Why should you book a Maldives holiday package? The Maldives is an immensely popular holiday destination amongst sun worshippers and those in search of shimmering aqua waters, soft, golden sands, and an idyllic romantic atmosphere. You’re bound to have the time of your life whether you are jetting off to enjoy an intimate getaway for two or heading to this tropical paradise on a memorable family vacation. The dreamy islands have long been a Flight Centre bestseller.
Here is a brief history of this awe-inspiring island nation coupled with a few ideas for things to do in between your long, leisurely visits to the beach.
A brief history of the Maldives
The Republic of the Maldives comprises 1,194 small islands. It is an archipelagic state surrounded by the warm, welcoming waters of the Indian Ocean. It holds the record for being the world's most dispersed state, as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and the second least populous. It is also known for being the lowest-lying country in the world, with an average ground elevation of just 1.5 m above sea level.
The Maldives was originally called the Maldive Islands and, in the 5th century B.C., they were first populated by seafarers from Sri Lanka and India who followed the Buddhist faith. The islands were taken over by the British in the 1800s and were ‘owned’ by the colony of Ceylon until 1948. An independence agreement was signed by Britain in 1965.
In December of 2004, the Maldives was affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami, which left 14 of the nation’s islands completely uninhabitable and another 79 with a lack of safe drinking water. The tropical island nation has also been affected by climate change and rising sea levels. Having said that, it remains one of the most sought-after beach holiday destinations in the world, welcoming in excess of 1.7 million travellers annually.
What to do in the Maldives
While the majority of your days are sure to be spent lounging in a hammock or on a towel on the beach with a refreshing island drink in hand, you can rest assured that the Maldives has plenty more to offer its visitors. Below are a few activities that are worthwhile adding to your itinerary.
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The Grand Friday Mosque, Malé
This architectural landmark first opened its doors in November 1984, courtesy of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. It boasts a large golden dome that glistens in the sunlight and features plain white marble walls. It is often celebrated for its minimalistic yet striking beauty and is open to non-Muslim tourists between 9am – 5pm. If suitably dressed (long pants for men and long skirts or dresses for women), you will be able to enter the main prayer hall, which is big enough to accommodate thousands of worshippers.
The National Museum, Malé
The National Museum in Malé was the island nation’s very first national museum and was opened on 11 November 1952 by the prime minister, Mohamed Amin Didi. Visitors can look forward to exploring an expansive collection of historical artefacts, ranging from stone objects to fragments of royal antiquities from the Buddhist era to the rule of Islamic monarchs.
Eedhigali Kilhi and Koattey Protected Area
This wetland area extends across 570 hectares, making it the largest of its kind in the Maldives. Travellers make their way here for many reasons, including the abundance of bird life, the stunning natural scenery, and the unrivalled peace and quiet. It is certainly a must-see for birdwatchers as it is home to close to 30 different species of water birds. There is now a visitors’ centre where you can go for more information about the area and its gorgeous inhabitants, as well as shop for souvenirs.
Scuba diving is the best way to get a closer look at the Maldives’ mesmerising marine life, so it is unsurprising that it is the nation’s most popular water activity. If you have never been scuba diving before, fear not! The Maldives promises a safe and calm diving environment perfectly suitable for beginner and advanced divers alike. Keep your eyes peeled for whale sharks, manta rays, and an array of colourful schools of fish making the most of the nutrient-rich ocean current.
If you love exploring marine life but aren’t keen to get your hair wet in the process, then savouring a three-course meal crafted by a Michelin star chef in an underwater restaurant is the next best thing. These restaurants are constructed under the sea and are closed off in aquarium-style glass for an experience that is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.
Sand banks are tiny mounds of sand seemingly floating in the crystal-clear waters of the ocean. They are scattered all over the archipelago and offer an ideal setting for an intimate lunch or dinner for two. You will find a number of travel suppliers that provide sand bank experiences, transporting you to a suitable one by boat, and setting you up with a small gazebo and an overflowing picnic basket before leaving you to enjoy each other’s company as the gentle waves lap at the white sand surrounding you.
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As of 11 May 2021, due to the devastating global pandemic, Maldives is one of the few countries currently open to South African travellers. There’s never been a better time to make your Maldives travel dreams come true!
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