White sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, swaying palms and a kaleidoscope of colour; the Maldives screams island paradise. As popular with honeymooners as they are with the toddler toting families, the islands offer an unforgettable experience for every palate. With luxury resorts lining the beaches and magical coral reefs waiting in the deep, the atoll is one of the best places to visit in the world this year.
The best time to visit the Maldives is in the dry season. The months from December through April see constant sunshine, warm weather and low humidity; perfect for hour after hour on the beach. The drier months also offer great visibility for scuba diving and snorkeling with the promise of manta ray and shark sightings.
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Typical of most beach destinations, the Maldives is sunny throughout the year. Temperatures stay in the late 20s, even in winter and the water is always warm and inviting. What is worth considering for your Maldives travel planning is the monsoon. Weather is the island nation is divided into wet and dry seasons. The wet season usually implies showers in the afternoon and windy evenings.
Male may well be one of the densest places on Earth but it’s hardly the kind of place that will leave you gasping for breath. One of the best places to visit in Maldives for a taste of local life, Male can be explored in an hour. The pint sized city has a host of attractions most of which relate to the nation’s Islamic heritage. We recommend visits to the Friday Mosque, Republic Square and the Islamic Centre, one of the city’s best known sights. Male’s Friday Mosque was built in the 1600s by the local Sultan and is decorated with exquisite carvings and Arabic inscriptions. We also recommend exploring the Sultan Park and National Museum, a charming building that was once the Sultan’s Palace and now houses a respectable collection of royal artefacts and memorabilia.
One of the largest atolls in the Maldives, the Ari atoll is a half hour away from Male by seaplane. The atoll consists of over 20 island resorts catering to a range of tastes and budgets. Choose from beach front bungalows and over water villas that let you wake up to the sounds of the lagoon. The resorts offer some of the best diving facilities in the country and plenty of other activities closer to shore such as snorkeling, kayaking, and banana boat rides.
The Maldives has long had the reputation of being a luxury destination aimed at the rich and famous. Maafushi, however, is subverting that reputation with its guesthouses and budget accommodation. The island has been instrumental in making the Maldives an exclusive destination that promises the same white sands and clear blue waters as well as world-class dive centers. If you would like a taste of paradise without a light purse, Maafushi is the best place to visit in the Maldives.
The fact that Addu, with its population of 30,000, is the second of only two cities in the Maldives tells you all you need to know about the country. Its diminutive size and unspoiled beauty are, perhaps, the country’s biggest features. Addu City is the southernmost atoll in the country. The city has a charming colonial vibe that is hard to find anywhere else on the islands having been a British naval post during World War II. The city has a few resorts, budget guesthouses and excellent diving centres as well as a few colonial buildings.
No trip to the Maldives would be complete without a visit to Male’s Friday Mosque. Named the Hukuru Miskiy, the structure is built of coral stone and is adorned with intricate wood carvings, laquerwork and inscriptions from the Quran. The mosque complex also holds a cake shaped minaret surrounded by coral gravestones some of which are over five centuries old. While visiting the mosque, keep an eye out for a long carved panel that dates backs to the 13th century and commemorates the introduction of Islam to the Maldives. The mosque finds itself at the top of the every Maldives travel guide and is one of the best places to visit in the country.
The Maldives may be a bantam weight but it packs a glamorous punch. Most resorts in the nation are housed on their own islands. Which means living on a Maldivian beach resort would give you access to your own private island, lagoon and house reef. Take that, Fiji! The private island experience is one of the reasons the Maldives is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world.
Vaadhoo Island is just another Maldivian island with a few resorts and the odd guesthouse. It offers the same swaying palms and fine white sand that all the other islands do. But Vaadhoo is special. As the sun sets, its beaches see an ethereal glow displaying what’s called the Sea of Stars. As waves break on the shore you will see a bright blue glow on the sand called bioluminescence. Tiny organisms called phytoplankton that grow in the warm water around Vaadhoo produce a cold light that night and draw wide eyed tourists from across the world.
White sands, clear warm water, coral reefs and rich marine life have put the Maldives on every diver’s map. Scuba diving is in fact one of the biggest attractions in the Maldives and draws divers, experienced and otherwise, from all over the world. It is one of the best places in the world to spot whale sharks, manta rays, reef sharks, hammerheads and moray eels as well as dazzling coral reefs and the odd ship wreck. Broken Rock, Maaya Thila, Banana Reef and British Royalty are some of the most popular dive sites in the world.