We find ourselves daydreaming of exotic getaways daily, and few places around the world are more appealing than The Maldives — a sexy, sunny, romantic, glamorous and remote hideaway where fish swim happily in the warm Indian Ocean. Yet for whatever reason, we still haven't made it to the tropical nation... it’s on our list!
When we heard that one of our dear friends and forever in a summer state of mind muse — writer Christina Pérez — recently got back from a glorious stay in Baa Atoll, we wanted photos. And we thought given we can’t transport ourselves (and all of you!) there, what better way to escape the tail end of winter than to experience the slice of tropical paradise by living vicariously through Christina’s trip. Given she was already in Asia, getting to The Maldives was easy — just a one and a half hour flight from Sri Lanka. If you’re interested in South Asia, Christina recommends visiting Sri Lanka and The Maldives during the same trip.
Surfing was high at the top of her list of activities, and let’s just say her expectations were met. "I’ve never seen such ridiculous beaches, such clear water. It takes about 45 minutes to walk around the entire island and it’s just one unending beach the whole way round," she says. Christina was also impressed by a surprising but oh-so welcomed no shoes policy: “they actually take your shoes away from you upon arrival; it's a whole thing. You’re on island time, now! It's all barefoot-luxury — one-piece swimsuits, sarongs, pretty dresses, elegant resort wear. The Maldives is not an inexpensive place to visit; there’s definitely an aura of sunkissed glamour". Sign us up!
We spoke with Christina about her travels, writing career, and why she loves surfing in the Maldives...
You've written for publications such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Departures Refinery29 and ELLE among others — did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Writing has always come somewhat naturally, but I didn’t really think of myself as a writer until fairly recently. It took me a long time to take it seriously — to lean into it confidently and take risks. I didn’t always know I wanted to write professionally, but I also didn’t always believe I had something to say or that people would care to read it. But growing up I definitely knew I wanted to do something creative. I thought that meant being an artist; I majored in fashion illustration. I still love making art. I guess I just like making stuff in general —writing, painting, drawing, sewing, taking pictures, making fragrances — it all comes from the same energy; a need to share and connect. The mediums are different but the desire is the same.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
This is going to sound strange, but losing my job. It was ultimately the catalyst for me to go freelance and forge my own path. I’ve actually been laid off from almost every magazine I’ve been on staff at, and each time it reinforced the idea that you really can't depend on anything being “secure” or “permanent” — you can only rely on yourself; you have to choose yourself. It made me stronger. That said, I am so very grateful for all my years as a staff editor; not only for the things I learned but for the people I met — people who became mentors and friends. A couple years ago, when I was working in the office at Vogue, I was going through an incredibly hard time in my personal life. My boss, Sally Singer — a legendary editor who I’d been in awe of for my entire career — took me out for lunch, bought me a glass of wine, and gave me the most beautiful, thoughtful advice I’ve ever received. Those are the moments that stand out more than anything.
You also have your own lifestyle journal, Inside Elsewhere – how do you balance that with your freelance projects?
I’d like to say that I’m great at balancing all of my endeavors but I’m not. I always find it a challenge to do all the work I want to do and make money and be creative and — maybe most importantly — have fun and stay present. I haven’t updated Inside Elsewhere in quite some time. In all honesty, mostly that's for personal reasons; I started Inside Elsewhere with my ex and now it feels like a time capsule from another era, one that feels strange to continue in the same form. I’m working on a way to resurrect that vibe in a way that reflects something new. Stay tuned.
You travel a lot (goals!). Tell us about your favorite destinations.
In general, I love places that feel out of the way — especially if they have palm trees and warm, surf-able waves. The south coast of Sri Lanka is a recent favorite. But, really, I always joke that every place is my favorite place. Not because I’m not picky — I’m picky AF — but I think one of my greatest strengths is finding the best of what a place has to offer. I enjoy looking for the good.
You just came back from The Maldives, what was it like?
I spent one glorious week at Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll. The interesting thing about the Maldives is that you don’t really go anywhere once you’ve arrived at your hotel. For the most part, each resort is its own self-contained destination on its own private island, so you’re pretty restricted as far as where you want to eat or drink unless you take a sea plane or boat to another island. But, from what I understand, every resort has pretty incredible options; it's not the kind of destination where you're roughing it by any means. Soneva Fushi is dedicated to sustainability and has its own organic farms that provides most of the ingredients for its many restaurants. There was also a cheese cellar, a chocolate room, and a chef’s table hosted by on ever-changing roster of world famous chefs. Let’s just say I ate very well!
Any favorite activities?
The snorkeling and diving are obviously epic, but I was there for the surf. It doesn't work all the time, but when it's good, it's amazing; the waves break over barrier reefs that are just teaming with the most colorful fish. You get to them via boat—and then the boat just leaves you out there in the middle of the ocean with the sea horses and turtles. Soneva Fushi has a sustainable surf program that is pretty impressive; I fell in love with their selection of nontoxic Timbertek Firewire boards.