I’m sitting in a thatched wooden villa on stilts perched over water so clear, aquamarine and sparkling it could be an enormous ad for swimming pool chemicals. Except that it’s completely natural and the Barracudas in this water aren’t attached to a pool pump – they’re the real deal.
Hairdryers are going as Robynne Kahn, COSMO’s fierce special projects fashion director picks accessories for gorgeous, exotic Grace to wear with the insanely hot swimsuit she’s modelling. Laid-back hip-hop is pumping from Jacques’ iPod. He’s the photographer. He’s blonde, tattooed and has a tan that testifies to many a shoot in a tropical location. Perhaps the Maldives is just another day at work for him. But for some of us, they’re pretty astounding.
I knew this was going to be one fairly awesome trip when I saw the word ‘seaplane’ on my itinerary. You see, in the Maldives, the islands are sort of incidental. They’re really just there to give definition to all the water. The way you get around here is either in boats, or in boats with wings.
When I arrived in Male, touching down on the world’s shortest international runway (which covers the entire length of an island), I was taken straight to the seaplane terminal for my flight to five-star luxury resort Diva, where I’d be joining the rest of the COSMOPOLITAN SA Swimwear shoot crew.
It was a little odd to climb off a wooden jetty into a plane that rocked, helped in by crew wearing flip-flops (some of the pilots were strolling around barefoot). As we took off, I gazed out of the window at little islands, apparently completely given over entirely to one resort each, and lots of what looked like the fairy circles in the Namib desert, except that the patterns here are made in water, rather than sand. These, I’m guessing, are atolls.
We landed with a splash beside a strip of white sand fringed with palms. ‘Welcome to Paradise,’ said a smiling young woman. Yeah, yeah yeah. Everyone calls every tropical island ‘paradise’. It’s admittedly kinda a hackneyed thing to say. Except, I thought, looking around at the softly shushing sea, the lush foliage and the luxurious, open air lounge, perhaps this time it’s true…