The Maldives are the ultimate romantic destination with picture perfect white-sand beaches and clear waters, as well as luxury accommodation and fine dining. If you are looking for a relaxing break, this group of islands in the Indian Ocean will certainly deliver.
Whether your idea of a perfect lazy day is to lie in a hammock reading the latest bestseller, to sunbathe all day occasionally cooling off in the turquoise sea or to be pampered from head to toe in a spa, you'll feel de-stressed after a week or two in the Maldives.
And, if all of that relaxing leaves you wanting to do something more active, many of the islands offer yoga lessons, will lend you snorkelling equipment and will help set up diving lessons to explore some of the world's most spectacular diving sites. The brightly coloured coral and tropical fish make any snorkelling or diving trip rewarding, and keep an eye out for manta rays and whale sharks.
Evenings on the islands complement the relaxed days and visitors can watch the sun go down with a pre-dinner drink, enjoy good food in a luxurious restaurant and then sip on after-dinner cocktails. While travellers won't have wild nights out on the Maldives, certain islands have more bars than others or offer evening entertainment, so do your research to find the island for you.
After a relaxed evening, you will look forward to retiring to your room as the accommodation in the Maldives is top class. Couples wanting a secluded break with a romantic backdrop can stay in a stilted water villa and enjoy breakfast overlooking the sea, while those preferring to be on dry land could opt for a beach villa or suite and roll out of their beach-side room on to the sand every morning.
And, families after a luxurious break needn't dismiss the Maldives as the reserve of honeymooners as, with almost 100 resorts, many have child-friendly facilities including kids' clubs and children's swimming pools.
The islands are grouped geographically into 26 atolls - including North Male Atoll, South Male Atoll, South Ari Atoll, Meemu Atoll and BAA Atoll. When visiting, travellers will fly into Male International Airport (MLE) and will be transported to their accommodation by speedboat or seaplane. If you want to see more of the islands' capital than an airport lounge, it is possible to take a day trip there. Attractions include Theemuge Palace, the oldest mosque in the Maldives - Hukuru Miskiiy, and the local markets selling everything from local food to souvenirs. Other excursions could include a day island hopping or going on a night fishing trip.
There's plenty to do in the Maldives, whether you are on a romantic break or family holidays. Here's our pick of some of the best annual events...
Independence Day celebrations; July 26; Male':
The Maldives celebrate their independence from the British (gained in 1965) on July 26 every year. The official celebrations are in Male's Republic Square and school children put on performances while the National Security Services parade through the streets.
National Day; Male' and other islands:
On the first day of the third month of the Islamic calendar (Rabee ul Awwal), National Day commemorates Muhammad Thakurufaanu's victory over the occupying Portuguese forces in 1573. Spectators line the streets to watch marches and parades.
Relaxing under a palm tree and catching a tan, or Snorkeling with tropical fish? However you wish to spend your holiday in the Maldives, there's something for everyone...
Relaxing: Enjoy laidback island life on Bandos Island. Lie in a hammock under a coconut tree with little more to do than occasionally cooling off in the crystal-clear waters.
Active types: A treasure trove of colourful coral and exotic fish is just waiting to be discovered beneath the islands' waters. Dive into an underwater paradise to discover whale sharks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and turtles.
Romance: Exclusive resorts such as Baros offer the ultimate romantic getaway where loved-up couples can indulge in a spot of luxury. Stay in a villa on stilts, enjoy candlelit meals at lagoon-side restaurants and watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean.
Babies and toddlers: Little ones will be kept entertained at family-friendly resorts such as Kuramathi. Kids' clubs will be on offer with crèches, games and activities ensuring the children enjoy their holiday as much as the adults.
Grown-up families: Adventurous families will love island hopping and exploring some of the area's uninhabited islands.
Free and cheap: Stop off in the Maldives' capital Male' for a sprinkling of culture. For a small fee, you can explore the National Museum in the Sultan Park.
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