The island country of Maldives is situated in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of India. It is made of 1192 coral islands, occupying a total area of 90000 sq. km. The large number of people availing Maldives tour packages has turned this nation into a tourist hotspot. Dravidians were the first people to settle here, between 300 BC and AD 300. There are evidences showing flourishing trade between people of Maldives and the Indus Valley Civilization. Sinhalese settlers from Sri Lanka started writing accounts of their time, which now serve as official historical records.
Mahavamsa, the Buddhist chronicle, mentions that Prince Vijaya started his voyage to Ceylon, but his ship went adrift and reached an island called Mahiladvipika, which is now known as Maldives. Buddhism arrived here at the time when Ashoka was expanding his rule, and prevailed till 12th century AD. Thereafter, Islamic dominance made conversion mandatory; hence many people had to change their religion. The island country came under the British rule in 1887 that lasted until 1965, when it signed an agreement with the United Kingdom.
Activities in Atolls
Diving is by far the most popular activity opted by visitors. The abundance of sandy beaches, marine life and coral reefs make atolls paradises for divers. According to reports, of the 700000 annual visitors to the country, about 15 per cent explore this attraction. Atolls are ring-shaped landforms, which encircle a lagoon. There are 26 natural atolls in Maldives, many of which are preferred for underwater activities. Ari is among the largest such landforms and has many diving sites. Broken Rock is one such place, which is famous for its corals.
A channel is formed in the region where the boulder has broken off, allowing visitors to swim through. Eels and puffer fish are among the many marine creatures, living in its depth of 40-100 feet. The channels between these atolls are locally called kandu.
On the northern region here is the Gangehi Kandu, which is advisable for experienced divers only. It experiences strong currents, and various species of sharks live in the waters. Kuda Rah Thila, a protected area, is known for its colourful corals, which attract a large number of swimmers. Other places suited for swimming are Mushi Mas Mingili Thila and Pannettone.
Activities in Male – The National Capital
In addition to adventure enthusiasts, hordes of tourists like to come here as it has many other attractions. The Cocoa Corner is one of the most famous dive sites in the entire country. Swimmers usually maintain an underwater depth of 25-29 metres in the sea. Experienced guides aid tourists in exploring the sea and its marine life. Sharks and rays forms a common sight, which tourists can behold. Strong currents of Guraidhoo Corner make it a challenging site for snorkeling. Swimmers are advised to be careful and not to be swept away from the shore by brisk waves. The Banana Reef, another protected marine area, is home to squirrel fish, sweet lips and bannerfish. Frogfish, flatworms and nudibranchs are seen while exploring the ocean at Kuda Haa.