Sun, sand and sea, a thousand ‘Robinson Crusoe’ islands, massive lagoons with different depths and infinite shades of blue and turquoise, dazzling underwater coral gardens; a perfect natural combination for the ideal tropical holiday destination.
Why Go To Maldives?
The Maldives is a perfect way for getting away from it all and is truly idyllic as a holiday destination. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and pure white beaches the Maldives are a major destination for all inclusive holidays with over 80 self-contained all inclusive Maldives holiday resorts islands each with its own unique style and natural beauty.
Who Is Maldives Popular With?
The Maldives is not a place for independent or low cost holiday travel as the hotel and resort accommodation is geared up to receive package holiday visitors from the UK and elsewhere. The strategy is to develop a small number of quality all inclusive holiday resorts, each on its own island. Independent travel to the Maldives may turn out to be an expensive option but late deals and last minute bargain holidays are sometimes available. The Maldives are recognised as a model for sustainable, environment-friendly tourist development and are located approximately 400 miles southwest of the tip of India The Maldives can be reached in just 11 hours from the UK.
When To Go To Maldives?
In a nation with less than one percent land and over 99 percent sea, the weather obviously plays a significant role in day-to-day life. The Maldives has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year round and a great deal of sunshine. The warm tropical climate results in relatively minor variations in daily temperature throughout the year. The hottest month on average is April and the coolest, December. The weather is determined largely by the monsoons.There is a significant variation in the monthly rainfall levels. February is the driest with January to April being relatively dry, May and October records the highest average monthly rainfall. The southwest monsoon from May to September is the wet season. Rough seas and strong winds are common during this period. The northeast monsoon falls between December and April. This is a period of clear skies, lower humidity and very little rain. The Maldives is in the equatorial belt and therefore severe storms and cyclones are extremely rare events.
Maldives - The Place
A string of pearls scattered over the deep blue Indian Ocean - The first glimpse you get of this fascinating atoll - formation confirms two unique aspects of the Republic of Maldives. Not only does it consist of the most beautiful tropical islands, but 99% of its 90.000 km² is covered by the sea. The islands are spread over 26 atolls, ring like coral formations enclosing a lagoon, which gives the Maldives its unique paradise-like appearance. They stretch for about 820 km from North to South, 130 km at the widest point and do not exceed a length of 4.5 miles or an altitude of 6 feet above sea level. No more than 200 islands are inhabited the rest includes the 87 tourist resorts and uninhabited islands, some of which are used for drying fish or other agricultural activities. The capital Malé, the seat of government and the centre of trade, commerce, business, health and education, is located in the middle of the atoll chain, a small island buzzing with the sounds and activities of about 75.000 people which is about one third of the population.
The atolls of the Maldives are formed from coral structures, separated by lagoons. The atolls are in fact part of a greater structure known as the Laccadives-Chagos Ridge, which stretches over 2000 kilometres. The islands are low lying with the highest point at approximately 8 feet above sea level. 'Faru' or ring-shaped reef structures form the atolls and these reefs provide natural defense against wind and wave action, on these delicate islands.
The Islamic Centre is the most vivid architectural landmark of Male'. You would see the spectacular golden dome in all its majesty dominating the skyline, as you approach Male’, from any direction. The building symbolizes the importance of Islamic religion, which had ruled all aspects of life in the country for centuries. Completed in 1984, the Centre consists of a mosque big enough for 5000 people, an Islamic library, conference hall, classrooms and offices.
Built in the 17th century the Huskuru Miskiiy or Friday Mosque served the population of Male' as their main mosque for almost four centuries, until the Islamic Centre and Grand Friday Mosque took over the function in 1984. Built by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar in 1656 the mosque is a masterpiece of coral curving and traditional workmanship - probably the best display of coral curving anywhere in the world. The walls of the mosque are hewn together with blocks of filigree-curved coral blocks. Heavy wooden doors slide open to the inner sanctums with lamp hangings of wood and panels intricately curved with Arabic writings. The area surrounding the mosque is a cemetery with a legion of intricately curved coral headstones. The Munnaaru or minaret in front of the mosque, used to call the faithful to prayer was built in 1675 by the same Sultan.
