The Last Voyage of Discovery
In 1973 George Corbin, an Italian adventurer discovered the last paradise on earth --the Maldives. Since then hundreds of thousands of tourists have been arriving here each year to discover for themselves the charms of the islands in sun.
Over the years, the Maldives has earned fame for its rare underwater beauty. Not only is the archipelago blessed with unparalleled colour and variety of marine life, it also has strikingly clear waters that push the limits of visibility far beyond the usual maximum of 50 metres. This coupled with the warm temperatures throughout the year makes diving in the Maldives a delight that has kept visitors enthralled year after year.
Despite the increasing numbers of visitors each year now nearing half a million, the Maldives is far from crowded. Each hotel is built on its own private island with an exclusive beach and lagoon.
All resorts in the Maldives have professional dive schools with multi-lingual instructors who conduct courses for beginners as well as the advanced.
Many of the resorts have excellent house reefs. Just a short swim from the beach and snorkelers too can experience the same pleasures from the surface that divers enjoy below.
Cruising in the warm waters of the Maldives is a heady experience. As you sail along the 1200 long chain of islands and islets you could imagine you are re-living Robinson Crusoe.
Frequent visitors to the Maldives believe that a cruise is the best way of really appreciating the unique beauty of the Maldives. After all, that was how the Maldivians and their visitors have been living in this water world for centuries. There are cruise operators for all your needs and fantasies. On a diving safari you get the best of both worlds, one under and one above the sea. On a relaxing cruise through the atolls in total harmony with nature you could fantasize you were Captain Cook sailing through the South Sea Islands.
You can leave all your worries with the cruise operators. They take care of everything from professional diving equipment to qualified diving instructors. There are cruises for all budgets, some vessels offering budget accommodation and facilities, while others offer the ultimate in modern luxury living.
The Maldives is warm throughout the year. Light, summer cotton and linen wear is ideal. Pack lots of tee shirts, beachwear, light skirts, cotton shirts, slacks and shorts. Also pack a pair of casual shoes or sandals to wear on your visits to inhabited islands.
REGULATIONS AND NORMS
In the resorts the dress code is comfort. However, public nudity is banned by official regulations. At the beach and while swimming bikinis or swimming trunks is the minimum. Most resorts do not allow swimwear inside the restaurants, to avoid offending fellow holidaymakers. When visiting the in-house bars or restaurants casual cotton tropical wear is highly recommended.
Visiting inhabited islands or Male the capital requires paying a little attention to what you wear. Most resorts would advice you on this before you leave on excursions. Please be sensitive to local norms, culture and traditions. On such visits it is important to be clad in a decent garment, which covers ones body from the shoulders to the knees. If you envisage attending a formal meeting or making a formal visit, do bring along light formal wear.
All resorts have first aid facilities and on some you can get the services of a resident doctor and facilities for minor treatment. Some have clinics with separate observation rooms and small pharmacies. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and the ADK Hospital are the two major hospitals in Male. In addition there are a number of smaller clinics where you may consult a doctor. In both the IGMH and ADK doctors are on duty 24 hours of the day. Both conduct surgery and offer a number of specialist services.
PERSONAL MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS
If you suffer from a permanent disability or chronic illness it is advisable to inform your resort before arrival and find out whether they can cater for your specific requirements. Most resorts cater for special dietary requirements without additional charges. If you are dependent on any medications please bring along an ample supply, together with a valid prescription in case you are required to produce it at Customs.
HEALTH AND DIVING
If you are planning to take up diving during your visit, it is a good idea to consult your physician and do a medical check-up to see if you are fit enough. For safety, when diving it is important to exercise caution; follow the right procedures, use proper equipment and most important follow the directives of your instructor or guide. This is important even if you are an experienced diver. As one would understand instructors and guides working here are well versed in the subtleties of the local conditions, be it currents or tides. A decompression chamber is available, in case of a diving emergency.
Be careful where you eat and drink when in the Maldives. Registered outlets are usually safe. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables from dubious sources or of unknown nature without consulting someone you can trust. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Use sun creams of a high factor especially during the first few days. A variety of sun creams and lotions are available in all resort shops and boutiques.
ARRIVING IN THE MALDIVES
The first thing youll notice as soon as you get off the plane at Male International Airport is that the airport is on an island all by itself. From the air it looks like a giant aircraft carrier, the runway occupying most of the island. Catch a glimpse if you can. In fact to build the airport two islands have been connected through reclamation. However it is a full fledged international airport that can cater to the largest of aircraft and is well equipped with modern facilities. Located just over a kilometre away from Male the capital, the airport is connected to the rest of the country by boats and seaplanes.
A number of international airlines connect the Maldives with the major cities of Europe and Asia. A few steps from your plane take you inside the arrival terminal. At Passport Control entry formalities are simple and casual. A 30-day holiday visa is granted free of charge on arrival. You may be asked where you are staying. Most arrive in the Maldives with a prior booking at one of the resorts. At Port Health, immediately after Passport Control, you may be required to produce a certificate of inoculation if you have recently passed through a country in which contagious diseases have been reported. If you need an extension of your visa you will have to apply to the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Male.
At Customs as a rule all baggage is screened electronically. It will be convenient to have the keys to your luggage at hand, in case you are asked to open an item for inspection. It is prohibited by law to import alcoholic beverages, pornographic materials and idols of worship. Strict penalties apply to those attempting to import illegal drugs into the country. If you are bringing in a lot of photographic or diving equipment it is advisable to inform your resort of the details prior to your arrival or bring a list with details such as serial numbers of the equipment, to avoid delay at the airport upon arrival. You will be expected to take them back with you. Import duty is payable for any items left behind.
As you leave the Customs and out of the arrival terminal, you will be welcomed by a representative of the resort at which you have made your booking. The representative will guide you to the transport to your resort, which would have been