Welcome to Paradise
MALDIVES - THE DESTINATION
Unbelievable luxury, amazing white-sand beaches and an unrivalled underwater world make the Maldives an obvious choice for your best holiday of a lifetime.
The Maldives are an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts) in the Indian Ocean. They lie south-southwest of India and are considered part of Southern Asia. Maldives was for the most part unknown to tourists until the early 1970s.
Just 185 of the islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants.
Maldivians are almost entirely Sunni Muslim, and the local culture is a mixture of South Indian, Sinhalese and Arab influences. While alcohol, pork, drugs and public observance of non-Muslim religions are banned on the inhabited islands, the resort islands are allowed to exist in a bubble where almost anything goes.
The weekend in the Maldives runs from Friday to Saturday, during which banks, government offices and many shops are closed. You won't notice this at the resorts though, except that lunch hours may be shifted for Friday prayers.
Aside from making the water bungalow rock on your honeymoon, the primary activity on the Maldives is scuba diving. The atolls are all coral reefs hundreds of kilometres away from any major landmass, meaning that water clarity is excellent and underwater life is abundant. Manta rays, sharks, even a few wrecks, you name it, you can find it in the Maldives. Baa Atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where protected waters harbour an extraordinary diversity of marine life, including some 250 species of stony and soft coral, over 1,000 types of reef fish, as well as the endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles, manta rays and whale sharks.
By law resorts price services in US dollars (USD) and require payment in hard currency (or credit card), so there's absolutely no need to change money if you're going to spend all your time at the resorts. Most hotels have a shop but this is limited to diving and holiday essentials (sun cream, sarongs, disposable cameras, etc). Some excursions from resorts will take you to local islands where there are handicraft type things to buy, but they are typically made outside the Maldives and sold at outrageous markups.
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