Madelin Tomelty

The Maldives isn’t all about poolside lounging and spa sessions. Tap into your inner child on a spirited recess at Niyama Private Islands…

“I have the best job in the world!” The beaming Maldivian is grinning from ear to ear as he expertly machetes into a green coconut, adds a paper straw and enthusiastically hands it to me. Forget Bhutan, the Buddhist Kingdom often considered the world’s happiest country, I think I’ve found one of the happiest people on the planet right here at Niyama Private Islands, and guests know him as the Coconut Guru.

Maybe he has special psychic powers, too, because I was just beginning to hanker for a drink when the nostalgic sound of someone whistling made my ears prick up – when was the last time I heard someone whistle? As if by magic, there he was on my poolside terrace, and in a jiffy he was off with his cheerful trill to quench the thirst of the next guest. ‘Where am I!?’ I think. But I only have to look at the door of my villa, where a carved wooden sign reads: “Madelin’s Home”. Ah yes, silly me. I’m at my island home in the Maldives.

And you’d be one of the happiest people in the world, too, if you woke up here every morning – a destination widely considered one of the most idyllic and breathtakingly beautiful known to man.

It may as well be a figment of my imagination, or a CGI scene expertly designed by Oscar-winning Hollywood filmmakers. The ocean is flawlessly blue, the light flawlessly dreamy, the sand flawlessly soft, the coconuts flawlessly sweet and the air flawlessly warm – it really is a nightmare – so naturally, I’m never leaving.

I am a Maldives debutante, so I’ve gone into this holiday particularly wide-eyed and excited – after all, I’ve been seeing perfect photos and hearing fairytale stories about this place for years. I expected to be awe-struck, but what I didn’t expect was for the Maldives to spark in me a sense of child-like joy and wonder that has taken me quite by surprise.

I embrace the wide-handlebar bicycle I’m given when I check in (replete with another personalised wooden sign) with the enthusiasm of a BMX Bandit straight out of the 1980s, and cycle around Niyama’s two small islands – Chill and Play – without a care in the world. I’ve heard every podcast and read every Oprah’s Book Club-worthy tome on mindfulness, but it sure does make it easier to live in the moment when your surroundings are as paradisiacal as those found in the Maldives.

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