The Maldives has deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees. It is also a place full of character, where its people have long spent their days languishing in the very essence of idyll living. While it is the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch a sunset with a cocktail balanced on your hand, it is also a geographical marvel, knowing that there are thousands of fish swimming around the vivid corals just a few feet away from where you sit. In ancient times, the shores of the Maldives welcomed lost travellers. Still welcoming, these shores remain, providing a tranquil haven for visitors.
The Island is located in the Indian Ocean and astride the Equator, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Its Coordinates are 3°15 N 73°00 E and lies 700 Km (435 miles) South-West of Sri Lanka and 400 Km (250 miles) South-West of India.
Approximately 1200 Islands. 26 Atolls. The word Atoll ( Atolhu in Dhivehi ) means circular groups of coral islets. The smallest Atoll being “Fuvamulha”: only 4.5 km width and the largest being “Gaafu” 3152 km². It’s also one of the largest Atoll in the World.
Dhivehi. English is widely spread and learnt as second language at a young age. 100 % of the population are Sunni Muslims.
The Maldives is currently 3 hours ahead of South Africa.
The Maldives is located at the equator and experiences monsoonal climate. The country also has two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) and wet season (southwest monsoon). In these two seasons the temperature varies very little.
- Northeast monsoon (dry season) usually extends from January to March/April
- Southwest monsoon (wet season) usually extends from May to November. In this season the Maldives can experience torrential rain, strong winds and storms.
Average temperatures: 25.9° to 31°C ( 78.62˚ to 88˚ F)
The Maldives local currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). You can exchange your foreign currency at all local banks as well draw from ATM’s. All resorts however accept USD.
The area code for Maldives is 00 960 +. Cell phone coverage is today available in most places of the archipelago.
Available today in all Hotels and Resorts and almost everywhere from North to South. This service is chargeable or free according to the Resorts.
A minimum of 1US$ / 0.63GBP£ / 0.80€ / per day for the room attendant. The same amount for waiters and your luggage porter at arrival is advised. Butler services in luxury Resorts are generally more rewarded.
In Resorts: Summer Casual. General trend is quite relaxed…but Island Chic style is welcome and even required in some Resorts, mostly in the evenings.
No swim wear allowed in restaurants.
Male and Maldivian local Islands: Women and men should keep their thighs and shoulders covered. No transparent clothes.
According to Maldivian Law, importation of liquor and alcoholic products without prior approval is prohibited. Hence, it is advised not to purchase liquor and alcoholic products on the flight or duty free shops while en route to the Maldives as these items will be confiscated upon arrival at the airport. However, liquor, beer and other such alcoholic beverages are available at all tourist resorts/hotels. These have been imported under special license issued prior to their importation. So is the importation of pork and its by-products without prior approval is prohibited. A valid medical prescription issued by a registered medical practitioner is required for importation of controlled drugs (for personal use only)
All tobacco products must carry a health warning label as prescribed by the Ministry of Health. All passengers are eligible for import duty allowance up to a limit of 200 Cigarettes, 25 Cigars and 250g of tobacco.
Talkie-set, receiver and any other telecommunication equipment with radio frequency transmitting capacity exceeding 100 mil-liwatts should be in-spected and approved by Communication Authority of Maldives.
The Maldives is not a dangerous destination, with few poisonous animals and by regional standards excellent health care and hygiene awareness. Staying healthy here is mainly about being sensible and careful. Most resorts have a resident doctor, or share one with another nearby resort. However, if you are seriously unwell it will be necessary to go to Male, or to the nearest atoll capital with a hospital if you’re in a far-flung resort. The Maldivian health service relies heavily on doctors, nurses and dentists from overseas, and facilities outside the capital are very limited. The country’s main hospital is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male. Male also has the ADK Private Hospital, which offers high-quality care at high prices, but as it’s important to travel with medical insurance to the Maldives, the cost shouldn’t be too much of a worry. The capital island of each atoll has a government hospital or at least a health centre. These are being improved, but for any serious problem you’ll have to go to Male.
It is highly recommended that travel insurance is purchased prior to departure in case of accident or illness. The Maldives is adequate for general medical complaints and injuries, but critical conditions will require international medical attention.
Electricity in Maldives is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Maldives with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. Outlets in Maldives generally accept 4 types of plug that include Flat blade plug, Three round pins arranged in a triangle; Two parallel flat pins with ground pin and Two round pins.
A 30 day Visa is issued on arrival for all Nationalities visiting the Maldives as a tourist. Each traveller should be in the possession of a valid passport and have a valid ticket to continue the journey out of the Maldives as well as have enough funds to cover the expenses for the duration of their stay (US$150 per day) or a confirmation of accommodation at a resort/hotel.
