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Best Things to Do in the Maldives

This destination is a dream for many travelers, but there is way more happening here than just gorgeous beaches (not that those are a bad thing).

March 25, 2020
Maldives
The mere mention of the Maldives invokes stunning beaches, overwater bungalows and water so blue you’ll think you’re looking at a work of art. But there’s so much more. Shutterstock

This idyllic location isn’t just sand and sun. There are a variety of water activities and luxury experiences to indulge in when you visit the Maldives, from simply relaxing on the beach to hanging ten on some of the most thrilling waves you’ll ever witness.

These are some must-do things during your trip to this incredible island nation.

Swim with Manta Rays

Book your trip from June to November to experience the world’s largest gathering of majestic manta rays. During this time, hundreds of manta rays come to the Baa Atoll to feed off zooplankton in an incredible natural phenomenon.

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Arrange a snorkeling excursion with Soneva Fushi, Anantara Kihavah, or Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru to experience the graceful giants swimming around you, doing somersaults as you snorkel next to them. It’s one of the most special marine experiences in the world.

Surf the Waves

Every year from March to October, storms bring big swells to parts of the Maldives, especially during July and August.

Niyama Private Islands has an incredible break right outside the resort, something truly unique in the Maldives. Niyama is a surfer’s paradise, where you’ll often have the pipe all to yourself. There are several other breaks within a short boat ride from this five-star getaway.

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Some of the islands’ most consistent waves can be found near Gili Lankanfushi Maldives resort, a 20-minute speedboat from Malé. The resort teamed up with local company Tropicsurf to cater to all levels of surfers. Both kids and adults can learn to surf in their calm lagoon before hitting some of the country’s best waves, just a five-minute boat ride away.

Just Relax

Maldives beach
Don’t worry—there is no shortage of stunning, relaxing beach space for your towel and a book or delicious cocktail. Shutterstock

Most vacationers journey to the Maldives to get away from the daily grind and the hustle of everyday life. There’s no better place to do it than the remote, small islands as far away from civilization as possible.

Here you can sleep in late on plush linens, fill your plate at the resort’s decked out breakfast buffet and make the hardest decision you’ll make all vacation—beach or pool? Grab a good book from the resort’s library, order a fresh coconut and breathe a sigh of relief, you’re in paradise now.

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Get a Massage in an Overwater Spa

Every resort in the Maldives has a spa, but not all are created equal. While in the Maldives, treat yourself to a treatment at an overwater spa while you lay face down, looking at the fish swim underneath.

Anantara Kihavah has six overwater treatment rooms where you can try Coconut Tree Signature Experience, using fresh coconuts from the island. At Gili Lankanfushi, they have a glass-bottom floor to help destress during your Ayurvedic treatment. At the St. Regis Vommuli Iridium Spa, they have a Caviar Journey using caviar to revitalize the skin during a massage, accompanied by a glass of champagne and, naturally, caviar.

Stay in an Overwater Villa

For many, staying in an overwater villa is a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list experience. What better place to do it? The vast majority of resorts in the Maldives offers a variety of overwater villas for guests to choose from, including those positioned for sunrise or sunset.

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Some of the most stunning overwater villas include the impeccably designed Luxury Water Villa with Pool at Joali. The multi-bedroom Water Retreats at Soneva Jani each come with their own slide. If you’re looking for something more affordable and kid-friendly, the Infinity Pool Ocean Villa with Slide at Jumeirah Vittaveli is also a winner.

Plant Coral

With the climate crisis growing more dire, the Maldives are at risk of being underwater within decades. Many of the resorts are doing what they can to help, including planting coral to help revitalize the reefs after El Nino destroyed a portion of them in 2016.

At resorts like Shangri-La’s Villingili, Gili Lankanfushi, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Baros Maldives, guests can take broken pieces of coral and attach them to human-made frames or ropes. From there, a resort’s resident marine biologist will tend to the coral and help it grow stronger, eventually moving it to a larger reef. Some resorts allow guests to donate to the resort’s program, have a nametag near their coral and get yearly updates on its growth.

Visit the Turtles

hawksbill turtle
Getting up close and personal with a hawksbill turtle enhances an already amazing vacation. Shutterstock

While snorkeling in the Maldives, there’s a good chance you’ll see a turtle or two. At the Four Seasons Resort Maldives Marine Discovery Centre, you can help learn about and nurse injured turtles with the islands’ marine biologists.

The resort works with communities across the Maldives in the conservation of endangered green sea turtles. Guests can feed the turtles daily, and if they’re really lucky, see a turtle hatching or a healthy one released back to the ocean.

Take a Bike Ride

One of the best ways to get around the islands in the Maldives is by bike. The resorts take up an entire island, and most of the larger ones supply each villa with custom-designed bicycles complete with wicker baskets. Here you can explore every inch of the island with the warm, ocean breeze hitting your face.

They’re especially fun if you’re villa is on a jetty like at Joali, one of the islands’ longest jetties. The St. Regis Vommuli, Soneva, Niyama Private Islands and many others also supply tricked out bikes for you to traverse the paths. If you don’t know how to ride a bike, no worries—there are buggies to pick you up any time day or night.

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