Maldives Holidays – Heaven on Earth?

What is it about the maldives? It only takes a few holiday reviews, a little bit of background research, and a glance at some typically jaw-dropping pictures to realise that people just love the Maldives. Anyone even vaguely aware of the place is likely to go ‘Ooooohhh…’ at the very mention of the islands, a sentiment echoed by the ‘Ahhhhhh…’ people emit when they arrive there and the majesty of it starts to sink in.

Palms in the Maldives

Visitors return with overwhelmingly good feelings for the Maldives, to the extent that most customer reviews of holidays there are so bursting with happiness that readers could suspect they were written by a travel rep. But no, look around, and the evidence mounts for my case – are the Maldives really heaven on Earth?

Whether you call it a tropical paradise, the perfect island fantasy or a picture-postcard dream, everyone can relate to these powerful mental images.

Shipwrecked in the Maldives? Yes please

For many people, finding heaven on Earth is all about peace and quiet, solitude, and getting away from the stress, dirt, pollution and chaos that characterise our surroundings in modern life. Just like the classic Robinson Crusoe adventure, the Maldives are a place where you could be shipwrecked forever and never miss home. Your supermarket would be the bountiful seas, coconut palms and fruit-laden branches. The odd barrel of Rum would float ashore, and who knows, maybe even a companion.

Relaxing Indian Ocean luxury

Other kinds of traveller can think of nothing more heavenly than lounging year-round in the perfect tropical climate, with kind, attentive hotel staff bringing fine food and drinks at the ring of a bell. Days would pass in bucolic satisfaction, gazing at the sparkling sand and glittering waves, taking a dip, reading, living like royalty might in a better world. As the sun sets over a calm ocean, fine dining, flickering candles and good conversation feels all the more natural knowing that your refuge is just metres away, and there is no work in the morning.

Coconut on beach

Intrepid adventures in the Maldives

For those with a more adventurous spirit, all 1000sq.km of the Maldives island chain becomes a sun-drenched tropical playground. Exploring the hundreds of uninhabited islands by boat could be a lifetime’s work, and no-one can claim to have seen every spectacular reef, teeming as they are with tropical fish and exotic sea life. In their vision of heaven on Earth, days are filled swimming with Dolphins, scuba-diving into the fantastical submerged realms of the Indian Ocean, claiming undiscovered coves and sunken ships.

Boat and Atoll

Are the Maldives all things to all people?

Whichever of these visions of a Tropical heaven might suit you best is largely unimportant; most travellers to the Maldives enjoy a combination of all of them. The luxury market orientated, high-quality resorts and facilities in the Maldives are testament to the local understanding of why we love their islands; tourism is by far the largest industry, and with the ‘high season’ being almost all year round, providing a great experience for visitors is at the heart of many people’s lives.

As for what kind of package – the choices are vast. I for one love the freedom of live-aboard accommodation; waking up to a new view every morning, navigating the reefs and lagoons, and putting ashore wherever catches your eye is a fine way to experience the stunning beauty of the Maldives. If a resort, well-appointed villa or even a private island is more your style, all inclusive packages can be a great idea as you never have to count your pennies.

After all, who needs their wallet in heaven?

 

Gerry Bern is an independent writer who loves travelling, music, food and all the finer things in life. Gerry is currently getting excited about getting away this year, watching out for the best Maldives holidays deals, and counting the days…

Top 5 Diving Destinations to Consider for a Vacation

Top 5 Diving Destinations
Top 5 Diving Destinations

Scuba diving is a sport that appeals to people on many levels. Some enjoy the freedom that comes from being temporarily weightless. Others get a thrill from coming in contact with marine life, away from aquariums and nature documentaries. Life teems just under the surface, so there is no need to be an expert to enjoy diving. The following is a list of five supreme diving destinations, guaranteed to leave participants speechless.

  1. Palau

Palau is a small island in Micronesia, less than 1,000 miles east of the Philippines. While underwater, divers can explore the fringe reef that surrounds the island chain, caves and shipwrecks. The Japanese ships that sank during World War II have become artificial reefs and are now home to various species of coral, rays, fish and turtles.

Palau’s government is proud of the country’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost diving destinations and has taken steps to protect the delicate ecosystem of the ocean. The waters surrounding Palau have officially been declared a ‘shark sanctuary’ making all commercial shark hunting illegal. An estimated 130 species of shark live in the protected waters around the island, including Oceanic Whitetips, Scalloped Hammerheads and Grey Reef Sharks. With so many marine animals to see up close, it is no wonder that Palau is seen as a diver’s paradise.

  1. The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most well-known diving locations. The world’s largest living organism stretches almost 1,500 miles along the eastern coast of Australia. It is one of two constructions able to be seen in space, the other being the Great Wall of China. Perhaps because of its size, the Great Barrier Reef has an unrivaled marine population.

There are two ways to explore the reef. Day trips are an optimal way for people to experience the reef without committing their entire vacation to it. Cairns in the north is one of the most popular launching points for day trips, but most of the cities along the coast have at least one company providing short tours. For those who would like to spend an extended period of time becoming familiar with the breathtaking scenery, it is possible to live on-board a ship.

  1. Galapagos Islands

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known simply as UNESCO, has declared the Galapagos Islands to be a World Heritage Site. The islands and the surrounding waters are protected, and this allows divers to get closer to fish than is possible in other areas of the worlds. Some species of fish even seem to welcome divers, darting close enough to be touched.

The shimmering water around the Galapagos hides abrupt drop-offs and strong ocean currents. The Antarctic Humboldt current passes by the islands as well, keeping the water abnormally cold. Because of the risks involved with these conditions, diving around the islands should be reserved for those with experience only. Transit cards must be purchased prior to travel to the Galapagos and a park fee is charged once the visitors arrive.

  1. Cocos Island

Slightly more than 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica lies one of the world’s largest uninhabited islands. Park rangers are the only permanent residents of the island, visitors must leave by nightfall. Vacations to the rainforest-covered Cocos Island will last several days, as it is only accessible by a live-aboard boat.

Octopuses, tuna, turtles and sharks abound in the ocean around Cocos. Whale sharks are one of the most popular attractions in the deeper water off-shore. Deep water and strong currents make this site one for experienced divers. However, sea kayaking, whale-watching and day hikes on the island will ensure a good time, even for those who never enter the water.

  1. The Red Sea

Once known only to European divers, the Red Sea has recently attracted visitors from around the world. Coral reefs, shipwrecks and deep walls are able to be explored in this 1,200 mile stretch of water. Most expeditions, day trip and live-aboard, leave from Sharm El-Sheikh. This city on the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula offers many other water sports as well, such as windsurfing and para-sailing.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism founded the Sharm el-Sheikh Hyperbaric Medical Center to help solidify the city’s name as a premier dive location. While five tourists were injured in 2010 by an Oceanic Whitetip Shark, resulting in one death, Egyptian authorities have stated the shark was captured alive. Water in the Red Sea is very warm, and awe-inspiring underwater scenery help make this area one of the best in the world.