Maldives holidays whisk you away to a tropical paradise retreat. Relax on your very own private island, or dive deep into the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean.
Escape to an island paradise
Imagine waking up in a luxury beachfront villa, padding over to the balcony doors and throwing them wide open to welcome in the warm Indian Ocean breeze. Taking a step, your feet sink into warm white sand. A few footprints later you're out of the lush, green foliage and looking out across the clear blue sea while gentle waves lap at your toes. We know, it sounds too good to be true, right? Welcome to the Maldives, the ultimate relaxation destination.
Made up of 1190 paradise islands, formed around 26 natural atolls, there is definitely no shortage of secluded shores to stretch out on. Two hundred of them are inhabited, and ninety of these are developed as tourist resorts, but it's easy enough to take a boat trip to your very own desert island. By day you can stroll the untouched coastline, and it wouldn't be difficult to imagine yourself as Tom Hanks in castaway – you could even take a ball and call it Wilson if you so wished. By night you can sit under the star-scattered sky, listening to the sound of the waves rolling upon the shore as freshly caught fish fry on a nearby barbecue.
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Swim with some of the world most spectacular marine life
Holidays in the Maldives are the perfect tonic to escape the pressures of everyday life, in a place where the most important decision you'll have to make is which bit of the sand you want to lie on, or what time you fancy going for a swim. Resorts are luxurious, no matter whether you choose a beachside bungalow, a stilted water villa or a live-aboard diveboat.
The Maldives is actually 90% sea and most of its inhabitants reside beneath the waves. The Maldives is home to over 1000 species of fish – more than three quarters of the world's reef fish. Take the plunge and you'll rub shoulders with everything from little shrimp to whale sharks and mantra rays. Even on shallow dives you can get up close with parrot fish, turtles and moray eels, and there are plenty of shallow lagoons for snorkelers to float around in. Each of the islands has its own reef and the water is so clear you can see fish up to 50 metres away. With over three thousand coral reefs, divers will be flapping their flippers in excitement at the thought of exploring colourful caverns, overhangs and swim-throughs. All resorts offer basic to advanced training, and many resorts run 5* PADI courses.
Exhileration above and below the waves
Fun in the Maldives is by no means limited to snorkels and flippers. Couples can enjoy spa pampering or starlit dinners on private balconies with views out over the sea. Each resort has its own water sports centre, offering everything from kayaking to kitesurfing. A windsurfing or catamaran course will have you skimming the waves in no time. Surfing is a big deal here, especially in the rainy season which brings huge swells. When you're not splashing around in the sea, island hopping is a popular pastime. Some are modern, with bright houses and picturesque harbours, whereas others are traditional fishing villages where locals sit and play cards, listen to the local radio or exchange stories on a gazebo-like holhuashi. The island capital, Male, is bursting with Islamic architecture and colourful markets. Night fishing is a popular excursion. You can sail into the sunset and learn the ropes before dusk falls and you make your own catch. But of course, the most popular pastime is sunbathing. So whether you want to catch a fish or catch a tan, you'll definitely not be disappointed.
The temperature in the Maldives barely changes and averages a rather toasty 30°C all year round. There are two seasons – dry runs from January to March, and rainy from May until November. The average daily temperature varies very little throughout the year so the sunshine is almost guaranteed.