This ultimate tropical paradise, with a thousand picture-perfect islands is lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and attracts a diverse crowd from couples and families to celebrities and jet-setters.
State-of-the-art spas and simple yet elegant accommodation, often set upon stilts on the sand are just a few delights this Indian Ocean archipelago offers.
Scuba divers will be in heaven and there are endless near-deserted coves for die-hard beach bums. You will have to splash out, but it could easily be the best money you’ve ever spent on a holiday.
Getting there/getting around the Maldives
All international flights arrive into the capital Male. From there, transfers to all the main hotels and resorts are normally by seaplane. Other than hopping on a small boat to explore other beaches, you’re unlikely to need any other modes of transport.
Beaches in the Maldives
In a land with thousands of the world’s best beaches, it’s pretty hard to pick out one or two of the best. They’re all amazing.
However, the beaches at the more upmarket Cocoa Island resort lie directly beside the Guraidhoo channel, one of the best spots for snorkelling in the Maldives. If you want to check out the aquatic life, just walk down the steps from your villa and straight into the crystal-clear waters.
Sightseeing in the Maldives
The only sights of any real note are in Male. Check out the Islamic Centre and the Grand Mosque, with its huge gold dome. There’s also the superb grounds of the Sultan Park, which surrounds the three-storey museum (all that’s left of the Sultan’s Palace), housing antiques and interesting relics.
For a real taste of life in the Maldives, pay a visit to one of the city’s many bustling markets. The huge fish market is especially good for a bit of people-watching. You may recognise some of the catch on offer from one of your diving excursions in one of the world-class diving sites in the area.
Family activities in the Maldives
This is a place for kicking back and doing little, so the main pursuits for active families will involve playing on the beach and snorkelling. There are plenty of watersports in most resorts and slightly older kids will enjoy learning to sail or windsurf. Many hotels have other sports on offer such as tennis or horse riding.
Day trips in the Maldives
Diving, fishing and snorkelling trips run from most hotels. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes chose to explore several of the thousand islands on a yacht, so why not splash out and do the same. This is a great way to live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies. Alternatively, spend a day on some of the islands inhabited by locals for a completely different view of life in paradise.
Eating out in the Maldives
The location of the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean, means that the cuisine has Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese and African influences. The seafood is out of this world and if you’ve been out fishing for the day, they’ll normally cook your catch back at the resort.
Otherwise, fish curries and soups are very popular and on most menus. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, all the big hotels cater for international tastes and can serve more familiar food. If you are feeling adventurous though, try local specialities such as bis haluvaa, a creamy egg side dish and lonumirus, a coconut sauce that goes with fruit dishes.
Nightlife in the Maldives
There isn’t much of a nightlife in the Maldives. Aside from enjoying a cocktail or an ice-cold beer as you watch the sun go down, this is a place to relax and unwind. If you enjoy a bit of clubbing, then maybe this destination isn’t for you. The best you’ll find is the odd bit of live music in some of the hotels at the weekends.
Shopping in the Maldives
Aside from hotel gift shops, you have to visit Male if you want to purchase souvenirs. T-shirts, sarongs, finely woven mats known as kunaa and lacquer ornaments are all good buys. Be sure to stay away from coral and seashell trinkets as it’s illegal to take them through customs.