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Many people who think about going to The Maldives for the first time are very confused by the overwhelming choice. The chain is made up of many different islands grouped together in Atolls. In all there are over a thousand islands and 26 atolls and the choice can be bewildering.
In addition the islands which are designated for tourists are in the most part separate to those which are residential, and it is often a question of looking carefully at the islands to see what kind of accommodation they are offering. There is everything from budget to luxury, and most importantly it is a question of looking for those with their own house reef if you wish to snorkel without going on excursion trips.
This is where my favourite book "Resorts of Maldives" is so useful and the one I am reviewing is the most recent version, the third, though earlier versions are still available to purchase from second-hand stores, and these are almost as good as the updated edition. The library is a great place to look, and of course you can request it too if you can't spot it on the shelves.
The ISBN number is ISBN-13: 978-0955604300 and currently this is retailing for £9.49 on Amazon.
Written by Adrian Neville this book is a masterpiece and certainly he had the best job in the world seeking out all the information, as he personally stayed on every island covered in the book. He also takes the credit for all the photographs which are superb.
This is, I feel, the best way to identify islands which you feel would suit your price bracket, and ideal facilities, and then you can go on to research them more fully on review sites, and of course in the brochures themselves offered by the holiday companies.
The introduction to the book is brief but comprehensive and it outlines all the salient points about a holiday in The Maldives in general. This includes climate, and currency, as well as some basic geography and a short section on what to expect on arriving at the international airport- Male. This section is useful as onward transfers are mandatory for island holidays as the airport is on its own island, and you will need to either board a boat or a sea plane to progress further.
The book is excellent as it points out what sort of things you should be considering when looking at possible holidays. These include size of the island-some can be walked round in a few minutes, others are much larger and have swimming pools and other facilities. Many have a mix of nationalities and some will predominate on certain of these. Dive schools are also important if you want to scuba dive, or learn to and take a course to become qualified. You have over 92 resorts to choose from so it is quite a task!
We are then treated to an in-depth but simple review of each of the islands in alphabetical order. The simplicity of the review makes for easy reading, and I particularly like his system of presenting the information in a structured way.
Every island is marked on a scoring system in two areas and these are out of 10. The first is the cost, and the second the density of rooms on the island. Both of these are entirely accurate. I have been to three islands so far and used his book as a reference for each. The figures were accurate and the price guide was too, so this is an excellent way to search for islands on these two criteria alone. Density was very important to me as although all the Maldivian islands allow privacy, some are less populated than others.
For each island Adrian also shows the journey time and mode of transport by symbols, and also the cost of drinks, trips, and diving tuition. Of course this rapidly becomes old news in terms of prices, but it is a good place to start, and can be supplemented with up to date travel reviews on websites afterwards.
The most important thing I learnt from this book is the importance, for me anyway, to go to an island where there is a house reef just off the shore. In case you are not familiar with this it is the coral where the fish gather in numbers to feed, and it marks the line between the dark ocean beyond and the turquoise inner waters. Even if you don't snorkel you will see a lot more fish by the water's edge, and of course you if you do you can then swim up to the reef to see them with ease. Some of the islands take you out to a nearby reef, but for me this would not be ideal. However if you just like sunbathing and never go into the water, and have no interest in snorkelling or in the fish then any island would be suitable.
The reviews go into a good depth regarding the rooms and what to expect inside them and these are honest-if they are shabby he tells you. The food reviews are also very accurate and this is something I valued as being vegetarian this can be a problem sometimes. There really is no covering up going on in this book- if Adrian doesn't like it he says so!
I think for us we found the price guide very helpful indeed as it allowed us to research islands we could afford, and we made our short list based on this. We then took out those without a house reef and were left with a good selection to choose from.
The resulting holidays were idyllic and carefree and were as expected on every aspect from food to room style. This was vital to us as our first holiday was a silver wedding some years ago, and we wanted to make sure it had some of the frills we were looking for such as flowers on the beds and so on. The other visits were family holidays where this was slightly less critical and here price was more important.
I think this book is absolutely vital if you are planning a holiday to the Maldives for the first time. It is a gem just like the islands are, and I am very glad I discovered it before I made my initial journey to this tropical paradise.
Only one problem- it introduces you to some islands which are absolutely gorgeous and sheer luxury- but the wealthy only visit these.
I think what it showed me was that for a relatively modest outlay compared to European holidays, you can treat yourself to a holiday in which you can experience a tropical paradise for little more than the cost of the flight itself. Many of these resorts do not charge much at all for staying there, and there are many now doing all inclusive packages.
If you choose islands near to Male the price is less as there is no sea plane transfer required, and there are still some budget resorts with beautiful house reefs in this area including Biyadhoo,and Fihalhohi as well as Embudu Village.
Yes this book is brilliant and inspirational, but it also delivers top class information on which to base a decision to travel.
Also published on Ciao by myself under my user name there Violet1278.