World-class waves roll onto the stunning white sand beaches of the Maldives' relatively untouched stretch of roughly 1,200 islands. A second, more colourful world waits to be explored beneath the water's surface, dazzling snorkellers and open water divers alike. With idyllic natural beauty, plentiful marine life, superb surfing, and the world's first underwater restaurant and spa, Maldives holidays redefine paradise and leave travellers captivated by beauty and quiet charm.
You can enjoy some of the world's best open water diving in the waters around the Maldives' islands. Since 2010, the Maldives have been a shark sanctuary, making a visit here a wonderful opportunity to join a night dive for grey reef sharks, or try open water whale shark or hammerhead shark watching.
If diving alongside these predators isn't your style, cheap Maldives holidays also boast incredible snorkelling and tamer diving experiences. The archipelago of islands is home to diverse and spectacular marine life. Even in the shallowest waters you can catch a glimpse of a colourful variety of underwater creatures from parrotfish to sea rays and the bizarre unicorn fish.
Banyan Tree Spa is just one of the amazing resort spas dotting the islands. Layer additional relaxation onto your beach paradise holiday with a revitalising facial, deep tissue Balinese massage, or traditional treatment at any of these professional spa facilities.
As with the rest of this water-centric country, most resort spas are built over the ocean. So while you're lying on the massage table, you can watch baby sharks and colourful fish play through the glass floor below.
Peak surf season in the Maldives runs from May to October, and is all about the reef breaks found throughout the region. Because of these natural formations, the Maldives showcase some of the best surfing in the world, especially in Male's atolls.
While the islands have held surfing championships, they are still accessible for beginners and travellers looking for a fun day activity. Join a surf safari through your resort or simply stop by a surf shack and ask if they run lessons. Chances are they will, and they can take you to spots suitable for your skill level and give you hands-on help as you learn to ride the big ones. Before you know it, you'll be catching waves like a pro.
For a glimpse of local life, head to Male's Fish Market. The Maldives' residents rely on the surrounding waters for their livelihoods and food source, and the bustle of the main fish market acts as the soul of the Maldives' capital, Male.
Watch fishermen bring the day's catch in from the harbour before skilled fishmongers go to work gutting the fresh finds. As you wander through the stalls you'll see giant tuna, octopus, and grouper laid on icy slabs and locals from the nearby homes or resorts choosing their day's menu from the selection.
Dating from 1656, the oldest mosque in the country rests in the centre of Male. Built from coral stone chiselled with intricate designs and scripts from the Quran, it's worth a visit to behold the history and architecture of this important structure.
Resting on the foundations of an old temple, the mosque actually faces west – toward the setting sun – instead of northwest – toward Mecca – meaning worshippers face the corner of the mosque when they pray. You must get permission from the staff to enter, but once you do, note the striped carpet has been laid at an angle to point in the correct direction.