Those overwater villas that you swoon over while scrolling through the #honeymoon hashtag on Instagram? The crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean? Those beautiful blue lagoons and crystal reefs? On the 1,000-plus islands of the Maldives, you can live your best life on a private secluded island — whether with your girlfriends or your significant other. What doesn’t sound better than lounging on your private cabana (or in your private plunge pool) while sipping champagne and soaking up the sun rays? But what truly makes the Maldives special, is the unique offerings of adventure, as well as local food. The experience is unmatched in comparison to many places across the globe. For those who have never been, or looking to plan another visit, here’s your guide to exploring all the magic that the Maldives has to offer. Eat Like the Locals The majority of Maldivians are Muslim, with historic mosques planted in many areas of the capital of Malé. You will see that the traditional Maldivian dishes have influences from India, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Asia. Of course, being a country made up of over a thousand islands, seafood is a major staple. In particular, tuna being one of the country’s largest exports can be found in many of the local dishes. Some of the buffet items you can find of the traditional Maldivian fare at Air, include Mas-Bai (Maldivian Fish Rice); Maldivian Tuna Mas huni (a breakfast dish); and Tuna Kothu Roshi (tuna and veggie mix). Meet New Friends One of the biggest draws to the Maldives is for its thrilling marine adventures. If you are an animal lover, then snorkeling with majestic manta rays will make some stunning videos for the ‘gram! Most of the Maldivian islands employ on-site marine biologists to ensure the health of the coral reef and educate locals and guests. From Coco Bodu Hithi, hop into one of the island’s replica dhoni boat (a traditional Maldivian vessel) and head to an area known as Manta Point (30 minutes away). This snorkel and dive site usually attracts dozens of the 10-15 foot long, harmless manta rays. The rays will glide slowly and gracefully in circles next to one another while you snorkel above just a few feet away. Discover a New Hobby Coco Bodu Hithi has an on-site dive center, so guests can sign up to get certified with a PADI professional dive instructor. The course takes about 3 days to complete, but once you achieve your Open Water Diver certification, you can use it all over the world. You may be assigned an affable, 20-something Maldivian instructor named Shafiu, who has logged an impressive 7,000 dives. Since there is a reef that surrounds the island, you can take a shore dive right from the house reef. Don’t forget your underwater camera: some of the usual suspects at this dive site are sea cucumbers, octopi, moray eels, and spotted trumpet fish. The next day, the instructor may take you out on a boat dive at Manta Point. You can revisit the stunning rays and see them from a different vantage point: overhead while you rest on the ocean floor. Catch Your Dinner When the sun sets, you can try your hand at catching and pulling up some local and fresh fish to go with a supper of rice and veggies. The Maldivian style of fishing is primarily line fishing employed by solitary fishermen. You can replicate this style of fishing with instructions from a local, and if you’re lucky, the most common fish that will bite your line are Jack fish, red snapper, and sometimes barracuda. Relax and Get Pampered Feenin’ for some downward facing dogs and sun salutations? There is Astanga yoga available in the mornings at Coco Bodu Hithi – an ancient and traditional yoga from Kerala, India in which many yoga practices are derived. Zion Godson, the Spa Supervisor, hails from Kerala and often leads the relaxing yoga sessions, which involves lots of vinyasas and constant movements. At the island’s spa, try one of their popular treatments like the Coconut & Vanilla Body Scrub or the Island Seashell Massage to unwind after a day of adventure. TOPICS: