The destination of choice for honeymooners the world over, the Maldives is an island nation uniquely made up of a string of 26 islands comprised of over 1,192 smaller coral islands, lying southwest of Sri Lanka and India in the Indian Ocean. With breathtaking beaches, stunning scenery and coral reefs second to none, it’s not hard to see why the Maldives ticks so many boxes. Think private-island resorts, diving into translucent 25°C waters and cocktails on a pristine white beach and you’re halfway there.
The weather in the Maldives is consistently hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures of around 30°C and evening temperatures around 25°C all year round. However, there are two pronounced seasons; the dry (or high) season which lasts from December – April and the rainy season, which lasts from May – November and peaks around June. As the name suggests, the rainy season (which is also referred to as the South West Monsoon) sees the highest levels of rainfall and humidity. Therefore, the most popular (and, as such, more expensive) time to travel is from December – April.
But before you discount the rest of the year when temperatures are still consistently high, remember the Maldives is renowned for activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling and spa retreats. Ideal rainy day pursuits should your trip see the odd downpour or two and you may just be able to bag yourself a bargain and some serious tranquility travelling during off peak months.
Whatever time you choose to visit, check out our essential Maldives to do list below.
- Snorkelling and diving – Tourists don’t just flock to the Maldives for the romance. Its location at such a distance from other land masses makes it arguably one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkelling with fantastically impressive coral reefs and marine life that need to be seen to be believed. For adventurous water sports enthusiasts, you can also check out water flying, tubing, parasailing and – for the more experienced surfers – there are waves that you’ll be hard pushed to beat.
- The world’s first underwater spa – Only 30 minutes from Malé International Airport is the private lagoon resort of Huvafen Fushi, whose spa offers guests underwater couples treatment rooms and an underwater relaxation area where you can truly be at one with nature. Boasting awe-inspiring views of the lagoon’s reef as well as weird and wonderful tropical fish which call the Indian Ocean home, it goes without saying that this resort is adults-only!
- A day trip to the capital city – Whether you are passing through from the airport on your way to your own personal island paradise, or you take one of the frequent boat trips on offer from various nearby islands, make sure you spend some time in the Maldives capital city of Malé to really experience some of the local culture. In contrast to the relaxed pace of surrounding islands, vibrant skyscrapers, bustling fish and fruit markets vie for space with historic mosques and football pitches (a firm favourite with locals!). Make sure you find time to explore the history of Malé and the Maldives culture at the National Museum. For the foodies amongst you, try cuisines from around the world including Maldivian, Asian, Indian and Malaysian in the myriad of restaurants dotted throughout the city.
- Visit a deserted island – Despite the boom in tourism since the 1970s, there are still a large number (approximately 1,000) uninhabited islands in the Maldives. Organise a boat trip for the day and play Robinson Crusoe soaking up the tranquility on a private beach or lagoon, as well as catching and cooking your own meal.
- Soak up the sunset/sunrise – And if you can do so from your own private deck or plunge pool, overlooking the crystal clear waters, so much the better!
The only international airport in the Maldives is Malé International Airport which is located on Hulhumale Island. Hulhumale is 35 minutes by ferry from Malé island where the Maldives capital Malé can be found. Ferries between the airport and the capital cost the princely sum of around 50p!
There are no direct flights from the UK but the following airlines will get you there from around £400 per person outside of peak travel periods.
- Emirates Airlines (0844 800 2777; www.emirates.com) flies from Heathrow and Gatwick to Malé via Dubai.
- Sri Lankan Airlines (020 8538 2001; www.srilankan.aero) flies from Heathrow to Malé via Colombo in Sri Lanka.
- Qatar Airways (0870 389 8090; www.qatarairways.com) flies four times a week from Heathrow to Malé via Qatar.