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Maldives or Seychelles

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Thinking of a relaxing week beach holiday either in Maldives or Seychelles. I enjoy snorkelling, swimming in sea , kayaking etc but mainly want to relax in nice surroundings and sunshine. My wife is less sporty than me , just wants nice hotel good food and weather. She loves shopping so we will probably include visit to Dubai or similar for that. Any suggestions or comparisons on our 2 possible beach locations welcome . Alternative similar suggestions also most welcome.
Maldives look idillic but just a bit afraid it may get a bit boring. Maybe 5 days would be long enough. Somewhere as nice as Maldives with Coral reefs for snorkling etc but with a bit more life for shopping etc would be ideal but cant think where.

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    From my recent reading the Seychelles has had more coral bleaching the past 2 years while the Maldives is just this year is going through a major coral bleaching. I have found that the current bleaching alerts are overstated having recently reurned from Malaysia where the alert said the coral was in terrible shape. Having been a diver and snorkeler for 40+ years I would say it was good conditions but not nearly ideal as they were in 2008. Therefore the Maldives will not be great but should be better than the Seychelles. Look at UTunes of snorkeling in the Seychelles and you will see almost all the corakl ids white or gray. that means it is dying or dead.

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    I have not been to the Seychelles, but have been to the Maldives many times. So my comments below are only what I think you may find in comparison

    It would be helpful to know the time of year for your trip, as that might affect the reccos; see weather website to determine if it will be rainy during your planned trip,. The best months for the Maldives are generally January through April, in other times they get a fair bit of rain. There is some difference between the south and the north in terms of rain, and some shoulder seasons may be OK with you if you don’t mind rain and cloud cover. July and August are historically the middle of the rainy season in Male, which is the northern part of the island chain. For Gan in the south, July and esp August are somewhat of a low rainfall month in Gan, however that area gets more rain overall so it is relative. That being said, the thunderstorms are magnificent in the Maldives, IMO, as the horizon fills with coal-black clouds and the water colour changes). However, it does affect snorkeling as coral and fish colours are basically gone on cloudy days.

    The Maldives is so beautiful as to make you weep, glorious sunsets, great snorkeling. You can generally snorkel right off the beach on the hotel’s “house” reef, and then take boat trips to more remote places. Most all offer water sports like kayaking, sailing and also power boat stuff like waterskiing. However, it is ALL about the beach, there is nothing of cultural interest to see, except perhaps what could be a somewhat canned visit to a local “inhabited island” which may not offer much. Male, the capital, is not worth any time. Gan, in the south offers more charm, but a full day there is more than enough, and there is basically no shopping. The Maldivian people are without doubt the very nicest people I have met anywhere in the world, and I have been lucky enough to see a good bit of it so far. (Maldives is on my list of places to retire.)

    If you are a person who prefers to have lots of activities available like museums, restaurants, shopping, etc. then a holiday there is probably not going to work for you. Each resort is on its own self-contained island, and those islands are small. You will eat all meals at the resort. . My understanding of the Seychelles is that the islands are much larger, and you can drive around and tour parts of islands. That would not be possible on any Maldive island, a short bicycle trip is about the most you would get. And as there is nothing else on your island other than your hotel, there is not a lot to see other than lovely water views. (Gan is the exception as it is a string of islands and you can drive and bicycle along it; however there is only one hotel there as far as I am aware. ) The topography of the two is different, as I believe than the Seychelles has some mountains or hills, you would not find these in the Maldives as they are completely flat, coral islands. I can’t speak to the difference in coral or water colour.

    The Maldives and Seychelles are also quite culturally different, as the Seychelles were a French and then a British colony, and has those influences both in terms of architecture and food as well as culture. I would guess that the Seychelles has a somewhat less conservative culture than the Maldives. No alcohol is served in the Maldives, other than at resorts. (As there is no where to go but other resorts, however this is not a big issue. You cannot bring alcohol into the country, and buying locally is not cheap. There are many all-inclusive resorts where alcohol is included in the price.) The Maldives is a majority Muslim country, although the government is not controlled by any radical element. Women tend to dress conservatively though not in a hijab or a burqa as you would find in other places. (Women are fairly well represented in professions from what I have seen.) It is my understanding that the Seychelles is mainly Christian.

    I believe you are coming from Scotland, so in terms of the international flights, I am not sure it makes a big difference. It seems to be about 14 hours to either, and Dubai looks like the logical stop over. With the Maldives, one thing to consider is whether the hotel you are considering requires an internal sea plane flight or a boat ride. With only 5 days, if you need to take a seaplane flight to get to your hotel, you will probably end up losing a day or two at the airport hotel, as seaplane cannot fly at not. In that case, a hotel which is a boat trip from Male may work better for you. I don’t know how one gets to resorts in the Seychelles, it may be similar, although I think they offer fixed wing fights which can operate at night.

