The Maldives, beyond beach and sun
Enjoy the natural spectacle of bioluminescence on Vaadhoo Island, taste delicious street food such as gulha, sail between islands or go fishing in a dhoni, swim with whale sharks, visit the fish market in the capital, Malé, or stroll through its centre and visit some of its mosques. We share some of the many joys of this paradise in the Indian Ocean, where you can fly this summer from just 25,000 Avios each way to combine your rest with an unforgettable holiday.
1 Practise yoga in paradise
The Maldives has become a favourite place for yoga practitioners, who come to the islands for spiritual retreats in places such as the Baa Atoll, which is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. The paradisiacal setting of this archipelago is conducive to relaxation and contemplation. Some come here to forget stress and disconnect from the noise of the world, and others, to be alone in silence with themselves. If you’ve never practised yoga, don’t worry: in the Maldives, you’ll find numerous instructors who will teach you the proper way to meditate.
2 The sea of stars of Vaadhoo
On some nights on the island of Vaadhoo, the beaches seem to merge with the sky, shining in the dark as if stars were floating in the water. This fantastical spectacle is a natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence. It happens on this uninhabited island every so often, when plankton accumulated on the beach comes into contact with oxygen.
3 Culinary delights
Sample some of the Maldives’ traditional dishes at a street stall, such as gulha, a dumpling made with flour and coconut containing tuna, curry leaves, ginger, lemon, turmeric and chilli (you can even learn how to make them in a quick cooking class). The strong influence of India and Sri Lanka can be seen in other specialities that will make you want to go back for more, such as kulhi boakibaa, a spicy fish cake; bajiyaa, a snack made from dried fish, curry and onion; mas huni salad, with coconut and lemon, chilli and tuna; or the foni boakiba cake, a dessert baked with sweet rice, coconut and almonds. The stomach is the best gateway to the culture of the Maldives.
4 Sailing among islands
Some 700km south of India, the Maldives archipelago is located on a large chain of underwater mountains. Altogether, it has some 1,200 islands spread among 26 atolls (ring-shaped coral structures with an inner lagoon connected to the sea). Just 200 of these islands are inhabited. You can travel among them on a ferry or by hydroplane. Favourite islands amng travellers – whether because of their white sands and turquoise waters, or because of their vibrant settings – are Gulhi, Dhiffushi, Rasdhoo, Reethi, Himmafushi and Maafushi. You can also travel by catamaran, or take boat trips and spend the night on one of the deserted islands.
5 A city with history
You can’t miss Malé, which has been the capital of the Maldives since the 12th century. With more than 100,000 inhabitants, it is home to the government and is the country’s business centre. Here, you can delve into local culture and history. Stroll the alleyways of the city centre, explore Republic Square and Sultan Park and visit the fish market in the evening, if possible, which is when fishermen return from the sea and bring their fish here to sell. Or try the local market and discover the exquisite variety of products and ingredients produced on these islands. And, of course, you can’t leave without exploring the beautiful mosques, such as Friday Mosque, which dates from 1153.
6 Water sports and diving
As well as offering you the opportunity to relax in one of the planet’s most spectacular natural settings, the Maldives is also a perfect place to enjoy all kinds of water sports, from surfing, windsurfing and paddle surfing to wakeboarding, knee boarding and parasailing. You choose. The warm waters by its beaches and the lagoons in the atolls are also perfect for diving or snorkelling. Immerse yourself in them to discover coral reefs and banks of colourful fish, or swim with whale sharks, hawksbill turtles, dolphins and manta rays.