The Maldives is a collection of just under 1200 coral islands situated on the equator, south west of Sri Lanka. Just 202 of these islands are inhabited and 87 are currently resort islands which basically means they are available to visit on vacation. The islands are split into 26 major atolls and stretch 820km north to south and 120km east to west.
As you would expect given the location, the climate is warm and humid with average temperatures around 28 degrees celsius. The rainy seasons lasts from May to October and this brings strong winds, rough seas and heavy downpours! The best time to visit the islands is considered to be between November and April when you should experience calm, sunny days.
Most resort islands have their own reef and as such, the Maldives is a perfect location for divers or for those wishing to learn to dive. That said, it is equally possible to view a huge range of beautiful fish and other sealife (turtles etc) merely by take a leisurely swim with a mask and snorkel.
Resort islands vary in size from the very exclusive looking after just a handful of visitors at a time to much larger resorts with hundreds of guests. Accommodation is usually in the form of 'beach huts' though these are finished to a very high standard with everything you might expect from a Western hotel. Many islands featured secluded outside bathrooms complete with your own hot tub!
As well as the standard accommodation, most resorts also offer water bungalows which are basically beach huts built on stilts over the sea. Of course a premium is charged for such luxury but it is a very unique way to live for a couple of weeks.
The capital of the Maldives is Male and this is where visitors will initially arrive by plane. From there you will be transported to your final destination by either speedboat or sea plane (depending how far away it is).
Most resort islands have a variety of food and drink on offer. Fish is always popular given that there is so much of it around locally but there is always a wide choice of meats etc and most chefs are happy to cater for specific diets (vegetarian, gluten/lactose free and so on).
Quick Maldives Facts:
- Population - 270,000 (est 1998)
- Language - Dhivehi although English is widely spoken by the locals. In the resorts it is normal to have staff who can speak German, French, Italian and Japenese.
- Currency - Rufiyaa & Laaree however tourists will be billed in US$s and usually charge all vacation expenses to a single bill which can be paid by credit card at the end of the stay.
- Health - healthcare facilities are good with the main hospital being located on Male.
- Local time - GMT + 5 hours.
- Communications - Direct dial telephones are available at all resorts. Cell phone coverage is good and getting better all the time. Most resorts now have some form of Internet connection and Wi-Fi is becoming more and more common. Dhiraagu is the local telecommunications company providing telephone, cell and Internet services across the country.
- Electricity - 230-240 volts AC.