This is the Maldives … paradise out of the water, pure heaven under the water. Divers, this is breathtaking!
A total of 1192 islands make up the Republic of Maldives. They form a long, narrow chain and are beautiful and romantic. They offer white sand, clear blue water and the sun shines all year. The Maldives is the world's flattest country, sitting on the tip of a vast underwater mountain range. There is evidence of people having been on the islands for more than 3000 years and the islands were on the itineraries of travellers on the Silk Route and those from the Indus Valley civilisation.
Today's Maldivians are warm, friendly and hospitable and have a proud history and rich culture. This is the result of the arrival of people from many places and their influences are obvious. Unlike most Muslim countries with the tradition of secluding their woman from public view, here they play a major role in society.
The islands are just as beautiful underwater as above and offer some of the best diving in the world. There are sharks, manta rays, turtles and over a thousand species of fish along with some shipwrecks which provide interesting exploring.
The government is extremely protective of its underwater environment, though some things are out of their control. In 1998 El Niño bleached much of the region's coral, but much of this has now regrown and the marine life which depends on it has returned. However, there is another problem on the horizon: ever-rising sea levels due to global warming present the possibility of the islands completely disappearing in the next 50 to 100 years. Fingers crossed the experts are wrong!
January to April offers the best diving with good visibility and fine weather. To get the dive boat you want, you need to book well in advance.
The most visited atolls are Felidhoo, South Male, North Male and Ari. They are not far from the airport and almost all "liveaboard" diving boats leave from there.
There are around 80 liveaboard boats operating and these range from basic to luxurious. All have the advantage over over day-tripping by minimising travel time to sites, therefore maximising your time in the water. Rules are strictly monitored and each boat must employ a dive master.
Between dives there is plenty of time to enjoy island life and visitors are made to feel very welcome on the islands. Respecting the population's Islamic faith by dressing appropriately and modestly is, however, strongly advised.
Shopping for sarongs, handicrafts and wooden items is fun, but it is better not to buy shells, as for each one purchased, another is taken from the reef to replace it.
Dive Adventures can take care of all arrangements necessary to create an unforgettable holiday to the Maldives. Around 60 percent of visitors there do dive, but you can go there and stay dry and have an equally wonderful holiday.
In the Indian Ocean, 600km southwest of Sri Lanka.
Dive Adventures offer four night packages aboard a liveaboard dive safari vessel starting at $740 per person.
SriLankan Airlines in conjunction with Qantas flies daily to the Maldives via Singapore starting at $1350 per person from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. Government charges and taxes are not included. Conditions apply.
9/32 York Street, Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9299 4633
Fax: (02) 9299 email@example.com
Unit A, 63-85 Turner Street
Port Melbourne 3027
Ph: (03) 9646 5945
Fax: (03) 9646 firstname.lastname@example.org
SriLankan Airlines Reservations
Sydney: (02) 9244 2234
Melbourne: (03) 9920 3882
Brisbane: (07) 3407 7276
Perth: (08) 9229 9212
Adelaide: (08) 8306 8411www.srilankan.lk
Qantas: 13 13 13.