Fun in the water
On South Male Atoll holidays you’re surrounded by ocean, and there are plenty of ways to explore it. The Aquafanatic Centre at the Anantara Dhigu Resort offers lots of adrenalin-fuelled activities, such as canoeing, kite boarding and parasailing. For those looking for something a little more relaxed, a boat cruise on a traditional Maldivian *dhoni* around the islands of the atoll is the perfect way to spend a day.
There are lots of wonderful diving spots around South Male, many of which are located in the Vadhoo Kandu channel, which separates South Male from North Male. The Vaadhoo caves are a popular diving spot due to their swim-through tunnel and vibrant coral, with brightly-coloured fish shimmering around it.
Of the three inhabited islands in South Male Atoll, Guraidhoo is a small island that has a port town with around 2000 inhabitants. It’s a good place to experience the local life as well as being a renowned surf spot.
Gulhi is another gem – with only 900 inhabitants it’s the perfect off-the-beaten-track destination, with a laid-back pace of life. The Maldives is a Muslim country, so on most local islands sunbathing in bikinis is prohibited. Gulhi, however, has a gorgeous ‘bikini beach’ where you can sunbathe to your heart’s content.
The third island, Maafushi, is one of the most popular with independent travellers. In the south of the island you’ll find some guest houses and local restaurants, as well as a watersports beach where you can try a whole host of water-based activities, such as banana boat rides and wake-boarding.
The Maldives is renowned for its beaches, but less well-known for its delicious food. Make sure you get around to trying some Maldivian cuisine if you visit one of the local islands, and look out for the following specialities in the South Male hotel restaurants.
Mas huni is the nation’s most popular breakfast food, made of smoked shredded fish with grated coconuts and onions. Or garudhiya is a fish broth served with rice and a squeeze of fresh lime. However, the Maldivian food ritual that really shines is hedhika. This consists of an afternoon cup of coffee or black tea, served with addictive savoury snacks, such as bajiya, a crispy pastry stuffed with fish, coconut and onion.
Playing at being Robinson Crusoe
There are lots of uninhabited islands in South Male Atoll. Many of these house fantastic upmarket resorts, where you’ll have access to gorgeous unspoilt beaches, and be able to enjoy being ‘shipwrecked’ in luxury.
Many resorts and watersports companies will also take you on a boat trip to your own private desert island, where you can spend the day swimming and sunbathing on a beach in blissful solitude. A picnic or a BBQ will be provided, so you won’t have to forage for food like actual castaways do.
One of the best times to take these trips is at sunrise or sunset, when the sky and water turn beautiful shades of pink and orange. It’s small wonder the Maldives is one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations.