Maldives holidays trigger the imagination: Picture a private villa located over crystal waters as your holiday centre. You only need to sit on the porch to enjoy spectacular sunsets, breathtaking views of underwater marine life and lush tropical vegetation. The Republic of Maldives, in the area south-west of Sri Lanka, consists of multiple islands in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The smallest nation in Asia, Maldives remains mysterious and exotic, and each island offers signature attractions, unique places to stay and incredible white-sand beaches.
The nation has 1,192 coral islands spread over 90,000 square kilometres, so visitors enjoy unparalleled diving adventures, romantic escapes, coral reef wildlife and water activities along the double chain of 26 atolls.
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Tropical Paradise Attractions
The biggest attraction in Maldives is the extensive choice of island destinations and the astonishing coral reefs, beaches and crystal waters. Cultural attractions centre on the capital city, Malé. The Maldives National Museum exhibits rare Buddhist statues, sultans' riches and artefacts that date to the 12th century BCE. Other Malé and island attractions include:
- The Maldives Grand Friday Mosque, which has the unique distinction of facing west instead of east because it was built on the foundations of an older temple
- Maldives Fish Market, where visitors can browse among an incomparable selection of fresh and dried seafood, fruits and vegetables
- Theemuge, the presidential palace
- Alimatha Island, which sports a central beach, world-class diving, and a five-star ambience
- The Whale Submarine, Maldives' top attraction, where you can view the marine life of the coral islands
- Manta Point, located on a reef about one hour from Malé, where imposing yet gentle mantas will circle around you in waters that are 15 metres deep
- The Esjehi Art Gallery, featuring cultural treasures and historical objects in one of the country's most venerable buildings
Maldives Travel Tips
You'll only find one Maldivian resort on each of the islands, so choose your facility with care because you can't just move to another resort on the island. Tips for Maldives travel include:
- You can't bring your own alcohol; it will be confiscated and sold back to you.
- Be very specific when enquiring about each resort and when renting villas or choosing cruise ships.
- Choose islands that cater to multiple nationalities unless you prefer clannish enclaves,
- Bottled water in Maldives is among the most expensive in the world.
- Phoning home is very expensive because only satellite phones are available.
- Island-hopping is difficult because of the limited number of boat services between the thousand-plus islands, but each resort provides motorboats for scheduled activities and airport ferrying.
Best Time to Travel
Travel to Maldives is best between November and April, and the high season runs from December through March. Winters have sunny weather but comfortable temperatures. Christmas is the busiest season, but during summer, diving visibility is at its best. Summer visitors enjoy windsurfing, jet-skiing, diving and other water-based activities. Monsoons occur from May to October but mostly between July and August. Tropical and humid, Maldives rainy days limit your activities, so many travellers stick to the dry season between November and April.
Maldives Hotels Provide Signature Services
Each island boasts its own attractions, services and activities, so choosing the best place depends on your interests. Private villa resorts and hotels offer couples' massages, sunset strolls on the beach, dolphin safaris and snorkelling excursions for the family, but be sure to check the features before booking. Some islands focus on family activities, couples attractions, water recreation, yoga retreats or luxury service.
Gourmet Dining and Romantic Tête-à-Têtes
A Maldives honeymoon epitomises romance when honeymooners book a secluded villa surrounding by expansive ocean views and lush vegetation. Many couples book romantic Maldives vacations during the holidays, and marriage proposals are quite common.
Gourmet dining includes French, Indian, Japanese and Italian food, and visitors enjoy Maldivian cuisine that includes fish, coconut, starches and curries. Tuna dishes are most common and include several premium varieties. Vegetable and fish curries use exotic spices and tubers, breadfruit, cassava and screwpine to create exotic stews.
Holidays to Maldives offer something for every taste, whether you prefer communing with manta rays, relaxing by cobalt-blue waters or enjoying a far-flung escape from the ordinary. Holidaymakers can explore remarkable coral reefs by diving or booking an excursion on a submarine, and Muslims and religious students can visit the Grand Friday Mosque and Islamic Centre to appreciate the stark beauty of its golden dome. Most visitors enjoy a full schedule of beach, water, resort and shopping activities that include cruising, snorkelling, diving, dining and revelling in doing as little as possible.