Holidaying in the Maldives is a dramatically beautiful experience that begins with being whisked from the airport straight off to your resort by boat or seaplane— typically controlled by a barefoot pilot.
From the air, Maldives look like strings of small patches of sand, seemingly afloat in the turquoise rings of encircling lagoons, and separated by the vast ocean.
Not much to do? Perfect!
Back on land, the visitors to Maldives can do as much or as little as they like—with a strong emphasis on “little”.
The Maldivian experience is quite insular in a way: resorts are built on islands uninhabited by locals, so there are few cultural sights. Aside from the capital, outsiders are allowed to visit only some villages, briefly—to limit their impact on traditional Muslim communities. There isn’t much nightlife: evenings in the resorts are usually quiet.
But then Maldives is not a nightlife destination. For most people, the islands embody the idea of a tropical paradise—every year travellers flock to this remote country just to enjoy the surroundings and the sybaritic pampering.
Maldives holidays are for a time to relax and unwind from the stresses of day-to-day life. It’s a time for pure escapism, in a land of powdery white sand and aquamarine lagoons, where time stands still.
The key draw for most visitors is Maldives’ weather, nature and for many also scuba diving —for there are plenty of great dive sites around the atolls. Deep-sea fishing trips are also a popular attraction.
On top of… mountains
The sight of a coral seabed sharply turning into an underwater ‘cliff’ and disappearing into the deep-blue abyss is unforgettable for anyone that snorkeled or dived in Maldives.
This is typical for these unique atolls, because every one of them is a peak of an underwater mountain that belongs to the massif extending over a large area of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
Almost twelve hundred islands are grouped into six atolls, lying about seven hundred kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka. Only about two hundred islands are inhabited and the largest of them is Male—the capital of Maldives.
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The islands are scattered over about ninety thousand square kilometers, making Maldives one of the most dispersed countries in the world in terms of area.
Almost every island in Maldives can front an envy-arousing postcard, but this beauty is as precious as it is ephemeral.
With an average ground level of only 1.5 m above sea level (with the highest point at merely 2.3 metres) it is the lowest-laying country in the world, making the islands very vulnerable to ocean tides. It is estimated that at the current rate of sea level rise—associated with global warming—these paradise islands will disappear beneath the waves in the course of this century.
There is still plenty of time to visit though and thus support the local communities on these beautiful islands. And still new, beautiful hotels are being opened. The economy revolves around tourism, and scores of islands have been developed for the top end of the tourist market. The country has strongly enforced environmental policies: only one development per island is allowed, and each resort has to meet a stringent set of environmental standards.
When to go
It’s an envy-arousing postcard destination, a land of powdery white sand and aquamarine lagoons, where time stands still
The monsoon seasons use to be distinct—nowadays the weather patterns are less predictable, but the best time to travel is usually during winter months, when the humidity is lower and the temperature the most comfortable.
What traditionally has been the May to September monsoon can be a very good time to travel too, as the resorts tend to offer great discounts during this “low” season—and the sun still shines most of the time. The heavier showers tend to occur in the mornings or the late afternoons: an ideal time for a spa session.
The most dry and hot season is February, March and April and this is reflected in the accommodation costs. Christmas and New Year are also very popular—expect to pay premium.
Good to know
Despite some political instability, Maldives remains a safe and friendly destination: what happens in Male doesn’t affect the remote island resorts.
Photos by Laskowski & Zadros, © TravelPlusStyle.com