Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Maldives

Today we are off to the island paradise of the Maldives. These beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean with their stunning white-sand beaches and amazing underwater worlds are a must-visit for anyone who loves to sit back, relax and enjoy the sun, sea and sand. With some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, the Maldives are also a magnet for anyone who loves marine life.

The Maldives is made up of 1,200 islands. With 200 of them inhabited, it’s tricky to cover them all, so carry on reading to learn more about some of the country’s highlights.

Our first stop is the capital, Malé. Home to over a third of the Maldivian population, Malé is a great place to explore with fascinating markets, ancient mosques, brightly painted houses and beautiful teashops. Go to the National Museum to get the best overview of Maldivian history anywhere in the country, with galleries devoted to the ancient and medieval periods and displays also representing the modern period too.

From Malé, take a seaplane to your hotel. There are few destinations in the world where the mode of transport by which you arrive could be called a highlight. Just imagine taking off from the water and seeing the spectacular coral reefs, blue lagoons and desert islands from above as you make your way to your hotel – it beats sitting in a taxi in traffic!

The Maldives is known for its luxurious hotels where the service is impeccable, the facilities are amazing and the food is out of this world. Many people go for the turquoise blue waters, the white-sand beaches and the peace and tranquility. However, that comes at quite a price. It is now becoming more common for people to stay in guesthouses run by locals. It is a much cheaper option and you get a greater insight into the local community and traditions. It also means you have more money to spend on activities!

Many activities are put on at hotels but if you do want to do more exploring outside of the hotel, you must go diving in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The variety of marine life is astonishing; dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef.

You can even go snorkelling with manta rays and whale sharks at Hanifaru Bay. This bay is rich with plankton which makes it a vital feeding and breeding ground for manta rays and whale sharks – snorkelling alongside them is truly one of the most exciting encounters you can ever experience with the natural world.

Diving with one of the strangest-looking creatures in the sea – the hammerhead shark – at Hammerhead Point (aka Rasdhoo Madivaru) is also a must-do. The best time to go is at dawn when the sharks are at their hungriest!

One of the Maldives cultural highlights is watching a dance and drum performance known as the ‘bodu beru’ which means ‘big drum’ in Dhivehi. These traditional all-male performances are a thrilling and genuine experience which you can witness in hotels and restaurants, or on the beach.

Your final stop is Dhigurah in South Ari Atoll. Here you can relax and enjoy its fantastic beaches and famous sandbank before you head back home.