- The islands of the Maldives are popular with honeymooners, but also good for solo trips
- Local traditions, food and enjoying spa and water activities are among the attractions
Stilted bungalows perched over a majestic turquoise sea.
The warmth of a lover's embrace ... or not.
While the Maldives is considered a top honeymoon destination for travelers around the world, the network of 1,190 low-lying coral islands scattered across the equator provides a considerable amount of fulfilling options for those flying solo, too.
There are a number of ideal islands for lone travelers that offer access to local traditions, food and plenty of adventure activities.
Among these is the Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, one of the brand's newest properties, located in the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll.
There's no written history on the area and information is still transferred between generations orally.
As one of the most southerly chains of islands in the country, it was approved for tourism in 2005 and virtually unreachable for visitors until Kaadedhdhoo Airport was built in 1993.
My days in the atoll were spent learning about the country's local traditions, food and enjoying spa and water activities.
There was never a moment I felt alone.
Here are a few ways to enjoy the Maldives -- solo or with a mate.
Getting to know local flavors
Maldivian cuisine is heavily influenced by Indian, Sri Lankan and Arabic flavors.
The sweetness of coconut is paired with starch to create hearty meals, and, of course, fish abounds.
Skipjack tuna is the most valuable fish in the country, and the source of dried "Maldivian Fish" synonymous with the islands.
Various types of tuna, wahoo and mackerel are also widely used.
Curry, called "riha" in the Maldives, is usually accompanied with roshi -- a version of India's flattened bread.
The most popular curry cooked in the Maldives includes fresh tuna and is known as "mas riha".
Kukulhu riha (chicken curry) is cooked with a different mixture of spices.
Vegetable curries in the Maldives include those that use bashi (eggplants), barabō, (pumpkin) chichanda (snake gourd) and muranga (moringa oleifera) as well as green unripe bananas and certain leaves as their main ingredients.
Most resorts, Konotta included, offer cooking classes for those who'd like to take a few recipes home.
Hit the sea
While it's easy to simply relax and remain in awe of the pristine Indian Ocean, it's even better to explore it.
Konotta's vast coral network grows in abundance, attracting a large array of fish.
During a clear day of snorkeling, it's easy to spot black and white tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, stingrays, parrotfish, hawksbill turtles and leopard sharks.
Bottle-nosed dolphins can also be found swimming in the calm waters.
Between the branching corals, pairs of butterfly fish feed on polyps.
A barrier reef circles the island and the drop off is easy to reach from the beach. It can be reached by swimming a few minutes across a shallow lagoon.
For divers, there are organized house reef and boat dives twice a day and private trips to more remote waters as well.
Outrigger's restoration project, guided by resident marine biologist Caterina Fattori, studies the effect of climate change and other threats that challenge the health of coral ecosystems.
Alongside Best Dives Maldives, the island works to initiate coral planning in their home reefs to nurture future generations.
Twice a week, the biologist organizes a biology interactive presentation on the marine life on the barrier reef and guests can participate in coral plantation and other programs.
Another memorable experience is fishing on a traditional Maldivian boat, called a dhoni, which most resorts can arrange.
Local fisherman join the adventure and instruct passengers on best techniques for catching what can later be cooked on the island with your very own hands.
There is perhaps nothing more peaceful and gratifying than a yoga lesson as the sun rises.
Like most Maldives resorts, Outrigger Konotta Island provides these daily, even if you are the only one in attendance.
The resident yoga instructor helps students through meditation and general health tips guided by the principles of Ayurvedic wellness.
The island's spa, Navasana, combines two Sanskrit words: "nava" -- the vessel and "asana" -- a term associated with the practice of yoga used to fortify as well as relax body and mind.
Local healing traditions and ingredients are abundant at Navasana.
The Maldivian treatment, for example, uses the coconut as a milky bath and scrub to exfoliate and soften the skin.
An aromatic oil massage completes the session to relax the body and mind.
And then there's the ocean right outside, so blue it almost looks like a painting.
While many remain beach bound in the Maldives, there are opportunities to gain a better understanding of local culture, which is steeped in the tradition of craftsmanship and community.
A day trip from Konotta to nearby Fiyoaree is a prime opportunity to experience just that.
The island is a sleepy backwater that moves at an unhurried pace.
Traditional coral stone houses sit under palm trees along its unpaved roads lined with bougainvillea and frangipani.
Fish processing and mat weaving are integral to Fioyoaree's local economy.
You can observe local artisans, visit century old mosques, or watch young men taking time off of work gossip at a local coffee shop.