A holiday in the string of tiny tropical islands known as the Republic of the Maldives is the ultimate in relaxation and indulgence.
The islands are sprinkled over 90,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean from the south-western tip of India to the Equator. There are 1196 islands (200 are inhabited) in 26 coral atolls. They are small and low-lying, most no more than 2m above sea level.
The Maldives' origins are lost but there are indications of inhabitation in 1500BC. It is believed permanent settlements were established around 500BC by Aryan immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, probably followers of Buddhism or Hinduism.
Archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl unearthed figures from ancient mounds bearing striking resemblance to figures he had seen on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. Theories are controversial but keep the mystery going.
The Maldives have no hills, mountains or rivers and the coral based soil is poor in nutrients so there are no jungles. They grow breadfruit, bananas, mangoes, screwpine, cassava, sweet potato and millet. The coconut palm is the most common food tree and all parts are used extensively. There isn't much in the way of terrestrial fauna but the surrounding sea is bountiful.
Tourists go there for the great diving and government regulations allow for upmarket resorts only. The hippy trail of the 1970s offended the islands' Muslim population, so the government took control.
On the private island of Dunikolhu in Baa Atoll, north-west of the capital Male, is just one resort – Coco Palm Resort & Spa. Here you can pursue snorkelling, sailing and windsurfing, tennis, badminton and volleyball, exert yourself in the gym or do absolutely nothing at all. Each October and November is the time whales migrate through the channel between Baa and Goidhoo atolls, and that is something to behold.
The luxury resort has 86 rooms and 14 over-water villas, two of which are suites, forming a semi-circle on the lagoon. It is an eco-friendly resort with waste management programs, recycling and has maintained a very natural look.
Rooms are in four styles – Lagoon Palace, Lagoon Villa, De Luxe Villa and Beach Villa. There are splash pools with private terraces, sunken and spa baths, king beds, crafted wood and rattan furniture and cool, soft cotton furnishings. Private open-air garden bathrooms, mini-bar, individual safe, air conditioning, ceiling fans and IDD connection are included in all rooms.
Unlike other Maldives island resorts, there are beaches around the entire island and it can be walked in entirety in 30 minutes, and the underwater world is virtually untouched. PADI and SSI certified dive courses are available at Coco Palm's dive school.
All meals are buffet with an amazing variety and outstanding quality and freshness. There are three restaurants – Thai, grill and main restaurant.
Local women go to the resort to demonstrate traditional craft and most visitors like to take home a piece of lacquerware or weaving.
Dunikolhu Island in the Maldives' Baa Atoll.
Coco Palm Resort & Spa have 7 night packages in Beach Villas including breakfast each day, return air transfers from Male, sparkling wine and fruits upon arrival, tropical fruit welcome cocktail, candlelight dinner and a $US50 voucher per couple. The package is valid until July 31, 2003 and costs $1545 per person.
Sri Lankan Airlines in conjunction with Qantas flies daily to the Maldives via Singapore starting at $1479 from Perth, $1481 from Melbourne and Brisbane, $1487 from Adelaide and $1503 from Sydney, per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Coco Palms Resort & Spa
Dhunikolu Island Baa Atoll
Republic of Maldives
Ph: 0011 960 23 0011 Fax: 0011 960 23 0022 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
Sydney Ph: 02 9299 4633
Fax: 02 9299 email@example.com
Melbourne: Ph: 03 9646 5945
Fax: 03 9646 firstname.lastname@example.org