Green, white, and above all blue – blue for the sea and the sky – are the defining colours of the Maldives. This collection of remote coral islands boasts some of the bluest seas and whitest sands of anywhere in the world, making it a natural home for dozens of the world’s finest resorts – and, without contradiction, one of the most accessible places to find absolute isolation.
The palm-fringed beaches of the Maldives have become a standard illustration of the quintessential island paradise, but this doesn’t detract from their beauty or perfection. And unlike many other tropical hotspots, the majority of islands in the Maldives have virtually no built-up areas, meaning the resorts get the country’s natural beauty to themselves.
More than a thousand islands go to make up the Maldives, with the vast majority remaining uninhabited. Aside from the islands’ few population centres – of which the capital Male is the biggest – the other inhabited islands are mostly taken up with the exclusive resorts for which the country is famous.
Maldives resorts range from the ultra-high-end to the merely moderately luxurious, and all offer greater or lesser degrees of isolation. Many resorts will be the sole occupants of their respective islands, giving the resident establishments complete control over their surroundings.
With isolation being a major feature of a visit to the Maldives, the main activities tend to centre around your resort and its facilities. While many resorts cater mainly for couples seeking a romantic getaway, others offer attractions tailored to the more active visitor, such as scuba diving, snorkelling and other water sports. Still others are designed for family getaways, offering activities and facilities to keep everyone amused.
Although sight-seeing will not be high on the agenda of many visitors, those who wish can venture into the Maldives’ more populated areas. At the top of the list is Male itself, the capital and by far the largest city in the country.
Getting to Male can be something of a challenge depending on which resort you are staying at, and what transportation facilities it offers. Islands nearer to Male can reach the capital easily by boat, while farther-flung resorts will lay on a sea-plane – for a price.
Male itself is a far cry from the resorts, being a bustling and very real – if somewhat compact – town, not designed for tourists. Hotels and restaurants are likely to be cheaper here, but with correspondingly lower levels of luxury.
Just as most activities are firmly tied to your resort, the same is true of dining – there are few options to stroll to a local restaurant on most Maldives islands.
However, standards of dining at most resorts are generally very high, especially at the upper end of the market, with many resorts offering a number of venues and a range of cuisine. As guests are usually a captive market, though, these options often come at a high price, prompting many travellers to opt for half- or even full-board packages, which will generally represent a saving on paying for meals on-site.
Outside of the resorts, you can find more traditional dishes, similar in style to South Indian or Sri Lankan cooking, and mostly based around seafood. Beyond the resorts alcohol is not usually served.