Activities and Facilities
What concerns many first-time visitors to the Maldives is will they be bored? What is there is to do other than swim, snorkel and lie in the sun.
Well there’s beach volleyball in the late afternoon, windsurfing, sunset fishing and island visits on offer in most resorts.
It’s also possible to find resorts that organise shows of differing sorts every night, a full selection of water sports and land sports. But the truth is both excursions and sports facilities are under-used.
Apart from beach related activities, resorts usually offer spa treatments, visits to nearby inhabited islands and sunset cruises as well as sports facilities such as badminton, tennis and fitness centres.
There is golf in the Maldives, even if most golf courses are bigger than most Maldives islands. Meeru has a pitch and putt, a green and a driving range and Kuredu has a full-size driving range and a lovely six-hole, par-three course. Shangri-La has built a nine-hole, mostly par-three course averaging 123. 4 yards, beautifully set around its coastline.
Most resorts are all inclusive with a generous buffet offering for lunch and dinner as well as breakfast, though there may be a la carte offerings at eateries other than the main restaurants, possibly for an additional charge. Vaguely ‘themed’ food nights are not uncommon but of dubious authenticity.
Alcohol is available but it’s expensive and the range can be limited. Some all inclusive packages cover a number of designated drinks such as beer, wines and spirits so bear that in mind, depending on anticipated boozing and funds available. Divers, of course, cannot drink much alcohol for safety reasons.
Island hopping is the mainstay of resort day trips involving some combination of visits to other resorts, inhabited islands and uninhabited islands with packed lunches or better lunch barbecued fresh on a desert island with perfect sand, turquoise waters and fine snorkelling.
Top-end resorts are more imaginative and creative with their options.
Your resort water sports centre will offer canoeing, windsurfing, kite surfing and catamaran sailing as a minimum. Motored sports run from the simple pleasures of banana boat rides and tubes or rings to the thrills of waterskiing, paragliding and jet ski.
Most resorts have a table tennis table and some will organise a competition night. Tennis, badminton and even squash can also be found but at the end of the day the winning activity is winner is the sunset volleyball match on the beach, outside the bar.
Travel between the islands is surprisingly easy but, naturally, not cheap. The most time efficient is via small, 10-seater seaplanes which give a good service reaching everywhere in less than 45 minutes, though punctuality and information on departure times can sometimes be approximate.
For any return journey, especially if connecting with an international flight, it is therefore better to allow at least an extra hour or two than you might think.
Speedboats and taxi boats are another possibility – such as dhonis, a Maldivian boat, something like an arab dhow – which are obviously slower but cheaper, or even regular ferries, but these are rarely used by tourists.