I always thought heaven was a place most of us went to when we died. Somewhere up there, far beyond the blue sky, and fluffy clouds. A place where you felt euphoria every day and walked around pinching yourself to see if you really were dead or in fact just dreaming. This week I discovered that actually, in the words of Belinda Carlisle, Heaven is a Place on Earth, and it's only a short four hour plane trip from Bangkok. It's a place called the Maldives, and it really is Heaven on Earth.
From arriving at Male airport and being whipped through immigration and collecting bags within about fifteen minutes,we were sitting in the comfort of the Anantara Maldives Welcome Lounge waiting to be escorted to the boat that would take us to the resort. Looking over the edge of the pier I was astounded to see beautiful crystal blue water glistening up from a snow white bed of sand. If this is what the water at the jetty looked like, what on earth was the resort going to deliver?
Forty minutes later, after bounding over gentle waves in a speedboat, marvelling at the patches of intermittent crystal aqua waters interspersed between dark blue areas of ocean outside the reef, we disembarked to a welcome parade of Resort staff beating drums, and clapping hands, just as I imagine God greets a newcomer.
Heaven. A bungalow planted in the lagoon, with steps directly entering the lapping waves. The seabed visible for as far as the eye can see, turning various shades of darker blue as it leads to the reef. Opening the windows to allow a sea breeze to engulf the room brought sounds of waves that could lull you to sleep. Whilst there were other bungalows next door, the design allowed for privacy and it felt like we were in our own little world.
Looking over the railing I saw a pod of manta rays float by, followed by a turtle bobbing around in the waves enjoying his afternoon play. Fish of all shapes and sizes chose to join us for a swim, and I truly felt at one with nature.
In the words of Mark Twain- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” So that's what I decided to do.
Surfing the waves with the professional surf instructor saw me do something I believed I was well past. How exhilarating to be riding the waves on top of a reef with the tropical fish swimming below. Night fishing saw us catch ( and throw back ) a beautiful rainbow coloured fish. Looking for dolphins delivered just that, what remarkable creatures and such an experience watching them ride the drag of the boat, whilst putting on a show of tricks and spins to delight those on board.
The island felt like home, just as Heaven must. The staff so friendly and eager to please. Riding around the island on bikes with not a care in the world allowed me to totally relax and enjoy. We had the most amazing holiday and cant wait to visit again.