A picturesque bonanza

Hanker after an adventurous yet serene break from your hectic urban life? Consider no further than the fascinating islands of The Maldives to have your fill of powdery beaches, water sport activities, seafood and privacy in the various resorts dotting the islands. Tropical climate with an abundance of greenery and cool, blue water all around ensures tourists throughout the year – Westerners come for sun bathing and adventure activities in summer while others visit the island in the months of festivities like Eid, Diwali and New Year.

Positioned smugly in the clear, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, the atolls (a cluster of islands) of The Maldives – about 20 in all scattered over North and South of its capital city of Male, happens to be an independent island country. In most cases, each small island is owned privately in which beautiful 5-star resorts are constructed as tourism is its only revenue. A popular holiday destination with glittering ocean, white sandy beaches, the resorts are sheltered with dense plantations and provide all the amenities for city dwellers. Male is the only one-point entry to the Maldives and the islands are accessible from Male by speed boats or seaplanes.

With a total population of just around 4 lakhs, this South-Asian island country to the south-west of Sri Lanka and India, is a major tourist attraction. It is the lowest country in the world since even its highest point above sea level is less than 8ft with average elevation being 5ft. which allows you to wade in the ocean and that explains why Maldives is a preferred holiday destination.

Bang in the middle of the ocean, each sandy landmass of the island country rests on the shelf of coral reefs and out of the innumerable coral islands, only around 200 are inhabited since some of them got submerged with rising water and in some places new islands are formed but are not inhabitable. Furanafushi island in North Male’s Kaafu Atoll is one of the nearest to the capital city and it can be reached within 20 minutes by speedboat. Like most other, this island too is privately owned but all islands come under The Maldivian governance. Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa owns Furanafushi, Kurumba in Vihamanaafushi and W Resort & Spa in Fesdu islands or any other resort, all offer a variety of facilities and activities to tourists for a memorable stay.

 Earlier Maldives was a kingdom and the kings promoted Buddhism but since 12 century AD, Islam was adopted as the only religion (they follow the Sunni sect) so much so that it is mandatory for those who wish to acquire Maldivian citizenship to convert to Islam. The official language is Divehi which is a mix of Sanskrit and Arabic. Natives here are simple folk whose main profession involves jobs in resorts/hotels, driving speedboats/cruises/seaplanes or guides and water sports managers. The rest are into local agro industry too.

Adventure activities:

Maldives is famous for its water sports activities by virtue of its low-lying and various other water-friendly features.

If you happen to stay in one of the Ocean or Pool Villas of the resort, your dream to walk around or swim in the shallow ocean bed can be realized. Else, access to the beach allows you to snorkel or swim; for those who like a little more speed and adventure, try water skiing, wake boarding, jet skiing, in the pristine ocean. If exploring the reefs is up your sleeve then Seabob is the technically advanced powerful toy and the coolest way to indulge in your aqua fantasy. Thrill seekers can go with wind-surfing, scuba-diving and catch sight of sting rays and sharks or soar like a bird to get an aerial view of the Indian Ocean peppered with greenery (islands) as you parasail with expert guidance.

For the less adventurous yet exploring minds – Sunset Dolphin Cruise offers an insight into dolphin behaviour, handline fishing on a Dhoni (a special boat) allows you to experience traditional method of fishing with bait and fishing lines as the Maldivian waters are rich in Tuna, Mahi mahi, Sail fish and Wahoo.

Food and Recreation:

Seafood specialties and live catch are cooked in Sea Salt with global cuisines for breakfast and dinner to suit every guests’ palate being served at Feast while Baan Thai and Asian Tea House take care of oriental food lovers’ choices. Almost every resort offers spa treatments with Maldivian herbal aromatic massages, facials, mudpacks and wraps to soothe exhausted nerves and Shine. The plunge pools in the Pool and Ocean Villas are a great draw since you can swim and enjoy in the seclusion of your private abode.

If you still want to get the city feel, a visit to Male takes care of your retail therapy and you can shop for souvenirs like lacquered artifacts, high quality coral jewelry – even black coral is found here and some pearls. You can visit the Grand Friday Mosque, Victory Square, National Museum, king’s family tomb and catch a glimpse of the President’s Palace.

The Maldives could be a tad expensive destination because practically everything and majorly food related items are brought in from Sri Lanka, India or Australia and a few other countries. Almost everything is imported here yet with their dependency on international resorts/retreat and tourists, it has a clannish and happy population. Poised on live coral reefs and sand bars, Maldivian islands are a picture-postcard paradise for honeymooners and avid leisure travelers for fun, frolic, food and of course great photo ops!

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