Christmas in Paradise

21:00 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

Last year, we stayed in London for Christmas - our first Christmas away from family. We filled the days with a types of Christmas themed things. Ice skating, Christmas markets, plays and lots of Christmas lights around London. Then, Christmas day, we opened gifts, watched Christmas movies, cooked a small, but traditional meal for the two of us, and skyped with family in the afternoon.

This year, we decided to use our days off to do the opposite of Christmas and head to the beach for a big vitamin d fest (which is what every Londoner needs in the wintertime). We headed East to the destination that everyone is always talking about - the Maldives.

There are so many resort options out there, it can be overwhelming. After lots of research, we picked out Reethi Beach Resort in the Baa Atolls, north of Male. Even from London, it's a long way - a day full of trains, planes, automobiles and boats, but we finally made it to our island the Saturday evening before Christmas. While I hated all the travel, I loved flying to our island in a little sea plane. It was the perfect vista to take in the magic of the Maldives. These tiny spots of green, surrounded by turquoise blue of sandy water and the beautiful dark colors where the sand drops off to the depths of the ocean.

 
The setting was perfect - the bluest waters, softest sands, small little islands popping up all across the water, coupled with the fact that each resort is essentially it's own island. Even at full capacity, the island would have something like 300 people there! While it certainly isn't the smallest resort in the Maldives, it still manages to feel pretty intimate when you see the same people day in, day out. And since there's no where else to go, you are guaranteed to see the same people each day, unless they somehow lock themselves away for the week.

 
We spent our days lounging at the beach, or on our private balcony of the water villa, enjoying pina coladas, reading a book and applying copious amounts of sunscreen to our pale British-like skin (oh for the days of a Texas tan).  We had some lounges on our balcony to enjoy watching the waves roll in, or in Paul's case to cool off after too long in the sun, or we could head around to the front for loungers with umbrellas and beach-side service of the aforementioned pina coladas.

 

 

We also took one day to go to a private island on all our own for a picnic. They call it Robinson Crusoe since you're "stranded" on the island. As our boat engine went out on the way over, I was thinking we may truely be in for a Robinson Crusoe adventure, but we made it safely to the island (in view of our resort) for another perfect day at the beach. We snorkeled, tanned, and picnicked on cheese sandwiches and fresh fruits before having to head back to nearby civilisation.

 
While I loved the relaxation we found there, I am sad to say I was a bit disappointed by our experience with diving & snorkeling, only due to the weather. Because of the strong currents that were unusual for the time of year we were there, we didn't have a lot of visibility and were restricted to options for dive & snorkel spots.

 

But, even despite that, we enjoyed getting back in the water for some diving. It had been almost 3 years to the day since our last dive and as soon I was under the water, I completely forgot why we hadn't been diving. I had even been worried about my ears after some ear infections between then and our last dives, but after a few uncomfortable minutes trying to equalize, I was fine.


While we didn't see everything we hoped for underwater, we still got to enjoy dives, with lots of schools of fish, some beautiful reefs (though not as abundant as Belize) and my favourite - all the little nemos hiding in the anemone.

 

Up until the holiday, we had debated what it would be like to spend Christmas in a tropical atmosphere. How can you celebrate when trying to sing "Baby it's cold outside" or "Let it Snow" when those are both so far from the truth of your environment? Even though it was the least Christmas like atmosphere (reminder, 85 degrees!), it still managed to feel like Christmas.

Okay, not Christmasy, but picture perfect!

The hotel decorated the palm trees around the islands with Christmas lights, lighting our walk back to our room each night. They had Christmas music, trees and drinks, with a big feast on Christmas Eve and brunch on Christmas Day! Everything from turkey, pork, (even tacos of all things), to all the traditional sides like brussel sprouts and stuffing. It was the best and worst part about the all-inclusive, all you can eat style buffet. So many options to choose from, I always ended up with a very full plate AND dessert.

 

While Paul and I didn't want to lug gifts around (and since the trip was our gift to each other), we just had our stockings for a few small gifts in the morning. We finished off Christmas day with an afternoon dive followed by cocktails on the beach and probably the best sunset of the trip.

 
Perhaps another trip to the Maldives is in order - next time to the South Atolls to search for whale sharks!


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