The Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean do not produce wine. Those living on any of the inhabited two hundred (of over a thousand) coral reef atolls earn their income from fishing or tourism. The highest point on the islands – a golfing tee – is less than ten feet above sea level. All wine is imported (it’s a four-hour flight from the capital of Malé to Dubai, and a one hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka).
The arrival scenario here to the capital city of Malé is unique: walk outside the airport, cross a road, and you stand before an ocean shoreline pier lined with ships waiting to buzz you out to your destination island.
Prepare to unwind.
The Maldives is Islamic, and alcohol you bring into the country is confiscated at customs. However, you’ll be provided with a receipt – and allowed to pick up your bottles on the way out. Resorts operate bars that serve visitors. On exiting the country, the duty-free store at the airport will happily sell you a range of bottles – including first-growth Bordeaux wines.
There are no wine surprises here – most resorts serve basic fare that include both inexpensive and costly Chilean, Californian, French, and New Zealand reds and whites and bubbles to help you unwind during the late afternoon on a white sand beach while watching a gorgeous sunset after a day of diving, snorkeling, sailing, or just reading and taking it easy.
The short video above shows that rather than spending time working on a wine post this past week – I’ve simply been on vacation. Peaceful and quiet. Remedial. With some intriguing aquatic friends…
Most visitors are from Asia and Europe. For example, this is Monsieur and Mademoiselle Roger, from a village near Lille in France. They have come to this same resort for 34 years and speak not a word of English. Filled with energy, they invited me to meet them in the morning to go see ‘a show.’
Curious, I met them at 10.00 am. They led me down some back alleys to where a chef was preparing food by chopping up chickens and throwing scraps into water – where a dozen basking sharks and ten sting rays eagerly tucked into the grub. Children stood nearby (but not too near) taking photos and laughing.
Soon after this visit, the Roger’s and I sat at the sand covered bar, where they drank glasses of scotch before lunch. One evening we shared wine before dinner. The retired doctor raised a glass, called the Maldives parfait, and then toasted to our mutual health – “a votre santé.”