Raul and Olivia De Freitas only planned to stay for six days—and then a pandemic broke out. Which meant the South African couple was stranded at a Maldives resort, all alone with the staff, trapped in paradise. "Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island, until you’re actually stuck," Olivia tells the New York Times. "It only sounds good because you know you can leave." It all began when the 28-year-old butcher and 27-year-old teacher splurged on a honeymoon at the Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives, an island resort with room for 180 guests paying at least $750 a night. They arrived March 22 amid the coronavirus outbreak, and were told Wednesday that South Africa's airports were closing Thursday. But it was impossible to reach the local airport in time.
The only other guests slipped out last week, so Raul and Olivia had the beach, the sun, the drinks, the snorkeling, all to themselves, with staff hovering close enough to top up drinks after every sip. "It's incredible that we get this extra time," says Olivia, but even their discounted bill was eating away at a planned house down payment back home. Finally, on Sunday, they were relocated to another five-star resort where South African travelers are being housed until flight permissions are worked out. And they're not alone: Thousands of tourists have been trapped worldwide, including others in paradise. "Never did I think I would find myself sat by a pool in Bali, begging to leave at any cost—but that's exactly the position I was in last week," a British tourist writes in the Guardian after wrangling a flight home. (Read more coronavirus stories.)