Tonga: pitch perfect

Tongan Beach Resort  PHOTO: Belle Jackson

“We Tongans party today, and there’s nothing on the table tomorrow,” a
Tongan woman tells me as we queue at Tongatapu’s airport. It’s 2am, I
haven’t even set foot in the country and already I’ve been warned that
Tongans are hardened socialites.

Looking around, I realise it’s true. You’re nobody if you’re not
kissing a staff member. Customs officers, passport controllers, baggage
handlers – they’re all wrapped in warm, loving embraces from the
passengers from our plane, all serenade by a tuneful, live ukulele band.
I guess there’s a reason why Captain Cook called them the Friendly
Islands.

My recent story in Air Niugini’s inflight magazine, Paradise,
finds the song of Tonga, from ukulele bands at the airport to the
ancient, deep and almost mournful whalesong that reverberates through
the water and into my bones.

It’s not a country high on the tourism radar, and I can’t work out
why. Surely the great Aussie tropical getaway is the new one-two – first
stop Fiji, second stop Tonga (the whale-loving archipelago of Vava’u is
now connected by direct flights to the Fijian capital, Nadi).

Tonga: pitch perfect

Tonga Belinda Jackson.JPG
Tongan Beach Resort  PHOTO:Belle Jackson

“We Tongans party today, and there’s nothing on the table tomorrow,” a Tongan woman tells me as we queue at Tongatapu’s airport. It’s 2am, I haven’t even set foot in the country and already I’ve been warned that Tongans are hardened socialites.

Looking around, I realise it’s true. You’re nobody if you’re not kissing a staff member. Customs officers, passport controllers, baggage handlers – they’re all wrapped in warm, loving embraces from the passengers from our plane, all serenade by a tuneful, live ukulele band. I guess there’s a reason why Captain Cook called them the Friendly Islands.

My recent story in Air Niugini’s inflight magazine, Paradise, finds the song of Tonga, from ukulele bands at the airport to the ancient, deep and almost mournful whalesong that reverberates through the water and into my bones.

It’s not a country high on the tourism radar, and I can’t work out why. Surely the great Aussie tropical getaway is the new one-two – first stop Fiji, second stop Tonga (the whale-loving archipelago of Vava’u is now connected by direct flights to the Fijian capital, Nadi).

 

 

Smoking hot: Volcano tourism

Fascinated by nature’s spectacular fireworks, a breed of adventurers chase volcanic eruptions around the world.

 

Peering into a chasm into the earth’s crust is the chance to peer into creation – pits of bubbling, boiling lava, deep rumbling voices from our planet’s core, plumes of sulphurous gases and the spectacular, powerful arcs of red-hot, molten lava shooting into a darkened sky.

For some, it’s a glimpse into hell. For others, it’s the perfect holiday.

“I guess we’re like storm chasers and people who want to see solar eclipses – we’re in the same family,” says Belgian geologist Dr Ingrid Smet, a guide for Volcano Adventures (VA).

My piece on volcano tourism was published in Paradise, the inflight magazine of Papua New Guinea’s national airline, Air Nuigini. If you’re not on an Air Nuigini flight any time soon, you can read the full article here.

Welcome to Australia’s best beach (which you’ve probably never heard of)

Cossies Beach, Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Photo: Rik Soderlund

It’s official: Australia’s best beach is …drum roll… probably nowhere you’ve ever been.

This week past saw a chat with beach expert Brad Farmer, who has
ventured across Australia, boardies on, notebook in hand, to find our
best beach. His new book lists the top 101 beaches in Australia.

 
He reckons he’s visited about 4000 of Australia’s 11,000-plus
beaches, and the best beach is the newly named Cossies Beach on the tiny
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, about 4.5 hours north-west of Perth. 
The
island group is on the extreme fringe of our marine waters, and better
known for border patrols than beach patrols.
 
Farmer’s research isn’t driven by hotel companies, website stats or
private equity funds, he says. He worked with Tourism Australia, which
says the value of our beaches to the economy need to be appreciated, and
capitalised upon.
 
Also in the top 10 best beaches are strips on another distant
outpost, Christmas Island. Some people will roll their eyes that the
Gold Coast is underrepresented, or that Bondi should be top o’ list. But
I think it’s refreshing that we explore past the everyday.
 
