The mention of a holiday in the Maldives usually invokes swoons and sighs. The fantasy resorts under gently swaying palms embraced by pristine beaches and balmy sea air has us entranced.
It’s a wild blue yonder
If ever there was an aquatic nation, it would have to be the Maldives. Perched on top of a vast underwater mountain range, this tiny country is an archipelago of less than 400,000 people with 1190 islands and sandbanks sprawled over 90,000 km2. However the landmass comprises just 300 km2 , or 1 per cent of the region, and rises to just 2.4m at its highest. Even the English word “atoll”, is derived from the Maldivian word “atholhu”.
It has a culture like no other
The Maldivians are influenced by the surrounding cultures and those who passed through during centuries of trade and exploration — traces of Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans may be found. The native language shows links to many others, but the written script and most words are definitely unique. The Maldives became a Muslim nation nearly 900 years ago and they maintain their own interpretation of this ancient religion.
It’s home to some of the best resorts in the world
Even though the Maldives has much to offer away from these world-beating resorts, there is no going past the fact that this waterborne nation takes full advantage of its pelagic qualities to create some of the most ‘to-die-for’ resorts in the world. A dream destination for honeymooners, swooners and crooners, the multitude of atolls and lagoons are ideal locations for these stratospheric properties. Most regular folks can only afford such a stay once in their lifetime, so if or when you do it, make it count!
It’s a wondrous waterworld
Being 99 per cent ocean, naturally there are more watersport and aquatic activities than you could ever experience in one trip. Scuba diving, snorkelling and free-diving locations are found throughout the atolls where you can explore reefs and commune with the turtles, dolphins and rays to your heart’s desire. Big game fishing is always a short boat ride away, and there’s an abundance of adrenaline inducing pursuits on offer such as paragliding, jet-skiing, kayaking, kite surfing and catamaraning.
You can experience the delight of the dhoni
There are many ways to spend lots of money on the Maldives, but the simple pleasure of sailing among the atolls and lagoons aboard a traditional fishing boat — called a dhoni — is an experience that is essentially Maldivian. Stop by some other islands, enjoy a spot of fishing or snorkelling, or just laze the day away on the deck, soaking up the Indian Ocean sun while the crew do all the work. These fully self-contained vessels are affordable, fun and supremely relaxing.
By Rod Eime