    I have to say that you would have to pay me to go to Dubai. I think it is one of the dullest places I have ever been. Ersatz middle east. However if you want to shop, there are lots of malls and lots of stuff for sale. It’s also very, very hot a quite humid in all but a few months in the winter. You can get to lovely Jordan from Dubai if you wanted to see some culture.

    You may want to consider Thailand, which may offer more of what you are looking for in terms of beach and also shopping and other activities. Bangkok combined with a beach may be an ideal combo for you. You need to be aware of rain patterns there too, in general the west coast (like Phuket, Krabi) are good in the winter months, and rainy in the summer, and the east coast (like Koh Samui) is better in the summer months. Places like the east coast of Malaysia or Borneo may also work for you. Bali is another thought, although the beaches there are not nearly as pretty as Thailand or Malaysia. And the beaches in Thailand and Malaysia are not nearly as nice as the Maldives. So sometimes you have to trade off.

    The Caribbean would also offer a lot of what you want, again see rainfall and hurricane patterns to make sure you go at the best time.

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    Cicerone provided a superbly comprehensive response.

    A few points to add. Some islands are a bit bigger with very extensive water sports facilities. If you like water sports, then there is plenty to keep one occupied for days on end.

    There is no real shopping in the Maldives. Even in the main capital of Male. But if you are going to Dubai first, then you probably can get your dose of shoppinng there.

    Maldives is probably the best place in the world for snorkeling (IMHO, but backed up by many others). Not only is the coral and fish superb (obviously is various from outstanding to just plain god depending on where you go), but the water is calm and shallow. Even less sporty people will feel comfortable snorkeling there.

    The only other place I can think of for considering is Mauritius. It has some nice snorkeling, but lots of activities and even some shopping.

    Bruce
    www.maldivescomplete.com

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    I might argue that while the Maldives are excellent snorkeling waters when there is little or no coral bleaching I think Micrnesia may be equal or better i.e. Palau, Yap region.Also we thought Raja Ampat was the best we ever spent time in. But it is good there are still a few top places but time is running out before the coral will be damaged throughout the world over the next 20-30 years.

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    Thanks for all your replies especially Cicerones very detailed reply . We have just returned from 5 nights at Baros Maldives followed by 5 nights at The Address Downtown Dubai and my wife and I both felt it was one of our best ever holidays . Baros was stunningly beautiful with very relaxed atmosphere . snorkelling was great and took some superb pics with my new underwater camera .

    After first day or so in Baros my wife was saying she never wants to holiday anywhere else and she wished we had a few more days at Baros and just 2 days in Dubai but by the end of the 5 days I think we were both ready for a new destination with more going on . We both think Baros was fab . Both very upmarket but at the same time very casual and relaxed . Robert Di Nero had apparently recently visited and other major celebs but it is so private it is very easy to keep to yourself if that is what you want. some returning guests were there for 2 weeks but I think that would be too long unless you were very into Scuba Diving/snorkelling or could content yourself just chilling out and reading for 2 weeks.

    Dubai was a nice change especially for my wife who loves shopping . It was or 4th visit to Dubai and although I can understand those who do not like it (all too new , lack of character or soul ) it does have magnificent hotels , service , good food , weather was perfect and the hotel was our favourite of the 4 we have stayed at in Dubai . Only down side was not on beach but apparat from that great location . Went on a trip to Sheik Mohammed's Centre for Cultural Understanding and went on a walking tour of Old Dubai , visit to a Mosque followed by question and answer session . that was interesting and at least a bit of a cultural experience which can be lacking in Dubai .

    No holidays booked at present , Still fancy Charlston / savannah area in SC/Georgia USA sometime but not sure if my ŵife is so keen . May also try other Indian Ocean destinations Seychelles , Mauritious , Kerela .

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    Cicerone , just noticed your suggestion of Thailand . We had actually booked for 3 nights in Bangkok followed by a week at a quiet beach resort in November but had to cancel due to floods , Did not actually have to cancel but were advised to . Thailand or Vietnam or Cambodia still on list of places to visit

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    The democratically elected president of the Maldives has just been thrown out of office by what may or may not be a military coup. Since the tourist industry seems to be thoroughly walled off from the locals, this perhaps won't matter to visitors.

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    We were in Maldives when President was thrown out and you are right it had no impact on our holiday at all . Would not have known about it except what was reported on BBC News

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