Marco Polo referred to The Maldives as the “flower of the Indies” and it is certainly a wonderful collection of desert island gems. In fact there are 1,190 tiny islands, in 26 atolls spread over 90,000 sq. km of the Indian Ocean. The roots of the local culture have become blurred in the mists of time, although records point towards 500 years of habitation. There are indications that The Maldives were part of the important Indian Ocean trade routes and there is a strong Arabic influence in the culture and language.
The Islands are all physically similar, just varying in size and reef accessibility. Islands which host local villages do not share with tourist developments, in an attempt to preserve the cultures of the indigenous peoples. While each resort island hosts only one resort. It is certainly possible to visit the local islands and most resorts offer trips to do so but we request that suitable clothing is worn out of respect for the culture.
The best flight options for The Maldives are utilising British Airways on direct flights from London Gatwick, with services thrice weekly, and then you can also travel via Dubai, Qatar or Sri Lanka with each of the these destinations making an excellent two-centre itinerary. Initially this may seem an effort as most of the journeys via these points require a change of aircraft in the small hours of the morning but it is an effort which is repaid the moment one steps foot on the sand of the chosen resort. Breaking the journey in one direction with your chosen "stopover" destination also rewards those seeking a bit more of a varied itinerary .
The vast majority of Maldivian resorts are reached from the capital city of Male by sea-plane, a journey that is exhilarating and part of the experience, whilst the resorts closest to Male can be reached by speedboat.
Care must be taken in selecting a Maldivian resort as, in many cases, rooms have been added to such an extent that there is little space left to escape to. Each island is flat and ringed by a continuous, palm fringed beach of white sand, lapped by crystal clear waters which stretch to the horizon while the interior of the less developed islands hosts tropical shrubs. Some islands have a ‘house reef’ close in, easily visited by snorkelling from the beach, while others require a boat to get to the corals with their shoals of teeming marine life.
The essence of a holiday in The Maldives is one of luxuriating on a glorious beach, living by the rhythms of nature and allowing the caress of the breeze to recharge the soul.