What is there to do?
This is a question everyone asks us if they haven't been to Maldives before. Believe us when we say, you won't get bored...
First, prepare to spend a lot of time just staring at the beauty of the place! It's amazing how much you'll find yourself sitting on the white sand beach, gazing out at the stunning blues stretching out to the horizon and soaking up the tranquility. But there is lots more to do.
Most activities revolve around the ocean. Even the smallest island will have a dive centre, where you can hire snorkelling and dive equipment and take various courses for beginners or experienced divers. There will usually be a watersports centre and a spa for massages and beauty treatments.
Snorkelling: If you've never snorkelled before, do be brave and give it a go (as long as you can swim). The reefs here are the best in the world, and the first time you duck your head under the water and see the stunning coral formations and clear sea, teeming with tropical fish, is magical. You can easily spend hours snorkelling each day and continue to be mesmerised. If you venture out to the edge of the reef (called the drop-off), it feels rather like swimming over a cliff! But it's here that you'll see even more sealife and feel like you're swimming in an aquarium. Many islands offer guided tours of the house reef, showing you the best spots and hidden residents, while you can also try night snorkelling – a very different experience –and take boat trips to the best local snorkelling sites. These can be particularly impressive coral gardens or spots where creatures like turtles, sharks or huge manta rays are known to hang out.
Other watersports: You can hire equipment and have lessons in windsurfing, kayaking and sailing, plus some islands have motorised sports like water-skiing or parasailing. If you're a non-swimmer or nervous about snorkelling, some islands have glass-bottomed boats so you can still see the reef and fish. A few islands offer surfing, but generally surfing and good house reefs don't go hand-in-hand so you'll have to choose between the two.
Other sports: Most islands have at least one swimming pool and often a gym. You'll usually find a tennis table and billiards table somewhere and larger islands will also offer tennis, badminton, volleyball etc. Some islands even have mini-golf courses or driving ranges, just don't expect Championship standard... Maldivians are great soccer fans and there will nearly always be a football field somewhere in the middle of the island where staff have a daily evening game and are very happy for guests to join in.
Excursions: As well as snorkelling and diving, there will be other boat trips such as dolphin-spotting, fishing or sunset cruises. There are also trips to other islands, including other resorts or local islands to pick up souvenirs and see how Maldivians live and work. Sometimes there's a chance to visit a school or see the centuries-old art of building dhonis – the traditional wooden boats you'll almost certainly spend some of your holiday on.
You may also be able to visit Maldives'
capital, Male. As well as group tours, you can arrange individual trips like picnics on a deserted island. They will leave you a mobile phone so you can call when you want to be rescued!
Nightlife: Evenings usually involve relaxing drinks in the bar rather than partying, but some islands are livelier than others with occasional discos, live music and beach barbecues. A couple have nightclubs, even an underwater one! Your island may show films or have quizzes and there is often a bodu beru performance – the traditional Maldivan dance to drumming and singing, which gradually gets more and more frenzied! You may be encouraged to join in, but there's never any pressure to get up on the dance floor. It's fun but more tiring than it looks!