The Maldive Islands

A tropical paradise or the ‘no news, no shoes’ destination

An archipelago of a little over 1000 tiny coral islands scattered across the equator, 450 miles S.W. of Sri Lanka in the warm Indian Ocean. The islands are grouped in Atolls, each surrounded by shallow lagoons of warm, crystal clear water.

North Male, which boasts the International airport, is the most developed and the centre of commerce and government. In all, some 200 islands are inhabited and 87 developed as exciting and luxurious resort destinations.

The Maldives have been a republic since 1968, after some 300 years as a dependency of Sri Lanka, under the protection of Great Britain. The 300,000 Maldivians are an historical mix of Arab, African and Asian peoples and enjoy a simple, laid-back and contented lifestyle on their Paradise islands, described by one traveller as ‘exotic pearls on an aquamarine canvas’.

The welcoming Maldivians with their warm, ready smiles delight in teaching the rest of the world the pleasurable art of doing nothing, though plenty of activity can be found once the initial indolence has palled. They have happily added tourism to their repertoire of boat building, canning and garment making industries.

 

Activities

  • Stunning beaches
     
  • Diving
     
  • Snorkelling
     
  • International cuisine
     
  • Fishing
     
  • Island excursions
     
  • Watersports
     
  • Libraries
     
  • Water bungalows


     
  • Beach bungalows
     
  • Surfing
     
  • Romance
     
  • Fine dining

Downsides

back to top
  1. This is very much a relaxing destination designed to unravel the cares of the world. A week is enough time of doing nothing for many people so we recommend you spend a week here before or after an exciting cultural journey around Sri Lanka.
     
  2. Most consumables are imported so prices tend to be high. Remember you may not bring alcohol into the country, but some resorts have enviable wine cellars and knowledgeable sommeliers (At a price).

Maldives - Diving & Watersports

back to top

The Maldives has to be the unsurpassed underwater experience. The brilliantly coloured coral reefs, spectacular scenery and myriad of beautiful fish, crustaceans and turtles provide an El Dorado for divers of all abilities.

All dive schools are affiliated to International associations e.g. P.A D.I., with highly trained instructors. Strict rules apply – diving below 90ft. is prohibited, wearing a B.C. is mandatory, and solo diving is forbidden.

Various diving programmes are available, from short introductory tasters for novices, week long certification courses, to P.A.D.I. Open Water Diver courses. 25 important dive sites e.g. Manta Point, Lion’s Head, Banana Reef, have been declared marine protected areas where anchoring and fishing (except pole and line) is strictly forbidden. Most of the resorts have established Diving Schools and all necessary equipment is provided.

Ocean diving conditions vary through the seasons as the currents change. April/May heralds the arrival of schools of dolphins, sperm whales and pilot whales. From May through Nov. the larger swells and stronger winds bring tuna and sharks to the western boundaries of the Maldives, mantas to the east. In Nov. the currents begin to reverse, the seas begin to calm and underwater visibility is at its most spectacular between Dec. and April.

All hotels have a dive centre or one nearby but non include free diving as part of the package. This is due to health and safety regulations. A medical certificate will be required from all guests who have had suffered an recent injury and a local medical will be completed before being granted permission to dive.
Beginners should note that you can not dive within 2 days of departure or arrival due to air pressure effects on the body.

Snorkelling

back to top

The warm waist-high water in the lagoons makes for great and safe snorkelling. Watch the languorous turtles or spy any of hundreds of tiny coloured fish darting about. If venturing near the reef, ‘beware’ the sharp edges and if on the outer edges take advice regarding the strong currents. Many of the deluxe and first class resorts offer complimentary snorkelling equipment. The house reefs are identified by tall poles to guide safe snorkelling.

Swimming

back to top

Is a joy whether in the clear lagoon waters or your resort pool.

Wind Surfing & Water Skiing

back to top

Wind surfing and water skiing are available within the lagoons.

The south west monsoon months of May-Oct make for more challenging conditions for surfers with the stronger winds.

Surfing

back to top

Several ‘surfari’ operators offer their safari boats together with local knowledge and professional advice. For adventure surfers the Outer Atolls offer a real challenge. Laamu and Huvadhoo Atolls straddle the 11/2 Degree Channel where the Roaring Forties create the best waves in the Maldives, comparable with the South Pacific.

March/April and August /November are the best for Meemu Atoll.

Dec./March are the best times at Huvadhoo Atoll.

Other good ‘jumping’ and wave riding seas occur on the eastern side of North Male Atoll between April and October. Three good swells come each month, lasting a couple of days.

