Perhaps you are looking for a vacation outside of the country, or perhaps you just want a break from ordinary holidays of having to compete with other tourists for sightseeing locales. Whatever you situation, holidays to the Maldives are a way to break the tension and unwind in a tropical paradise. The Maldives Islands are a chain of over a thousand individual coral islands, with some eight inhabited locations and two dozen tourist resorts. Lodged in the Indian Ocean some two hundred miles away from the southern tip of India, the Maldives contain astounding coral reefs and beautiful beaches, but are a different sort of vacation than one might expect.
Tourism makes up a major percentage of the country’s economy, but the devastating tsunami of 2004 did so much damage to the islands — especially the northernmost — that they are struggling to rebuild to this day. Thus, you may find an all inclusive resort, hotel, and spa on one island, while other islands may literally be ghost towns, devoid of inhabitants after the destructive two story waves. The Maldives are an Islamic nation; this means they have very strict laws but remain friendly to Westerners and tourists. It is important, however, not to step outside the bounds of behavior tolerated by foreigners.
Many of the resorts are effectively “bubbles” against Islamic law, so while it may be forbidden to drink alcohol, eat pork, or practice non-Islamic worship; there are no penalties for tourists doing so. At the same time, however, alcoholic drinks are extremely expensive due to a wide range of taxes and markups; likewise it is difficult to find actual pork as so few Muslim staff members are even willing to handle the unclean meat.
A holiday to the Maldives is not doom and gloom — far from it. On these islands, you can see a variety of seascapes and aquatic life that is unique across the globe. While some tourists are perfectly happy to lounge about on the white sand beaches or frolic in the crystal clear water, many more come to the Maldives in order to snorkel and scuba dive on the reefs. As the islands are all geologically built on a coral base, this means there is literally no way to miss a reef upon leaving the land — everywhere you turn, you will find coral! Coral, in turn, provides an entire ecosystem that supports beautiful fish, graceful rays, sharks, the occasional whale, and sea turtles. Even wrecks of ships dating up to four hundred years old are known to the best tour guides and ship captains. Whether you spend a day or a month out in the water, there’s no way you can run out of things to see.
Luxury holidays to the Maldives are the means of traveling in style and comfort. As the resort towns function exclusively at the behest of tourism, the cost of staying is high — as high as a thousand dollars per night for the top end room and board, and about a thousand dollars per week for the economic packages. Forget cheap holidays to the Maldives, as you can only stay at resorts, which charge high fees, include a ten percent service fee, and have all their employees work for tips. The only good news is that you do not need to change currency, as US dollars and credit cards are accepted at every resort.
Just because they are pricey, however, does not mean the resorts are a rip off. Indeed, by setting up package holidays to the Maldives with local establishments, the fee you pay covers every amenity, including tour service for swimming and scuba diving, meals and supplies, and whatever equipment you may require. Family resorts have day care facilities for younger kids, restaurants that serve favorite meals, and enough activities to keep kids who cannot scuba, snorkel, or swim well occupied. Some resorts have over water bungalows, so that couples can fall asleep to the rhythmic sound of the waves beating against the dock.
Food in the Maldives draws upon sources of Indian, Middle Eastern, and Sri Lankan fare. Many tourists say that it is nothing like they have had before due to the odd combination of spices in their meals. Seafood is understandably a major staple but vegetables are rarer, so a standard meal is a roasted fish with soup and chili curry. Coconut milk complements the spices nicely, providing a base against food that is too hot. Fried fish pastries, puffs, and cakes are used as side dishes or snacks, each boasting a different taste and consistency.
Holidays to the Maldives can be an excellent break from a normal routine. The cost of a vacation is high, but allows a couple or family to see sights they would never see elsewhere. Some airlines have discount flights and rates, so if budget is a concern book well ahead of time for the best options.