The Maldives could easily be mistaken for paradise, with its postcard-perfect white beaches, clear turquoise waters, colorful reefs, and silhouettes of coconut palms. These beautiful islands weren’t even open to tourism until the 1970’s, but now are a jewel in the middle of the Indian Ocean, pleasing weary travellers and adventure seekers alike. Their tranquil atmosphere might tempt you to kick back, relax, and soak up the tropical sun, but for those who are in want of an adventure, the Maldives doesn’t disappoint. Boasting wild terrains and home to rare fish and sea turtles that need protecting, the next exotic adventure is waiting to be tailored just for you.
The Maldives can be defined as 99% thriving marine life amid clear waters and 1% land swathed in palm trees (and no lack of luxury resorts). It is made up of 26 atolls (a word originating in Maldives, meaning “circular island made up of corals”), which are comprised of 1,190 mini islands. Whereas before, travel in the Maldives had been pretty limited to staying at resorts and indulging in tourist attractions, recent years opened up this country and now offer a glimpse into the local history and culture.
One such place to view and understand the local culture is Male, the Maldives’ dense capital and mercantile heart. Male is a hub of activity and offers various ways of entertainment. Remnants of Buddhism can be seen scattered throughout the town, but there’s no shortage of Islamic influences: the Munnaaru Minaret, Medhu Ziyaaraiy (the tomb of Abul Barakath Barbary, who is credited for converting Maldivians to Islam), and the presidential palace at Mulee Aage. Alternatively, wander around the bustling streets alongside locals and go shopping for souvenirs at Chaandhanee Magu. A healthy dose of coconut is a given, whether it be in form of deep fry oil or freshly-squeezed refreshments.
If you are concerned about protecting the local flora and fauna, head on over for Maldives travel in Naifaru in Lhaviyani Atoll. You can volunteer to help run their small turtle sanctuary, mainly for green sea turtles. You’ll even get a chance to visit islands nearby for turtle nesting sites (after morning yoga session and before scuba diving in the evening, of course)! If you want to pair up your adrenaline-rush with some good doings, this isn’t a shabby idea.
No two islands are the same in the Maldives, each uniquely shaped and with its own quirks. The resort islands are usually the ones with the best beaches, access to lagoons, and well-tended palm trees. Beaches such as the Veligandu Beach are a good place to lounge and relax. Major tours, cruises or safaris will take you to islands such as Hulhumale and Maafushi. Try a balance of off-the-beaten-road locations and more touristy stays for a full view of adventurous life in the Maldives.
Adventures in the Maldives
Adventure travel in the Maldives presents a favored destination for a truly awe-inspiring number of watersports; adventure seekers can indulge themselves with activities in water, on water, and above water. For out-of-water fun, there’s also some vine-filled opportunities.
For those seeking an adrenaline kick, zoom several meters above the surface of the sea while holding on for dear life. Flyboarding is an activity that takes water skiing to new levels (literally - upwards!). A board is attached to your feet while you yourself are connected to a speeding jet ski via a hose, with a parachute helping dampen your momentum (but certainly not your fun!).
Water skiing is a popular activity and is offered on most resort islands with calmer lagoons. Untrained skiers can take advantage of the courses provided by trained instructors in both skiing and windsurfing. Water surfing is also available off surf resorts or charter boats. Older surfers or those travelling with non-surfers will be more comfortable with surfing off resorts water while the charter boats might be preferable to the young and daring.
If you want to explore new depths of azure waters during your Maldives travel, jump on in and explore the coral reefs. Sounds like an oxymoron, but dive deep to see a vast underwater mountain range while snorkeling, freediving, scuba diving, or underwater walking. Another great way to see the marine life is by hopping on underwater scooters. And the best part? You don’t even need to know how to swim to do it!
Extreme adrenaline-pumping activities are not the only way to enjoy adventure travel programs in the Maldives; even leisure tours are filled with fun and excitement. If you’d rather not get your feet wet, enjoy your time on the islands by jungle trekking or island hopping. You can go on guided or self-guided tours of the islands or its surrounding waters. Take a boat with a transparent hull and grab a meal the the world’s first underwater restaurant!
The Maldives have the same tropical climate year around, although It’s good to make note of the monsoon season (November and December). Also of meteorological interest: as the lowest-lying islands in the world, the Maldives are in danger of getting submerged due to increased global warming. So, don’t put your adventures off too long!
Christmas and New Year are the busiest and the most expensive time to travel to Maldives. Some activities and places on these islands restrict the number of visitors admitted to avoid overcrowding, so make sure to check in advance. April through May are probably the least crowded, with the lowest prices around.
Costs & Affordability
A place previously only accessible to travelers with reasonably fat wallets, in recent times, the Maldives have opened up and offer lodging and activities for low-budget travellers and backpackers as well.
The local currency of Maldives is the rufiyaa, but most transactions can be conducted in dollars. Even an elaborate three-course meal will only come to about $10, while local buses and ferries on average cost less than a dollar. Food is delicious and plentiful, with the local diet based on coconut and things of the sea. There’s many markets that offer cheap grub and rich taste.
Even though the cost of living itself is low, the cost of activities and luxuries are fairly expensive during Maldives tourism. Most travel packages that include accommodation, travel, and adventure activities can set you back a few hundred dollars. Check carefully all that is included, and keep in mind that most of the water-based watersports require expensive equipment and local knowledge of sea conditions.
Accommodation & Visas
Adventure travel in the Maldives offer a wealth of accommodation, regardless of your budget and your likes. There’s everything from resorts to lodges, from guesthouses to liveaboards (on a boat or a yacht!). So, decide what tickles your fancy and plop down next to the lull of the waves.
While there's always the option of staying in a resort, some programs offer a much more interesting (and affordable!) way to travel. They take you through a series of locations, offering stay in cheaper guesthouses, boat houses, or even at the homes of locals where you can indulge in truly authentic local cuisine. Many accommodations themselves offer packages with various activities included in them which you could take advantage of. So, whether you’re checking into a luxurious villa or colorful hostel, check any exciting opportunities offered at reception.
Travelling to Maldives is usually hassle-free as long as you know the hotel you’ll be starting your adventure in. Visitors get a 30 day stamp on their passport and can be on their way. For additional visa information, check with your local embassy.
Benefits & Challenges
These beautiful islands have hardly been touched by mankind; the lagoons are free and clear of pollutants, the air free of smoke from industries, and the roads (and waterways) free of hawkers and beggars. Enjoy this unspoiled splendor, but make sure that you respect the land and water in turn.
Adventures in the Maldives mean getting up close with one of the most sophisticated travel destinations; with high standards of service, be it in transport or lodging, your Maldives travels are sure to please. Whether you are staying at a resort or simply on the couch of a local, you can expect to be treated like royalty. Scuba diving lessons and other such activities are handled with immense care and respect.
Sophistication, exclusivity, and privacy come with a rather large price tag. Some adventures in the Maldives can be quite expensive for a regular traveller. That is not to say that you can’t travel on a shoestring, but the most exclusive activities might not be within the reach of an average budget. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and adventurous spirits will not be deterred by pure numbers.
Adventure travel programs in the Maldives are the place for both idyllic lounging and bloodcurdling activities. So, put on your diving gear and take the plunge into one of nature’s gifts, then cool down with a lazy lounge by the beachside pool. Livin’ la vida loca, coconut in hand, has never been so fulfilling.