Maldives Travel Guide
Experience this jewel of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Twenty-six atolls flaunt sugary white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise water, and awe-inspiring horizons. World class diving sites, gentle winds and gliding waves, vibrant marine life, blue-green lagoons, and peculiarly shaped reefs complete the Maldives ocean adventure. Cruises and sailing are de rigueur to fully encounter the Maldives. Feel the pulse of the city as you wind through streets lined with tall thin buildings, an array of alcohol-free bars, shops, and lively markets. Venture to its panoramic outskirts to acquaint with its colorful past through historic mosques, museums, parks and intricately carved ancient structures. For your idyllic adventure of a lifetime, choose Maldives.
Getting to and around the Maldives
Visitors travel to and from Maldives by air. It has an international airport, located on the island of Hulhulé, which is only more than a mile across the water from Malé, the capital. There is another international airport in Gan, an island situated on the southernmost part of the Addu Atoll. It takes around 70 minutes to travel from the capital to this island. You can find scheduled and chartered flights to the region. Check with your local travel agent for the schedule. Visitors can take seaplanes from one island to another with ease.
The Maldives are a year-round destination with a near constant temperature of 86°F. The water temperature remains steady never falling below 77°F and reaching 84°F during high season. However, the islands are tropical and therefore are also subject to two distinct seasons, or monsoons. April is a transitional time between these two seasons and is known for the clear water, which is appealing to divers. The iruvai (northeast monsoon) is hot and dry and runs from December to April, making this the official high season when the islands enjoy little rain and low humidity. Rains are more likely to occur during the southwest monsoon (hulghangu) from May to November, making this the official low season. However, this is also a time when underwater visibility on the western side of the atolls is at its best.
When to Visit
Generally, optimum diving visibility on the eastern side corresponds with the high season from December to April. Surfing is particularly good during the official low season, which is good news for surfers, as flights are usually cheaper. Being an Islamic country, Ramadan may affect some services. It falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and changes slightly each year. Roughly, it usually occurs around August. Although Ramadan is unlikely to make any perceptible differences to the resorts, local services (for example on Malé) may be slightly disrupted.
The high season from November to April is still the most popular time to visit the Maldives. It is always advisable to book well in advance. Some of the key holiday dates, such as Christmas, can be booked up to a year before. Take note of the following holidays observed in the islands:
- New Year’s Day- January 1st
- National Day- January 13th
- Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet)- January 24th
- The day Maldives embraced Islam- February 12th
- Majlis (Parliament) Opening Day- March 4th
- Labor Day- May 1st
- Ramadan (beginning) -July 9th
- Independence Day -July 26th
- Eid ul-Fitr (end of Ramadan) -August 8th
- Hajj Day -October 14th
- Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) -October 15th
- Victory Day- November 3rd
- Islamic New Year -November 4th
- Republic Day- November 11th
What to Do
The Maldives is your destination for water-based activities, such as sailing, watersports, surfing and cruising. It is a place for the whole family to enjoy as it is a refuge for a solitary vacationer. Whichever type of a tourist you are, the following activities will certainly delight you.
Although the Maldives are rated amongst the top ten diving destinations in the world, many experienced divers would put them in the top five. The sheer abundance of marine life and the clear visibility of the water make Maldives one of the greatest underwater regions on the planet.
Due to the brilliant sunshine, gentle winds and excellent visibility, sailing in the Maldives is a delight. The calm, shallow waters provide the perfect learning ground for beginners, while open water can offer challenges for the more experienced. At Cocoa Island, catamaran sailing is available on a complimentary basis. Charges apply for lessons or when you wish to be accompanied by a captain.
3) Sunset Cruise
Boat charters to explore further afield are very popular. Visitors can sail nearby waters at a leisurely pace, with opportunities for beach drop-offs and snorkeling adventures. Price ranges from USD750 per hour to USD4,500 for 7 hours, which includes food, beverages and equipment.
