Located about 250 miles south-west of India and 430 miles from Sri-Lanka, the Maldive Islands are nothing if not remote. This tropical island archipelago, consisting of 1,192 islands, 200 of which are inhabited, offers some of the most remote and stunning beaches the world has to offer, and is perfect for those wanting sun, sea, sand and an awful lot of time to relax.

Several islands in the archipelago are dedicated solely to tourism and luxury beach huts, and from here you can enjoy the ultimate luxury, paradise-island holiday. The country is at threat, however. Rising sea levels are a serious concern for a nation whose average ground level is only 1.5metres above sea level.

As it stands, a holiday to the Maldives does not come cheap. Channelling the luxury tourist market has meant that budget accommodation and a cheap beach holiday has not really got a place on the Maldives’ tourist cycle.

On the luxury side, most hotels offer stilted huts, and there is not much to differentiate them. Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is an eco-hotel, while Cocoa Island offers yoga and a wide range of spa treatments.

The budget Equator Village in the southern Atolls is one of the best, and only, places to stay in the Maldives on a budget. This area, in the south of the country, is facing huge development over the next few years and is unlikely to remain so untouched for long.

Being islands, it is not surprising that the Maldives offers some fantastic fish and seafood. However, tourist orientated areas tend to offer large menus that include many meat and vegetarian dishes, and often pasta.

Being a tropical island means that, of course, there are a wide range of fresh fruits to be eaten year round, including delicious mini bananas and breadfruit, which is usually cooked up in a curry. Most resorts have some sort of fine dining experience, and the capital also offers plenty of fast food joints. In Male’, try Sala Thai, which offers a lovely location in which to sample fantastic curry soups and noodles.

Beaches. Beaches. Beaches. And some of the best in the world at that! A visit to the Maldives is all about self-indulgence. The beaches here are so picture perfect, that they epitomise the ideal of a Paradise Island. Make sure you bring some good books and your swimming costume, and you are all set!

For those who are after a bit of activity, the Maldives also offers some good diving, snorkelling and surfing opportunities.

Most hotels will be able to sort you out with dives, if that is what you are after. The Sea Explorers Dive School in Male’ is just one company that can sort you out independently. Coral reefs and shipwrecks can all be found within the Maldivian Islands. Fish Head, with it’s steep cliff sides and as one of the world’s famous dive sites, is found here too. Surfing is best during the monsoon season and the clearness of the water varies in different places throughout the year.

For those interested in snorkelling and diving, therefore, it is a good idea to enquire with your hotel as to the best time for diving on their local beaches. In addition, it is often possible to hire bicycles on the resorts. Given how flat the land is, you certainly don’t need to worry about any enormous hills.

Independent travellers may want to start off a trip in Male’. Busy, brightly coloured and bustling, this is the mercantile hub of the country. It offers some good little restaurants and a chance to see a bit of the ‘real’ Maldives, and how they tick. You can visit several lovely mosques, the National Museum and National Gallery among other things. Other inhabited islands in the archipelago are worth a visit, including Addu Atoll, at the very south of the country. The southern Atolls are the most unspoiled islands of the country, and provide an opportunity to some of the least developed areas of the country.

You could go whenever, really! The Maldives have year round sunshine and the sea is always bath water warm. Temperatures remain at around 35 degrees! It is worth bearing in mind that, with the climate being tropical, there is a monsoon season here. Storms are most likely between May and November, and so prices are often a little lower, with the exception of August.

New Year and Christmas are expensive and prices peak around this time, when Europeans come to escape the grim winters of the northern hemisphere. If you are planning to visit the capital and other inhabited islands, it is worth avoiding travelling during the month of Ramadan, when shops and restaurants are closed down.