Overall: If you do not mind the long trip there, few places compare with the unblemished beauty, above and below the surface, of the Maldives. We found a selection of top properties on beautiful (if small) atolls, with comfortable, even luxurious accommodations, good food and excellent service for a good price. Malé has the distinction of being the only capital in the world which is an entire island.
Location: Indian Ocean (southwest of India)
Language: Dhivehi, English
Currency: Rufiyaa and Laaree
Transportation: Planes, boats, and taxis
Cost of visiting: moderate to expensive
Challenges: Getting there can take a long time, especially if traveling from the U.S. Travel originating in Europe is not as cumbersome. Accommodations may be hard to come by, depending on your island and property choices. Since most hotels/resorts take over the entire tiny island that they are in, visitors spend most or all of their stay in the same place. Restless spirits may suffer from cabin fever and yearn to explore neighboring islands. Food choices are limited to hotel offerings.
Advantages: Breathtaking atoll scenery and world famous diving. As a Muslim nation whose economy depends on tourism dollars, the Maldives does an admirable job of making visitors feel welcome while protecting the lifestyle and customs of its citizens.
Shopping: We found local and imported handcrafts, t-shirts, souvenirs, dive and photographic equipment and jewelry at the hotel shops. The airport, which seem open all the time, offers a wonderful selection of well priced duty free items including high tech products, liquor and wine and fine jewelry. We were able to find snack food in the hotel/island sundry shops.