‘No shoes, no news’ in Paradise
A byword for paradise, the Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 coral islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Two hundred of these are inhabited and 80 islands have tourist resorts, many offering exclusive pampering and private white-sand beaches. Those seeking romance and seclusion will love the over-water bungalows which define the ultimate honeymoon experience, while scuba divers can explore miles of animated coral reefs. Slip into bath-warm cobalt waters and find yourself in one of the most beautiful underwater aquariums on the planet. Life here is devoid of pressure and days pass with simple pleasures like swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, diving and heavenly spa treatments. Many of the resorts favour a ‘no shoes’ policy and some pay little attention to global news, let nature soothe your body and soul.
Go for the year-round sunshine, exquisite beaches and world-class diving. Sample fresh seafood; indulge in luxury resorts and listen to the sound of water gently lapping the bay. Visit the markets in the modern capital of Malé for a taste of Maldivian life away from the beaches.
When to go?
There is no bad time to visit the Maldives, though many restaurants close during Ramazan. High season runs from December to April when a dry monsoon climate prevails. Temperatures average 30°C and April is particularly popular for clear water. Storms and rain are more likely between May and November, reflected in lower prices. Diving visibility is better on the atolls’ eastern side from May to November and the western side from December to April.
How to get there?
The Maldives are served by Malé International Airport (MLE) on the island of Hulhule, 2km across the water from the capital. Most transfers are by speedboat – in fact the only places you’ll need a car or taxi are in Malé and on the southernmost atoll of Addu. From the UK, direct charter flights are available from London and Manchester, while scheduled flights operate from London via Doha, Dubai and Colombo.
Many of the Maldives’ best attractions are underwater and no trip could be considered complete without scuba-diving or at least snorkeling in the impossibly-blue waters. Manta rays, sharks, turtles and sweetlips can all be seen at Fushifaru Thila while Maa Kandu and Kuda Kandu boast some of the most spectacular coral in the country. Dive with sharks at Hammerhead Point or shoal with some of the world’s biggest fish at Ari Atoll between May and September. And if you prefer not to get your feet wet, you can still enjoy a reef in close-up from the Whale Submarine.