Above the surface
With more than a thousand islands to its name, the Maldives has no shortage of beaches for sun-thirsty holidaymakers. Each island is limited to only a couple of resorts, which means you’re treated to a bevy of wide open spaces. And we aren’t just talking any beaches, here. In the Maldives, the shores are virtually untouched, paved with white sands and aquamarine water as far as the eye can see.
With these resorts typically come exclusive watersports centres too, so getting active on the waves is always on the menu. Banana boats, kayaking and snorkelling are up for grabs, along with private boat tours, submarine rides and paddle boarding.
North Male Atoll is the top surfing destination in the Maldives, with its island Huraa having 15 breaks located around its shore. If it’s the opposite end of the spectrum you’re after on your cheap Maldives holidays, there are boats that’ll transport you to even more tranquil, uninhabited islands too.
Below the surface
The Maldives are renowned for their vast underwater ecosystems – a whopping 90% of the destination is beneath the ocean’s surface, after all. Many of the islands are partially comprised of coral reefs that act as private front gardens for a number of resorts.
In this patch of the Indian Ocean alone, there are more than 180 species of coral reef below the surface. Meemu Atoll, a group of islands in the centre of the Maldives has huge coral reefs on either side, making it an ideal diving opportunity.
Needless to say that the scuba diving and snorkelling potential here is massive. Gaagu Alifu Atoll is just one of the fantastic underwater diving hotspots, with water that hides hundreds of species of fish, as well as a variety of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, molluscs and crustaceans.
The low down
Stretching across nearly 300 square kilometres, the Maldives is one of the most geographically dispersed countries in the world. The atolls are made up of coral reefs and sand bars that seem to rise up from the Indian Ocean without rhyme or reason, creating an eerie, almost other-wordly effect.
To get between islands you’ll most likely need to take a sea plane or a traditional dhoni boat. However, each resort island is largely self-sufficient and, for the most part, holidaymakers tend to stay put and bask in the spas and snorkelling opportunities that are right at their fingertips..
Dining in the Maldives, you’d better be prepared for a whole lot of seafood. The Maldives enjoy a long and delicious history as a fishing hub, a tradition that the Maldives cuisine reflects. Tuna is the top fish here, served in curries or on its own and typically accompanied by starches like rice and potatoes. Coconut is another main ingredient, both for frying and providing coconut milk.
But the most impressive aspect of Maldivian dining is, without a doubt, the scenery. Not one to leave its best asset by the wayside, the Maldivians use the sea for setting the tone, with waterfront restaurants both on the sand or along the docks with the wave ripples just underneath your feet. There are even actual underwater restaurants with glass ceilings and walls, where your starter and main course swim overhead.