The Maldives comprise an archipelago of 1,192 low-lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean sprinkled like beads into 26 atolls. Together they form a tropical nirvana of palm-fringed, white sand beaches, ringed by reef-sheltered, crystal clear lagoons. The waters surrounding the islands are blessed with an immense diversity of marine life. This island nation’s religion is Islam, a legacy of its history as a trading post for Sri Lankan, Arabic and Indian merchant mariners.
What to See?
The skyline of the pocket-sized capital of Malé is dominated by the golden dome of the modern Grand Friday Mosque, while the city’s tightly packed streets are lined with cheerily decorated mid-rise blocks, overflowing food markets and lively tea shops. The springboard to a holiday in the Maldives – the country’s main international airport stands on neighbouring Hulhulé Island. After arriving there, you’re just a speedboat or seaplane trip away from far-flung atoll paradises.
Romantic honeymoons in the Maldives offer seclusion in lavish overwater villas, seaside dining at sunset, luxury spa treatments and gourmet dining enhanced by flawless, friendly service. Tempting as it is to spend your days lazing on powdery beaches, swimming in shallow lagoons or snorkelling over coral gardens, boat trips to residential islands offer the opportunity to glimpse rural village life, purchase traditional sarongs and sample local smoked fish specialities.
What to Do?
The Maldives offer travellers a wide range of adventures, from deep-sea fishing to kayaking, kite surfing and wakeboarding. You’ll also find some of the world’s best scuba diving in the Maldives, at sites such as Banana Reef in North Malé Atoll and Alimatha Jetty in Vaavu Atoll, known for night diving. Underwater you’ll encounter a spectacular world of coral reefs inhabited by hawksbill and green turtles, manta rays, angelfish swaying in the current and shoals of colourful fish darting in unison through the depths. For surfers, the best time to visit the Maldives is between April and October, when monsoon winds generate swells.
Where to Eat?
The local cuisine combines fresh fish from its rich natural larder with spices inherited from its past as a trading post. Dishes include fragrant Sri Lankan fish curries and garudiya, a fish broth with chilli, served with rice. National dishes include mahi-mahi cooked with coconut, while breakfast often features mas huni – chopped tuna with onions, coconut and chilli. Local dishes, along with international gourmet menus, are popular resort offerings.