Must-Visit: The Maldives

By Doug Landsborough

If I told you to picture crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and picturesque bungalows on stilts, you would likely conjure an image of the Maldives. This island nation in the Indian Ocean is the epitome of luxury and what other island resorts strive to be.

The Maldives is unlike anywhere else in the world and really should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re contemplating going to the Maldives for your honeymoon, a romantic getaway or just an amazing vacation, read on to learn some more about this dream destination.


Why you should go to the Maldives

A trip to the Maldives is a trip of indulgence and pampering. Each resort is nothing short of a private oasis. With nearly 1,200 islands, no two resorts share the same space. Whichever one you choose, whether it be sprawling over the water or more inland, you won’t find crowds of people from five different resorts swarming the same beach. There will frequently be times when you and your partner feel like you’re completely alone on one of those beautiful islands.

For those resorts that do spread over the water, you will undoubtedly recognize the fantasy-like overwater bungalows. If you choose to stay in one of these resorts, you will find that there is very little that can compare to the experience of waking up surrounded by the azure glass that is the ocean. It’s a truly breathtaking panoramic view from these bungalows on stilts, and often you can see ocean life swimming just beyond the edge of your bungalow.

Speaking of the marine life, the Maldives is teeming with incredible underwater plants and animals. Known across the globe as one of the premier destinations for snorkelling, you can see anything from coral to sea turtles in the beautiful waters of the Maldives.

For those looking for a truly unique experience, many islands are home to whale sharks that you can swim alongside. Unlike other sharks, these gentle giants won’t try to have you for dinner. And, if sharks aren’t your thing, manta rays are commonly spotted by those swimming in the ocean.

When night falls, the sea comes alive again on islands like Vaadhoo Island. Tourists lucky enough to wander the beaches of Vaadhoo at night can see glowing blue stars floating in the water. These clouds are actually bioluminescent algae that glow when warding off predators, but they are truly a unique sight.

Perhaps you aren’t all about the marine life, and that’s okay. During the days—which usually hover around a beautiful 30 degrees Celsius—thrill seekers can have the time of their lives with exhilarating water sports, as well as sailing and seaplane excursions. The Maldives are well-known as one of the best places to surf, with larger swells being one of the draws for many during the off-season

No matter what you do, a visit to the Maldives is all about kicking back and just enjoying the moment. Whether that’s in your overwater bungalow, on the white sand beaches, enjoying some spa time or indulging in local delicacies like curry, freshly caught fish or island-grown fruits, you are in for an experience that you will never forget.


What you need to know about the Maldives

When you go to book your trip, it’s important to know some basics about the Maldives that might surprise you.

Tourism has been the primary industry of the Maldives since the 70s, and that has created a strange dynamic between resorts and the residents of the islands. Mandated by the government, Sunni Islam is the state religion, which has led to some very conservative Sharia law. This means that Maldivians are prohibited from drinking alcohol or eating pork, women cannot wear revealing clothing and same-sex marriages are illegal. If you try to bring alcohol to the Maldives, it will be confiscated at the airport.

That being said, resorts are exempt from these laws and are much more liberal in their views. Alcohol is allowed on resorts. All tourists are welcome, regardless of sexuality, and women can wear whatever they want.

It used to be that tourists were not allowed to leave resorts to visit villages on the island, but this has changed. Just bear in mind that, should you leave a resort, women must cover up, you won’t be able to find a drink and public displays of affection are generally frowned upon.

This might sound concerning, but the Maldives is almost entirely dependent on tourism, so the laws that seem foreign to most might not even affect your visit.

Unlike some countries, you do not need to apply for a visa to enter the Maldives. All nationalities are automatically granted a 30-day visa upon arrival, though this is contingent on your passport being more than six months from its expiration date.

Timing your trip is important, too. Monsoon season in the Maldives runs from April to October, with more severe weather possible between July and August. As a result, December to March are the peak tourist months, and resort prices increase to match that. Though, especially for surfers and travellers on a tighter budget, the off-season is much cheaper and severe storms are far from the norm.

Speaking of time, some tourists might find it strange that their resort clocks are a little ahead, especially compared to the rest of the island. The resorts call this “island time” and it’s considered an unofficial time zone. It’s usually based on the distance from the capital city, Malé,

and is useful for making the most of the sunshine and ensuring tourists get to the airport on time.

When you are on the way to the airport, keep in mind this little-known Maldivian law: it’s illegal to take seashells, tortoise shells, sand or coral. All of these play a role in the ecosystems of the island, like the seashells that will become homes to hermit crabs who, in turn, help control the sand fly population.

Finally, don’t wait too long to visit the Maldives! As the lowest-lying nation in the world, 80% of the Maldives is less than one metre above sea level. With rising sea levels, it’s actually predicted that the Maldives will become uninhabitable in the future. While this likely won’t happen until 2100, why take the chance?

When you find yourself on the white sand shores, with the ocean spanning the entire horizon before

When you find yourself on the white sand shores, with the ocean spanning the entire horizon before you, you will quickly realize that the resorts of this island nation are truly pieces of paradise. Go on and visit the Maldives for an experience of true bliss. What are you waiting for?

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