The Maldives is a name associated throughout the world with paradisiacal white sand beaches fringed by crystal clear azure waters and honeymooners doing nothing but gazing dreamily into each other’s eyes from the comfort of their plush sun loungers at their posh beach resort. While this is, for the most part, a fair picture of this tropical holiday destination, that’s not to say that there is nothing else to do across the Maldives archipelago of 1,190 islands. Indeed, the Maldives, with its rich culture of warm and friendly Sunni Muslims and vast biodiversity above ground and below the sea, can be considered a playground for those who enjoy thrilling water sports, natural adventures, and gallivanting in a tropical paradise. Here are our suggestions for keeping busy in the Maldives, hand-selected by Remote Lands’ team of expert itinerary planners.
Diving & Snorkeling
The Maldives is a diver’s heaven, blessed with over 3,000 vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful, exotic sea life. Indeed, the region is said to have one of the world’s richest diving coral reefs, with over 1,000 species of underwater creatures, from alluring fish to magnificent mantas and majestic sharks. Diving here is truly an unforgettable experience.
Whether you are an experienced diver, or even a total beginner, it’s possible to enjoy diving in the Maldives. Divers here do not require professional certifications, and most resorts will provide their guests with basic to advanced dive training. With countless reefs surrounding the Maldives’ 26 atolls, dive spots are never more than an hours’ boat ride away from just about any of the Maldives’ plethora of resorts. Night diving is a popular form of diving in the Maldives, especially magical due to the bewitching phosphorescence that sparkle in the Indian Ocean off the Maldivian shores after sundown.
Another popular night activity in the Maldives is night fishing, an authentic cultural experience that allows participants to connect with the Maldives in a unique way. This is not an activity for the faint of heart, with live fish being hooked and lowered into the waters as bait, and long periods of doing absolutely nothing but waiting. Traditional Maldivian fishing does not involve any fishing poles. Instead, a weighted fishing line is dropped via a large spool, which is held above the water. Don’t expect high tech equipment like GPS either – the Maldivians still use the moon and stars to navigate, which is a unique aspect of this rustic cultural voyage.
Of course, one of the best parts is dining on your catch. Even if you don’t catch anything (don’t worry – it happens!), the crew is most likely to share theirs with you, and it is usually possible to arrange for your resort to cook you a sumptuous fish cooked any way you like for either a late dinner, or lunch the following day.
The Maldives is said to have some of the best surfing waves in the world. Its awesome surfing waves were first discovered in the 1970s by two Australian surf travelers, who lost their way in a shipwreck and found themselves just outside of Male. It was here that they noticed that the reefs north of Male created idyllic surfing conditions. Eventually, word got out, but amazingly, today the seas are not overcrowded with surfers, as in Hawaii or other such popular surfing destinations. Instead, it’s possible to enjoy uncrowded surf sessions at the main breaks.
The best season for surfing in the Maldives is during the start of the South-West Monsoon season, from April to June. There are numerous surfing companies that teach beginner to advanced courses, and of course it’s also possible to rent equipment without the lessons. The best areas for surfing are north of Male, which is said to have the best breaks, and is known for getting bigger swells than in the south.
Explore Nature on a Guided Tour
Of course, it’s not only the sea that captivates visitors to the Maldives, but also the lush foliage and diverse scapes on land, across the country’s vast archipelago. Villingili is one particular island that’s known for its natural, dense vegetation, majestic banyan trees, thousands upon thousands of towering coconut palms, and multitudes of plant species, amongst nature trails and natural lagoons.
On Kuramathi island, visitors can check out the edible plants used in traditional Maldivian medicines, and explore the nature path with friendly hermit crabs. Other such exotic and friendly creatures adventurers may run into (or go out of their way to see!) consist of grey herons, fruit bats, and white breasted waterhens.
Visitors will truly get the most out of their trek by organizing an experienced local tour guide, who can not only ensure their safety, but who can also point out fascinating facts about the various plant and animal species the group comes across throughout the hike.
Beach Lounge Hopping
While the Maldives does have a strict no-alcohol policy on all inhabited islands, the resort islands are permitted to exist in a carefree bubble where just about anything goes. Take advantage of this by checking out the Maldives’ best beach lounges. Swagger into the W Retreat & Spa Maldives’ Sip sunset lounge, which features the W’s signature chic, stylish vibrance, plush seating, chilled beats, and elaborate cocktails. Take a load off at Huvafen Fushi’s UMbar, which serves everything from spirits to mocktails. Kick back at Niyama’s sunset rooftop bar, Fahrenheit, which serves up specialty cocktails alongside live music. All aforementioned bars are well-known for bringing in world-class DJs to create a funky and chilled out beach vibe that is likely to match your mood and the divine cocktail in your hands.