Sunday, September 19
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Visit Maldives: Sunny side of life

17 Jan 2021

Just about a 4-hour flight from Muscat, in the middle of the Indian Ocean between India and Africa, lies a beautiful haven that can give you memories to last a lifetime…but many tourists from Oman have yet to discover this wonderful opportunity to visit a dream location much closer than many other popular destinations.

Malidives, with its enchantingly beautiful islands, sugar-white sands, turquoise blue water teeming with multi-coloured fish and numerous opportunities to unwind, is nothing short of a dream destination. Though known as a popular honeymoon destination, Maldives is, indeed, also a perfect place for a short family vacation.

This picture-perfect archipelago, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, comprised 1,190+ tiny coral islands. This Islamic country is famous for the beauty it carries and is celebrated as one of the best travel destinations in the world. 

Open for tourism

Maldives has reopened its borders and commenced safe tourism for international tourists since July 2020. The Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Maldives has approved the opening dates of all tourist resorts, yacht marinas, tourist hotels, tourist vessels, tourist guesthouses and transit facilities, a statement dated January 14 confirms.

‘As the world recovers from the current situation, the government made the decision to reopen the borders, fully confident in the safety measures and preparations to ensure the protection of all visitors and people working in the tourism sector itself.  A COVID-19 safe tourism guideline has been issued by the Ministry of Tourism along with a certification programme to uphold proper safety and hygiene standards,’ an official statement says.

All arrivals, other than Maldives citizens, need to present a certificate of a negative PCR test carried out within the 96 hours prior to departure, clearly showing the name and address of the laboratory, as well as the date of the sample taken. The result must be attached to a Traveller Health Declaration form which must be submitted online within the 24 hours prior to arrival.

Mesmerising islands

Maldives is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean, that spans across the equator. The country is comprised of 1192 islands that stretch along a length of 871 kilometers. While the country covers an area of approximately 90,000aq km, only 298 square kilometers of that is dry land. The islands are grouped into a double chain of 26 atolls.

The country’s unique geography has been mesmerising visitors for decades on end. Reefs that offer bands of colour, tiny jewel-like islands rimmed with the whitest of soft sand surrounded by the clearest shallow waters that one can imagine. Only 200 of the islands are inhabited, and a select few on each of the atolls are resorts and some of the islands are used for industry and agriculture.

The beauty of the Maldives is not only above the water. The Maldives is home to about five per cent of the planet’s reefs that comes with an explosion of colour contributed by soft and hard corals that form them. The reefs are home to a thousand species of fish. Lured by the rich nutrients that flow in with the currents, large pelagic fishes such as manta rays and whale sharks also make the Maldives their home.

Social etiquette

For first-timers, traveling to the country will be very exciting but at the same time, there is so much more to look forward to and understand beyond the exotic lifestyles. For example, most are unaware that the Maldives is a Muslim country and one needs to adhere to certain social norms when out of the resorts on other islands inhabited by the locals. 

Maldives has its own language – Dhivehi – but the good news is that the country also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. This means that the majority of the people have a good command of English which makes it easier for communication.

There are a lot of accommodation options to choose from since the country is filled with gorgeous resorts, hotels, guest houses and liveaboards catering to a variety of travellers. The best thing to do is research, save up and book in advance. Choosing a place can get tricky but it all boils down to your budget and preference. You can also travel at affordable prices and still get to live the ultimate beach-life dream by staying at a guest house or boutique hotel on a local island. 

Transportation from the main airport, Velana International Airport, to your desired local island or resort is either done by speed boat or seaplane. The speed boat is used to transit tourists to islands in close proximity whereas a seaplane is used for far and remotely located islands and resorts.

Excursions and watersports

The styles of guesthouses range from budget to boutique to bed and breakfast inns and more. The amenities, service and luxury vary from that of resorts, but guests have access to similar types of activities that resorts offer. Opportunities for excursions to nearby islands and sandbanks, watersports, snorkeling, and diving are available. Most islands with guesthouses also have watersports and diving centres.

For the year 2021, marketing activities and campaigns carried out by Visit Maldives will have a significant focus on promotion of local tourism and guesthouses. The government is working to open the country to cultural tourism as a key part of its economic diversification plans, and an emphasis will be given on promoting local tourism, culture, and heritage of Maldives.

 

Natural attractions

Addu Nature Park

Addu Atoll is the southernmost atoll in the Maldives atoll chain. The atoll consists of islands that have their very own unique characteristics that are quite different from the rest of the country. Addu Atoll hosts the second largest wetlands area in the Maldives – the Addu Nature Park which encompasses the beautiful Eydhigali Kilhi wetlands and protected Koattey area in Hithadhoo Island. 

The park features charming piers extending out to the lakes, mangroves and scenic cycling routes through the lush vegetation of the wetlands. You can take a guided nature tour through the park and observe the unique fauna and flora of the rich habitat. Canoeing in the bay area known as Bedhi famous for its beautiful red mangroves, baby stingrays and sharks is one of the most memorable experience in the Park.

Baa Atoll Bioshpere Reserve

Baa Atoll located in the central region of the atoll chain that form the Maldives is considered globally significant in terms of its biodiversity. Baa atoll consists of several habitats that support the rich biodiversity of the atoll and includes coral reefs, islands, sea grass beds and mangroves.

Coral reefs are the most important habitat type in terms of area as well as biodiversity and is home to a high diversity of reef species, which includes 1,200 reef associated marine species, 250 species of stony and soft corals and populations of marine turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and seabirds. These also include threatened and endangered species such as the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, Napoleon wrasses, and tawny nurse shark.

 

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