It’s easy to get the impression that the Maldives is made up only of pancake-flat islands covered with white sand and a handful of coconut palms (which does happen to be the country’s state tree). But though no island here is much higher than six feet above sea level, there are some that are lush, jungle-like. Giant banyan trees are surrounded by hundred-foot-tall palms which are surrounded by dense mangrove and fruit trees. Though it would be hard to get lost for too long in these jungles, since if you walk for a half-mile in any direction and you hit beach, they do belie the lone coconut palm image many have of the place.
It’s tough to walk more than ten feet along the sandy paths here without having a lizard, rabbit or chicken run across your path. Geckos squawk at night as they climb the walls, the Asian koel’s melodious call rings through the trees during the day. White breasted waterhens scurry along the beach, just missing the myriad hermit crabs trundling their shells up and down. And sizable fruit bats hang upside down in the trees overhead and soar along the waterline at night.