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When it comes to secluded island oases, the Maldives has more than embraced its reputation as the Promised Land of luxury holidays. Marco Polo called it “the flower of the Indies” and Ibn Battuta said it was “one of the wonders of the world”—and both these explorers saw some pretty impressive stuff.
In a country of 1190 islands, with more than 90 considered “resort islands”, it’s no wonder the motto is “The sunny side of life”. Your options for hotels in the Maldives are truly endless.
If you’re going to holiday on a 750km-long atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you’d better believe you’ll be doing plenty of water activities. Your accommodation in the Maldives will probably provide plenty of aquatic fun, like jet skiing or stand-up paddleboarding. If you’d prefer to glide along the water effortlessly, renting a catamaran or sailboat is sure to “blow” you away.
Fishing trips here are also no joke, though you may catch a lot of tuna. If you’d rather make friends with the fishies than fry them (we see you, Bruce), the Maldives offers great snorkelling and scuba diving on its famed coral reefs.
Prefer to stay dry on terra firma? There’s certainly nothing wrong with spending your days soaking up vitamin C with a drink in your hand. Plus, accommodation on Male Atoll provides plenty of fun for landlubbers.
The wisest traveller knows that the only way to really experience a new place is through its food. In the Maldives, first-rate resorts serve up all kind of specialties, but that’s not what you came for. You want the unpronounceable stuff: bambukeylu hiti (curried breadfruit), fihunu mas (chilli barbecue fish) and mas huni (smoked coconut fish), for starters.
Is your mouth watering? Book our Small-Group Home-Cooked Meal Tour and get down on some of the best food in the Maldives, cooked by those who know it well.
Flights to the Maldives will land at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE) on Hulhule Island, across from the capital island of Male. If that’s your destination, just ferry your way over from the passenger boat terminal right outside the airport, or upgrade to a speedboat rental if you’re feeling adventurous.
Male is just under 6 square kilometres, and most of the popular attractions are concentrated on the north shore, so you can easily get around on foot once you’re there. If you’re headed beyond the capital, you may just need to look for your travel rep; Maldives hotels will frequently arrange sea planes for arriving guests, and if you’re not so lucky, you can easily do it yourself (arrange a plane—not fly one!).
One of the big draws here is that the country has only recently opened up to tourism. Its beaches are spotless and its islands are wonderfully undeveloped. Maldives holidays are an awesome fit for those who want to “set it and forget it” with a resort-style getaway package. While the local events tend to be tame, to say the least, the area’s hotels provide entertainment galore.
If you simply have to have pomp and circumstance, visit on Republic Day, 11 November. This national holiday is filled with the three Fs: food, fanfare and festivities. Almost any village will have parades, but the capital of Male is particularly rocking.
We have five words for you: Chickens, Colas, Pasta Point and Honky's. What’s that? It’s not the menu for the latest beachside restaurant. Those are just a few of Male’s most popular surf breaks, mostly located in the north central islands.
The surf is definitely up: The culture in the Maldives is young, and most of the breaks are considered fairly easy. Cruise around on the dhonis by day searching for that perfect wave, then brag about your oceanic conquests by night with fellow surfers at your Maldives accommodation. That’s as radical as it gets.
If surfing involves a little too much moving for you, but laying on the beach isn’t going to cut it, either, fishing might lie right in between. You don’t have to move much, but you can feel like you’re doing something—that’s a win-win.
You probably already know that the clear, warm water here is world-renowned—but what exactly can you see? The wreck of the Victory is one popular spot, and not just because it’s super-conveniently located on the same island as the airport. It’s an easy and interesting dive, with cargo and multiple decks waiting to be explored. Spooky fact: The ship ran aground on Friday the 13th!
If shipwrecks just don’t have that special something you’re looking for, perhaps a swim with sharks would do the trick. At Maaya Thila, aka Shark Reef, dozens of grey and white-tipped reef sharks circle the atoll, taking their pick of the incredibly diverse fishy feast. Don’t worry, you are not on the menu.
During daylight, hang out with colourful angelfish, butterfly fish and parrotfish, some of the prettiest-sounding fish in the sea. There’s even a local turtle who’s a regular here. We don’t know if he’s "150 dude, and still young!" as Crush of Finding Nemo fame would say, but he (or she!) certainly has an air of wisdom about him.
If you dare to dive at night, you’ll find friendly moray eels and octopus come out to play. And we haven’t even gotten started on the corals! Sure, you’ve got more than one day in the Maldives—but this is sure to be your favourite.
Back on land, the Friday Mosque is the oldest in the country, and while it may show its age, look a little deeper and you’ll find intricate carvings and woodwork dating from the 13th century. For a shiny new take on mosques, check out the nearby Islamic Centre, whose golden dome is visible from the harbour.
In centuries past, the friendly people of the Maldives welcomed lost seafarers, but these days, travellers know exactly where they’re going. Book places to stay in the Maldives on Wotif and get started charting your own course.
Hotels in Maldives start at AU$313 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.