Ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau advised Maldives visitors to approach with pious awe and profound reverence, writing that Man is Nature’s guest in this Paradise. Even the most ambitious resort developers have taken Cousteau’s advice to heart, working in harmony with Nature as they created some of the world’s most exotic and luxurious five-star accommodations. Residents and visitors alike tread lightly on these “miracles of rare device.”
In truth, Maldives holiday-makers never need leave their resorts to take-in all the islands’ joys and wonders. The Indian Ocean laps against guests’ front yards, and the sapphire-blue waters beckon from sunrise until long after sunset. Renowned for their friendly hospitality, resort staffers deliver every island delight to guests’ retreats, and they willingly collaborate in romantic adventures of all kinds. When curiosity ultimately gets the best of visitors and they inquire, “What should we do?” residents and hoteliers respond with just one word: “Explore!”
Hop from island to island.
Few other resort destinations offer the Maldives’ extraordinary opportunities for beholding Nature in her most pristine state. In the Maldives, 1,192 coral islands spread across 26 atolls; they dot the equator about 500 km south of Sri Lanka. Many of the tiny islands and reefs remain completely untouched by man, and an intrepid explorer could devote a lifetime to cataloguing and describing the islands’ bountiful flora and fauna. Therefore, the locals recommend holiday-makers devote lots of time to island-hopping. Pushpitha Wijesinghe details, “Most often going from one island to another involves a boat ride, and most facility providers also can come up with the perfect romantic excursion. For those travelling in groups, island hopping can be transformed into an adventurous exploration and those with families can ‘hop’ beaches and even arrange for beach picnics. For those keen on exploring the atolls from sea, a cruise can be arranged where one gets to feast eyes on the amazing beauty of the Maldives.”
• Start in Male. The biggest, most populated and most developed island in the Maldives, Male is the center of commerce, government and social activity. Early in the mornings, fishermen set sail from Male in search of the day’s best catch; in the late afternoons, they sell their harvest in Male’s sprawling fish market. At sunset, locals gather at the seashore for conversation and play, the islands’ answer to social networks. The islands strictly observe Muslim traditions and customs: Island laws prohibit alcohol, but night clubs play fine music, and Luna Park features amusement park rides for innocent fun. On Friday nights, people gather for free concerts at the city’s Main Hall.
• Spend hours in and on the water. Nowhere else on earth can you find such a wide variety of aquatic amusements—every imaginable kind of boat, every conceivable sort of swimming and diving apparatus, and all the best fishing gear. The underwater landscape teems with life and kaleidoscopes with color, inviting scuba divers and snorkelers to endless explores. The trade winds blow briskly, seducing sailors, and the waves rise and roll gently, teasing surfers. If it is in any way aquatic, it thrives in the Maldives.
• Venture out at night. Although visitors cannot drink and dance the night away, they should not jump to the conclusion that nothing happens at night. Star-gazing in the Maldives transcends science and rises to the level of high art. Nothing compares with a moon-drenched late night swim in warm tropical waters or a stealthy get-away into a lush glade.
The world’s best and getting better.
For years, the Maldives have ranked high atop veteran travelers’ lists of the worlds’ best beaches, and new resorts add to the islands’ attraction. European and Asian travelers frequently find surprisingly affordable packages that combine airline travel, hotel accommodations, and reservations for the islands’’ favorite excursions. Because the Maldives provide the perfect setting for a glamorous wedding, all the major hotels and resorts offer special wedding and honeymoon promotions. When ancient mariners wrote of “enchanted” islands, surely they meant the Maldives.