Resorts in the Maldives woo tourists with promises of 'the last paradise on earth', and if your idea of paradise is a pristine tropical island with swaying palm trees, pure white beaches and brilliant turquoise lagoons, then the Maldives will not disappoint.
It's also a major destination for scuba divers, who come for the fabulous coral reefs and the wealth of marine life. But it's not a place for low budget backpackers or amateur anthropologists who want to travel independently and live as the locals do.
Tourism in the Maldives is carefully managed. The lack of local resources makes it necessary to import virtually everything a visitor needs, so it can't really compete on price. The strategy has been to develop a limited number of quality resorts, each on its own uninhabited island, free from traffic, crime and crass commercialism.
The tourism strategy also aims to minimise the adverse effects of tourism on traditional Muslim communities. Tourists can make short guided visits to local fishing villages, but must then return to their resort. To stay longer or to travel to atolls outside the tourist zone requires a good reason, a special permit, and a local person to sponsor the visitor.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track