Parasailing & More on the Indian Ocean: The Maldives

Parasailing & More on the Indian Ocean: The Maldives

The Thrills of Paradise

Paradise doesn’t come cheap—at least not in the Maldives. But if you can pony up the cash, this off-the-beaten-path archipelago in southern Asia delivers a strong dose of adrenaline. Far from any other landmass and the rest of civilization, its 1190 coral islands in the Indian Ocean are grouped into 26 coral atolls. The luxury resorts sprinkled on only about 80 islands offer the quintessential beach getaway, complete with crystal clear blue water, secluded soft white sands, lush green jungles, and abundant underwater life. You won’t struggle to find a private stretch of beach, and many resorts even promote a “no shoes” policy to reinforce the haute-bohemian vibe. When you’ve had your fill of rest and relaxation, you can explore the island’s more deserted areas and even attempt a few daredevil stunts on the water.

Getting to and around the Maldives is an adventure in itself. Outside of the capital city, Malé, seaplanes (often called air taxis), boats (also used like taxis), and private yachts are the main modes of transportation. Cars are rarely used. The two main air taxi operators are Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways; both fly DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes that seat about 10 passengers.

Once you arrive at your resort and settle in, the best way to appreciate this near utopia is to get above it all. After putting on a seat-like harness with a parachute, you’ll climb aboard a motorboat and stay attached to it by a tow rope. As the boat speeds through the water, air fills your parachute, lifting you up into the sky. The wind rushes past you and the ocean spray mists your skin. Your stomach drops as you rise higher, your arms and legs dangle freely in the air. Before you know it, you’re serenely floating over the ocean in silence, interrupted only be the sound of own pounding heartbeat.

When you’re ready for a closer look, dive in deeper. The Maldives offer scuba divers some of the world’s best visibility and most diverse marine life. The plentiful coral reefs attract manta rays, whale sharks, sea turtles, countless colorful fish, and even a few wrecks. If you ever tire of these underwater wonders, or just want a change of scenery, head back up to the ocean’s surface. You can try snorkeling, swimming, water-skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, kayaking, sailing, tubing, and deep sea fishing. Whether you’re lying in the sun or playing in the waves, excitement is easy to find in the Maldives. —JS

Maldives Government Tourist Information Office, Aschaffenburger St. ( 49/6182-9-934-857;

When to Go: Nov–Apr.

Malé International Airport.

$$$ Four Seasons Kuda Huras, North Malé Atoll ( 960/664-4888; and Four Seasons Landa Giraavaru, Baa Atoll ( 960/660-0888; $$$ One&Only Reethi Rah, North Malé Atoll ( 960/664-8800; $$$ Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa, Villingili Island, Addu Atoll ( 960/689-7888;

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