More than Sun and Sea: Alternative Activities in Maldives
Most people will flock to Maldives to dive in head-first – literally – and see the vast amounts of wildlife under the water’s surface. The territory that makes up the Maldives is 99% water, so it might be seen that you can’t have fun in the Maldives without getting your feet wet. The reality could not be further from this sentiment. On that 1% of the Maldives that isn’t completely underwater, there is a lot crammed in; if you want to get a taste of the real Maldives, luxury and entertainment are just as plentiful as the underwater life.
Most Maldivian resorts are built individually upon coral islands of about 160sqkm (100mi), and have their own bars and discos; every so often they will feature international DJs. The Maldives might boast some underwater nightclubs, but there are enough opportunities on land to experience a totally unique nightlife culture. Whenever night falls, at least one island resort will be throwing a beach party. In the cities, alcohol may be prohibited, but restaurants stay open until early hours of the morning.
When you stay on an island resort in the Maldives, your hosts have your comfort at heart. Amongst their arsenals, most hotels will be equipped with sensational spas. Some resorts share branches of the same company, the most notable of which is Duniye Spa: with branches on Helengeli, Meeru and many other islands, the staff offer Oriental, Swedish, aromatherapy, and more. In the event that a day’s diving is put off by rain, getting your body nourished is only sensible.
Take your pick between a helicopter or a seaplane – probably the latter if you really don’t want a close encounter with the ocean – and take to the skies. Most of the Maldives may be underwater and home to some exceptional coral displays, but the country cannot be truly appreciated unless its archipelago is laid out like a map beneath you. This aerial view is as intricate and mesmerising as any coral reef when the islands come together in perfect alignment.
Exactly what you’re looking for on your Maldives break will dramatically alter depending upon the resort you choose. In the case of devoted golfers, they may well find a second home at Shangri-La’s on Villingili. The nine-hole, par-three course has an expanse of 7.5 hectares in the shade of palm trees, and is well suited to beginners and pros alike. Fathers looking to introduce their sons to the livelihood will have no better place to start than here.
If you find yourself on Male, you can find the oldest mosque in the nation; established in 1656, it would be hard to find something that looked more out of place. The Maldives, extraordinarily, have been home to Muslims since the end of the 12th Century, and this mosque is unlike any other. Made out of local coral stone, its survival in the most far-flung area of the Muslim world is a testimony to the extraordinary history this country has.
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