The National Museum is housed in the only remaining building of the former Sultan’s Palace, which is now the Sultan's Park. It is an Edwardian colonial-style building of three storey, fairly low key from the outside compared to the amazing collection inside. The articles on display range from thrones and palanquins used by former sultans to the first printing press used in the country, the rifle used by Mohamed Thakurufaanu in his fight against the Portuguese in the 16th century, ceremonial robes, headgear and umbrellas used by Sultans to statues and other figures dating from 11th century, excavated from former temples. A variety of artifacts from times past would give an idea of the unique and rich culture and history of this island nation. A visit to the museum gives an instant insight to the wealth of history most visitors never suspect existed.
Nightlife in the Maldives is fairly good and is one of the major entertainment option offered by the country. Maldives nightlife is colourful and exciting , it is not as organized as other destinations of the world and you will not find a number of bars, pubs and discos however, the Maldives has its own share of fun and entertainment. Nightlife in the Maldives is most prominent in the capital city of Male where you can find a good number of bars in the city.
Many of the hotels and resorts also have discos, where you can dance the night away. Many of the discos have live bands performing hours of entertainment with Jazz music been extremley common.
Shopping is the favourite activity for the locals especially in the evenings, when it is cooler. The Majeedhee Magu, which is the main road on the island, has along its sides various shops selling goods from the smallest commodities to virtually everything you could think of. The shops are well stocked with garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery, watches or electronics, to name just a few. All shops are open until 11.00 pm, except for prayer times, when they are closed for 15 minutes.
Canned fish produced at the canning plant in Felivaru, Lhaviyani Atoll is available in a number of shops in Male’. Tuna used for canning are caught by the traditional pole and line method, as are all fish caught in the Maldives, and therefore are ‘dolphin friendly’. Vacuum packed smoked fish and chipped dried fish are also available in many super markets around Male’. The Local Market, just a block away from the Male’ Fish Market on the northern waterfront, is divided into small stalls. Here the pace is slower and the atmosphere peaceful, compared to the hectic activity in the rest of this neighbourhood. Here you will find different kinds of local vegetables, fruits and yams, packets of sweetmeat, nuts and breadfruit chips, bottles of home made sweets and pickles and bunches of bananas hanging on coir ropes from ceiling beams. Another building just next door sells smoked and dried fish.
Most souvenir shops line the northern end of Chaandanee Magu, earlier known as the Singapore Bazaar for its many imports from Singapore. These shops are stocked with an ample supply of gifts and souvenir items. Best buys include the ‘thudu kuna’ the Maldivian mat woven with local natural fibres. Attractive too are the wooden miniature ‘dhonis’. When shopping for souvenirs, do keep in mind that export of products made of turtle shell, black coral, pearl oyster shell and red coral is prohibited.
A vacation to Maldives is almost incomplete without trying out the food sold in its numerous restaurants and eating joints. The restaurants in Maldives serve both local as well as international food. Seafood is particularly famous and common in these restaurants. One can find all types of food in Maldives like Chinese, Thai, and Indian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan as well as Continental dishes. Most of the food is imported except seafood. Cuisine consists of curries, fries, snacks, rice preparations, meat dishes and desserts.
Most of the eating joints in Maldives are located in the capital city of Male. The islands do not have many restaurants except for those found in the hotels and the resorts. Alcoholic beverages are not served in any of the restaurants. The restaurants have a cosy and casual ambience, thereby allowing people to dine in a relaxed manner. The cuisine consists of tasty gourmet delights. It consists of rice preparations, popadums, varieties of pickles, sausage, bacon, basil-topped tomatoes, herb focaccia, omelette’s, tuna fish preparations, chicken curry and other dishes. Some of the popular sweet dishes include Banana hot cakes, berries with cream, exotic fruits, rice pudding, vanilla bean rice, vanilla milk shakes, smoothes and others.
Local Maldives Customs
Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. The main events and festivals of Maldivian life follow the Muslim Calendar. Children are taught the Arabic Alphabet from being infants.
Maldives has very strong anti-drug laws. Importation or possession of drugs in Maldives can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is a Muslim country and serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
It is an offence to import into Maldives, explosives, weapons, firearms and ammunition, pornographic material materials deemed contrary to Islam, including "idols for worship" and bibles; pork and pork products and alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are only available on resort islands and should not be take off the resort. Same sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines. The export of tortoise shell and coral is forbidden.
Mariners in possession of firearms must surrender them to the local authorities. Any unregistered firearms will not be returned to the owner.
Dress is generally informal but you should be sensitive to local dress standards when visiting inhabited islands. Nudism and topless sun-bathing are prohibited.