The Maldives laid bare

Five experiences clichés don’t capture

If you’re seeking that postcard-perfect paradise, the Maldives has it all: blissful beaches, swaying palms, crystal clear waters – not to mention some of the world’s best hotels. But there’s much more to the Maldives than the travel clichés would have you believe. Here are five ways to get a fresh angle on this sublime destination.

1. Play Robinson Crusoe

The Maldives is made up of more than a thousand islands, dotted throughout the Indian Ocean. Many are entirely uninhabited and some are little more than small sand banks that rise out of the ocean – here one year, gone the next. For the true Robinson Crusoe experience, you can make one of these your private abode for an afternoon or evening. Snorkel? Sunbathe? Pop open the bubbly? As lord or lady of the island, you make up the rules. Kandolhu Maldives offers tailored excursions aboard its Ari Explorer including desert island experiences.   

1. Play Robinson Crusoe

2. A voyage of discovery

Take to the seas and get a feel for traditional Maldivian life aboard a handcrafted 19-metre long sailing dhoni. You could charter your own boat for snorkelling, sunset sailing or diving. Or keep local traditions alive and try Maldivian fishing using a hand line and lures. If all that sounds like too much effort, allow the crew to do the hard work and prepare the day’s catch, while you lie back and watch the world drift by.

3. Be a marine biologist

The Maldives is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and home to an incredible array of wildlife – from manta rays to whale sharks, dolphins to turtles. But to get the most from snorkelling or diving, it helps to know what you’re looking at – or for. At Milaidhoo Island Maldives you can build your knowledge of marine life and team up with the island’s Marine Biologists for the day. By shadowing the island’s two resident experts, you’ll get a whole new perspective on the reef and find out how to help protect this valuable ecosystem.

4. treat all your senses

The cuisine of the Maldives is a delicious fusion of Indian, Arabic and Sri Lankan influences, resulting in a tantalising array of flavours, scents and spices. And at any of the best hotels in the Maldives, the food is always one of the star attractions (Baros Maldives has no less than five top restaurants). If you’d like to discover what goes into this amazing cuisine, why not join the hotel chef for a one-to-one cookery class? They will invite you to roll up you sleeves and get seriously hands-on with this rich and varied cuisine.

4. treat all your senses

5. discover the dark side

After the sun goes down, the reefs transform: ghostly crayfish emerge, moray eels peek out from their hiding places, sleeping fish gently drift to and fro… To explore the waters after dark, Velassaru Maldives offers night snorkelling excursions. Equipped with a torch, snorkel equipment, wet suit – plus an expert guide – you’ll uncover a hidden world, seldom seen by most visitors.

and so, so much more…

Of course, these experiences barely scratch the surface of what’s possible. You could try your hand at underwater photography, feed the local rays, or get face-to-face with dolphins. So when you next catch yourself gazing longingly at those impossibly perfect Maldivian images, remember that they only tell half the story. The reality is far more exciting.