Nestled between the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the Maldives is the smallest island-nation in Asia. It consists of twenty-six atolls teeming with marine life and stunning underwater terrain.
Why its name starts with the syllable “mal,” which means “bad” or “ill” in French, I don’t know, but a quick view of images online, backed up by loads and loads of articles and trip reviews on this beautiful archipelago, will prove just the opposite. The Maldives is, for divers and divers-to-be, definitely a “Good-dive.”
#1 Rich Biodiversity
Sitting on a vast underwater mountain ridge in the northern Indian Ocean, the Maldives consists of two rows of atolls just above the equator. More than 3,000 coral reefs surround this archipelago, acting as a habitat for small sea creatures and microscopic marine life – from as tiny as a pygmy seahorse to the bigger pelagics like the majestic manta ray.
The mantas are a major attraction from May to November at Manta Point. Observe the beautiful creatures as they stop by the underwater “cleaning stations,” a coral outcropping at a depth of 8m, to have their wings cleared of parasites by the cleaner wrasses inhabiting the corals.
You don’t have to be an expert diver to enjoy this underwater wonder. All resorts and tours offer training for both beginner and advanced divers to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun. With visibility reaching to as far as 50m and warm water temperatures year round, diving or snorkelling in the Maldives is heaven.
#2 Exciting sea Safaris
With over 600 safari boats waiting to be booked, there’s a room for every brave-hearted soul willing to explore the islands for several days to a week.
There’s a boat to suit your budget – whether you want to travel around in style or on a shoestring. Most if not all boats are equipped with dive facilities onboard and instructors to teach and accompany you on your first dive trip. If diving is too challenging for you, you can still enjoy the rich marine life by snorkelling or dolphin-watching.
The Maldives ranks among the top 5 places in the world for dolphin- and whale-watching. Among these, spinner dolphins, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales and blue whales are commonly seen. Whale sharks and turtles can also be spotted, and tourists are allowed to swim with them when the opportunity arises.
#3 Explorations Up In The Air And Down Under
What’s more exciting than chartering a De Havilland DHC 6 Twin Otter Seaplane to view these pristine islands? The seaplanes are designed with high wings, large viewing windows and untainted glass to give you a clear and unobstructed view. Snap a few aerial photos and bring home a unique memento of your trip.
Or, delve deep and do the submarine tour. Dubbed the “The Whale Submarine,” this submersible vehicle takes you down to 35m so you can view a variety of marine life through its large lens-like port holes: surgeonfish, blue-striped snapper, unicorn fish and tiny ones like the lionfish and clownfish. The sub brings you up close and lights up crevices, caves and reef walls, whose colours and textures you wouldn’t otherwise see in natural light. An unique and enchanting experience for non-divers.
#4 Thrilling Night Fishing
The Maldives is surrounded by 99% living, unspoiled, marine-rich ocean waters. Aside from tourism, fishing is a major industry on the island. Experience the excitement of hauling in your own catch when you join the late afternoon fishing trips organized by most resorts.
Best of all, you can have your fresh catch cooked to perfection and enjoy it for dinner.
#5 Your Very Own Private Island
Imagine a nation of 1,190 coral islets spread across an area of 90,000 square kilometres. Only 200 islands are inhabited, and about 90 of those are developed as tourist resorts. The rest are uninhabited, waiting for someone like you to claim them for a day or two. Go on your own and be a Castaway, or lose yourself with your friends and have your own version of The Beach. Most resorts offer the option of some downtime on a secluded beach.
#6 Health And Wellness
After a full day of fun in the sun, unwind by treating yourself to a relaxing Maldivian spa.
Try the traditional Maldivian sand massage known to cure joint and muscle pains, or those that integrate the island’s traditional healing methods, kept as family secrets for generations by their ‘hakeembe’ or healing experts. Or just head out to any of the deserted coves, plop down and relax on the powdery sand as you listen to the rhythmic lapping of the waves.
With the weather constantly sunny and the temperature hardly ever dipping below 30 degrees Celsius, you can enjoy the Maldives’s warm, crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches almost any time of the year. It truly is a tropical paradise.
Cover photo: www.pinterest.com