The island country of Maldives in the Indian Ocean is one of the most preferred destinations for an aquatic adventure. The white sand beaches, the lush flora and fauna, come together with great hospitality, scenic vistas, and delectable local cuisine. There is simply a lot to do and explore if you are a jet-setting millennial couple or a solo traveller looking for some unique experiences within a budget.
According to the official Maldives tourism board, there are around 1,190 islands in the nation of which 188 are inhabited. The most commonly practiced religion in the country is Islam, and due to which alcohol and pork are strictly prohibited in the local islands permitted only in resorts with valid permits. While visa for tourists on arrival is free, carry some cash in USD or local currency Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR), which is accepted at shops and hotels.
The azure waters of the Indian Ocean are the biggest draw to Maldives but one can also do a bit of a detour and go island-hopping or plan an overnight stay at the lifeboats. There are local guides, tour operators and agencies that can help plan your trip, and you can mix and match the activities and accommodation depending on your budget. Established resort chains like Adaaran Group have multiple options starting from mid-level to high-end luxury accommodations on private natural islands. Each island is allotted for one resort and transfers from one island to another happen via speedboats or ferry. A private speedboat or seaplane transfer can cost you a fortune so opt for public ferry rides that are cheaper and used by locals.
If you are looking for an authentic experience, opt for guest houses and budget hotels. Most of them are equipped with WiFi, include meals, AC rooms and clean drinking water. All resorts and guest houses conduct activities siuch as snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, para-sailing, dolphin tours, romantic cruises, etc and have trained professionals to take you underwater.
The streets of the capital, Male, are full of souvenir shops, handmade beauty products and sea-inspired products. The locals speak the Dhivehi language and dress in a traditional libaas during festivities. For sampling the local food, head to small roadside cafes such as Seagull Cafe in Male or Kaafu Inn in Guraidhoo Island and try delicacies such as Mashuni (a mix of coconut and tuna) served with flatbread called Roshi and Garudhiya (tuna broth), Rihaakuru (tuna paste). A fruit platter is served after every meal comprising tropical fruits like pineapple, coconut, papaya and watermelon.
Make sure you pay attention to your guide’s advice and be in life jackets during sea transfers especially in turbulent weather conditions. If you are opting for experiences such as visiting a local home, it is advised to dress modestly and respect the indigenous beliefs. There are multiple untouched islands and beaches,
where you can flaunt your swimwear or take a dip with your partner without disturbing the local sentiments. Holidays can be exhausting so it is recommended to keep an extra day to relax and do nothing but soak in the sun and take in the beauty of the Indian Ocean.