The Maldives are fast becoming very popular among surfers, with hotspots including Colas, Lohis, Pasta Point and Sultans, all located either on the North or South Malé Atoll. A number of these surfing areas are easily accessible from Cocoa Island, including nearby Kandooma.
For those who don’t dive, there is no reason to miss out on the spectacular marine life of the Maldives. With just a mask and a pair of flippers, there is plenty to see around each resort and in the lagoon. At Cocoa Island’s relatively undisturbed waters, children can also enjoy snorkeling with complimentary gear provided to guests.
The Maldives are an island nation endowed with marvelous attractions that are difficult to find elsewhere in the world. When in Maldives, make sure you don’t miss out on these spots.
1) Mirihi Island
This island is named after a local yellow flower Mirihi which abound in the area. Measuring 1150 feet long and 160 feet wide, this small island is located in South Ari Toll. Its inviting quiet beaches and tranquil waters are pure treat to the soul. Enjoy in the water villas with water slapping a tad below your floor.
2) Nalaguraidhoo Beach
Located just a 30-minute drive from the capital, the Nalaguraidhoo Beach is one of the most-frequented beaches in Maldives. This sprawling resort is located in the island of Nalaguraidhoo. The aqua blue waters and the white sandy shores make it a favorite destination in Maldives. The locals call this island “the flower of the Indies”. Indulge in various water sports, world-class spas and magnificent surfing spots.
3) Kanuhura Island
The Kanuhura Island is located in the Laviyani Atoll. It is connected to the capital, Male, via seaplane or boat. It offers luxurious suites, beach and water villas, and restaurants that serve succulent dishes. Excellent facilities from high-end spas to exciting water sports await eager holidaymakers.
4) National Museum of Maldives
Established just after the Republic was born, the National Museum of Maldives is located at the Sultan’s Palace. Its collection of valuable and priceless articles will allow you a rare glimpse to Maldives’ rich history. This is a spectacular display of royal objects, coins and jewelries, royal sunshades, and artifacts of the pre-Islamic era over a thousand years ago. Also on display at the museum are priceless statues of Buddhist cenotaphs. The museum opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and remains closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are available at USD3 for adult visitors and USD1 for children under 12 years old.
Address: Medhuziyaarai Magu
5) Vabbinfaru Island
A secluded ait in an already isolated island nation, Vabbinfaru Island can only be described in one word – magical. Forty-eight elegant villas are dispersed on a wide track of land planted with tall graceful coconuts. Enjoy this quiet natural scene of white sand beaches and coral reefs.
6) Maldives Grand Friday Mosque
The Islamic center, officially named as Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam, is an architectural landmark and a major tourist attraction. It is one of the biggest mosques in the country featuring a striking golden vault that stands out on Male’s skyline. Tourist can visit this place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and must observe proper dress code: men must wear long pants and women must wear long dress. It is free to visit the mosque but you have to spend for transportation cost of around USD10 from the nearest Male the mosque’s location.
7) Maldives Esjehi Art Gallery
Esjehi Art Gallery takes you back in the time to the 1870s where the antique traditional arts and crafts are displayed. The gallery which has proper decorous artworks also hosts exhibits where the various Maldivian artists allow clients to buy their art pieces. This gallery is located in the capital city of Male and opens 3 days a week; the entry fee is USD1.30.
8) National Stadium
Watch football and cricket matches at the National Stadium for USD1 to USD2.60 tickets.
Address: Majeedee Magu
9) Hukuru Miskiiy
Visit this 17th century mosque with its carved Quranic scripts and decorative patterns on coral stone, wood carvings, and 13th century panels. Adjacent is the blue-and-white minaret of munnaaru. Dress properly when visiting the mosque, or any mosque for that matter.
Address: Medhuziyaarai Magu
10) The Fish Market
The market will remind you of the abundance of fish and marine life around Maldives. The place throbs of people bringing in and buying fish and local farm produce.
Where to Eat
This island nation is famous for its fresh and bountiful seafood. Dine on succulent sea dishes while enjoying a dimly lit dinner in one of the resorts. While roaming the city, take a taste of the locals’ penchant for spicy, creamy and curried seafood and rice combinations. The Maldives are the melting pot of cuisines, so our list below provides for international culinary venues. Here goes:
1) Salsa Royal
This plush restaurant serves Italian and Thai fare. The dining area is strictly non-smoking, high-ceilinged and immaculate. Service is warm and efficient. The price of food starts from USD6 to USD12.
Address: Orchid Magu, Male
2) Sea House
Munch on warm pizza and sandwiches while you enjoy seaside breeze and panorama on this ferry terminal restaurant. Price of main dishes ranges from USD3 to USD6.
Address: Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male
A favorite haunt for locals, this eerie-looking restaurant offers delectable Indian cuisine and countless mouthwatering vegetarian choices. The price of food ranges from USD4 to USD 8.
Address: Athamaa Goalhi
4) Seagull Café
]It is an adorable place to enjoy dining alfresco with a host of delightful American cuisine. Don’t miss to grab their mouth splitting club sandwich with the city’s finest ice cream to boot. Price of dishes starts at USD3.
Address: Corner Chandanee Magu & Fareedhee Magu
5) Thai Wok
Enjoy wok cooking at its best, and savor the excellent and authentic Thai menu dished out by warm and friendly staff, while gazing at the fantastic scenery by the balcony. Food prices range from USD4 to USD8.
Address: Hithaffivinivaa Magu
Where to Stay
You can choose secluded resorts scattered along 500 miles of white sandy stretch. Or you can choose to stay in the vivacious center of Male. Wherever you choose in the Maldives, you are in proximity to paradise. Here goes our short list of hotels, from budget to upscale to downright heavenly.
1) Le Vieux Nice Inn
This 4-star hotel is strategically located near the airport, the Kurumba Beach, Full Moon Beach, Extreme Maldives Watersports Centre and the Island Breeze. The rate per night starts at USD113.
Address: Nirolhumagu, Hulhumale
2) Traders Hotel Male
You’d find yourself in the midst of the busy streets of Male and various landmarks like the Mulee Aage Palace, People’s Majlis and the Republic Square. There are over a hundred air-conditioned rooms with conveniences such as rainfall showerhead baths, minibar, internet and telephone access. A night at this 4-star hotel costs around USD250 per night.
Address: Ameer Ahmed Magu, Male
3) Nasandhura Palace Hotel
Minutes away from sites in Male, this 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms, a spa, recreational facilities, internet access, and concierge services. A night costs USD187.
Address: Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male
4) Fern Boquete Inn
Situated along Hulhumale Beach, this 4-star hotel offers spacious rooms with balconies that open to city or sea views. Rooms are luxuriously furnished. High-speed internet is available and direct-dial telephones are provided. The rate starts at USD125 per night.
Address: Hirudhumage, Hulhumale
5) Surf View Hotel
Choose a room that opens to a sea view in this 3-star hotel. This is an ideal place for people doing business and mixing it with pleasure in Male. Its amenities include a business center, travel assistance, laundry and dry-cleaning services, transport services, and room service. The Male International Airport is 1.2 miles away, while the wharf is only several steps away. Accommodation in this hotel is very affordable at a starting rate of USD68 per night.
Address: Majeedhee Magu, Male
The Maldives is a world away from your own. In visiting Maldives, you arrive at its bustling and crowded city of Male. You get past this gateway to the tranquil beaches and atolls of your dream. Go and encounter your inner longing for peace and quiet in the many islands and indulge in the luxury of spas and resorts. But do take time to feel the humdrum of the towns and cities. Learn of the country’s history. Meet the Maldivians. Then you say that you have truly been to the Maldives.