Like any other ocean in the world, the Indian Ocean has its share of storms and waves. You might be tempted to ask ‘So what is so special about that?’ What is special is the Maldivian archipelago. Nature protects these islands so well from the rougher aspects of the greater ocean while withholding nothing in the magic of a warm tropical sea!
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The magic lies in the reefs that make up the atolls. The outermost ‘layer’ of the coral atoll is a fringing reef. This layer, composed entirely of coral debris and living coral, presents a formidable barrier to oceanic waves. Even on the calmest of days, with hardly a noticeable ripple on the surface of the sea inside the reef-enclosed lagoons, waves continue to crash and thunder onto these reefs. As soon as one finds a natural break in the reef and gains entry within, paradise awaits you if you love windsurfing, snorkeling, diving or one of the many pastimes that sea-lovers enjoy.
The bonus here is that a relatively short distance from any of the larger fringing reefs, and very often forming a ring just inside it, you will find a number of islands of different sizes. These islands have unbelievably white coral sand beaches. Lush vegetation, including coconut palms, covers the larger ones.
Double-reef protection is what has kept the people of this country safe from the sea for centuries. Needless to say, with the highest point on even the largest island rising no more than 1.5 metres above sea level, this is one of the wonders of nature you must see.
Even though the Maldives actually straddles the equator and lies outside the treacherous cyclone belt in the vicinity of the Bay of Bengal, you must expect the country to suffer from scorching equatorial hear. This is where nature blesses us with the best the sea has to offer. All that water acts as a buffer, storing and giving up heat at a much slower rate than solid ground. Temperatures fluctuate between a minimum 23C and a maximum of 32C throughout the year. The thermometer normally hovers around the 30C mark. There is always a cooling breeze blowing from the sea. This makes even a hot day so pleasant on the beach that even those of us who are used to it never cease to be moved by its sheer magic.
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If your life revolves around the traditional four-seasons, our day-equals-night clock, with sunny days throughout the year, will be your next surprise. We have only two seasons – the South West Monsoon and the North East Monsoon. The South West Monsoon tends to bring with it more rain, normally in June and July. The North East Monsoon is considered to be relatively rain-free. It is traditionally the good fishing season. If you look at the yearly statistics, you will actually notice that things are not that predictable. Rain can occur at any time, often without the slightest warning! The rain is often of the variety that can normally be dealt with by ducking into a shop for a quick browse. If you happen to be on the beach, the best thing to do is to enjoy a short freshwater soak because the thermometer normally ignores rain.
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