The perfect holiday destination

With some of the world’s finest beaches, the Maldives is the ultimate getaway, reports TED PARKER
There’s miles of beach in the Maldives

THE Maldives offers the ultimate getaway for those who like sun, sand, sea and idling away their time amidst natural beauty.

The islands have some of the most beautiful tropical scenery with graceful coconut palms, crystal-clear lagoons, coral reefs promising great snorkelling and scuba diving  and lots of sunshine.
The Maldive Islands stretch from the south western tip of India all the way to the Equator. The 1,196 islands, in 26 distinct coral atolls, are spread over a total area of 90,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean, yet less than .5 per cent of this is land. Some 200 of the islands are inhabited. With some of the finest and cleanest beaches in the world, the Maldives is an ideal place for water sports, from swimming to scuba diving or from windsurfing to parasailing.
All resorts have facilities for at least scuba diving and windsurfing, while others offer much more. The islands are the ultimate for divers and a hotspot for marine biologists. A majority of the islands have diving schools and offer the service of professional diving instructors. There are numerous diving sites throughout the country. Some are ranked among the best in the world. The breeze and the wind movement and the large lagoons that surround most of the islands are ideal for windsurfing. A majority of resorts have windsurfing schools where you could take instructions and lessons.
Like the diving schools, the surfing schools are well-equipped. Most of the time the condition is suitable for beginners. The Maldives is a new destination for surfers. The ideal waves that characterise the sea around the resorts on the atoll edge, accompanied by the good facilities, on the resorts make the country a superb destination for surfers. Snorkelling can also bring the experience of the breathtaking underwater life.
Malé, the capital of the Maldives is located almost in the centre of the nation, on the east side of Kaafu atoll. It is the commercial centre and the location of many important historical and religious landmarks. It is the busiest and the most populous island in the archipelago.  Small, quaint, and densely settled, Malé is not spectacular, but quite unique. It’s clean and tidy, with mosques, markets, a maze of small streets and a certain charm all its own. The best way to discover Malé is by foot. It only takes about 20 minutes to walk the length of the island.
The main form of transport among the locals is on bicycles. There are several taxi services. Fish and rice are the staple foods of Maldivians with meat and chicken eaten only on special occasions. National dishes include fried fish, fish curry and fish soup. If visitors are looking for a few extra hours of sunshine then they should visit the Maldives between December and April, which is the dry season. This is the high season, however, and resorts can be fully booked and prices are higher than the rest of the year. The Christmas-New Year period is the busiest and most expensive part of the high season. Between May and November it’s still warm, but the skies can be cloudy, humidity is higher and rain is more likely. This is the low season, and there are fewer tourists and prices are lower.