18 things that will surprise you about the Maldives –

There’s more to this Indian Ocean paradise than white, sandy beaches – Chris Leadbeater finds out what else the Maldives has to offer.

1. Bargain break

There is a tendency to view the Maldives as a desert-island preserve of Russian oligarchs, models and people who own yachts the size of Leeds. But it can be surprisingly affordable too. Seven nights, half board, at the four-star Sun Island Resort and Spa, flying direct from Gatwick on Jan 28, is £1,588 per person;

2. Parrotfish

Yes, yes, the Maldives does beach breaks. But you can be active too. Sort of. Biyadhoo is a three-star retreat which places an emphasis on snorkelling and scuba diving. Seven-night, full-board stays in February from £1,715 – with flights;

3. Hurawalhi

Sick of eating in silence with your partner? Stay at the Hurawalhi resort, where the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant sits – why yes – 5.8 metres under the sea. There’s your conversation starter. Seven-night stays in March from £2,914 per person, flights extra.

4. Sub-aqua serenity

Dinner under the waves is one thing. A massage is even better. Deluxe hideaway Huvaven Fushi has a spa which sits below the surface – ensuring reef views from the treatment table. Double rooms from £1400 per night.

5. Bring the kids

Brochures portray the Maldives as a place for making children, not entertaining them. But Steppes Travel sells a 10-day “Maldives Family Holiday” to Soneva Fushi – which has a “Den” full of child amusements. From £2,800pp, with flights.

6. Reverse honeymoons

“The Maldives – not just there for the nicer things in life” is a tagline you will never read. Still, while the islands are famed as a honeymoon haven, they also do breakups. The country has the world’s highest divorce rate – 10.97 per year per 1,000 inhabitants per year.

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