The Maldives is largely regarded as a honeymooners paradise. And while that is still most certainly true, the destination is starting to become an ideal holiday destination for families. With the likes of your Club Med offering all-inclusive kids’ clubs, more families are escaping to this sun-kissed destination than ever before.
Perhaps best known for its idyllic white beaches and crystal clear turquoise sea, The Republic of the Maldives is situated in the Indian Ocean. This tropical nation is composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of more than 1 000 coral islands – many still uninhabited.
Having contributed the word “atoll” to the English language, this holiday destination, long-thought of as the preserve of honeymooners or rich couples, is actively wooing families with young children and contributing to the burgeoning kids-focused travel industry.
Over 99% of the Maldives is sea, home to one of the most diverse marine treasures of the world. Surrounded by a reef structure, the Maldives houses one of the most exclusive and spectacular underwater life ecosystems. The 1% land is a masterpiece in natural landscaping, divine white beaches and gorgeous villas sitting amidst island flora.
Though the Maldives’ history is shrouded in mystery, it is believed that the island nation was inhabited more than 2 500 years ago by natives of the South Asian subcontinent. For medieval seafarers the Maldives was a station to resupply their vessels with water, wood, coir and dried tuna. Nowadays the luxury resorts ensure that families are well stocked up with delicacies!
Despite being a small nation, the Maldivians love and value their freedom. Having been occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British the Maldives is today a proud member of the United Nations, leading the way for the protection not only of all small nations, but also of our treasured water ecosystems. With global warming having a significant impact on the low-lying islands, the Maldives constantly lobbies for responsible environmental policies.
Most families fly into the capital Malé and then catch resort transport – either a boat or sea-plane. Flying Emirates from Johannesburg to Malé is an easy, pleasant 14-hour flight (including one stop over in Dubai where kids and parents can stretch their legs).
The tropical climate means year-round warm temperatures. Summer coincides with the start of the low or wet season (the South-West Monsoon typically occurs from May - September), which can mean cloudier skies, more wind and the chance of rain. This is, however, a blessing as the temperatures are more moderate at 28-30 C during the day. Combined with a breeze, this makes for a much less stifling environment for the mini traveller.
The Maldives for families
Until about 10 years ago, few resorts catered for kids (in providing babysitting facilities and child-dedicated activities), but these days, things have changed. From 2016, visitors to Club Med Kani have enjoyed activities designed especially for kids aged 4-10 and 11-17. At Club Med’s Finolhu resort, kids from 12 years old are welcome and can enjoy the kids facilities at their Kani resort (five minutes from Finolhu.)
Like all Club Med resorts, apart from the all-inclusive packages which aid hugely in pre-planning your holiday budget, the resorts also employ phenomenal G.Os (Gentil Organisateur) which is unique to Club Med. The G.O is the ambassador of the Club Med spirit at all resorts, and ensure that guests at the resorts have the best time of their lives (and that all of their holiday needs and requests are met.) These highly skilled G.Os are who will be looking after your little ones in the various kids clubs.
With your little treasures in good hands, you’ll be able to enjoy various activities ranging from kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling to sailing and more that Club Med and the Maldives has to offer.
Top tips – snorkeling in the Maldives with the kids
Since snorkelling plays a big part of a Maldives holiday, a few tips before leaving home may be useful.
Part of snorkelling’s appeal is how easy it is for people of all ages. Even just poking around the coral in the lagoon shallows reveal amazing sea-life.
To prevent little ones from getting frustrated with snorkelling, practice before you leave home. Covering your nose and breathing through the mouth can be awkward for some kids – it is therefore a good idea to get comfortable with this concept at home - in a pool or bath.
Using goggles for the salt water is a must and keeping these on at home in the bath is a fun way to get kids excited about what they will find in the sea.
If your child has not had a lot of experience in the ocean itself, then be sure to just play around and splash in the water before snorkeling. Getting kids comfortable with the sea in this way means that they will better deal with the salt and sand. If they jump right into snorkelling and struggle, then the added irritations of salt and sand can tip them over the edge in terms of frustration.
It may also be a good idea to take a trip to the aquarium or to show your kids a Youtube video about the ocean. By getting them excited about what they will see in the underwater paradise, your own enjoyment will increase!