As Brad told me,”Australia is one of the last countries you can
actually go and explore. Go a little further, open your eyes, explore.”
 
It’s a motto to live by.

Click here to read the full story, which appeared in Fairfax Media’s Traveller website.

Welcome to Australia’s best beach (which you’ve probably never heard of)

 

cossiesbeach
Cossies Beach, Cocos (Keling) Island. Photo: Rick Soderlund

It’s official: Australia’s best beach is …drum roll… probably nowhere you’ve ever been.

This week past saw a chat with beach expert Brad Farmer, who has ventured across Australia, boardies on, notebook in hand, to find our best beach. His new book lists the top 101 beaches in Australia.

He reckons he’s visited about 4000 of Australia’s 11,000-plus beaches, and the best beach is the newly named Cossies Beach on the tiny Cocos (Keeling) Islands, about 4.5 hours north-west of Perth. The island group is on the extreme fringe of our marine waters, and better known for border patrols than beach patrols.
Farmer’s research isn’t driven by hotel companies, website stats or private equity funds, he says. He worked with Tourism Australia, which says the value of our beaches to the economy need to be appreciated, and capitalised upon.
Also in the top 10 best beaches are strips on another distant outpost, Christmas Island. Some people will roll their eyes that the Gold Coast is underrepresented, or that Bondi should be top o’ list. But I think it’s refreshing that we explore past the everyday.
As Brad told me,”Australia is one of the last countries you can actually go and explore. Go a little further, open your eyes, explore.”
It’s a motto to live by.

Click here to read the full story, which appeared in Fairfax Media’s Traveller website.

Dolphin Island Fiji: Family experience for a chosen few

Private paradise: Dolphin Island accommodates only six people.
Private paradise: Dolphin Island accommodates only six people.

I’ll be blunt, 2014 was a crappy year for our family,
with loved ones lost and the distances separating those of us remaining
felt keenly.
I needed low-fuss nurturing, the chance to reconnect
with my private thoughts and to reconstruct a life without someone who’d
been there from the moment I was born.
The doctor prescribes
meditation and contemplation, the world-map dartboard prescribes Dolphin
Island, at the very tip of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.
When you book the island, you get the island, and selfishness is
indulged: you won’t be sharing any of your island paradise with other
guests.  
Yes, the island is exclusive, but it’s not opulent in a razzle-dazzle, show-me-the-money kinda way…
To read more about Fiji’s Dolphin Island in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper, click here

Switch to island time: Escape to the South Pacific

Balmy nights, glo-bright beaches, lush greenery, and
welcoming people: the reasons for a South Pacific island holiday are as
clear as its aquamarine waters. Just follow our South Pacific island
travel guide for travelling like a pro.

The hotspots

While Fiji and Vanuatu are permanent favourites for Australian
holidaymakers, we’re now starting to discover upcoming stars, such as
the secretive Solomon Islands and PNG, while the Cook Islands and French
influences of New Caledonia are enjoying a renaissance. No matter if
you’re a diver, beachcomber or dedicated lounge lizard, it all boils
down to the beach. Kick start your island dreams at South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

Flying there

The main airlines linking the South Pacific include Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific,) Qantas, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Smaller national carriers such as PNG’s Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu , New Caledonia’s Air Calin and Solomon Airlines
hook Australia up to its nearest neighbours. Keep an eye out for sales
and you might snap up a flight from east-coast Australia to Nadi, Fiji
for around $650 return, and $250 return for kids under 12. During the
low season (November to May), $600 will get you to Noumea in New
Caledonia. Put skyscanner on your must-visit list, to compare flight prices and dates.

Cruising there

The South Pacific is our most popular cruise destination, with New
Caledonia’s Isle of Pines and Vanuatu’s Champagne Beach providing the
classic postcard backdrop to a South Pacific cruise. Choose your style:
from champagne luxury to party ships or the range of exploratory small
ships that are now discovering the hidden corners of thousands of
islands. P&O Cruises
offers wallet-friendly seven-night cruises departing Australia for New
Caledonia from $899, quad share in an interior room, which is always
cheapest, compared with $1999 a person for a suite. A good jumping-off
point for cruise comparisons is cruiseabout.

