What this tour limited in (barely) post-COVID constraints it made up for with long anticipated visits. Tour #18 was short (with even fewer resorts covered due to COVID monitoring alerts), but in a number of different ways included a triad of 3 of resorts would most want to visit:
- Biyadhoo – The longest standing, most anticipated and probably cheapest resort we haven’t visited.
- Soneva Jani – The most coveted and probably most expensive resort we haven’t visited.
- Amilla – About the only resort where we will break our rule to not re-visit resorts.
General destination observations:
- Local Island High Rises: Transferring to Biyadhoo in the South Male Atoll I was struck by the number of “high rise” (over 2 stories, up to about 8 stories) buildings on local islands. Of course, with horizontal acreage at a minimum, going vertical makes absolute sense. It does erode some of the primitive vibe to the surroundings, but the Maldivians obviously should not be trapped in some yesteryear nostalgia for primitive aesthetic of huts on islands.
- Inter-Island Transfers: The whole COVID process has gotten so much smoother than when we came late December. And the process is massively easier than our trip to another archipelago, the Azores, that we visited in July (17 pages of forms required). Now, BA has a methodical app to check out your COVID credentials and the Maldives has the IMUGA website. Once those forms are completed, the desk agents and passport control simply check your QR code and that’s it. But, inter-island transfer limited by any COVID outbreaks. Bit like having region or even town-specific lockdowns. Multi-island visits (like my tours) are a bit of a dice roll though there is low incidence of problems and they are dropping. Our mixed itinerary was affected but a bit of juggle and it all worked out.
- Conditions Conventional Wisdom: Specific medium-term weather was never a perfect science, but some general rules of thumb did apply to different months which on average would affect the general balance of conditions across a given week. In fact, speaking to a Maldivian during our stay, he said that he used to be able to have a general feel for how weather was going to be in a given period as he was growing up, but now he admits he simply doesn’t have a clue and just about anything can happen any time and the weather has gotten much more unpredictable. So just about any historical conventional wisdom about weather and house reef conditions (two major concerns of prospective visitors) is getting increasingly outdated in recent years
- Wind, Wind, Wind: We have tended to travel in more “unsettled” periods of Maldivian year when it comes to weather – mid-summer and late-autumn. Especially, Lori (being of a “certain age”) quite enjoyed the gentle ocean breezes. However, this week’s trip was not wafting, but downright windy. And not just in gusts or periods in the day. But non-stop throughout the day. And through the night…so much so that we were regularly wakened by the howl of the blustery conditions outdoors.