The warm seas of Maldives have high visibility throughout the year, with water clear enough to see the passing fish as far as fifty metres away at times. Add to that the marvellous formation of over 3000 coral reefs and the free flowing tides of the monsoons. The result of these perfect conditions have created one of the world's richest diving coral reef areas.
Over a thousand species of fish and other underwater creatures inhabit the Maldivian waters. The monsoon tides of the Indian Ocean create a collection of small marine creatures as well as microscopic plant cells. This in turn creates a hub for all kinds of underwater species who gather in these waters lured by the abundance of food. In the Maldives you will get to see everything. From tiny shrimp and groups of colourful swimmers to the magnificent mantas and sharks, a careful eye will give you enough to enrapture you for a lifetime.
The best thing is that you need not be a professional diver to enjoy the Maldives. All resorts and safari boats give you basic to advanced training using well-monitored diving facilities of a high standard. Even the most reluctant diver can enjoy the beauty of Maldivian underwater life on a drift dive with the guidance of experienced dive instructors. A dive in a house reef is equally rewarding, all you need to do is swim a few minutes from shore. Due to the countless number of reefs found among the 26 atolls in the Maldives, all you need to do is travel 15 to 60 minutes by boat to get to a different dive spot every day.
Dives in the Maldives usually take place along a faru (reef), a thila (a submerged aquarium like reef, on a channel where the atoll meets the ocean, or on a wreck. Night diving is particularly beautiful as is a macro dive that lets you see tiny, interesting and usually disregarded creatures up close and personal.
In a place that is more sea than land, there is no end to the fun things you do in the water. Maldivians swim for recreation, they play water polo with their friends at weekend picnics, they surf addictively. The visitor is not excepted: every single resort of the Maldives has a sports centre that provides a range of watersports activities.
These centres are well equipped with masks and snorkels and boards of varying sizes, whether you want to spend the day snorkeling and meeting glances with wide-eyed fish, or feeling the wind in your hair on a windsurfer or catamaran. Some centres offer courses for beginners and advances windsurfers and sailors. You could also chose to parasail, kayak, kite-surf, water-ski, and jet-ski.
Maldives is a mecca to surf-enthusiasts from all over the world, with the southwest monsoon bringing with it massive swells, especially from June to September. The sizes range from 3 – 8 feet. There are several well-known surf breaks in North and South Male' Atoll. Resorts near these breaks are perfect for surfing aficionados, as you can get the full Maldivian experience while riding the waves to your hearts content. The lesser-known, but amazing surf breaks further away from Male' atoll can be accessed by specialised surf cruises (often referred to as surfaries) offered by cruise operators in the country.
The best way to experience the life of an ordinary Maldivian is to travel to an inhabited island.
The best way to experience the life of an ordinary Maldivian is to travel to an inhabited island. Some of these islands are slightly more modern: with brightly painted house walls and harbour areas. There are also the quite fishing villages with lots of tree-shade, swings, and the traditional wooden holhuashi. A holhuashi is rather like an island-version of a gazebo, build with hollow wooden trunks tied together forming the large, bench-like seat, and often with a thatched roof. They are conveniently set up on beaches, often where the boats come in, and is a place where islanders wind off after a day's work, exchanging news, telling stories, playing cards, and listening to local radio.
Fishing, agriculture, and fish related manufacturing is what most people in the islands do for work while some go away to find jobs in tourism and trading. Some islands are also good places to buy local handcrafts.
It is a typical island custom that everyone finish their work by late afternoon, take their daily showers or bath near their wells, dress the children in fresh clothes and go for a stroll in the island, visiting friends and relatives, delivering small bowls of fresh homemade curry, or taking some time to relax at the beachside, watching the late afternoon sun while the children play around at the beach.
Fishing is in the Maldivian blood. It is so entwined in the lives of Maldivians that there are celebrations when a good catch is caught, and complaints when fish is scarce at our dinner tables. Maldivian fishermen wake
up to the dawn call of island roosters, collect bait in nearby reefs and start a full day's work at the deep blue seas, using the artful pole and line method of fishing.
To experience the satisfaction of catching and cooking your own fish, a night reef fishing trip (offered by a lot of resorts) is the way to go. Your boat leaves before the sunset to find a good spot near a reef. The boat crew will show you how to use the lines, hooks, and sinkers. You will catch enough to fill your barbecue grill in about an hour's time.
After a good catch it is time to head to a deserted island to eat and celebrate. With over 1,190 islands and only few hundred being utilised, it is easy to find an uninhabited island anywhere in the Maldives.
While the fish you caught gets grilled to perfection over red hot ambers, make sure you take time to enjoy the experience of being alive on this untouched part of nature; the softness of sand that has not seen a human foot print for a long, long time, and the undisturbed sounds made by nature. Without a single light on the ground, the stars above come alive in abundance, while tiny lights of phosphorescence get washed up by the beachside with the wave. For a moment, it is as though you are floating among the stars.
A day-time trip to a desert island is an experience of its own. The raw, unspoilt vegetation surrounded by blinding beaches and dazzling sunbeam-lined waters are like a phantasm; everything feels imagined, and you are the only person in this beautiful universe.
Just lying on a deserted beach of a Maldivian island, taking in nothing but the continuous rhythm of the waves, the sea salt in the air and feeling the soft white sand on your bare feet is enough to sooth your senses. Each island with its green vegetation and secluded setting is a natural spa in its own right, designed to soothe, caress, and heal.
Spas set in the Maldives, thus, are perfected as the ultimate getaway cocoons in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean. Traditional healing methods, that have been passed on for generations as family secrets by the hakeembe (healing experts), have been incorporated into special spa programs in the Maldivian islands.
The types of treatments vary with each spa but you can get almost any world-class treatment in a Maldivian spa. Every Maldivian resort has a spa; some of them nestled deep within thick vegetation, others sitting in solitude on a wooden jetty built on the lagoon, and some even built underwater.
Maldivian virgin coconut oil produced using age-old extraction techniques which is known among islanders for its hydrating and healthful elements is now used in some resort spas, as is the local favourite gandhakolhi leaf which is blended to treat almost any minor ache, and the traditional Maldivian sand massage used by islanders to cure muscle and joint pains.
If a honeymoon is meant to be a celebration of love in an intimate,secluded, and most importantly, beautiful setting, then the Maldives is the world's best backdrop for all these things. There are endless ways to let the magic of the islands dazzle you on your holiday as a couple. A dinner under the stars with the occasional flicker of candle light to bring you back into the real world, a daring getaway to a nearby uninhabited island all by yourselves for the whole day, or just lazing around in your private bungalow watching the endless turquoise waters while you are treated to an spa treatment in the room.
You could choose to get to know each other through a swim around a house reef with a mask and fin, or dive among the beautiful, vibrant reefs. It is an experience you will relive for days after you get back home. Indulge in some lighthearted competition on a night fishing trip by seeing who catches more. You will not forget the amazing boat trip you make at sunset before anchoring at a suitable fishing spot. It is as if nature plays with the colours of the setting sun just to ensure that you remember this day, this moment, and this love for the rest of your life.
Your honeymoon need not be a once in a lifetime experience either. You will relive the honeymoon over and over again, every time you come back to these magical islands.
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