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Since its ascendance, in the latter half of the 20th century, as one of the world’s most exotic leisure destinations, the Maldives has lovingly preserved its natural wonders. Pristine beaches and idyllic diving spots are speckled among approximately 1,200 islands, in this tropical archipelago.
Book a flight to the Maldives with Qatar Airways, and fall in love with a picture-perfect wonderland in the equatorial Indian Ocean.
Around one in every six islands in the Maldives is inhabited, but many others have been developed specifically for tourism. It is these that most tourists visit and there are almost 100 self-contained resorts offering sun, sea and excursions. More adventurous travellers can island-hop independently, to discover some hidden treasures.
The island-nation’s capital, Malé, is one of the most popular destinations outside of the resorts, and is home to attractions such as Sultan Park, the National Museum and Republic Square.
For many, the primary draw of travelling to the Maldives is the tropical sunshine. Scuba diving is particularly popular, and the water around the islands is famed for its crystal-clear visibility. Colourful tropical fish, sharks, rays and shipwrecks lie beneath the waves, beckoning the intrepid traveller. Surfing has also gained popularity, and there are many boat trips dedicated to it.
But nobody will blame you if you just want to relax on one of the Maldives’ numerous beaches. Most resorts have their own beach, and you may even have access to your very own private stretch of coastline, when renting some overwater bungalows.
As an archipelago, traditional Maldivian cuisine places a heavy emphasis on seafood. Rice, spices and other Indian-inspired dishes are also common. There are several restaurants and cafés in Malé where you can get a taste of real Maldivian food.
If you’re staying at a resort, dining will usually be dictated by what’s on offer at its own restaurants. Asian and European foods are generally well represented, with some variation, depending on the type of resort and its target demographic.
There are plenty of opportunities for shopping, in between sunbathing and fine-dining during your trip to the Maldives. Many resorts offer excursions to some of the inhabited islands, where you can pick up souvenirs and local crafts.
Independent travellers in search of more authentic experiences will find the best options within Malé. These range from local markets to textile shops and bookshops. As Malé is the main transit area through which tourists travelling to the Maldives pass on their way to the resorts, there are also plenty of souvenir shops.
The Maldives is an Islamic nation, but progressive and culturally diverse, so visitors should not encounter any noticeable cultural nuances. Most of the tourist resorts are self-contained and separated from the inhabited islands, but it is important to be respectful of the cultural and religious beliefs of nationals who work in the resorts.
Those who travel to the Maldives independently, and venture outside of the resort areas, should be aware of the cultural etiquette of the country. Both men and women should dress modestly away from the beach, and some dining establishments require that diners cover their legs in the restaurant area.
Essential facts about Maldives
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip