Travelling to Male’, Maldives

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Male’ has witnessed drastic change over the past few decades. Home to a quarter of the country’s population, the island is bustling with activity, being an important commercial and financial center and a vibrant place, with lots of character. The culture and way of life is a great contrast to other islands, moving at an exaggerated pace. A place where Maldivians from all islands converge for various reasons, Male’ is a melting pot, with an interesting mix of people. Visiting this city and mingling with the local Maldivians can be a richly rewarding experience.

Male’ has a charm of its own and an upbeat tempo of development which enchants visitors. Tradition and modernity go hand in hand. The island is replete with important historical and cultural landmarks that bear poignant significance, reflecting the essence of the country. The Male’ National Museum, for example, is housed in the 17th century Old Medhuva ari Kan’ba (The Mala) – the palace built by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar I. With a rich collection of artifacts, including the thrones and palanquins of sultans, this is one of the best places to visit to gain an insight into the days of royalty, before the republic was declared in 1968. The Old Friday Mosque, built in 1658, is one of the oldest and most ornate mosques in the city and is an impressive example of ancient Maldivian architecture. This mosque was added to the tentative UNESCO World Heritage cultural list in 2008 as unique examples of sea-culture architecture.

Male’, the capital of the Maldives, is a thriving metropolis of about 100,000 people. Selective in what constitutes modern progression and determined to maintain the unique Maldivian identity, Male’ is the place to get a feel of the Maldivian way of life. The hub of the nation and the center of all administrative, Male’ is much different from any other island in the Maldives. It is a city of high-rise buildings and paved roads, yet it is the island that most people pass through on their way in or out of the country. Male’ is the place where an understanding of the country and its people is best formed.

Overview of Male’

Male is the capital of the Maldives and is the designated point of entry for travelers. It is a city of 100,000 people and is the seat of the government and the center of trade and commerce. Visitors that travel to the Maldives have reported feeling that their holiday has started as they first set foot in Male. Male is a unique island city, differing from every other capital city in the world. It is small, cramped, but very clean and an administrative, financial, and commercial hub home to the country’s best hotels, restaurants, and markets. Male is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It measures about 2×1 kilometers and the only mode of transport to get around the island is by foot. The best way to explore Male is by walking through the tangled streets or taking shortcuts through the concrete alleys. This allows for visitors to truly appreciate the lifestyle and hospitality of the local people. It is very safe and the locals are very friendly and helpful should a lost visitor need assistance.

The Maldives offers the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are a range of water sports to partake in, various conservation programs to take part in, or guests can simply lounge on the white sandy beaches, soaking up the sun. In essence, the Maldives is the true definition of a getaway and the perfect holiday destination.

The Maldives is a tropical paradise nestled away in the Indian Ocean. It is a large atoll made up of 1,190 coral islands. Only 200 of these islands are inhabited and another 88 have been developed as tourist resorts. The Maldives is the lowest-lying country in the world, with maximum natural ground level reaching only 7.5 feet. This, combined with the warming of the Indian Ocean, has placed its inhabitants on the front line to the risk of the rise in sea levels.

Why visit Male’

Why visit Male? Why come to Male? A top billing in the must-visit chart is the laid-back pace of island life. The beaches are fairly uncrowded and the encircling sea has excellent underwater life. There are Male tourist attractions and, of course, the warm waters are perfect for water sports. The beauty of the Maldives is definitely the reason to visit for the majority of visitors here. The Maldives have been a top tourist destination for beach lovers for a long time and have the repertoire of luxury hotels and world-class cuisine to show for it. It’s always easy to find a Maldives resort to suit your requirements as the Maldives leads the world in luxury beach resorts. If it’s relaxing and forgetting about all ails of the world, the Maldives serves it perfectly. Coming to Male means you are either getting an exceptional taste of a unique way of life or it’s the first stop on a journey around the picturesque atolls of the Maldives. Any visitor to the Maldives will end up spending at least some short time in Male as it is the point of entry and exit for the country. Some tourists spend a night of their holiday in Male while waiting for a domestic flight or ferry to their destination, experiencing a complete change of atmosphere from the resort islands. Finally, Male has a range of regular cultural events featuring Maldivian music and dance. The peak season here is around February to April during which time there are a number of carnivals and other events featuring traditional music and dance.

Getting to Male’

Malé can be reached by boat, seaplane or from the friendly Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, located on Hulhulé Island which is just a few hundred meters away from the capital island. Travelling from the airport to the city is always by boat. Ferries travel between Malé and the airport frequently throughout the day. The trip takes about 90 minutes and can be a bit choppy, due to the 1-mile distance between the airport Island and Hulhule Island. The near completion of the Maldives bridge will allow you to travel to the airport by road. This will make it easier to access by public transport, taxi or car. The projected completion date is 2011. The majority of tourists arriving in Maldives will travel directly to their resort island. The resorts are located on their own separate island, atoll or on one island with only a few resorts. To reach your island, you will be taking either a domestic flight or a boat trip. Your travel plans will normally be organized for you by your hotel or resort. This is either included in the cost of the resort or priced and arranged separately. There are regular domestic flights or boats from Malé to other islands in the Maldives. Boats and ferries are a more frequent and cheaper mode of transport. A trip on a Maldivian ferry is quite rough around the Indian Ocean, loud and hot, so a tourist would only dare take this adventure for an authentic feel at local Maldivian life.

Exploring Male’

The Maldives is a destination with abundant natural beauty. Most of it is untouched and unspoilt. Therefore, Male, the capital of Maldives, is not only a residential and business area. Here, you can do more than just shopping and seeing the capital. Male may be a place you are well familiar with, but it would be interesting to explore the city from a tourist point of view. Male is home to more than 100,000 people – a very limited space to accommodate this massive population. Because of this, most of the administrative buildings and services are provided on just one small island, making it the most densely populated city in the world. This means there’s always a buzz of activity in the narrow streets of Male. But in terms of geographical extent, Male city is just 1.7 kilometers long and 1 km wide. So, getting around Male can be done by walking. Now, let’s see the tourist attractions in Male. A visit to Sultan Park and the National Museum will give a great deal of information on the history of Maldives. If you are more into the past monarchical rule and want to see how the royalties lived their lavish lives, you can visit Mulee Aage – the official residence of the President of Maldives, nearby the Friday Mosque. Male is home to many different architectural style mosques, and most of the historical mosques are still in existence till now – definitely catching your eye if you are into pretty photography. Throughout Male and the outskirts of the city, you will find various souvenir shops – some of the items sold are unique to Maldives, which will be interesting to look around for some shopping. And don’t forget the fish market and local market to see how the people get their hands on fresh produce and a wide variety of fish – a scene that is quite uncommon to you if you are from the west. A stroll around the city with all the walking will get you to all of these places in just a few hours, given the size of the city. On the eastern waterfront stands the Sinbad Statue, a gift from the government of Brunei – now this is somewhat quite interesting given that Sinbad is not a part of the history of Maldives, but a folklore from the Middle Eastern countries.

Sightseeing in Male’

There are a few mosques, the Islamic center, and the tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu, the national hero who is accredited for driving out the Portuguese invaders in the late 16th century. The mosques are an excellent example of Arabic architecture and the Islamic center is a scaled-down replica of the Taj Mahal. The Male fish market is a hive of activity and is an interesting place to visit, and next to the fish market is the local market which sells a variety of different goods; it’s a good place to pick up snacks and local sweet treats. On the west side of Male, there is a beautiful grand old gold-painted Muleeage; this is the President’s Palace and is a chance to see the traditional Maldivian way of life. A stroll along the lively dusty seafront of the city with its swaying palms, the best-known feature of Male, is a refreshing experience and will give the chance to see the life of the locals. At sunset, many locals head to the waterfront to relax, and the area makes for a pleasant stroll. A ten-minute walk from here, there is a small jetty with a jumble of tea stalls; this is a popular hangout for the locals and a good place to try a traditional “hedikaa” – Maldivian savory and sweet short eats usually taken with black tea.

When visiting the Maldives, it would be a great idea to spend a day or more exploring Male, the capital city of the Maldives. Staying in a resort would not give anyone a complete picture of Maldives. A visit to Male can be an eye-opening experience; it’s a stark contrast to the resorts and is an interesting and informative place to visit. Male has many interesting and colorful buildings and is an architecturally pleasing city to walk around. The best way to get around Male is by walking as the whole island is only a few kilometers wide and the best way to get an idea of the place is to wander around.

Water Sports and Activities

The Maldives is an abode for water recreation and relaxation. The warm seas of the Maldives have high visibility throughout the year, with water clear enough to see the passing fish as far as fifty meters away. Over a thousand species of fish and other underwater creatures inhabit the Maldivian waters. The warm seas have around 3,000 coral reefs and are the abode for five out of the seven different species of sea turtles. The water temperatures remain remarkably constant at around 29°C in the Maldives. The Maldives is a home for water recreation and relaxation and the warm seas of the Maldives have high visibility throughout the year, with silky smooth clear blue waters. In the Maldives you will find some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. The best thing is that you do not need to be a professional diver to experience the underwater world. All the resorts in the Maldives have professionally run diving schools with multilingual instructors. They provide all the necessary equipment and anyone with the ability to swim can experience the magic of the Maldivian waters.

Accommodation and Dining

In addition to the well-known and already mentioned luxury island resorts and a few guesthouses, Male also has a number of local islands. This opens up a new avenue for the tourist willing to experience the Maldives at a local level – regardless of the fact that these islands are inhabited and are not typical tourist spots. The local islands offer you to stay with a local household at a very low rate. The Government has recently opened up to local inhabitants accommodating tourists. They do not have designated facilities to cater to tourists, however this is definitely a lifetime opportunity for any bold tourist who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and experience the Maldives at a level very few have. Last but not least, another niche market is yacht safaris – which are typically expensive, but offer the very best of what the Maldives has to offer. These island hopping luxurious cruises give you the best diving and surfing in some of the most remote spots in the Maldives, away from the clutter of resort islands. This can be a very satisfying venture on a live aboard or safari boat! More information can be found by contacting tour operators and Maldives tourism representatives.

Types of Accommodation in Male’

– Resorts. Male is full of resorts, each complete with their own private island. They range from more affordable ones to very expensive five-star resorts. There are various advantages to staying at a resort, the first being the unlimited access to Male’s island. Resorts typically offer day trips to Male for shopping and dining and sometimes even have their own shopping islands. Second, being on a private island allows complete and total relaxation without the worry of being bothered by other tourists. Resorts also include various water-sport activities and tours and are often all-inclusive. All resorts offer world-class service in beautiful settings, with unique room choices to match each individual’s preference. – Hotels. The most common type of hotel found in Male is located in the city, and there are also many scattered across the other islands. Hotels in Male are cheaper than the resorts and offer similar services and, of course, easier access to local shopping and dining. Usually, the rooms are just as nice and it’s also possible to find a room with an ocean view. Guest houses are a more private and personal alternative to staying in a hotel. There are several guest houses on Male island, although the concept is more popularly utilized on the other inhabited islands. A guest house stay offers a more authentic Maldivian experience and is a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel, yet the guest house owners are usually very hospitable and want to ensure a comfortable stay and will offer advice and assistance with anything you may need.

Dining Options in Male’

Restaurants/Cafes In Male’, there’s a good mix of local and international cuisine available at the numerous restaurants and cafes. For a taste of western-style food, check out restaurants like Citron or Fusion in the Majeedhee Magu area. Alternatively, for a good Maldivian-style meal, try the locally run cafe-style eateries such as Breakwater Cafe, Royal Garden Cafe, or The Sea House, which are all located along the northern waterfront near the jetties. Most offer fantastic views of the harbor. Male’ also has a few fast food joints and a recently opened Thai restaurant on Orchid Magu. Some of the guesthouses also offer good value meals for lunch and dinner.

Enjoy eating, then you will like Male’. The options are vast, with something to suit all schedules, cravings, and budgets. Check out the eateries where Maldivians go at meal times, as these are nearly always a great deal cheaper than the tourist-oriented restaurants. And if you can handle a hot curry, give Maldivian cuisine a try! Below you will find a list of dining options in Male’.

Practical Information

Weather and Best Time to Visit The Maldives has a warm tropical climate, due to its location near the equator. The sun shines all year round, with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and an average water temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. The climate of the Maldives can be determined by the two monsoons that affect the weather, the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon is the most influential on the weather and normally occurs from May to October, with the most rain seen in June and July. The northeast monsoon occurs from December to April. Even though there are two distinct monsoons, the Maldives is a year-round destination. With this being said, the best time to visit the Maldives or the “peak” season would be from December to April, during the northeast monsoon, when the days are dry and long, with plenty of sunshine. This would be the perfect time to visit the Maldives if you are considering a lot of outdoor activities, such as diving and snorkeling. Although December to April is the most popular time to visit the Maldives, you should be prepared to book in advance to get the best deals or to get the resort and room of your choice. During the wet season or the southwest monsoon, there will still be plenty of sunshine, the only difference being the chance of rain and more wind. This can be another good time to visit the Maldives if you are seeking a quieter and more relaxing holiday. Because during the off-peak months, you can still get good deals. Although the rain occurs mostly in June and July, there are no weather guarantees and rain can occur in the transition period between the monsoons. The key here would be flexibility if you do choose to come in the off-peak season. But if coming to relax and stay mostly indoors, this can be an ideal time. On the positive side, the rain or the overcast weather can provide relief from the powerful sun. And with the reduced sunshine, the risk of sunburn is reduced.

Weather and Best Time to Visit

Male have a tropical monsoon climate, important to know when planning when to travel. There are 2 monsoons in Maldives, the southwest monsoon from May to October and the Northeast monsoon from November to April. Although the southwest monsoon is the wet season, the higher humidity and rainfall is mostly due to the night time showers and sporadic storms. During the day there is still plenty of sunshine to enjoy. The notable rainy period here is November and April due to the unstable weather put forth by the Northeast monsoon. During these months storms and rain are more frequent and the weather can be quite changeable. With this in mind the best time to visit and avoid scuppered plans is May to October; this is also the off-peak season meaning that you can get the same Maldives experience at a much cheaper price. The peak season is December and January, so come to Male just before or after these months for smaller crowds and better prices.

Currency and Exchange Rates

In Malé, the capital of the Maldives, the currency in use is the Rufiya, which is available in notes and coins. Although the Maldives is made up of several island resorts, the only place where you will need money is in Malé itself. Once you arrive at Malé International Airport, the only form of currency you will need will be the Rufiya. At the airport, should you desire to exchange foreign currency into Rufiya, there are various exchange counters available 24 hours a day that provide such services. On the outer islands, you will require no money at all since everything, such as food and accommodation, is paid for in advance when you book your holiday. There are no banks on the outer islands, so there is no way to exchange or withdraw money. Credit cards are also generally not accepted by the locals. The local people always appreciate it if you can tip them but this is entirely up to you. It is of course discouraged to tip extravagantly, since it may alter the attitudes of the local people towards other tourists. This activity may also lead to unfair treatment of those tourists who are unable to tip the locals as the result of being unaware of the custom involved. How much money you will need in Malé depends on what you plan to do. If you are simply staying overnight in Malé while waiting for a seaplane transfer the following morning, then you will probably only need money for a meal. However, should you plan on spending a significant amount of time in the crowded and busy capital, or should your itinerary include buying souvenirs and gifts, then you will naturally require more money.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Island or Resort Visits: When visiting non-resort islands, it is respectful to ask permission from the Island Chief before taking photographs. Wouldn’t we expect the same back at home? In certain islands, it may be that you cannot visit in the first place without a resident of the island requesting permission on your behalf. We tend to think of islands as all being the same, but in a country context, each has its own distinct identity, and there is no concept of the Maldives having a single “town” in the sense we know it. Taking a local picnic can be a real eye-opener in breaking preconceptions of a resort tourist.

Nudity is strictly forbidden by law. No nudity on the public beaches or in the sea, and women should dress modestly. Public nudity is an offence, and indecent behaviour can lead to arrest and imprisonment. Bikinis are perfectly acceptable on resort islands, but when not on the beach or by the pool, women should cover up, and men should not walk around in just swimming trunks. This is particularly relevant when transiting through the airport in Malé or taking domestic flights, where dress is more conservative, as the airport island is considered a local island.

Dress: Maldivians generally dress casually. However, the capital Malé is comparatively densely populated and the locals are known for their conservativeness in attire.

Maldivians are by and large, so friendly, warm and welcoming, people who like to laugh and joke and they like it when outsiders, especially tourists take part in the joke. But every society has its own local customs and etiquette and visitors should try to observe those, if only out of plain old ordinary courtesy.

Health and Safety Tips

– Avoid heatstroke: With the climate being mainly sunny and warm, there is a strong chance of suffering from heatstroke. There are a few valuable things that you can do to prevent this. For instance, wearing hats and sunglasses with UV protection, avoiding sun exposure during peak UV radiation whenever possible, and during hot weather, remember to drink plenty of water (World Health Organization).

The Maldives is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean. It is made up of 26 atolls and is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. It has around 1,100 islands and sandbanks, and most of the islands are uninhabited. The people there enjoy a moderate to tropical monsoon climate, and the islands are at the mercy of the monsoons. The location of Maldives is on the trading route and was a strategic location for explorers in the past. The Maldives has had a colorful history and is home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. The local culture has a mix of South Indian, Sinhalese, and Arab influences. The most important components of culture are strong family ties and a reverence for Islam. With tourist numbers high and with a different culture and climate than what most people are used to, it would be in your best interest to take notice of these health and safety tips.