by Adrian Neville, The Daily Telegraph, November 3, 2016
The Maldives' top attractions, from snorkelling and island hoping, to fishing and watersports, from our expert Adrian Neville.
What concerns many first-time visitors to the Maldives is will they be bored or worse, will they go stir crazy if they can’t leave their resort? Quite how much there is to do – other than swim, snorkel and lie in the sun – obviously depends on your resort.
Beach volleyball in the late afternoon, sunset fishing and a local island visit are on offer in most resorts. A dolphin watch at sunset and a weekly dance night are also common.
It’s also quite possible to find resorts offering shows every night, the full gamut of water sports and sports (every resort has a dive school and a water sports centre) and even a golf course. But the truth is, excursions are often cancelled for lack of interest; sports facilities are underused. Gyms are commonplace – but are mostly only frequented by Canadian seaplane pilots.
The dive school will supply you with fins, snorkel and mask for the house reef snorkelling and snorkelling excursions. There are a few standard excursions offered by every resort. Snorkelling trips take guests to their house reef, if it is inaccessible from the island, and to other reefs nearby. This can take place once or twice a day and can be to great reefs or to dull ones. As a general rule, it is much better if the dive school rather than the management runs these.
Most resorts will organise one or two snorkelling trips a day to nearby reefs
Sunset fishing and dolphin watching
Sunset fishing is another standard. Guests go out in a dhoni and let down hooked lines over a reef. It is as simple as that, and effective. Often too effective, as the dhoni deck can get half covered in snappers, rock cod, groupers and other fish. A few might get barbecued but most are thrown away, leading some resorts not to continue with this excursion.
In its place, or alongside, the sunset dolphin watch is popular. You are not as guaranteed to see dolphins as you are to catch a fish, but sightings are surprisingly frequent and certainly more thrilling.
Island hopping is the other mainstay of resort excursions. This will be some combination of visits to other resorts, inhabited islands and uninhabited islands. Lunch might be packed or, much better, barbecued fresh on a desert island with good snorkelling. The inhabited island visit might be a walk up and down the main street with samey samey shopping or it might be a guided trip around the island, meeting locals and visiting historical places of interest.
Another variation is a desert island excursion overnight for a couple, armed only with a mobile phone and bottles of champagne. Inevitably called a Robinson Crusoe excursion, this can be a very special one-off experience.
The top-end resorts are more imaginative with their options and will offer various venues for a couple to set off in a motorboat to: from a champagne breakfast on a lonely sandspit to a private candlelit dinner in the shallows of a lagoon.
The water sports centre will offer canoeing, windsurfing and catamaran sailing as a minimum. Kitesurfing is the other non-powered sport that is catching on (though during the high season the wind is often non-existent). Motored sports run from the simple pleasures of banana boat rides and tubes or rings to the thrills of waterskiing, paragliding and jet ski.
Most resorts have a table tennis table and some will organise a competition night. Tennis, badminton and even squash can also be found.
A range of watersports are available at most resorts
Football once a week against the staff is good fun, but the only real sports winner is the sunset volleyball match on the beach, ideally outside the bar.
Inside the bar, you’ll occasionally find pool, snooker and table football. The main evening entertainments are also found here.
These will be a cultural night featuring the last of the traditional Maldivian musical forms – the bodu beru (big drum), a crab race, a live band and maybe a karaoke night, sarong competition night, a staff show and, of course, a disco or two. Join in or avoid it – it’s up to you.
For an extra charge guests can often partake of the special dinners that are held a couple of times a week. They will be in a separate setting to the main restaurant, sometimes on the beach.
The Maldives is home to the world's first all-glass undersea restaurant
Apart from the level of service (rising to a personal chef and maître d’), the main variation is where the dinner takes place.
This might be candlelit on your veranda, on the beach somewhere around the island, on the jetty or at the end of a groyne in the lagoon. It might also be on another island altogether.
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This article was written by Adrian Neville from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.