As a Maldives virgin, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Sure, I’d seen the photographs. But, I thought to myself, the sea can’t possibly be that translucent. Sand that white can’t actually exist. That’s camera trickery, the work of clever Instagram filtering… How wrong I was.
Niyama Private Islands is a good forty-five minute seaplane transfer from Malé airport (a further 10 hour flight from London, FYI). The views en route were utterly breathtaking, but they were nothing compared to what awaited me.
Stepping off the plane and into Niyama’s entrance suit was like transcending reality and entering a dream. If there’s one guarantee I can make, it’s this: from the moment you arrive on the shore of this island paradise, you’ll be treated like a total VIP. Having been handed an ice cold fruit smoothie, it was time to take in the views. And I can confirm that it’s exactly as it is in the photos… No filter required.
So, what are the rooms like?
I was taken straight to my room – a Beach Studio – and the attention to detail really set the scene for the rest of my stay. A ‘welcome’ dolphin had been drawn in the sand outside of my front door, and a personalised sign – hand-carved with ‘Laura’s Home’ – was hanging above it.
With a private swimming pool and a back garden that lead directly onto the beach, you could quite easily spend every single day relaxing in your studio and still feel that you’ve had the perfect vacay.
My favourite part of my home-away-from-home? THE BATHROOM. There are no words to do it justice, so I’ll just leave this here…
Showering under the palm trees in the middle of a tropical island? Total goals.
How good is the food?
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I’m not ashamed to admit that eating is one of my favourite hobbies, and great food is always pretty high on my priority list when looking for a holiday destination. With six restaurants, two bars and the opportunity to create your own dining experience on the beach, there really is something for everybody at Niyama.
My personal favourite was Tribal: an African-inspired eatery – think all the meats, delectable curries and a dessert tray that would make Willy Wonka proud – with blazing fires.
Subsix is definitely worth a visit too. Six feet under the sea (yes, I was totally living out my childhood dream of starring in The Little Mermaid), it is only accessible by boat.
Dubbed as the perfect place for a ‘subaquatic lunch’, you can chow down on the freshest seafood with a direct view of the ocean floor.
There was one dish that deserves an extra special shout-out (it had me ignoring my fellow diners in favour of Googling the recipe under the dinner table), and it goes by the name of Havaadhulee Bis. The Maldivian dish is basically curried dumplings with a filling of fresh tuna, and it just melts in your mouth. Quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever tried, I’d fly the 5,000+ miles just for another plate – or three – of the stuff.
What can I do there, aside from sunbathe?
Although Niyama is the perfect place to relax and really lose yourself in your surroundings, there’s also plenty to do if you’re the type of person that likes to keep busy. Surf coach Ricardo is always keen to get you riding the waves; whether you’re a beginner or a bit more of a seasoned surfer, there’s going to be a class that suits you.
Of course, being in the middle of the Indian Ocean offers the chance to explore some of nature’s most beautiful sights. With a handful of different boating options, the staff – complete with on-hand marine biologist – are always keen to take you out and show you their back garden. Whether you’re looking to spot dolphins in the wild (I saw hundreds on one trip alone – and I’m not ashamed to admit that it brought a tear to my eye), snorkel around the home of the turtles, scuba dive or just relax on-board to watch the sunset, you’ll leave this place a total water baby.
For the more adventurous, there’s also a whole list of water sports available – including jet skiing, windsurfing and sea bobbing.
Is there a spa?
Tucked away in the middle of the trees is the Niyama spa. Offering a wide variety of treatments in private rooms that look out onto the sea, it really is the perfect place to get some ‘me’ time. I opted for a full body massage and, boy, it didn’t disappoint.
Top tip: if you ask for a massage with coconut oil, it will be home-grown from the island itself – and don’t pass up the head massage, as it leaves your hair feeling ah-mazing.
Niyama Private Islands really does live up to its name; despite boasting two islands (joint together by a beautiful bridge), you really do get a completely personalised and private experience – with all of the beauty and serenity you’d expect from one of the world’s most striking places.
Destinology, the experts in luxury travel, offer a seven night stay to Niyama Private Islands from £3,069 per person, based on two sharing a Beach Studio on a half board basis and including return flights with British Airways from London Gatwick and return shared seaplane transfers. This price valid for travel between 1 October – 19 December 2018.