WE ALL CHERISH A DREAM OF EXPERIENCING “THE JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME” AT SOMETIME IN OUR LIVES AND THE MALDIVES WITH ITS WHITE POWDERY BEACHES, GRACEFUL PALM TREES AND ENDLESS STRETCHES OF SILVERY WHITE SANDS OFFERS SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST PRISTINE CORAL REEFS AND A BEWILDERING ARRAY OF UNDERWATER SEA LIFE ON PLANET EARTH.
If statistics are anything to go by, in the hyper-competitive European market, the Maldives is one of the most popular tropical tourist destinations. The Maldivian government has come out with a slew of packages to augment eco- tourism alongside its policy to protect the fragile ecosystems and underwater life.
After a smooth touchdown at Malé international airport, the one-hour speedboat ride to the majestic Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa, easily one of the Maldives’ top high-end luxury resorts, was truly breathtaking.
Being an Indian, it was only natural that I would have a soft spot for a Resort which is truly Indian – the outstanding Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa on mysterious Hembadhu Island which offers absolute luxury with its thatched-roof villas against the surreal backdrop of a tropical hideaway.
Apart from being the capital of the Maldives, Male, with a population of 133,412 is also the most populous city spanning beautifully over 5.8 square kilometres. The city is located strategically at the southern perimeter of Kaafu Atoll.
The best thing about holidaying in the Maldives is that much of the archipelago remains unspoilt and with 1,190 coral islands dotting the landscape offers today’s discerning travellers a bewildering choice of places to visit and an array of tropical indulgences ranging from Jet-skiing to Wind Surfing.
A vast majority of the Maldivian Islands are just six feet above sea level and, for administrative purposes, these islands have been arranged into nineteen exclusive administrative zones popularly referred to as the ‘Atolls’ in the local parlance.
There are Atolls, which have been ingeniously converted into romantic hideaways where there is nothing apart from the sun and surf. The choice is never easy and as many as ninety high-end resort islands vie for attention and almost all of them guarantee you with the freedom to explore this tropical paradise at your own pace.
The Maldives may be small in size but mark my words per capita it happens to be the world’s busiest tourist area with half a million people descending here every year to discover paradise on earth.
I was taken by surprise when I got to know how this small island nation has been playing a pioneering role in creating awareness about the burning issue of Climate Change. Hmm, it isn’t just the Western nations that are vociferous when it comes to an issue as sensitive as Climate Change! It is little wonder that today anyone travelling to the Maldives is taken aback by the bewildering variety of water sports, unmatched diving spots and snorkelling options.
Bear in mind, the Maldives has for centuries been a meeting point for African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian sea traders and you will find a whiff of this in the laid- back Maldivian lifestyle. For instance, Bodu Beru – the most popular musical expression, is every bit African and was introduced to the Maldives in the 19th century by African slaves, while the Thaara form of music is distinctly from the Middle East.
The Maldives as a nation is unique in terms of indigenous culture
and this is reflected in the attire worn by the simple village folk.
Their clothes are dexterity personified.
Maldivian music and dance is the spontaneous expression of the islanders’ lifestyle, so much so that these unique dance forms are routinely practised in schools even today just to keep the traditional nature of these otherwise dying dance forms from vanishing.
The average Maldivian is pretty skilled in terms of craftsmanship and these skills find their expression in the form of dexterous coral stone carvings at Hukuru Miskiiy, the lacquer paintings and the magically woven mats by the womenfolk of Fioari. For calligraphic splendour, you only need to visit the mosques that are spread out all across this island nation.
So what is stopping you from holidaying in the world’s most popular tropical hideaway?
Traveller’s Fact File:
The Maldives is well connected by air from Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Journey time from Singapore and Dubai takes around four hours. From Europe, the journey time varies from 9 to 11 hours.
A variety of accommodation options are available in the Maldives, ranging from luxury to budget hotels and resorts. art from the capital, Male, top-end hospitality options in the form of guest houses are readily available on the
neighbouring islands of Hulhumale’ and Villingili that are well connected by regular ferry boats and speed launches.
Popular 5 star hotels in the Maldives are – Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru and, of course, many more.