Made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is the quintessential get-away-from-it-all destination. It's a one-hotel-per-island affair, with properties ranging from luxe hideaways with stylish restaurants and bars, to rustic-chic retreats that draw on traditional Maldivian design.
The islands come with a natural colour scheme of green, white and blue - green for the glossy palms, white for the sugary sands, and blue for the photo-perfect lagoons that surround them. Beneath the waters things are just as spectacular, with colourful coral reefs and exotic sea life just a short swim from the beach. The Maldives is also home to some of the best scuba sites in the world, and hotels can arrange boat trips for keen divers.
Being surrounded by the sea means that fish (tuna in particular) is a key focus in Maldivian cuisine. Coconut is also used liberally - mixed into creamy curry sauces, sprinkled on top of salads and used in rich desserts. You'll also find plenty of dishes inspired by Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine.
One of my favourite experiences in the Maldives was actually the sea plane transfer. You can spot dozens of islands from the window – it’s so different from a regular flight
Flight time from the UK to the Maldives is approximately 10 hours.
When to go
The Maldives is a year-round destination, with temperatures around 30 degrees most of the time. December through to April are the driest months, making it the perfect time for those wanting to spend all day on the white sand. May to November brings the south-west monsoon, which means more rain - although it tends to clear fairly quickly. If you're diving, the western atolls will have the best visibility during the south-west monsoon, while the eastern atolls attract manta rays.
30-day tourist visas are available on arrival into the Maldives. The visa is free providing you have a return ticket home, and enough funds to cover your stay or a confirmation of hotel stay.
A 10% service tax is added to bills in most hotels, restaurants and bars. If a tip hasn’t been included, consider leaving 10-15%.
Introduction to languages
The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi. English is widely spoken too, so getting by is easy.
No vaccines are required or recommended for the Maldives, however all routine immunisations should be up to date. For full details, please contact your GP.
In the Maldives the standard power plugs and sockets are the same as the UK three pin plugs (type G), although there are some variations so an international adaptor can be useful. The electricity supply is 220V to 240V, with the frequency 50Hz.
Many resorts can organise an excursion by boat to islands that are home to local fishing villages, or to the capital Male. If you want to get a panoramic view of the islands consider a sight-seeing trip on a seaplane.
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