre, spa, swimming pools, will be regularly disinfected during the day.

At the gym, healthy distance will be maintained between each machine. New health and safety protocols will be followed at the spa, so that guests can still experience wellness at the resort without compromising their safety.

The five-star Lily Beach Resort is located on the 600-metre-long and 110-metre-wide island of Huvahendhoo in South Ari Atoll.

With its Platinum Plan, which includes far more than the traditional package of cocktails, premium brands, champagne and international culinary delights, Lily Beach offers luxury all-inclusive holidays at the highest level. These include excursions, which can be selected from a wide range of activities, including sunset fishing, snorkelling trips or a visit to a local island.

At your disposal are 125 luxurious villas. Add to this the Tamara Spa, Prodivers Diving School, a specialty and main restaurant featuring fine dining, three bars, a shisha lounge, Turtles Kids’ Club, and one of South Ari Atoll’s best house reefs.

Guests can also enjoy a diverse entertainment programme with live music and DJs, traditional cultural performances, fish feeding and much more.

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Over 70 per cent prefer lagoon over pool to swim



Maldives may be known to have some of the most spectacular swimming pools, including overwater infinity pools with breathtaking view of the lagoons. But it seems that at least three quarter of visitors still prefer to swim amongst the ’50 shades of blue’ of the lagoon.

Recently, we asked our Instagram followers @maldivesinsider if they preferred to swim in the lagoon or swimming pool. From over 20,000 respondents, an overwhelming 76 per cent said they preferred the lagoon.

Here, we look at some of the most spectacular lagoons in Maldives.

Soneva Jani

Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. Facilities include the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory, overwater Cinema Paradiso, and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.

Soneva Jani. PHOTO/ SONEVA

OZEN by Atompshere at Maadhoo

OZEN by Atomosphere at Maadhoo is situated in South Male Atoll — just a short 45-minute luxury speedboat ride away from the main Velana International Airport. The perfectly North-South Island of Maadhoo, with its large pristine lagoon brimming with exotic marine life all around, offers a true Maldives island experience. A wide range of lagoon experiences on offer is enhanced by the resort’s M6m Underwater Restaurant.


Niyama Private Islands

Niyama, a very private setting for intimate, one-of-a-kind experiences. Set on a vast lagoon with twin islands, Play and Chill, Niyama Private Islands Maldives offers the ultimate luxury of choice. For those looking some lagoon action, the resort offers the chance to swim with hammerheads, coast with hawksbills, spin with dolphins. Skip over the water on a jet ski, wakeboard, catamaran or fun tube. Immerse yourself in a spectacle of the Indian Ocean.

Niyama Private Islands Maldives. PHOTO/ ANANTARA HOTELS & RESORTS

Gili Lankanfushi

Located in the North Male Atoll, Gili Lankanfushi opened in 2000 as the original overwater resort, Soneva Gili. Set in the middle of its own lagoon, guests enjoy a barefoot existence with 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean. Gili Lankanfushi’s 45 overwater villas, including the vast and secluded Private Reserve, offer unrivalled privacy. Gili is one of the first resorts to introduce overwater hammocks that have now become so common in Maldivian lagoons.


Kandima Maldives

Kandima Maldives is much more than just a holiday. Discover the blue around Kandima Maldives. Whether you are looking for speed, excitement, relaxation, marine beauty or an opportunity to create that private version of paradise you have in your mind, Kandima is the place to be! With an incredible range of aquatic activities that you can enjoy, Kandima is your so Kool island (desti)nation!

The Beach Club at Kandima Maldives. PHOTO/ KANDIMA

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa

A 15-minute speedboat ride from the airport brings you to the idyllic resort surrounded by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Set delicately over the lagoon, this postcard-perfect getaway offers 64 sea-view villas and suites that are luxurious and lavish; yet maintain a fine balance with nature. Resort services are designed to give best lagoon experience. Within this oasis of calm set in paradise, lounge by the infinity pool or at your private beach, laze in a hammock over the blue waters and just lay below the stars at night.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives. PHOTO/ TAJ HOTELS

Huvafen Fushi

The iconic chic boutique resort offers endless seascapes and infinite seduction. A secret haven in North Male Atoll, just 30 minutes by speedboat from the international airport. Huvanfen Fushi is a dreamscape of hidden pleasures, where every second transcends time; a sanctuary for lovers of life. The resort houses world’s first and only underwater spa.


Anantara Dhigu

At Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, adventures await across three islands, at sea, and below the water’s surface. Run into the surf from your beach pool villa, or jump into the lagoon from your overwater suite. Surf, dive, picnic on a deserted island. Explore the lagoon and set sail with your very own captain and find a deserted island. Anantara’s five-star resorts in the Maldives invite you to write your own chapter of adventure.

Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort. PHOTO/ ANANTARA

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef

Immerse yourself in a paradise island as you stay in an island with unparalleled beauty of the Maldives, with guarantee to wake up to beautiful views every day. For thrill seekers and relaxers alike, Sun Aqua Vilu Reef has collected some ideas of the favourite things to do in the Maldives. From cruises and water sports to evening entertainment and on-site sports, there is something in and around Sun Aqua Vilu Reef for everyone.


Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa

This perfect island retreat is located in the northern Haa Alifu Atoll — an exclusive all-suite resort for those who demand genuine luxury and the utmost in privacy. Set on a crescent-shaped private island, this incredible resort offers a choice of private villas or private villas with pools for its guests to unwind and enjoy a home away from home. The expansive lagoon with abundance of fish life around this resort is second to none, making it a prime location for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa. PHOTO/ LILY HOTELS

LUX* South Ari Atoll

Whether seeking a peaceful hideaway or active adventure, the picture-perfect island of Dhidhoofinolhu is home to LUX* South Ari Atoll, a luxury resort where your fantasy of a laid-back, desert island paradise is about to come true. At LUX* South Ari Atoll, you will discover 193 private villas, dotted at the water’s edge along two miles of powder fine beaches and perched on stilts above a crystal lagoon.

LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO / LUX* RESORTS
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