There is no doubt the Maldives stakes claim to being one of the world’s greatest natural beauties, and with its 26 natural atolls, all boasting picture-postcard islands with jaw-dropping beaches and sparkling turquoise lagoons, encircled by colourful coral reefs, it’s easy to see why this diminutive archipelago situated in the heart of the Indian Ocean is a hotspot for honeymooners and swooning couples wanting an Indian Ocean holiday of a lifetime.
However, because of its location on the ocean’s major marine routes, the Maldives actually has a rich and interesting history and a culture that has been influenced by Africa, India and the subcontinent and even Europe. It was also the original ‘Royal Mint’ of Asia, hundreds of years ago when it provided the main source of cowrie shells, which were then used as a currency throughout the continent and on the East African coast.
As the lowest country on earth and surrounded by water, the Maldives is never going to rival larger countries in regards to diverse views – basically, everywhere you look you see amazing blue sea, beaches, palm trees and the odd sandbank. This is great if you’re after uninterrupted perfection, however, go beneath the surface and you will find mountains, crevices, even ‘trees’ of coral – and a whole aquarium of colourful, tropical fish. For those who want adventure, excitement and amazing photo opportunities, the Maldives is full of surprises, you just have to get wet finding them!
As for city life, again, the densely populated capital city Malé is no London or New York, but it’s definitely feisty, fun and offers great food. Fish is predictably order of the day at most restaurants, as Malé has a big fish market, where anything and everything from sail fish to shark can be seen, touched, bartered for and bought. What’s more there is a spice and fruit market and plenty of jewellery and textiles shops to mooch around. And for a bit of culture and heritage, visit the Maldivian National Museum and the adjoining Royal Palace, or if you’re a football fan, head to see a game – as the sport is massive in the Maldives!
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