There are beaches and endless stretches of white sands and then there are the Maldivian beaches, seductive and dreamy, discovered by seafarers along age-old trade routes for over 2,500 years. As many as 1190 coral islands and atolls here have held fascination for the wanderer, discoverer and explorer alike. The tropical island of Maldives is like none other; 99% of the country covered in ocean.
Said to be the most beautiful small islands on Earth, Maldives comprises of as many as 26 coral atolls in the form of a few islands and isolated reefs stretching from 7 degrees 10’ North to 0 degrees 45’ South. Within those 26 atolls are roughly 1,200 islands of which around 200 are inhabited and 100 are resorts. Currents and tides keep shifting along the tinted sandbank, tapping into every aspect of island life.
Home to some of the world’s most luxurious beaches, Maldivian waters sparkle with whiter-than-white sand and turquoise-aqua tinted blue waters. Some of the world’s most amazing diving and snorkelling sites are found here with many of the luxurious resorts offering privacy and world-class amenities, making this idyllic destination one of the most preferred on the wish lists of travellers, honeymooners and water sports enthusiasts. Locals live with the
conviction that once you visit Maldives, you will return, such is the magical pull of its heavenly waters. And for beach lovers, the Indian Ocean has a timeless appeal, serving as a restorative tonic, akin to a final frontier.
Recent years have seen more resorts adopt an eco-conscious approach, giving sustainable tourism an altogether new and luxurious definition. The islands have served as reliable energy sources, generously allowing its wind, water and solar power to be tapped into. Conserving their carbon footprint while whipping up a delectable array of adventure and wellness services are some of the world’s most reliable hospitality brands, that have lent their properties a unique Maldivian twist.
Surrounded by crystal blue waters and covered with lush tropical flora, The Taj Exotica, located on Emboodhu Finolhu Island is barely 8 kilometres from Male International Airport and 15 minutes by speedboat. Luxuriously appointed villas and suites, private plunge pools and personal sundecks stretch out to an expansive and endless stretch of the Indian Ocean. Palm thatched villas are perched over the lagoon as if they were always meant to be there. Checking in to your overwater bungalow opens up a cocoon of luxury. This slice of beautiful oceanic island adapts to the mood of the moment. The tropical bliss of the island and blue harmony of the ocean seem to spill into the Jiva Grande Spa – an oasis of privacy. Anytime is marriage time in paradise and as couples undertake their Renewal of Vows ceremony, Taj Exotica presents them with a special wedding certificate, sealing the union in a most romantic and thoughtful way.
The One&Only Reethi Rah located in North Male Atoll, is yet another private luxury resort accessible by luxury speedboat or yacht. This all-villa property has mastered the art of unrivalled level of style and comfort. Its 128 private villas are well spaced out along the beach with few set above the clear, protected waters of the lagoon. A water lover’s paradise, the resort offers 12 beautiful beaches, a PADI Gold Palm Dive Centre, multiple restaurants and luxurious treatments at the One&Only Spa. It all comes together with its combination of excellent location, amazing food, a multitude of activities and evening entertainment. Beach villas are designed in traditional island style with thatched roofs, generous use of wood and locally sourced bamboo. The Shark Safari is an unusual activity where you get to spot not just sharks but also turtles and other beautiful fish. Water-skiing on the perfectly flat crystal clear water is like skiing on glass and getting to see the bottom of the sea 20m down.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Undoubtedly in a region where there is more water than land, water sports activities dominate the bucket list of most amateur and expert adventure enthusiasts. Partaking in canoeing, catamaran sailing, water skiing, fun tube, kayaking, banana boat towing, wakeboarding, jet ski tours, parasailing, windsurfing, snorkelling, kitesurfing, and knee boarding, the facilities are perfected to international standards.
Aquatic life in the Maldives is unparalleled, for where else will you get to see an average of 1500-2000 individual whales and dolphins every time you embark on an 8-hour whale watching tour. It is said that at any given time of the year, there are 10 to 12 different species of whales and dolphins that have made the nearby reefs their home. There are dwarf sperm whales, false killer whales, real killer whales and striped and spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and pilot whales. The world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark is also found in the Maldives.
Stepping out of these well-appointed resorts and their private stretches of beaches and pools will not be easy but all the same, a visit to the capital city of Malé will give you an insight into the local way of life. Mosques, bazaars, cultural sights and local restaurants have a charm of their own. Dig into rich traditional Maldivian food at the islands’ many hotaa’s or cafés. Try the popular Mas riha curry and rice with sous-chef grills kebabs of freshly caught tuna.
Whether you go scuba diving or snorkelling and explore the islands’ gorgeous coral reefs or view them from within the popular Whale Submarine or charter a boat and go on a fishing expedition, hop from one atoll to another on an air taxi, spend the day touring the National Museum or taking a stroll on the grounds of a former palace, this jewel in the Indian Ocean will seduce and beckon you back for another adventure.
When to go: Maldives enjoys benign climate, with year-round temperatures between 26C – 30C. Perfect months are January, February and March when the sky is blue and water calm and still like a sheath of glass. The high season stretches from November to April.
How to get there: Resorts arrange transfers from Male International Airport, either via private launch, for North and South Male atolls, or, for outer atolls, via seaplane service from the air-taxi terminal on Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways. Speedboats are used for nearer resorts.
Getting more out of your stay: Book yourself on an exquisite pleasure/surfing/fishing cruise and dive safari from the many ‘liveaboards’ on offer. Popular underwater sites are the Banana Reef, Fish Head and Wreck of the Maldives Victory.
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