If you have an image in your head of a perfect tropical island, with palm trees, beautiful beaches, aqua clear water where you can see down to the sand below your feet – then the Maldives is where you should travel to. It is expensive to come here, but it is a very special part of the world.

Sometimes when you go on holiday, you want to learn about culture, immerse yourself in gaining an understanding of a City or country you are visiting, while other times, you just want to spoil yourself and be pampered – just sun bake, read a book, swim a bit, have a spa, massage, enjoy a cocktail, eat great food and meet or not meet other guests at your leisure – and if that is the case, then the Maldives is the perfect place to holiday.

If you imagine a string of pearls spread out over 1000 kilometres, then you have found the Maldives.

There are 26 Atolls with over 1190 reef islands and sandbars in the Maldives and most are just tiny uninhabited islands, just a few hundred metres across, surrounded by beaches overlooked by palm trees, with a lagoon circling around the islands which is a safe and an idyllic place to snorkel and just watch the thousands of tropical fish with their myriad of colours. Even the bigger islands where Maldivians live or where resorts have been built are quite small.

Imagine an island with brilliant white sand, a blue sky above, a single palm tree surrounded by water and just you and your friend just being here. It is absolutely possible to find this in the Maldives.

In the lagoons surrounding each island, the water is not very deep and you can see the sandy bottom with the islands mostly surrounded by a reef that protects the islands, with deeper water on the other side of the reef that is equally easy to swim to, being just 20 to 40 metres away.

There is something tremendously calming about water, and just watching the multi coloured tropical fish with their vivid amazing colours, just playing in the water around you, darting in between the coral, taking a nibble at something they find to eat will take you into another world.

The fish seem so tame and friendly that you will soon find some favourites, and just watch them for hours.

Remember though, that as you look down, your back is facing the sun above, so you could get really sunburned if you're not careful. Watch also for currents, and ideally if you intend to stay out for a while snorkelling, then wear a T-shirt to cover your back, and use a sun screen on your neck and arms.

Diving will take you to the deeper water, but snorkelling can be just as much fun – just you, face mask googles and a snorkel as you float looking down into this underwater below you. The Maldives is arguably one of the best places in the world to snorkel and also dive and many divers do just that. The water itself is crystal clear and there are also special occasions when you might see baby reef sharks maybe 20 centimetres long in the shallows, turtles, a moray eel or a school of flying fish that leap out of the water and flap wings, flying maybe 5 or 10 metres in the air above the water. These moments will be memories that will last a lifetime.

The Maldives is also popular with surfers too, and board surfers from around the world head here to ride the waves.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

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