Pristine palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear waters and a life of luxury is what attracts so many people to Maldives hotels. And it is rare that anyone is disappointed: wherever you choose to visit, from a choice of nearly 1200 islands, a taste of paradise awaits.
The islands are strung out like glimmering beacons in the Indian Ocean, offering you some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling sites, as well as plenty of water sports and opportunities to just relax in idyllic surroundings. You’ll find that the richness of the marine life is mirrored by the delicious fine foods served in the gastronomic restaurants when you finally decide to surface for air.
Malé – Book a hotel in the buzzing capital city of Malé: a densely crowded and feels nothing like the relaxed islands that surround it. Yet, here you can find some fine shops and a host of great art galleries and museums. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, that is!
North and South Malé Atolls – These atolls offer a different world to the capital altogether, yet they are just a short hop across the ocean away. Areas of the South Malé Atoll will suit the more adventurous traveller, whilst the North keeps it strictly luxury. On both you will find stunning natural beauty, both above and below the water. The channel dividing them is packed with excellent dive sites but, if it is the surf you are here for, the North Malé Atoll is where some of the Maldives’ best waves can be found.
Southern Atolls – The islands here tend to be much less developed, which is perfect if you are looking to get away from it all. Here you can still discover the traditional Maldivian way of life, but you are never too far away from the safari boats, dive sites, surfing trips and watersports that make staying on the islands such a pleasure.
Baa Atoll – Amongst the 13 islands that make up this atoll you will find the arts and crafts of the Maldives. They are known for their artisanal lacquer work and the production of feyli, a fine woven cotton sarong. The Baa Atoll is also a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, recognised for the diversity of its marine life, and the sites it harbours where whale sharks and manta rays come to breed.
Addu Atoll – Located in the far south of the Maldives is a heart-shaped atoll that boasts colourful coral gardens teeming with marine life that are ideal for snorkelers and divers alike.
The capital city, Malé, has the pick of the museums and galleries: a trip here makes a refreshing break from all that paradisiacal beach beauty. Yet, what most people come to see in the Maldives are those stunning sunsets over pristine beaches which can be enjoyed on boat cruises, from the air in a helicopter or simply by ordering a cocktail and laying back on the sand.
Take a boat trip to secluded beaches on uninhabited islands and play Robinson Crusoe to your heart’s content, until its time to return back to your resort and be wined and dined once more. For a shot of pure adrenaline you can swim with a whale shark or watch a hammerhead feast on unsuspecting prey. Snorkel trips will bring you to vividly coloured coral gardens that you can marvel at, and often include some freshly cooked fish barbecued on the beach for lunch. You can head for the surf spots to try riding the waves, and there will be a beautiful backdrop to compensate any embarrassing wipe-outs you may suffer. Back on dry land why not enjoy home-cooked Maldivian food with a local family and discover the bustling markets and local cooking techniques? Most of all, though, just relax and enjoy being in paradise!