By Shereen Shabnam
There are very few countries in the world that come close to the beauty of my home country Fiji Islands and the Republic of Maldives is one of few that comes close. Located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka, spanning roughly 90,000 square kilometers with 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls.
When holidaymakers think of exotic island destinations, Maldives, is one of the countries on their lists. The Maldives is known for luxury, romance and tropical bliss. It is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries with almost 400,000 inhabitants and seen as a paradise for diving enthusiasts and sun seekers alike.
The archipelago, historically and culturally linked to the Indian subcontinent is known for having some of the top hotels and spas in the world, boasting prime services and accommodations in a picturesque location known worldwide for clear blue waters.
Visitors need to know that two seasons dominate Maldives’ weather: the dry season associated with the winter northeastern monsoon and the rainy season which brings strong winds and storms so choose the time that suits you best. Living in Dubai I prefer rainy season when I travel to get a balance and best of both worlds.
Being an islander I love the sun, sand and sea when on holiday. The marine world in Maldives is known for its beauty, especially the coral reefs that are home to a variety of marine ecosystems that vary from planktonic organisms to whale sharks.
In Maldives, tourism has fostered the overall growth of the country’s economy. It has created employment and income generation opportunities for the people, transforming the economy and moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism.
Today tourism is the largest economic industry in the Maldives, as it plays an important role in earning foreign exchange revenues as it is the main source of attraction to many tourists visiting the country worldwide.
Maldives is known for its natural beauty including the beautiful blue ocean and white beaches. The climate is ideal for visitors to get engaged in water sports such as swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water-skiing. windsurfing and kite boarding. The natural beauty of the Maldives attracts tourists all over the world and every year and the tourism industry today is Maldives’ largest revenue generator.
The Maldives are well-known as a world-class diving destination with crystal blue waters teeming with a diverse array of ocean life. Due to their extraordinary underwater scenery and clean water, the Maldives is ranked among the best recreational diving destinations of the world.
Tourist resorts in the Maldives consists of an exclusive hotel on its own island, with its population entirely based on tourists and work force, with no local people or houses offering a calm and serene environment for total relaxation.
The Maldivian islands were developed for tourism. In addition to its beach encircling the island, each island has its own “house reef” which serves as a coral garden and natural aquarium for scuba divers and snorkelers. The shallow water enclosed by the house reef also serves as a large natural swimming pool and protects swimmers from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents outside the house reef.
The buildings on a typical resort includes rooms and suites reserved for use by its guests, restaurants, coffee shops, shops, lounges, bars, discos and diving schools. A portion of the island also contains staff lodgings and support services such as catering, power generators, laundry, and a sewage plant. On-island shops offer a wide range of products, such as souvenirs and artifacts. Most resorts offer a wide variety of activities such as aerobics, volleyball and table tennis.
Maldives concentrates on the luxury market and is home to some of the world’s best hotels. With the best and the finest hotels offering personal butlers and in-room massages hence naturally a firm favourite with honeymooners.
The Maldives has become one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, because of the white sand beaches, coral reefs, clear warm waters, scuba diving sites and rich marine life. Many scuba divers are keen to dive in the Maldives because of the presence of whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and moray eels and many coral species.
Most holiday resorts in the Maldives have a scuba diving facility and there are a number of live a board operators offering scuba diving cruise holidays that take guests to many dive sites all over the Maldives.
Conservation is important for the residents of Maldives. Many of the better resorts now have a dedicated team of scientists taking care of the local marine life.
Most resorts have volunteer programs allowing guests to get involved even for a short amount of time. Activities include seeding coral reefs, and looking after juvenile sharks, turtles and rare fish in captivity.
Most resorts offer day trips to islands where you can usually visit local artisans in their workshops and buy some of the beautiful local arts and crafts. Malé also has several markets of fresh and wholesome food produce for those wanting to sample local cuisine.
Try some of the Maldives’ more challenging activities such as windsurfing at Lhohifushi and Dhonveli in the North Malé Atoll. These two island resorts are where the country’s most famous breaks can be found and the surf season lasts from March-October.
Spas are my weakness and Maldives offers an enormous range of treatments, including massages, relaxation therapies and facials at almost every resort on the islands. Its the perfect place for a beauty break.
Visit Maldives and take in its vibrant local life, which has been influenced by the cultures of adjacent nations like India, Thailand and regions of the Middle East, and yet remains wholly unique and a perfect holiday destination.