Walking through the Maldives feels like falling into a fairytale. In fact, as you make your way to your rental beach villa, you may feel like you’ve been teleported into a Wes Anderson movie. The bright blue waters are dotted with colourful boats, and you’re greeted with a smile wherever you go.

But the dreamy atmosphere is something Disney created, and it’s all down to one man: Robert Pattinson. A self-declared ‘pizza addict’, the 27-year-old actor and director spent a large portion of last year filming on the island nation. Most recently, he collaborated with fashion designer FKA Twigs on a collection of swimsuits for her label Velvet. And it seems the pair are settling very nicely in their favourite spot – the Maldives. Here, we examine the best ways to make the most of your visit.

Understand The Setting

Unlike many other destinations you may visit on a travel itinerary, the Maldives isn’t just about sun and beaches. The country is actually made up of a series of small islands – all of which are made up of luxury villas and pristine beaches. It is therefore important to understand the setting if you are visiting this part of the world.

The geography of the Maldives is fascinating. Made up of over a thousand tiny islands – many of which are privately owned – this place is like a dream come true for any adventure seeker. Visiting one of the largest and most well-known islands, Hulhumalé, you’ll realise that the country is almost entirely built on water. It is therefore important to remember that depending on where you are in the Maldives and what time of year it is, the climate can be greatly varying. Travelling during the monsoon season, for example, is very different to visiting at a more discreet time. The weather can also be unpredictable, so it is advisable to check the latest weather conditions before setting off on an excursion.

It is also worth noting that depending on where you are in the Maldives, the cost of living will vary. While on the larger islands, like Hulhumalé, luxuries are prevalent and prices are rather high, the smallest inhabited islands are a lot more affordable. So if money is no object to you and you want to visit every nook and cranny of this beautiful place, look into renting a smaller villa or checking out some of the numerous Airbnb options that the country has to offer.

Plan Your Activities

If beach holidays are what you seek, then heading to a place like Bali or the Maldives is perfect. The former has some of the most exquisite and serene beaches in the world, while the latter is famous for its luxurious villas and beautiful sunset. So if you want to do some relaxing, take a stroll along a secluded beach or catch a sunset, you’re in the right place.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, you could always organise a dive course with an experienced guide. There are numerous amazing marine life sightings around the islands, making this an ecologically rich place to be. Perhaps one of the most interesting creatures you might come across while diving is a giant sea turtle. These are endangered species, and while you’re unlikely to see them laying eggs, you may come across adult turtles nesting. Thankfully, Maldives is a no-take area, so the government doesn’t charge anyone to watch over these animals. This makes a difference; it’s estimated that only one in every 100,000 turtles make it to maturity, so this is certainly a place you don’t want to miss out on!

If you’d like an outdoor experience above sea level, you could consider taking a cable car ride to the top of a mountaintop. From there, you have an incredible 360-degree view of the whole island. If you visit the country during the offseason, you may even have the place to yourself. This is also a good option if you want to get away from the crowds and go somewhere quieter.

Try The Local Food

Of course, there’s more than one way to enjoy a holiday in the Maldives. If you’re looking for some culture, you could visit the local restaurants and eateries. Many places are known for their food, so if you’ve never tried the local cuisine, this is a good place to start. Especially if you want to get away from the crowds and visit a place with lower prices.

One of the most well-known local restaurants is Olivers Bar and Restaurant (named after the British explorer and amateur naturalist, George Oliver). You’ll find a mixture of European and Asian influences in the menu, which features an interesting range of dishes. For example, you may find frog legs served in a French-inspired sauce, or barbecued goat served alongside Spanish chorizo and ratatouille.

There are also plenty of smaller eateries and family-run restaurants around the country. Many of these places only serve lunch, so be sure to book ahead if you want to make sure you’ll eat at a decent restaurant.

Visit Museums And Attractions

If you’re a fan of art and history, you could visit one of the many museums and galleries in the Maldives. These days, it’s rather easy to plan an itinerary around whatever excites you the most, and art and history are very high on the list. Especially when you consider that much of the country’s culture is intertwined with the islanders’ unique and rich history. There are countless galleries and museums scattered around the islands. You may get a sense of déjà vu as soon as you set foot on the ground, as many of the places were frequented by the British once upon a time. That’s not to say that the country is overgrown with colonial architecture or that the people are still living in mud huts. It’s quite the opposite: the locals have beautifully crafted modern houses with wooden floors and indoor plumbing.

If this is the first time you’re visiting the country, it’s worth noting that many of the larger islands (like Hulhumalé) are privately owned. As such, many of the places you may visit will have charges applicable for entering certain sites or islands. For example, you may have to pay a small fee to gain access the Duvet Island. Located in the middle of the Adénuméé Strait, this islet is accessible only by boat. Besides boat tours, which cost £13.50 a person, there is no other way to get there. It’s not advisable to swim or walk there due to dangerous currents and strong undersea currents.

Depending on the time of year, travel to the Maldives will vary. If you’re visiting during the offseason, you may find that there aren’t very many people about, and most attractions will be open for you to enjoy. Winter is a rather cold time in the country, so most places and attractions will be closed. It gets extremely humid and uncomfortable, so even the tiniest things can feel like a mission. Thankfully, the temperature never gets above 30 degrees, so you won’t have to deal with too much discomfort.

Enjoy A Few Days In The City

In a nutshell, the Maldives isn’t just about relaxing on the beach. There is a whole lot more to the country than you may think. One of the best things about the place is the fact that there is always something going on in the city. Whether it’s a festival, cultural event or just something organized by a local business unit, there is usually something for everyone. This is even more true now that there are so many young people living in the big cities. For example, you may enjoy a day out at the international yacht show in Dubai or another popular international holiday destination.

The downside is that since these are larger islands, the transportation infrastructure isn’t exactly geared toward getting around easily. There is no widespread public transportation, so unless you have your own yacht or plane, you’ll have to make do with rented cars or scuba gear. Even the airports on some of the bigger islands aren’t exactly what you’d call ‘international’. In the case of Male, for example, the furthest you can get from the jetbridge is Benfica, Portugal. That’s right, the airport doesn’t have an international terminal.

Despite all this, the beauty and mystique of the islands will linger in your mind forever.