The Maldives, a suite of over 1,000 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, have been on honeymoon and tropical-vacation wishlists for as long as anyone can remember. It’s no wonder, as the hotels scattered on this East Asian archipelago offer peerless luxury and natural beauty in its truest sense. The colorful and accessible underwater world, exciting blend of cultures, and long list of the world’s best beaches secure the Maldives as a bucket-list destination for all.
The Maldives is all about the water and how you move through it: whether up-close-and-personal, kitted out in SCUBA or snorkeling gear, on a gentle swim off a white beach, or in a seaplane, taking off directly from the water. Because of the country’s rich and diverse underwater make-ups, lovers of marine exploration travel from all over the world for a taste of the Maldives’ rainbow reefs, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks. Some hotels offer all-inclusive diving programs, that include up to 3 dives a day with trained personnel, allowing you to get the most out of your stay if it’s diving that you’re after. Seaplanes are a very special part of any trip to the Maldives. As there is really only one major airport to fly into, and not so much land otherwise, many resorts offer seaplane transfers from Malè to your island. These flights are usually quite short but incredibly beautiful, and taking off and landing on the ocean is an experience unique to the Maldives and not to be missed.
Malè, the little capital of the Maldives, has an airport, several cultural attractions, fish and fruit markets, and great shopping around the Chandani Magu street and the Singapore Bazaar, which offers traditional craftwork for purchase. There are some modern hotels here, as well as restaurants and clubs to go out in, which are largely western-influenced. Wander through the large mosques with golden-domed roofs, the green Sultan Park, and the imposing Presidential Palace. The entire land is fully-developed and filled with locals, making it the perfect place to stay for those looking to get to know the culture and people.
Getting there: Nowhere in the Maldives is a particularly short ride from anywhere, but it’s promised to be worth it. Almost all flights come to Velana International Airport on the island of Hulhule, which is next door to the capital, Malè. Fly British Airways, Sri Lanka Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airlines, or TUI. From here, more high-end resorts will arrange for a transfer for you from the airport, via seaplane or speedboat. Other resorts offer these transfers as well, but they are not included in the cost of the room. There’s also two domestic airlines that fly within the Maldives, Maldivian and FlyMe, so getting to your resort without a scheduled transfer and for cheaper than the seaplanes is possible.