The Maldives Travel Guide The Maldives is a collection of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls. Of these atolls, 10 are open to tourism and about 90 of the individual islands are exclusive resorts. Although the islands of the Maldives were badly damaged by the tsunami of December 2004, they are once again emerging as prime holiday spots for tourists seeking supreme relaxation and unforgettable diving and snorkeling experiences. Most of it’s inhabited islands are staunchly Islamic in character, yet the resort islands are allowed to exist in a kind of bubble where more typically western behaviour is tolerated. The overwhelming majority of visitors to the Maldives book all-inclusive holiday packages and spend all their time on their resort island of choice, soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches, learning to surf, or exploring the impressive coral reefs with a dive instructor. The best resorts in the Maldives are Kuramathi (for family-friendliness), Banyan Tree (for elegance), and Baros (for luxury), although there are plenty to choose from and none are likely to disappoint. For independent travellers to the Maldives, the capital city of Malé is a worthwhile sight: a bustling, bazaar-filled modern Islamic city which entices some of the resort guests with it’s colourful markets. Best time to visit the Maldives The Maldives has a humid tropical climate, characterized by high temperatures all year round tempered by cooling sea breezes. The best time to visit the Maldives is during the dry season (December to April), though this is also the high tourist season so prices will be higher and accommodation might be scarce. The best months for diving in the Maldives are November and April, while the best time for surfing is from March to May and then again from September to November. What to pack Pack lightweight clothing, insect repellent and sunscreen for a holiday in the Maldives. Do not pack alcohol or pork products or pornography, as these items will land you in trouble with authorities on your way into the country. What to buy The Maldives is not known as a shopping destination, and the range of souvenirs available is mainly limited to fridge magnets, t-shirts, postcards and shell necklaces. Eat Mas huni (shredded smoked fish served with grated coconut and onion), fihunu mas (barbecued fish basted with chilli and spices) and bambukeylu hiti (breadfruit, served in a variety of ways). A final word The great attraction of a holiday in the Maldives is that you know precisely what you're going to get: fancy all-inclusive resorts, clean white-sand beaches, gorgeous turquoise waters, and limitless diving opportunities

TIME ZONE: GMT +5 hours | CURRENCY: Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR), which is a non-convertible currency, so you will not be able to exchange it outside the country. | LANGUAGES: Dhivehi, but English is widely spoken in resorts. |