Getting around

What’s your tribe? The fly-and-flop brigade, who are content to be
spoilt poolside, or do you get out amongst the locals? The Pacific
islands each have their own special mode of transport: from PNG’s banana
boats that skip between its islands to Vanuatu’s little island-hopping
planes to the many live aboard boats that let you sleep on board,
stopping to visit a local village, get the snorkel on or take a dive. A
three-night cruise through Fiji’s Yasawa islands aboard Captain Cook Cruises
live aboard MV Reef Endeavour costs from $980 a person, twin share.
Island-hopping plane transfers are usually priced into packages. If
you’re booking them yourself, get in early as the small planes fill
quickly.

Staying there

Nothing kicks off romance like a glowing sunset over calm waters.
South Pacific island holidays have more than their fair share of
super-luxe hideaways. Fiji’s top resorts can command over $1000 a night
for a slice of private paradise. For some spectacular beach island
eye-candy, check out the all-inclusive, complete island hire at Dolphin Island and Wadigi Island, or the luxe resorts at Likuliku Lagoon and Matagi Island.

For flight-hotel packages from glam to fam, check out Creative Holidays
Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Cook Islands packages: you can pay
around $2000 a person for a week’s stay in the glam Raratonga Beach
Resort & Spa, with international flights, kids’ crèche and clubs,
daily cocktail parties and activities. Sleepy Samoa, as yet undeveloped
by the big international chains, offers good value, while going local in
a PNG village stay costs from $60 a night. Bookings.com and skyscanner.com yield unusual finds for those who prefer to wing it.

Hip pocket talk

As a rule of thumb, flight-and-hotel packages in the South Pacific
offer the best value, thanks to the big travel companies’ muscular
buying power. Check the fine print for meal packages, pay-seven,
stay-five deals and other bonuses. Kids under 12 can usually stay and
eat free when sharing with their parents, and many of the airlines offer
very reasonable kids’ air fares. Bargain hunters can slip into the
fringe of the wet, windy season to score a deal. Traditionally, the
South Pacific’s hot, rainy season runs from November to April, while May
to October is peak season, thanks to clear skies and lower humidity,
however climate change does throw a few curve balls.

Prices correct at time of publishing.

This article by Belinda Jackson was published on Art of Money blog by GE Money.

Farewell, toxic world: Takeoff travel news

SPA
Farewell, toxic
world
Learn to achieve true wellness in a world where we are
exposed daily to toxins, in a once-off retreat at the luxurious Gwinganna
Lifestyle Retreat. The two-night retreat on the Gold Coast hinterland is led by
Professor Marc Cohen, head of Wellness Discipline in the School of Health
Sciences at RMIT University. With simple solutions to reduce your exposure and
increase your wellbeing, ‘Wellness in a Toxic World’ runs May 22-24. The
weekend includes two nights’ eco-accommodation, all organic food and drinks, transfers
from Gold Coast airport and a 50-minute massage in the indoor/outdoor Spa Sanctuary.
Costs from $1175 a person, twin share. Phone 1800 219 272, see
gwinganna.com.  

