ABOUT The Maldives lies in two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. The country is made up of 1,190 coral islands formed around 26 natural ring-like atolls, spread over 90,000 square kilometers. These atolls structures are formed upon a sharp ridge rising from the ocean, making way for their secluded uniqueness. Each atoll in the Maldives is made of a coral reef encircling a lagoon, with deep channels dividing the reef ring. A string of islands take their places among this atoll ring; each island has its own reef encircling the island lagoon. The reefs of the islands, alive with countless types of underwater creatures and vibrant corals, protect the islands from wind and wave action of the surrounding vast oceans. This unique structure of reefs and channels makes navigation almost impossible for the passer-by without sufficient information about these waters. Ninety-nine percent of the Maldives is made up of sea. The people of the islands are widely dispersed across the atolls, with about 200 inhabited islands. About 90 islands are developed as tourist resort and the rest are uninhabited or used for agriculture and other livelihood purposes. The Maldives, though isolated in location, is easily accessible from anywhere in South-East Asia, the Middle-East and Europe. The Male International Airport is mere fifteen minutes from Male’. The airport is small, but well-equipped with souvenir and duty-free shops, restaurants, medical facilities, and provides banking and postal services. The airport is accessible via Male’ on a dhoni ferry, that run every few minutes between the two islands. Tourists are issued a 30-day visa on arrival. A valid travel document is necessary. You can obtain circumstantial visa grants through the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Male'. The warm seas of Maldives have high visibility throughout the year, with water clear enough to see the passing fish as far as fifty metres away at times. Add to that the marvellous formation of over 3000 coral reefs and the free flowing tides of the monsoons. The result of these perfect conditions have created one of the world’s richest diving coral reef areas. The best thing is that you need not be a professional diver to enjoy the Maldives. All resorts and safari boats give you basic to advanced training using well-monitored diving facilities of a high standard. Even the most reluctant diver can enjoy the beauty of Maldivian underwater life on a drift dive with the guidance of experienced dive instructors. A dive in a house reef is equally rewarding, all you need to do is swim a few minutes from shore.

CLIMATE The hottest month on average is April and the coolest, December. The weather is determined largely by the monsoons. There is a significant variation in the monthly rainfall levels. February is the driest with January to April being relatively dry, May and October records the highest average monthly rainfall. The southwest monsoon or hulhangu from May to September is the wet season. Rough seas and strong winds are common during this period. The northeast monsoon iruvai falls between December to April. This is a period of clear skies, lower humidity and very little rain.

BEWARE Crime levels in Maldives are relatively low, but petty crime, including the theft of goods left unattended on the beach or in hotel rooms, does occur. You should take care of your valuables and other personal possessions, especially when travelling in Malé. The majority of visitors to Maldives spend their time on resort islands and would only visit the capital island, Malé, if they choose to go on a specific excursion there. The international airport is on a separate island within the larger Malé atoll. There are also many resort islands within Malé atoll. Advance approval is normally required to visit most non-resort islands, other than the capital island. Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane, and many of these services stop before sunset. Maldives has very strong anti-drug laws. Importation or possession of drugs in Maldives can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.

Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is an Islamic country and serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. Public observance of any other religion other than Islam is prohibited. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.