Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean, whose beautiful beaches have made an impact for centuries of visitors (Marco Polo once called the islands, “The flower of the Indies”). This predominantly Muslim nation has the smallest population in Asia, and is divided into 26 coral atolls.Â As tourism is one of the major industries in Maldives, visitors are very much invited, even given a free 30-day visa upon arrival.
Here are a few things to do during your stay in Maldives:
Enjoy a series of water activities – Scuba-diving is the foremost activity associated with Maldives, as its clear waters support an astounding array of corals, marine animals, and even a few wrecks such as the Victor Wreck and Banana Reef. Parasailing, snorkeling, island-hopping, cruising and banana boating are other fun things to do in these islands.
Fish at night – Night fishing is a welcome experience for both beginner and veteran anglers, and almost all the resorts offer it at least once a week. The boat leaves the island and anchors at a reef before sunset; as night draws on, visitors may try their hand at catching snappers, emperors, squirrel fish and jacks. Relaxing under the night sky while the boat gently rocks is worth a night out to sea, plus any catch can be cooked by the islanders. There is also the unforgettable thrill of big game fishing, where visitors troll outside the atoll for tuna, barracuda and sailfish.
Live Waterworld-style on a liveaboard – These floating residences allow scuba divers to reach far-off dive spots without needing to head back to the islands for the night. Lodging on liveaboards may even come out cheaper than staying in resort, and are fully equipped with bedrooms, dining and kitchen areas.
Watch an abundance of whales and dolphins - The waters of Maldives is home to more than 20 species of whales and dolphins, including sperm whales, pilot whales and blue whales, plus bottlenose, spinner and Risso’s dolphins. Booking a tour that provides an expert naturalist will be helpful in identifying the different types. And even though these creatures are present in the Maldives throughout the year, they are best observed between the months of January and May, when the waters are at their calmest.
Learn the island’s culture in Maldives National Museum – Located in a palace near Sultan Park, this museum houses ancient sculptures and musical instruments. If you need time away from the water, you can also enjoy the abundance of flora and fauna around the palace.
Shop for tuna at the Male Fish Market - Located at the beach front west of the Republic Square, this is one of the most crowded spots in the country and popular among tourists. Besides tuna, visitors can also get their fill of fruits, vegetables and other types of fish. As afternoon approaches, activity picks up as the first of the dhonis (local fishing boats) arrive to unload the dayâ€™s catch. Most of these are tuna, which are quickly brought straight to the market, sold and taken away.
Snack on hedika – A form of short eats, these fish-based Maldive treats come in sweet, sour and spicy flavors. Bajiya (pastry stuffed with fish, coconut and onions) and theluli mas (fried fish with chili and garlic) are common forms of hedika. Other dishes to try are mas huni (shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions) and fihunu mas (barbequed fish basted with chili).
Boats, air taxis and private yachts are the dominant forms of travel around the islands. The major airport here is Male International Airport, which connects to Sri Lanka, Dubai and many Southeast Asian countries, and is the hub for the many air vehicles waiting to take visitors to the far-flung islands of their choice. Tourist season is between October to April, well away from the monsoon months.