The Maldives might have made its name as the ultimate honeymooners retreat, seemingly reserved for sun-worshippers, canoodling couples and the rich and famous, but this Indian Ocean holiday idyll is also a fabulous destination for nature-lovers and culture-vultures. With some of the best diving in the world, a lengthy history of seafaring mysticism and folklore, and one of the smallest capital cities, Malé, there is more to the Maldives than you might think.
Being an island nation, the Maldivian archipelago boasts more water than land, providing endless diving opportunities with a rich diversity of underwater life – from colourful corals to comical clownfish. What’s more, many of its island resorts are host to nesting turtles, a variety of crab species and birds. You can get out on a boat and encounter huge pods of dolphins, or take up the Maldives biggest pastime – fishing!
Away from the resort islands but definitely worth a visit, is Malé. Despite its size, this capital city manages to cram a third of its entire population into its highly urbanised landscape of candy-coloured skyscrapers. Yet, despite its modernisation it has a long and rich past, with buildings including the Hukuru Miskiyy, (Friday Mosque) dating back to 1656.
Aside from its historical sites, there are other interesting places to visit on the island, including a bustling fish market and plentiful textile shops, which offer fabric of every imaginable texture, design and colour. These shops are well worth a visit, if only to get a glimpse of local women in their element!