FOOD
Master host
Eat like a local, with a local, on a new food tour by
Masterchef winner and proud Tasmanian Ben Milbourne. Like armies, adventurers
travel on their stomachs and we have an appetite for Tassie’s burgeoning food
tourism scene, unsurprising given that the isle produces not only apples, but
also truffles, wasabi, rare-breed meats, single malt whiskey and chocolate. And
that’s aside from the staples of salmon and wine. On the One Degree Experience
tour, Ben wines and dines up to eight guests at his residence,
Fairholme, a 1920s farmhouse in Spreyton, 10 minutes from Devonport. You’ll hit
the big guns, such as Hellyer’s
Road Distillery and Anvers House of Chocolate, but also go off-piste in
north-west Tasmania to dig out boutique beer, ginseng and dairy from the hands
of the producers themselves. The tailor-made tours include lunch, a take-home
hamper, cooking demo and five-course degustation dinner. From $550 a
person.  Phone 0428 266 545, see benmilbourne.com.au.
GEAR
Light and bright
The old design maxim, “Say it in French,
it always sounds better,” also rings true for visual appeal – the Lipault Paris
luggage range is sure to brighten the world’s baggage carousels with its two
new spring-inspired colours, duck blue and orange. Taking cues from Parisian
catwalks, designer François Lipovetsky has ultra-lightweight luggage cred,
having created baggage for Air France.
The Original Plume is a soft-sided wheeled trolley that comes in three sizes,
55cm (2.8kg), 65cm (3.4kg) and 92cm (3.8kg), from $229. Best of all, it’s
foldable, so your storage cupboards aren’t full of bulky suitcases between
jaunts. Match it up with the Lady Plume carry-all, $99. First launched in 2005
and recently purchased by Samsonite, the Lipault Paris range has been available
in Australia only since November. Snap up in all the best places; Selfridges in
London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris or Myer in Australia, or phone 1800 331 690.
STAYCATION
Bird’s eye view
Think staycation, think walking past your office
on a weekend? Sail to a secluded island with world-class views, but still use
your metro card to get there when you stay on Cockatoo Island. The Sydney
Harbour Federation Trust has added a new two-bedroom apartment to the
accommodation on the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is on the Balmain ferry
route. The new self-contained apartment has a balcony facing the
harbour, an enclosed garden and sleeps up to four. Formerly a police station,
learn about the Federation-era building on an audio tour of Cockatoo Island’s
history or call for cocktails beneath striped umbrellas and watch the sun set
at the Island Bar. The Cockatoo Island Garden Apartment has a full
kitchen, laundry and all linen. Costs from $370 a night, midweek, or $280 as a
one-bedroom stay. See cockatooisland.gov.au.
CRUISE
That’s the Spirit
A new restaurant, more bars, two new cinemas and new
recliners are on the cards when the hardworking Tasmanian ferries, the Spirit of Tasmania I and II, undergo
major makeovers over the coming months. It’s the first time in 13 years the
ships will have had a major refit since they started working the Melbourne-Devonport
route in 2002. All decks will have changes, including refurbishment of the
deluxe cabins and a refresh in all other classes, a new kids’ zone and teen
area, and new lounge areas to showcase Tasmanian wines, ciders and beers. Some
things don’t change. “We’re still going to have the same ocean views, relaxing
atmosphere and sensational Tasmanian cuisine,” says Spirit of Tasmania CEO
Bernard Dwyer. The refurbishment will be complete by September. The Spirit of Tasmania ships are also increasing
day sailings this year, and offering half-price travel from May 16 to September
17 when you book by April 4. Day sailings cost from $43 one-way, night sailings
from $48 one-way in an ocean recliner. Phone 1800 634 906, see spiritoftasmania.com.au.
TECH
A novel idea
What’s the quintessential read of New York, Vietnam or
even Brisbane? Find a book that captures the soul of your destination with
tripfiction.com, which links up books and the regions in which they’re set. The
British website was born in 2012 with just 1000 books, and now has five times that
amount, covering fiction and non-fiction including memoirs, across 1100
locations. It’s free to register, which will allow you to create your own
must-read list. You can also add your own books and reviews, which are moderated
by the site’s founders, Tina Hartas and Tony Geary. The discussion board turns
up some interesting topics, from ‘best Scandiavian noir’ to ‘new Yemeni
thriller’, and is sure to guarantee itchy feet. For those who travel by
airplane or armchair. See tripfiction.com.
The Takeoff travel news, by Belinda Jackson, is published every Sunday in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper’s Traveller section.  

Sand-sational: Traveller writers divulge their favourite beaches

Sunset over Vomo Island, Fiji Photo: Getty Images.

Happy New Year, everyone!  The sun is hot, the beach is calling. While I’ve been unashamedly Instagramming sunsets from the beaches of my childhood, on the Mornington Peninsula (click here for a peek), I recently contributed my Pacific finds to a hitlist of the best strips of sand, from city-slick to rustic romance.

