The Maldives are a popular resort and beach destination in the North Indian Ocean and have up to now been seen as an expensive package holiday destination more suited to honeymooners and diving enthusiasts rather than a place for individual travelers on a budget or with children. Times are a changing with a new government opening the country up so that Maldivian families can earn some money from tourism rather than it all going to resort owners. The Maldives capital of Malé can be easily reached by flights from Gatwick, so if you are an independent traveler or a family with children and have always wanted to visit these fabulous coralislands, then book your flight and any of the gatwick hotels with parking and go enjoy the best the Indian Ocean can offer!
On the practical side, Malé itself does have a number of good guest houses which are a reasonable price, but if you really want to see the Maldives, its better to move on to one of the island family run guest houses which are now opening up. This gives you the opportunity to experience Maldivian hospitality without the overtones of an artificial resort style atmosphere. Many of the scattered islands of the central group which were previously closed off to foreigners now have one or more of these guest houses. Be aware, though that local customs are very much influenced by Islam and alcohol is definitely not available outside the big resorts. The resorts have been deliberately isolated from normal Maldivian society so that the hedonistic lifestyle and evils of alcohol and too much flesh are not on view to the locals.
Visitors to the guest houses instead have the opportunity of living and mixing with village people, who are genuinely welcoming and friendly even if they definitely do not approve of skimpy clothing, bikinis or even short shorts, so cover up when off the beach! Most guest houses are able to offer what the Maldives does best – trips to the coral reefs for snorkelling in lovely, warm, clear water where a myriad of tropical fish can be seen in and amongst the reefs. Trips to nearby uninhabited islands allow a little more leniency on swimwear and sunbathing can be considered a more normal practice.
For those with children the warm, shallow and safe sandy lagoons are a fantastic playground and learning ground for snorkelling and other water activities. The Maldives can be surprisingly good value in the south west monsoon period, which equates to the Northern hemisphere summer. The monsoon tends to be cloudier, windier and rainier than the winter months, but this means that it is not as hot all the time. If you have children on holiday, this means that it can be just that little bit more comfortable. The resorts at this time, in order to fill their rooms tend to offer better all inclusive deals and / or full board.
Most Maldives resorts are quite children friendly which means that they deliberately cater for families and have facilities and activities for children as well as the adults. It does pay to do some prior research as changes in ownership often bring a change in management style as well as there being new resorts opening all the time.