If you’re someone who makes frequent international trips, either for business or pleasure, and are right now cursing your luck for the travel restrictions of 2020; OR if you’re someone who’s seen and explored every nook of this country and are in want of a new experience, then I’m here to sprinkle some fairy dust on you and tell you there’s still a place you can go, to get some respite from your homeland and away from the Covid-19 horrors.
It’s a place we all know well. An archipelago of 1192 coral islands located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean, south-west of India and Sri Lanka. This heavenly place is called the Republic of Maldives. We simply know it as Maldives.
With a reputation of offering the best hospitality, romantic adventures, and watersports, Maldives is not only one of the most sought after honeymoon destinations, but also a popular family hangout. The islands attract more and more tourists every year, owing to the fact that Maldives is not too far from India by flight and also due to its remarkably easy visa policy.
Fun fact: The Maldive Islands were built upwards from a submerged ancient volcanic mountain range.
Maldives Basic Information
The capital of Maldives is Malé and it is the most densely populated city of the island nation.
The Maldivian archipelago comprises of 26 natural atolls that were formed from coral reefs and have fragmented into countless islands, about 190 of which are inhabited. Rest all are used for economic functions, of which tourism and agriculture are dominant.
Their local currency is Rufiyaa (MVR) which is equivalent to approx. INR 4.80. However, the currency preferred and used by travellers is the United States Dollar (USD).
Even though Dhivehi is their native language, almost everyone can converse in English.
Maldives enjoys a tropical climate all year round, with plenty of warm sunshine and temperatures fluctuating between 25°C to 31°C.
The residents are predominantly Sunni Muslim, and the local culture is a mixture of South Indian, Sinhalese, and Arab influences.
Velana International Airport (MLE) is on Hulhulé Island a few kilometres from the capital.
The country code is +960.
Maldives is 30 minutes behind India and its visa is free on arrival for Indians. You can obtain a 30-day visa at the airport, provided you have a passport validity of 6 months from the date of entry. You also need to show proof of accommodation once there and your round-trip flight ticket to and from Maldives.
Maldives is 99% water and 1% land. With an average ground-level elevation of about 5 feet, it is the lowest and flattest country in the world. Its highest point, on Villingili Island, is only about 8 feet above sea level.
Fun fact: It is said Maldives was actually found by an Indian prince (from the kingdom of Kalinga) who was sent to exile there sometime around 270 BCE.
Why Visit Maldives
To be honest, it is difficult to find reasons NOT to visit Maldives. I bet if you close your eyes and visualize yourself on the gorgeous white sand beaches of Maldives with clear blue waves lapping gently against your feet, you are bound to feel the pull of such pure and untouched natural beauty. And while the landscape is stunning to say the least, the culture is just as rich, the locals warm, and the food delicious. It’s safe to say there’s everything for everyone. Leisure travellers can find a spot to relax and slurp on sweet coconut water before heading to the spa for some much-needed self-care. Couples can enjoy the amazing hospitality and romantic candlelight dinners on the beach. Families can indulge in bouncy banana boat rides and treks through the lush greenery. There’s just so much to do in Maldives that you can’t go wrong choosing this country as your next travel destination, not just once but time and again.
Fun fact: I can offer no better example of the uniqueness of Maldives than the fact that in 2009, the Maldivian President held an underwater cabinet meeting in Girifushi Island to call international attention to the threat of global warming on the island nation.
Activities To Do In Maldives
Snorkelling and scuba diving
Maldives is blessed with about 5% of the global reef area and 250 species of coral teeming with over a thousand species of fish. Nearly half of those visiting the country, snorkel or dive to experience the colorful world beneath the surface. You can go for a leisurely snorkel along the reef on most islands, however resorts and guesthouses also organize their own snorkeling excursions. There are dive schools for those who want to go diving where experts guide you and offer you diving courses starting from beginner level to advanced level.
Dolphin watching and swimming with whale sharks
Entertainment and daily excursions are on the menu wherever you are in Maldives. If you want to have memories you will cherish forever, why not put down your beach ball for a minute and go frolic with some friendly dolphins? I assure you, you will never forget an experience such as swimming with whale sharks and manta rays.
Thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts, look no further. No matter where you choose to holiday in the Maldives, there’s a handsome number of water activities you can choose from. From relaxing canoe rides and banana boat rides to trimming the waves on a jet ski and speeding along the lagoon on a wakeboard, Maldives has a lot of water sport activities to offer. You can go windsurfing and parasailing or you can navigate solo around the beautiful coral reefs on a catamaran. The sky is the limit and there’s nothing holding you back from living your fullest in Maldives.
Apart from water related activities, if you are a more involved traveler who is interested in history and culture of the place you are visiting, living on inhabited islands among the locals is the perfect experience for you. A trip to the mosques or a nice stroll down the lovely narrow streets of the island will earn you the peace you always craved. You will feel like you are breathing freely again.
Fun fact: The spas in Maldives are an experience in themselves. From sprawling garden spas to in-house private spas where you can relax with a cup of hot lemon tea, the level of indulgence here is unparalleled.
Accommodation in Maldives
The unique and natural beauty of the Maldives coupled with the one-island-one-resort concept attracts droves of tourists to the luxury destination, but it is not solely dedicated to the affluent traveller. The country offers various types of accommodation options catering to a diverse range of preferences – from luxury to budget travellers and backpackers, etc. These facilities are broadly categorised into four types: resorts, city hotels, guesthouses and safari vessels.
Resorts normally offer two types of rooms: water villa and beach villa. The water villa (or water bungalow) is a private hideaway built over the lagoon away from the beach, while the beach villa (or beach bungalow) as the name suggests, is built on the beach. Both have their pros and cons, the most obvious being water villas can be a long way from the reception and this can be a drag if you don’t like repeating the walk. The quiet and privacy it affords, however, can be considered a blessing. For the economy traveller, some resorts have garden villas which are not on the beach but somewhere in the middle of the island.
City hotels and guesthouses offer more budgeted accommodation if that’s what you require. While the resorts are usually located on private islands, most hotels are set up in urban centers, and guesthouses on inhabited islands.
If you are a keen diver, you can also board on to cruise vessels. Most of the popular liveaboards in Maldives are reasonably priced.
Fun fact: It might come as a surprise but alcohol is not allowed on the islands. You can neither bring it into the country nor take it out of it. Alcohol is only permitted and available for consumption on the private island resorts.
That’s all the information I have right now to offer on Maldives, which I am sure will be enough to get your adrenaline pumping. Don’t wait up for the right time, guys. Dust off those travel bags, grab the first flight to Maldives and experience yourself getting pampered and submerged in its magnificence.
For more interesting facts about Maldives, click here.
Gallery (click to enlarge)