The Maldives is one of the world’s best-known traditional holiday destinations with pristine beaches stretching across the whole of this tropical island paradise. This small island state off of the coast of south/south-west India is entirely surrounded by the Laccadive Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. Maldivian archipelago is comprised of no less than 1,192 coral islands which make 26 atolls. Between 350,000 and 400,000 people call this Asian country home and slightly above 60,000 of them live in the country’s capital Male.
Note, however, that around 20 percent of the entire population number goes on foreign workers. The Maldives is the lowest country in the world by elevation with an average elevation of 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) and highest peak (if you can call it that) of 2.4 meters (7 ft 10 in).
Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.
– via Cesare Pavese
Maldives Climate & Weather
It comes without saying that one of the main reasons for flourishing tourism in the Maldives is the country’s position on the world’s map. All of the islands are just slightly north of the Equator which qualifies the Maldives for tropical climate. Temperatures are the same year-round and amplitudes are very low. The average annual temperature amounts to 29 °C (85 °F) and there’s really no difference if you decide to visit the Maldives in January or August in that respect. However, precipitation is something you should take into consideration. If you don’t want your holiday to be disturbed by frequent rainfall and storms, you’d better choose the dry period for your visit.
The dry season lasts throughout the winter, and it’s best to visit the Maldives between January and mid-April. Needless to say, that’s when sunshine is at its peak with more than 250 hours of sunshine per month. During the dry season, Maldives get between 200 and 250 millimeters (8 to 10 inches) of rain on average, but during the rest of the year, almost 1,700 millimeters of precipitation (67 inches) finds its way to the Maldivian sand.
Tourism & Resorts
With all of the aforementioned, it’s no surprise that Maldivian coffers are mostly filled thanks to tourism (almost one-third of the entire GDP). After all, this wouldn’t be one of the world’s prime destinations if it wasn’t so. The Maldives offer around 100 resorts with close to 20,000 beds and are visited by around 9 million tourists each year. It’s relatively easy to enter the Maldives as a country’s policy is openness towards tourists. Male International Airport found on Hulhule island is the gateway to this picturesque tropical paradise of white sandy beaches, palm trees, and crystal-clear blue lagoons.
Apart from the leisure sun, sea, and sand laying on the beach and sipping cocktails tourism, Maldives is a prime destination for other types of activities like snorkeling and other water sports, for instance. Maldivian wedding is one of the prestigious feats often practiced by those with means as well. Getting to know the local customs should be a part of any well-organized holiday too, and the Maldives offers that in abundance.
Maldives – visa
In recent years, Maldives has opened up to the world in more ways than one. Apart from being visa-free, this country has finally opened up towards independent travelers, thus recognizing modern touristic trends. It’s understandable why the Maldives used to be strict in this respect in the past, given their fragile state and lack of space. Tourists used to be confined to resorts and isolated islands designated especially for the purpose, with limited touches with the locals.
Nowadays, a number of privately-held guesthouses accept independent travelers and backpackers, and you no longer have to depend on a travel agency. Instead, you are free to make your own itinerary and fully experience the true Maldives – not only resorts and beaches. Mingling with the locals is probably the only way to truly grasp any give country’s culture, and Maldivian culture is certainly deserving of anyone’s time.
Honeymoon, diving & plethora of corals
More traditional means of tourism, however, will take you to one of the 100 resorts that offer something for everyone but are usually high-end in terms of accommodation and prices. Everyone will find its match but will have to look for it as well. While some luxury hotel chains compete for the richest visitors, the majority of resorts in the Maldives offer family accommodations and programs which are followed by relatively smaller prices – though you won’t be able to find a cheap resort there. Some resorts offer specialized services for divers or those on the honeymoon, for instance.
With every resort having its own piece of the atoll (or a whole island for that matter), they are able to offer private diving points just outside the bungalows. This makes you highly independent from the locals as you usually have everything you require already at your disposal. The diverse underwater world of the Maldives offers a plethora of corals and sea life to enjoy while down under. It’s one of the world’s premier diving locations where you can end up head to head with the whale sharks and a number of other species.
The fact that the Maldives are lowlands of such considerable proportions, goes in favor of their beaches. Every one of Maldivian islands features pristine white sand beaches – usually of considerable length. Crystal clear water and shade beneath the palms only complete the picture which doesn’t need too many words in order to be described. Mesmerizing horizons and quiet tropical days are what awaits everyone coming to the Maldives – even those who aren’t really looking for this type of vacation.
Backpacking & Guesthouses
As mentioned already, backpacking has become one of the newest trends in Maldivian tourism. Guesthouses are independent of Maldivian hotel chains and their uniformed prices. If you’re beyond adventurous and faraway tropical island holiday isn’t adventure enough for you, then, perhaps, you might consider mingling with the locals there. Maldivian culture is a unique combination of Indian and Arabic influences that are best-experienced head-on.
Maldives – paradise on Earth
With all of the aforementioned considered, taking a break in Maldives might just be the best of ways to enjoy yourself like never before and make those around you jealous. Sipping cocktails under palm tree shade on white sandy beaches in dead of winter will always force sighs from those around you.
Having a natural tan in January should be reason enough, but if not – all the extra activities available on the Maldives should definitely weigh in this premier destination’s favor.
Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
– via Mark Jenkins
With some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, the clear waters of the Maldives are a magnet for anyone with an interest in marine life. The richness and variety are astonishing; dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves, and schools of brightly colored tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef. In deeper waters lurk manta rays, turtles, sharks, and even the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. The best bit? The water is so warm many people don’t even wear a wetsuit.
Resorts for Everyone
Every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, and with over 100 to choose from the only problem is selecting where you want to stay. At the top end, the world’s most exclusive hotel brands compete with each other to attain ever-greater heights of luxury, from personal butlers and private lap pools to in-room massages and pillow menus. It’s not surprising that honeymooners and those seeking a glamorous tropical getaway have long had the country at the top of their wish lists.
But there’s a choice beyond the five- and six-star resorts. Other islands cater to families, for divers, for those on a (relative) budget, and anyone wanting a tranquil back-to-nature experience.