You've seen photos of the Maldives before: picture-perfect private villas suspended over striking blue waters, alabaster white sand beaches and spectacular sunsets dipping into the horizon. The scenic beauty of the Maldives is something to behold, something you can't quite understand until you're there in person.
The island nation of the Maldives is popular with honeymooners looking for seclusion and adventurers looking to explore the depths of the sea on a scuba diving and snorkeling excursion. Travelers seeking relaxation can unwind at one of the island spas and all visitors should certainly spend a day exploring the Maldivian capital of Male'. However, getting to and staying in this tropical paradise requires patience (there are no direct flights from the United States) and plentiful cash. Located between the Arabian and Laccadive seas, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is about as isolated as you can get – and that's just another one of its many allures.
With 1,190 islands (only 200 are inhabited), you've got plenty of territory to explore. Despite the numerous isles, most visitors simply lounge at the palatial resort of their choice. While travelers should certainly unwind, a few excursions should also be on the itinerary. For one, the capital city of Male' (one of the smallest capitals in the world) bustles with activity from the fishing docks to the National Museum. If you are a scuba diver, you can't miss the riveting Maldives Victory shipwreck and the shark-filled Fish Head area. And don't forget about the beaches: The soft sands fade into colorful reefs beneath brilliantly blue waters.
The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April. The island nation is warm and sunny year-round, but consists of a dry season and a wet, rainy season. There are pros and cons to visiting in each season. Travelers will experience the best weather in the Maldives between November and April, thanks to little precipitation and warm temperatures. Unfortunately, this is also the busiest time of year and, as such, the room rates at resorts are expensive. However, since each resort inhabits its own island, you won't have to contend with throngs of crowds like you might during the high season in another destination.
May to October is considered the rainy season, with the islands seeing between 5 and 10 inches of precipitation monthly and often strong winds. Visitors will likely find better deals for this time of year (though, the term "deal" is relative, since the Maldives is a pricey location year-round). This time of year is popular with surfers, though, because the area sees bigger waves and better swells for surfing during these months.
The best way to get around the Maldives is to walk. The capital city of Male' is about 2.2 square miles, and whichever resort you pick will be walkable as well. Island-hopping at your own leisure really isn't the best option since the ferry network is not very extensive. That said, if you are traveling by yacht, you'll be able to navigate these waters. Once you arrive at Velana International Airport (MLE) on the island of Hulhule', you’ll most likely be escorted by a representative from your resort to the island where you are staying. You will have to take a ferry, a seaplane, a speedboat or some combination of the three to reach your final destination. This final jaunt is sometimes included in the cost of your hotel stay.