PERFECT PACIFIC ISLAND BEACH
Vomo Island, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji 
WHY I
LOVE IT
Maybe
it’s the memory of skimming the waves on a little Hobie Cat or maybe it’s the
“Say it, it will happen” attitude of the private island resort, but
the beach on Vomo Island holds a special place in my heart. Most of Fiji’s best
beaches are found in the Mamanuca Islands and further north, in the Yasawa
Islands group, north-west of Nadi. After all, this is where The Blue Lagoon, the
movie that started it all, was filmed in 1980. Roll out of your beachside bure
and it’s hello, tranquil turquoise water! And prepare for your heart to melt
when you see Vomo’s baby-turtle breeding program.
WHAT TO
DO
Be sun
smart and pack a rash vest. The snorkelling is excellent, but no-one likes
burnt backs and calves. And don’t spend all day in the water or in your
hammock. The sundowners at Vomo’s Rocks Sunset Bar are a must. The dry season
is from May to October, and the rainy season from November to April.  
DON’T
MISS
If tiny
Vomo still isn’t private enough for you (it has just 30 bures and villas), get
schmoozy on uninhabited Vomo Lailai (or Little Vomo), a few minutes away.
Here’s the recipe for a perfect day: a picnic hamper, bottle of something that
sparkles and favourite person. First in gets exclusive use of the island.
NEED TO
KNOW
Vomo
Island is about 90 minutes with South Sea Cruises from Denarau Marina, or go
the luxe option, with a 15-minute flight by helicopter. Bures cost from about
$1136 a night, full board. vomofiji.com.

FIVE MORE GREAT PACIFIC ISLAND BEACHES 

TAPUAETAI (ONE FOOT ISLAND), AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS It’s uninhabited,
yet one of the most touristy beaches in the Cook Islands, so you may see
another boat, and the (unstaffed) post office, which sends your postcards off
with a foot stamped on them.
CHAMPAGNE BEACH, VANUATU It doesn’t get all that attention by being
ugly. White sands, swaying palms and turquoise waters make it a living
postcard. Nearby Lonnoc Beach provides more of the same with fewer people.
LONG BEACH, KADAVU ISLAND, FIJI Sensibly named, this beach is on
Fiji’s fourth-largest and little explored island. The big lure is the Great
Astrolabe Reef, with its spectacular drop-offs, but snorkelling straight off
the beach is no hardship either.
MAROVO LAGOON, NEW GEORGIA ISLANDS, SOLOMON ISLANDS This one is on my
2015 hit list, because it’s the longest saltwater lagoon on the planet, it’s
heritage listed, it’s fringed by ancient volcanos and the rainforest stops
where the sand begins.
MONU ISLAND AND MONURIKI ISLAND, FIJI They are highlights of the
Mamanuca Islands. Deserted, sandy beaches lead down to wildly colourful coral
gardens and marine life, offering sensational snorkelling. Trivia hit: Cast
Away
, starring Tom Hanks, was filmed on Monuriki.

This feature was published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper. Click here to read the full story.

Como Maalifushi Maldives: Pint-sized paradise

This new, luxury resort in the Maldives delivers a world of
pleasure, writes Belinda Jackson.
It took me three days to realise I’d lost my shoes. I’d kicked
them off the day I hit the Maldives and never put them back on again until I
crash-landed into the howling winds of a Melbourne winter, tragic in glittery,
strappy sandals. I think the shoes are still on Maalifushi, a remote island
resort in the south-west of the remote island nation.
Let me share some fashion advice about packing for the
Maldives. The first point is: don’t bother bringing heels. They get stuck in
the sand, and every resort worth its sea salt has a sand floor restaurant, lobby
or walkway. The second fashion tip is: unless you’re going to sweat it out on a
treadmill, leave your runners behind, too. Preferred sports on these balmy
isles are barefoot – swimming, yoga and messing about in boats.
 The new Maalifushi by COMO is the Singaporean hotel group’s
second Maldivian resort. The first, Cocoa Island by COMO, is 40 minutes by
speedboat from Male airport, past a plethora of single-resort islands. In
comparison, Maalifushi is the only hotel in the isolated Thaa Atoll, deep in
the vast Indian Ocean.
An aerial view of the tiny resort. 
Getting to Maalifushi is half the adventure. At Male airport,
we learn that the closest airport, Thimarafushi, is closed because ocean swells
have engulfed the runway. “It’s a very, very low atoll,” a local
tells me. “Very good for surfing, very bad for flying.”
Instead, we fly to tiny Kadhdhoo airport then board a very
white, very luxurious pleasure cruiser. Flying fish skip alongside the boat,
and the water changes abruptly from deep ocean blue to pinch-me-I’m-dreaming
turquoise as, after two hours, we pull up at the island. It is a study in green
coconut palms and raked yellow sand, tiny crabs scattering at our footfalls.
Maalifushi is tiny: even by Sydney standards, 800 by 200
metres ain’t a lot of real estate. To compensate, the spa’s eight treatment
rooms, Japanese restaurant Tai and 33 suites and villas are off land and over
water, connected by timber boardwalks. Absolute beachfront is claimed by 22
suites and the two-bedroom, 296-metre-square COMO residence, at almost $7000 a
night in peak season.
My room is, quite simply, breathtaking. Forget shiny surfaces,
this is a decorating exercise in island chic. White curtains billow from the
four-poster bed, the high-pitched ceiling is thatched, the deep bath is
unpolished marble, and the timber deck leads out to a thatched bale beside my
plunge pool. There are indoor and outdoor rain showers, daybeds and sofas. In
fact, there are so many places to sit, I don’t know where to start. Ripping off
clothes and leaping into the pool seems a good start. Shy? Think twice about
skinny-dipping – the deck’s not as private as you’d first think.
Island chic decor sets the tone for a blissful break.

Banish any notion that all this gorgeousness is reserved only
for lovestruck couples. The kids’ club is a jaunty affair with swings and
climbing apparatus, and there are six very private garden suites targeted at
families who don’t want to mix young children and plunge pools. The
well-equipped dive centre has quality Japanese masks for all shapes and sizes,
and the kitchen promises to cater for all tastes and dietary persuasions.

The COMO brand is all about luxury pampering: the signature
scent is a cool blend of peppermint and eucalyptus best served on cold towels.
The spa is a palatial affair and COMO’s signature Shambala spa cuisine offers
an array of organic deliciousness featuring seed breads, healthful juices and
sublime local raw fish, which is unsurprising given the country’s national fish
is the yellowfin tuna, its national tree the coconut palm. The weekly seafood
barbecue is an extravaganza of local lobster, a carpaccio of kingfish, trout
and tuna, and sweet rock shrimp.
Unfortunately, I realise the food is actually too good, when
breakfast comprises saffron-poached pears with papaya and lime, watermelon
juice, eggwhite omelette, French toast with fresh mango and a lavish porridge
made from crushed almonds. It’s all healthy, I tell myself (OK, maybe not the
French toast).
I try burning off the excess with a healing, Shambala
signature massage and join marine biologist Francesco on a tiny speedboat to
play with happy little spinner dolphins who gambol alongside us, occasionally
thrusting into the air to spin once, twice, thrice, just for sheer joy. There’s
talk of year-round whale shark spotting.
One evening, three of us take a pre-dinner night snorkelling
safari. It’s a first for all of us, and we lower ourselves gingerly into the
dark water. Call me unAustralian, but the marine life in the Maldives makes our
reef look like a jaded nightclub at the end of the night, just a few old
groupers hanging out, trying their tired old lines. A young green turtle glides
beneath us, which I find slightly disconcerting but completely exhilarating.
Nocturnal surgeonfish are everywhere and the most beautiful purple spotted
starfish are surely the mirrorballs of the Maldivian seas.
Marine life aside, the big drawcard for Maalifushi is its surf
breaks. The luxury surf safari group TropicSurf has a shack on the island and
the staff are constantly discovering new reef breaks. Farms is the best-known,
which TropicSurf calls “the perfect right-hander” in peak season,
from April to October.
Back on my villa’s deck, I discover a set of stairs that lead
down into the island’s lagoon. Moments later, I’m swimming with some rather
nonchalant little black-and-white striped reef fish called Moorish idols.
Professor Google tells me Africa’s Moors considered them “bringers of
happiness”. The sky overhead is clear and blue, the water I’m swimming in
is clear and blue. Their mission is accomplished.
The writer travelled as a guest of COMO Hotels.
TRIP NOTES 
GETTING THERE There are no direct flights from Australia to the Maldives.
Fly via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore with Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines or
Virgin Australia. Australians are issued a free visa on their arrival in the
Maldives. See malaysiaairlines.com, singaporeair.com, virginaustralia.com.
GETTING AROUND Maalifushi is a 50-minute flight from Male Airport to
Thimarafushi, followed by a 25-minute boat ride. COMO Resorts plans to operate
a seaplane between its two resorts.
STAYING THERE Maalifushi’s “soft-opening” special allows for
low-season rates until December 26. Garden suites from $820 a night, water
suites from $1400 a night. COMO Villas are open for bookings. See website
(left).
MORE INFORMATION visitmaldives.comcomohotels.com.
This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.