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Planning trip to Maldives (vs. some other comparable dest)

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Hello all,
I came upon this website http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-most-romantic-islands/9 listing the maldives rangali island as one of the romantic destinations in the world and I...liked the pictures. I am sure there are probably more spectacular/romantic/appealing islands etc, but I somehow was stuck with the images...
I am in the process of convincing myself that is...worth the money to spend, traveling from Boston, MA, to the specific destination for the 15th year anniversary taking my wife there on a (hopefully) romantic getaway. Is it worth it? I mean, for some reason those pictures struck a chord....I am not sure...I may be wrong but it is a gut feeling telling me this is it...do you have any suggestions to convince me otherwise? If not, then, when would it be a good time to go to rangali island? I am thinking of a time that you of course can enjoy swimming mostly, warm weather (80-90s or even higher temps are OK).
At this point I am at the beginning stages of my search so please bear with me and my (possibly) upcoming questions.
Thank you,
yannis

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    Here is the weather data for Male:
    www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3?s=5316&refer=

    Obviously, the big variable is not temperature, but rainfall. These are tropical islands, the weather is always warm/hot.

    Remember that before the hotel was built, this was an uninhabited island. This might be an advantage as far you you are concerned, as isolated may feel more romantic, but it may be a disadvantage if you are looking to experience a different culture. If you want a pampering vacation where the attraction is the beach and nothing else, the Maldives might be the place for you.

    There are, as you know, hundreds of gorgeous beaches elsewhere. Many of these are located in places where you can sample a different culture. Think about what you are looking for and whether the beach-only location is what you want.

    Other places you might want to look into: Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Fiji, Cook Islands, some of the Thai beaches and Malaysian beaches.

    If you are sold on the Maldives, remember that there are quite a number of gorgeous resorts in the Maldives, each on their own island. I wouldn't book the Conrad without looking at other resorts.

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    Yes, the Maldives is very, very, very beautiful. Yes, the people are extremely kind and friendly. But before you get carried away based on a paid article in a travel magazine, the big questions you need to ask yourself are:

    1. Do you want to fly abut 25 hours each way, with 2-3 connections each way, to sit on a beach? From the US, the Maldives is a looooong way. The islands are more popular with Europeans and with Japanese and other Asians as the flight times are more reasonable (and charter flights are offered as well which is not the case for US tourists).

    2. How much time can you devote to this trip? If you have 2 weeks, that can work. If you have 1 week, flying all that way to sit on a beach for 3 days would not be worth it, IMO. In addition to the actual time spend sitting on the plane or in airports waiting for connections, it takes 2 calendar days going out, and a day on the return. So that is 3 days of travel. In addition, for places like the Conrad, you have to take a seaplane flight from Male to reach the hotel (these flights are gorgeous.) However, one thing with sea plane flights is that they cannot fly at night, so with international flights usually arriving and/or departing quite late in the evening, when you depart you may have to leave during the day and hang around the airport for several hours, or on arrival you may have to overnight at the Male airport hotel. This can make a long flight even longer. You might want to look into this before you commit to a location which requires a sea plane flight.

    3. What is your vacation style? The Maldives are not a place to visit if you need shopping, museums, a variety of restaurants, night life, cities or even villages. The Maldives is a beach resort destination only, with diving and snorkeling the primary activities, as well as other water sports like fishing. This is not like the Caribbean where the resort would be in or near a town where you could go for dinner, shopping and local sight-seeing. Each resort is self-contained on its own island, which are completely flat and generally small enough to walk around in 30 minutes or so.(If you want larger islands with mountains, you need to go to Bora Bora.) You generally take all your meals at your resort, unless you are near other resort islands and can hop over to them for a meal. You can make somewhat limited visits to inhabited islands to see island life, these are a little bit canned IMO as you go with a hotel guide usually and only visit quite briefly. (The exception would be if you stayed in the extreme southern atoll in the Gan area, where you could go to Gan on your own for the day and explore that string of connected islands independently and get more of a feel for island life.)

    4. What time of year can you make the trip? The best time of year is December to April, after that the rains appear, and can be heavy with frequent thunderstorms. Not really bad if you like the idea of rain falling on the roof while you lie around with a good book, and the thunderstorms themselves are rather magnificent as the black clouds boil up out of the sea; however not so great if your dream was of snorkeling on sunny days. July and August are historically the middle of the rainy season in the atolls near and north of Male, the capital. For Gan in the south, July and esp August are somewhat of a low rainfall month in Gan, however that area gets more rain overall so it is relative.

    But now for the good stuff: I don’t think I have ever seen more beautiful beaches or water colour anywhere in the world, and the snorkeling and diving are superb. Fishing is supposed to be good too, I don’t fish. For snorkeling, even most house reefs are good, and if you take a boat out for 15 minutes to uninhabited areas, fantastic. The people are, without doubt, the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met (and that include Indians and Thai who offer some pretty stiff competition).

    I have been to the Conrad, and it is a lovely spot. The island is quite small, however, even for a country with many small islands. Also, if you go to the Conrad, I am not sure I would pay for a water villa. I found them to be somewhat poorly designed and so there is almost no privacy and they are noisy, you can hear your neighbors. For less money, I think I would go with a beach villa there.

    There are of course many lovely beaches in closer parts of the world to you. And many romantic beach locations. I see you have been to Greece and parts of the Caribbean, but there are many other spots as well. If you feel a need to go to Asia, a place like Bali would offer far more cultural and other activities as well as a beach (the beaches are not nearly as lovely as the Maldives, although they certainly are pretty). Thailand beaches are very pretty and again would offer the opportunity to combine some cultural experiences and sights. Finally, Hawaii IMO is also very lovely and offers lots of activities and the ease of being able to do most of them on your own.

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    Yes i agree with kathie. I felt a bit confined to the resort when we were in the maldives, nothing to do in the evenings and island hopping wasnt impressive..Much more interesting is mauritius. its also very beautiful but with cultural and historical places, shopping is good - and the people are very nice..on weekends, the main street towards the big market is closed and one hears the beat of african drums.there ia a botanical garden with animals who havent evolved in 100 years, due to its proximity to madagascar and south africa.

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    Hello all,

    Cicerone, Kathie (and pppeaches :). Great analysis/info/advice!!!
    I do recognize that my search was prompted by...impulse more than anything else and I do understand all points made. Having traveled to many places around Europe (and being Greek, I have seen many places in Greece), and having a glimpse of the Carribean, I am inclined to follow your advise. The picture of the Maldives (conrad etc) I am sure is somewhat unique, but I understand there are places probably better with similar 'feel' such as the Bora Bora etc. I am focusing on traveling sometime in February, for a week+Saturday before through the Sunday of the actual week, so actual vacation days 9...
    Cicerone: you made excellent points that I greatly appreciate. I am not the known for my planning/organization skills, so your insights are absolutely valuable. I only have two experiences as a ..planner and both times my wife appreciated my efforts (and indeed we enjoyed the trips). This time I hope I can...surprise her. So, such a long trip is not effective/efficient means for a..surprise. As you pointed out (and I did not mention on my first post as I am at the beginning stages of planning) I would count on a 9 day (including travel time) vacation, during February, looking for a warm/hot spot to swim mostly and of course, now that you mentioned it, enjoy/explore the local culture while having access to small shops, restaurants, etc.
    yannis

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    If you like beaches, you will LOVE the Maldives. I have been there for our five times. The one tip I would have is to try a couple different resorts. I normally stay 2-3 days and then change resorts. I have a number of five-star Maldive resorts reviewed here http://www.bombasticlife.com/place/maldives/

    Drop me a note if you have any questions.

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