When in the Maldives, the inclination to loll on a chaise lounge with a cold beverage in hand is all-powerful. The archipelago nation that looks, from satellite imagery, like a scatter of pebbles in the Laccadive Sea, is enviably paradisal.
Start with the weather. Average conditions in the Maldives approximate what most tourists describe as idyllic: sunny, warm and breezy after sunset, balmy when you wake and, needless to indicate, some of the most gorgeous sunsets on Earth. Moreover, temperatures in this tropical xanadu stay blissfully constant. The result? No urgent need to pack much at all. Well, maybe some sunscreen …
And your snorkel kit. Because while we do love to plunge our feet in the alabaster sand of the Maldives’ atolls, it behooves every visitor to look below the surface of that postcard-perfect water.
It just depends at what depth, of course. Happily, whether you snorkel or fancy the challenge of a dive, the Maldives offers some of the most extraordinary, marine life rich coral reefs in the world. And the country’s magnificent resorts are the platform to enjoy it all, with expert charter operators, instructors and equipment on hand.
For most divers, the Maldives is aces because of notable, photogenic hall of famers like whale sharks, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, moray eels, manta rays and infinite specimens of brilliant fish.
But what about the 2004 tsunami, you ask. Good question - and good news. Government experts in the Maldives now assert that the archipelago’s coral reefs have made a full comeback from the harmful effects of the infamous undersea megathruster. The country is as much a magnet now for dive and snorkel lovers as ever.
This is an excellent development, indeed, because the warm waters that envelop the Maldives provide incredible visibility throughout the year. On the best of days, you can spot fish as far as 50 metres away. Truly remarkable. Throw in a superlative cluster of 3,000 coral reefs or so, as well as monsoon tides, and you have a blueprint for dive holiday nirvana.
For those who care to count, the Maldives lay claim to over one thousand individual types of fish, not to mention a parade of other underwater creatures. The powerful ebbs and flows of the Indian Ocean provide abundant nourishment for all manner of marine life - the Maldives just so happen to be in the thick of the food chain.
This is what you want as a diver. And, on schedule, the Maldives deliver on fantasy dive promises time and time again. It is, simply put, an embarrassment of underwater riches.
An embarrassment of riches that rewards beginners and experts alike. Resorts cater to dive and snorkel whims on cue and guide the most neophyte of swimmers with some of the best instructors on the planet. Want to stay close to your overwater hut? No problem. Many resorts include man-made house reefs that are equally up to the task.
Of course, the best rewards reside 15 to 60 minutes off the archipelago’s atolls, in farus [reefs] that teem with glorious marine life. So make sure while you are staying at one of the great Maldive's five star resorts, you jump in and revel in it; your bucket list just got shorter.
Sarah has just traveled the world experiencing some of the best diving locations on offer. She hopes to share her favourites and inspire other enthusiasts to follow to some of the locations she shares.