Nestled in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean is the small but beautiful Maldives. Lying to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka, this idyllic haven is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands lying next to barrier reefs, making it one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries.
Only 200 of the islands are inhabited, with the south of the Maldives still remaining relatively untouched after the country’s former president Mohamed Nasheed recently gave his permission for this area of the country to be developed. This area now offers numerous well organised snorkelling and diving excursions to cater for diving enthusiasts and beginners.
The untouched south
With a PADI-approved dive centre, the Holiday Island Resort & Spa is on the island’s South Ari Atoll. This island is just 700 metres long, and is made up of lush vegetation surrounded by white sands. Offering night fishing and local excursions included in the cost of an all-inclusive package the Sun Island Resort, also in the South Ari Atoll, is nestled on its very own private beach. Situated on one of the Maldives largest islands of Nalaguraidhoo the resort offers a full service spa and five restaurants.
The north and south of the Maldives are situated within easy reach of the capital Male, in North Male Atoll, which is the busiest and most populous hub. Providing an abundance of shops selling many arts and crafts pieces, this area is the most popular with tourists as it offers the National Museum, fish market, Grand Friday mosque, the Muliaage Palace and Sultan Park. Holidays in the Maldives’ capital can also offer a slower more relaxed pace as there is a man-made beach surrounded by lush green forest which offers bathers a private separation from the hustle and bustle of the city.
In North Male Atoll is the Bandos Island Resort, just a 20-minute speedboat trip from the airport. The island has its own diving school and is close to the uninhabited island of Kuda Bandos, perfect for a private picnic. Also in the North Male Atoll is the Meeru Island Resort & Spa, the sole resort on the island of Meerufenfushi where entertainment includes an evening of cultural dance. The resort is near to a beautiful house reef, easily accessible by boat, which offers divers easy access to exploring the coral reef. Most of the resorts in this area of the Maldives are within easy reach of the airport via the traditional boat.
Maldivian food tends to consist of fish, fruit and spicy curries, although most resorts try to keep their menu international. Traditional food of the Maldives can really only be found in Male, where specialties include seafood, deep fried snacks made from rice, tuna, coconut, lentils and spices called Kavaabu and curries. Alcohol is not served outside of the resorts, as locals tend to stick to drinking a Maldivian tea called Sai or Raa, made from palm trees, which can sometimes be slightly alcoholic if left to ferment.
The flight time from London to the Maldives is just over ten hours and the weather tends to stay dry from December to April. May to November can be humid months with regular showers but it is the best time to go diving and snorkelling. Monsoon season hits the area during July and August. Flights tend to be the most expensive over the Christmas period.
With tourism being the Maldives’ most important industry the country is home to some of the best hotels in the world, and every effort is made to ensure your trip is as luxurious and relaxing as possible.
So as the days get shorter, the weather more awful and the idea of getting up for work less appealing you don’t have much excuse for why you wouldn’t want to book an all-inclusive holiday to the Maldives.