Unrivalled luxury, secluded emerald jewel islands, glistening turquoise blue ocean, tropical marine life and the softest sugar white beaches you have ever seen! The Maldives has become one of my favourite destinations, as it allows you to enjoy luxury, paradise and scuba diving all in one trip. Which is why I can’t stop going back time and time again!
It’s in The Maldives where I saw my first ever shark as I walked barefoot along the beach! I remember running back to my villa with the biggest grin on my face, shouting to my boyfriend to grab the snorkel gear! (Pink of course) After that we were hooked and signed up to learn to dive that very same day!
Where Are The Maldives Located
The Maldives is an archipelago in the Indian ocean which lies just south west of India and Sri Lanka. Over 1000 islands make up this collection of islands, with just 200 of them being inhabited.
Top Things To Do
Scuba Diving & Snorkelling
Whale shark spotting
Enjoying dinner/drinks barefoot on the beach
Sustainable hand fishing
Although there is lots to do in the Maldives, there is no better place more suited to disconnecting from the world and simply doing the best thing… nothing but pure relaxation.
Which Maldives Island Is The Best?
Every resort in the Maldives is a small island, completely private with no one else around apart from other guests, the odd fruit bat and hotel staff, which makes it one of the most remote, relaxing and safest destinations out there. I have listed the hotels I have stayed at, at the end of this post.
There is something for everyone, from Maldives on a budget, home-stays , basic accommodation and family resorts to some of the world’s most exclusive and glamorous hotels.
Personally, my favourite resorts are located in the Marine Protected South Ari Atoll as I found it offered the best diving, snorkelling and let’s not forget Whale Shark sightings compared to the other Atolls.
Although there are hundreds of island resorts to choose from, if you are there to dive be aware that not all of them cater for divers! I cannot stress enough to do your research before you go, read reviews and make sure there really is a dive school and that it’s a PADI 5 star!!!
We got stung once as when we turned up to a resort which claimed to have a dive school, however when we arrived it had been closed down! If in doubt you can always check out the resort/dive school on the PADI website.
When it comes to choosing which resort to stay at, you may also want to consider which Atoll it is located in, as transfer time from Male via seaplane or boat, can vary from an additional 20 – 75mins on top of your international flight.
Maldives Water Villa or Beach Villa?
Now this all depends on a few things, budget, privacy, whether you prefer staying on the ocean or the beach and also how close you’d like to be to hotel amenities.
If I had an endless budget, I would choose a water bungalow every time, as nothing beats having your own direct access to the ocean for endless snorkelling. On our wedding anniversary we were kindly upgraded to a water bungalow at the Lux South Ari Atoll, which was one of the most luxurious experiences of my life! Having the house reef literally on our door step was paradise! We actually ended up doing more snorkelling than we did diving!
Snorkelling vs Diving
So now you might be wondering what is better, snorkelling or diving in the Maldives? Or maybe you are worried because you can’t dive?
Let me tell you, you needn’t worry in the slightest! The Maldives is one of my favourite places in the world to snorkel, there is just so much to see, even at the shallowest of depths.
Most of the resorts have their own house reefs so if you prefer to snorkel you can easily spend the whole day exploring!
As for scuba diving, if you are certified GREAT, if not don’t worry as most resorts have dive centres and you can train whilst there on holiday in a matter of days like we did.
The scuba diving is spectacular and you will not want to get out of the water!
The Crystal Clear Underwater World of Diving in the Maldives
There is no doubting the beauty of this island destination but it’s what lies beneath the glistening turquoise waters that will truly mesmerise you! The endless reefs that surround and protect the islands are an explosion of colourful soft and hard corals, swim-throughs and overhangs teeming with over 2000 species of fish! And if you love wrecks there are plenty to explore!
During the months of December – April is when the water is at its best, with incredible visibility, which also makes it ideal for underwater photography. The Maldives is famous for its large pelagics and abundance of colourful fish. Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, Reef Sharks, Dolphins, Manta Rays, Sail Fish, Parrot fish, Green Turtles, Clownfish and sea snakes are just some of the species we’ve seen during our dives.
You can find the odd colourful Nudibranch but if you prefer the more macro critters, you may want to try Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or Anilao in the Philippines.
Best Place To See Whale Sharks
The South Ari Atoll is the hot spot for Whale Sharks, you can encounter breath taking sightings, as well as diving and swimming with these gentle giants, all year round. Whereas in the eastern and western atolls, you are limited to only spotting them at certain times of the year. It also depends on luck, as wildlife is exactly that “wild” and unpredictable. Out of the 5 times we visited the Maldives, I’ve only ever had two very quick glimpses! Whereas others have had endless encounters on the same day!
Another great place to see whale sharks is Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia.
Manta Rays & Hammerhead Sharks
If you want to see Manta Rays, you will not be disappointed! Ask your dive guide to take you to a Manta cleaning station, where you can rest on the sandy bottom (to not scare them) and marvel at the sight as they swoop in one by one right in front of you!
As for Hammerheads, it is absolutely possible to see them and we spotted them on more than one occasion. However, you’ll need to be in the water by 5am if you want to stand the chance of diving with these incredible sharks but it’s definitely worth it as you glide through sparkling blue bioluminescence first thing in the morning.
Wildlife of The Maldives
Fruit Bats | The largest of the species and in my opinion the most stunning! These flying foxes are extremely common and live high up in the palm trees.
Lizards | Who doesn’t love photographing colourful geckos! You might even find these little guys in your beach villa but don’t be alarmed as they are great for getting rid of those pesky mosquitos.
Snakes | Although land snakes are not that common you may come across the majestic sea snake as they swim around in the turquoise blue.
Birds | Once you visit the Maldives the call of the protected Asian Koel will stay with you forever! Once you know, you know! Other common birds include the Heron and the red breasted Frigate. Towards the end of the day, nothing beats grabbing a cocktail, perching yourself on the beach and sitting back whilst watching the Herons fish.
Random Good Point To Know
Before you get carried away stocking up on the finest bottles of alcohol in duty free, DON’T! It’s illegal for individuals to bring alcohol into the country and they will take it away from you at the airport! I know this, from costly experience!
The Maldives is THE Paradise!
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As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.