Places to see in Male’
The Hukuru Miskiyy (Friday Mosque) built in 1656 contains finely fluted coral block walls, and intricately engraved beams; Mulee-aage, the current Presidential residence was built right before the First World War and overlooks the Friday Mosque; the Islamic Centre that was built in 1984 and has a lovely, geometric stretch of white steps leading up-to the grand mosque; the sultan park and national museum that are housed in the same compound, the latter consists of an intimate collection housed in a quaint building surrounded by trees; and the artificial beach, and swimming track, both ideal for a refreshing swim. Another interesting aspect of Male’ are the names of houses. From names that pay tribute to island culture, like ‘Sea-Breeze’, and ‘Sunshine Lodge’, there are also slightly eccentric variations, like ‘Forget-Me-Not’, and ‘Always Happy House’. A quintessentially Maldivian feature, it provides an amusing accompaniment to a walk around Male’ and an insight into the mindsets of the Maldivian people.
The Male’ surf point Raalhugandu and the artificial beach lie on the south-eastern side of Male’. The area comes to life in the late afternoons and evenings, with hundreds of Male’ dwellers coming out to relax and enjoy the fresh sea air and the day’s end. The surf-huts overlooking Raalhugandu, built by local surfers and residents of neighbouring houses provide a vantage point for watching the waves. Whether you are there to see the surfers expertly guide their boards over the waves, or the strong curls of the waves themselves, the sight will not disappoint.
Shopping in Male’
Male’ also hosts a wide range of shops that sell every imaginable good including supermarkets, chemists, electronics, books, clothes, footwear, and jewellery.
Notable shopping areas of Male’ include the two markets, one which sells local agricultural produce, and another that sells fish.
The local market stocks agricultural produce from all Maldivian islands. It is located on the northern side of Male’, and distinguished by the sight of hanging clusters of bright yellow bananas throughout the market. The market is favoured by locals and expatriates alike, mainly because of the availability of fresh, local fruit and vegetable produce at inexpensive prices.
The fish market is located a mere two blocks away from the local market. The main feature of the market is its omissible odour of freshly caught fish. Once your nostrils adjust to the strong smell, the market is a veritable delight of colour and energy. The best time to visit the fish market would be in the late-afternoons, when the local fishermen bring in their catch. Make sure you see the fish-cutters at work, with their practised blades slicing and dicing the fish neatly.
Slightly off the usual tourist track are the plentiful textile shops dotted around Male’. There are hundreds of them and local woman often get their clothes from these as they offer fabrics of every imaginable texture, design and colour. Air-conditioned and well-maintained, these shops are well worth a visit if only to get a glimpse of local women in their element. Any tour guide will be able to point you in the direction of the larger textile shops, and you will come across a dozen stores on a walk along the main roads of Male’.
Male’ also has a range of bookstores, where you purchase stationery as well as a range of popular fiction, non-fiction and self-help books.
To take back memories of your holiday in a more material form, the souvenir shops on the northern end Chandhanee Magu provide the perfect outlet. Wooden ashtrays, turtle shaped salt and pepper shakers, shell necklaces and packs of playing cards, these shops offer kitsch of every kind and shape for the discerning traveller.
Eating Out in Male’
Open from early morning till 1 am in the night, the Male’ restaurants aim to please. Menus ranging from Thai, Italian, Indian and other international, regional and local cuisine. They are served in a range of restaurants, from the cool air-conditioned bistros to the laid-back open-air cafes. For a truly Maldivian dining experience, try the fish, preferably while listening to the waves at a waterfront restaurant. The local version of fast-food are served at what are known as Sai-Hotaas (teashops). In chatter-filled environment, these hotaas serve ‘short-eats’: a variety of (often deep-fried) sweet and savoury finger-food, mostly fish and coconut based, as well as local bread ‘roshi’ to be eaten with a variety of side dishes. Hotaas have a robust clientele, and serve food on communal tables. The atmosphere is extremely informal and should you want to engage in conversation with a friendly local, this may very well be the place to do so.
Cafés are big with the locals of ages and sexes in Male’. Over cups of steaming coffee, tea and hot chocolate, friends catch up on the day’s affairs and business deals are conducted. In addition to various beverages, cafés also serve snacks and smalls in an environment more tempered than that of the hotaas. Ranging from the cozy and air-conditioned to water-front and laid back, they are the perfect place to satiate a caffeine fix or to quench dry throats with a fresh juice.
The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia, located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 kilometres from the Asian continent.