Things to do in Maldives, where the world seems headed this year-end –

The Maldives is having a glorious and a glam moment. Anyone with a halo - even the tiniest one - is heading to this chain of 1,199 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. It is currently the fave place to beat the Corona blues. The highest point in the Maldives is less than 1.5 metres above sea level and in the past 15 years the temperature and water levels have been rising menacingly and the nation is sinking helplessly. Naysayers predict that by the turn of the century, the Maldives would vanish off the map it would be buried in the turquoise waters. Before that happens, heres what you can do in the Maldives.

Walk around Male: Male is so small that one can do a walking tour of the city in half a day. Visit Hukuru Miskiiy or the Old Friday Mosque and the tomb of Abu Al Barakaath who is believed to have introduced Islam in the country. Stop by at the November 3rd Memorial dedicated to the heroism of 8 brave military servicemen at the 1988 Maldives coup dtat. Do not miss the dry fish market where lie mounds of dried tuna, jacks, snappers, barracudas Try Boni, a coconut and honey sweetmeat; pick sea-shell and coconut artefacts.

Try roshi, ambu, farata: Beyond the ordinary tuna, theres roshi, farata, ambu asara, alooi The traditional Maldivian cuisine is spicy and the spices are straight out of any Indian kitchen cumin, coriander, chilli, fenugreek, turmeric. So are the names, though a little twisted and lost in translation. Roshi is actually a maida (white flour) roti; farata is parantha distorted; muggu is just another name for moong (green lentil); order ambu asara and a bowl of mango chutney would land on your table; alooi cutlet is potato cutlet.

Oldest Coral Mosque: Built by Sultan Ibrahim Iskander in 1658, the Grand Mosque is the oldest coral mosque, where neither an inch of wood nor an ounce of iron is used it is made of handcrafted coral, blocks tidily stacked over each other. The mosque is replete with tombs of the royal family, a sun dial and the imperial insignia chiseled in black coral. However, this is not the only mosque in Male; there are 29 others in a city that barely stretches 2.5 sq.kms.

Bioluminescent beach phenomenon: There are very few beaches in the world that glow in the dark. Caused by weak planktons, this bioluminescent phenomena can be experienced in Maldives Vaadhoo or Mudhdhoo Island, located 8 kms from Male, the Maldivian capital. From Male, you can reach Vaadhoo Island by speedboat in 15 minutes.

Eat in underwater restaurants: Sticking the fork in a fillet while dolphins swim around might not be the favourite thing on everyones menu, but dining underwater is a must-do in the Maldives. Nearly 5 metres below the surface of the Indian Ocean lies Ithaa, the worlds first undersea restaurant (Conrad Maldives Rangali Island). Other underwater dining experiences include 5.8 Undersea (Hurawalhi), the world's largest panoramic underwater restaurant; The Sea at Anantara Kihavah; three-storied Subsix (Niyama Private Islands); M6m (OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo); You & Me (Cocoon Maldives), an adults only resort for honeymooners and couples.

Diving experiences: One of the most popular dive sites and always featured in the world top-ten list is Maaya Thila (Vaavu Atoll). Others in the best diving-sites list are: Cocoa Thila (South Male Atoll); Alimatha Jetty (Vaavu Atoll); Kandooma Thila (not for beginners); Banana Reef (North Male Atoll); Fish Head, also known as Shark Point and Mushimasmingili Thila, one of the best shark dive sites; Hammerhead Point (Rasdhoo Atoll); Kuda Giri Wreck; and Rainbow Reef, also known as HP Reef and Girifushi Thila.

Fishing expedition: Hop into a dhoni, a traditional fishing out, set out into the sea in for hours of fishing fun catching massive tunas, sharks, marlin, sailfish, and the famous Maldive skipjack. A few resorts also offer evening fishing expedition where you catch your own dinner.

Rs 24 lakhs, for 7 nights: This couple luxury holiday is at its luxurious. Buckle up in a Legacy 650 Private 13-seater jet from Mumbai to Soneva Jani (Maafaru Island). Snooze in an over-water retreat fully equipped with a personal butler, private infinity pool. Check offers on spa treatments and unique Maldivian experiences. Available dates: December 5-12, 2020.

Good to know

A negative PCR test for COVID-19, conducted within 96 hours of departure to the Maldives is mandatory for all tourists and short-term visitors. Proof of booking at a registered tourist facility is essential. Though not mandatory, install Trace Ekee, a contact tracing app. Random COVID-19 test by health authorities is free of charge. However, if a traveller is showing symptoms of COVID-19, a PCR test will be conducted and the traveller will have to pay the test charges.

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