Living The Barefoot Dream – Maldives

CONSTANCE MOOFUSHI, MALDIVES

WORDS BY GILLIAN MCLAREN

Situated on the South Ari Atoll in the Maldives, Constance Moofushi encapsulates the best of an island fantasy, with exquisitely beautiful views from luxury villas, abundant fresh food, plus astounding snorkelling and diving.

After an absorbing 35-minute flight from Malé International Airport over glorious Indian Ocean – dotted with islands and ring-shaped coral reefs – the seaplane lands gently and trails a wake on the azure sea. You step onto Moofushi Island and are enfolded by bright light, warmth and the ozone-tinged scent on the breeze.
The water is so pristine, so clear that you can see tropical fish and a nursery of black-tipped reef sharks as you stroll to reception. It is beautiful beyond comprehension, almost too marvellous for words, with colours in a palette of blues that can’t be accurately captured even by the best camera. A shimmer and sparkle on the surface of the almost still sea is mesmerising and draws you into its embrace.
Escorted to your villa you walk on paths in the shade of island vegetation, with views of the pure white sand. On stilts in the ocean, the Water Villas – well worth the extra cost – have an idyllic honeymoon setting with relative privacy and unimpeded views out to the Indian Ocean that will surely make you gasp. Fling on your bathing costume and you can climb down a few steps from your personal wooden deck to float in the sea or snorkel right there, where sea creatures abound. You could even spot a turtle.
When the inevitable tropical languor overtakes you, you can rest in the cool of your air-conditioned villa on an enormous bed made up with the finest linens, or on a sun-lounger in the shade on your deck. You have the choice of an indoor or outdoor shower.
As you amble around this small island to select a romantic sunset spot, either outside or at one of three bars, look out for fascinating variable lizards, with long tails and a crest of spines on their head and back, which scuttle along the wooden decks or up coconut palm trees. A cocktail or drink of your choice will be brought to you, where you can linger until ready to dine. The Crystal Package includes all food and drinks available on the island, as well as everything in the well-stocked mini-bar, which feels super-luxurious and decadent. Such a pleasure not to have to think about cost, but simply to order whatever takes your fancy, to be free to experiment with anything from fresh coconut water to French wine.
Manta, the main restaurant with a sandy floor, serves internationally themed buffets all made with fresh ingredients. The Indian and Sri Lankan food is particularly tasty and the desserts are irresistible, especially the homemade ice cream. Positioned beside the sea is Alisee Restaurant, where you can watch the changing hues as you savour à la carte grilled dishes including shellfish or linefish withwine selected by a knowledgeable sommelier. At dusk pale ghost crabs scurry along the sand at great speed as they scavenge for food. A favourite spot for lunch is under palm trees near to the outdoors Totem Bar.
Although Moofushi can take 200 guests, it never feels full, and you rarely see more than a few people together in any one of the venues. The total flexibility of mealtimes and activities is a big plus at this resort. When you need them, kind staff are there to advise you or serve you efficiently.
Snorkelling or diving on the house reef is outstanding, and you can see lionfish, harlequin shrimp and juvenile angelfish amongst other species. Private catamarans can take you further out to sea, should you wish to snorkel there. The diving is awe-inspiring and conditions are perfect, with 25m or more visibility, gentle or no currents, plus the protected waters teem with life. You are likely to find delicately decorated nudibranch, curious batfish, manta ray, whip-tailed stingray and huge Napoleon wrasse. Swimming with thousands of red-tooth trigger fish, hundreds of yellow-backed fusiliers and even grey shark is unforgettable!

If you have never dived, then this is an ideal place to learn. If you are experienced, it is a convenient location to do an advanced course or qualify for your Nitrox certification. All dives on the spacious Viking-style boats are uncrowded and well organised with excellent equipment, fluffy towels and delicious post-dive snacks and drinks.

The over-water Spa de Constance has a clever design, with its massage tables positioned over glass. You can glimpse schools of brightly coloured reef fish swimming to and fro beneath you as you are given a relaxing body massage with exotic oils.
It is hard to fault Constance Moofushi, where man and nature have joined forces to produce an environment of supreme beauty, with a sense of timelessness. If you have dreamed of an island honeymoon, consider choosing this idyll in the Maldives.

Contact details
Constance Moofushi Maldives
www.moofushiresort.constancehotels.com
Book with your preferred travel agent or tour operator to find the best deals.

Getting there
Fly Emirates Airline from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) to Malé International Airport (MLE) via Dubai. This is a comfortable journey where pleasant food is served and over 400 movies are available on your personal screen.
www.emirates.com

Photographs on page 156
Tara Turkington, Flow Communications, www.flowsa.com

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