Parasailing

back to top

Parasailing on multi coloured parachutes is an incredible experience. Land gently (one hopes) in the warm caressing water (check your travel insurance!).

Sailing & Cruising

back to top

Boats of varying sizes may be hired, from one and two-man dinghies to catamarans to the dhonis, dependent on whether you wish to have fun tacking around the lagoon or explore the further atolls. Some dhonis are equipped for living aboard should you wish to spend days – even your whole holiday - island hopping. They come with professional crews, including a chef, and some are furnished so luxuriously you may never wish to leave.

Fishing

back to top

Fishing is a way of life to the islanders, an economic necessity, and they have some of the richest seas in the world. Night fishing is a popular tourist sport - providing the evening barbecue- but ocean fishing begins at dawn when the dhonis sail out seeking tuna, rainbow runners, barracuda and the magnificent sail fish. Powerful speedboats are available for serious game fishing.

Reef casting is done from speedboats with fly fishing or spinning tackle.

Maldives - Getting There & Going Places

back to top

Many local and International airlines fly into Male, e.g. Emirates, Qatar, Sri Lanka Air and Air Seychelles, often with a stopover in Colombo making it ideal to organise a 2 centre holiday with Sri Lanka. From Europe there are flights from Zurich, Milan and Frankfurt. From N. America it is necessary to travel via the U.K. Be aware that there is a departure tax of U.S.$10.00 payable by all travellers.

Once in Male, your destination host will have arranged onward transport for you. Depending on location this may be by Dhoni (local boat), speedboat, or sea plane.

As 90% of the Maldives is ocean, inevitably the water will play a major role in your holiday. The traditional hand-built dhoni is a graceful vessel and the most common means of water transport. They vary from simple, practical ferries to luxuriously appointed live-on crafts and can be hired throughout the islands. Modern speed boats and safari vessels are also available for exploring atolls, fishing trips or diving excursions. Most islands are so small that the available bicycles and motor bikes are popular, when legs will not do.

Inter-island air taxis are plentiful for sightseeing trips, photo shoots, excursions or, in emergency, for air lift to medical services. Sightseeing by air gives breathtaking views of coral reefs enclosing clear azure lagoons, and a chance to see schools of dolphin or manta rays whilst skimming over the ocean surface.

Both sea planes and helicopters are available for hire but are quite expensive.

Items & Places Of Interest In Male

back to top

The Islamic centre :- a three storey building just 20 yrs old, accommodating 5000 worshippers. The glistening golden dome is a prominent landmark and the interior walls are decorated with beautiful wood carvings and Arabic calligraphy.

In contrast the Friday Mosque, or Hukuru Miskii, dates from 1656. Built from coral stone and wonderful woods – teak, sandalwood and redwood – the interior carving and lacquer work are remarkable.

Mulee – Aage : a former Presidential Palace, was built by the Sultan for his son early in the 20th century. The family was banished in 1936 and the house appropriated by the government. After 1953 and Republican status the Mulee – Aage regained its name to host official functions and visiting V,I,Ps.

Sultan Park and National Museum : site of the now demolished Sultan`s Palace. Many artefacts on display, most significantly the 11th century coral stone head of Buddha, and the 13th century engraved wooden panel.

Tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu , the greatest national hero, who liberated the country from Portuguese rule towards the end of the 16th century.

Jumhooree Maiden : a public square on the northern waterfront, most popular place for people to gather socially and the young to ‘hang out’ .

Some of the islands have specific purposes:

  • Funadoo is for the oil tank workers
  • Thulusdhoo and Dhiffushi are primarily fishing islands
  • Thoddu on Ari Atoll has a huge statue of Buddha and relics dating back to 90 B.C.
  • Gnaviyani Atoll is unique , being formed by a single island. It is very fertile, producing a variety of tropical fruit. The immaculately kept Kedeyre Mosque and other architectural works establish a history of thousands of years

Local crafts : throughout the Atolls are inhabited by the local people. The men often leave the island for full time employment or are fishermen who return each day. The children are schooled on the islands and the women often work in the local crafts. Roof weaving from bamboo provides the thatched roofs for so many houses and the hotel bungalows.

Traditional dance and bongo playing is the entertainment for many children and older villagers. The Maldivian people welcome tourists to their island where you can see the people at work on the streets by the coast and under the shade.

High Days & Holidays

back to top

The population is 100% Muslim so Christian holidays are not celebrated, though resorts may acknowledge e.g. Christmas.

Many notable festivities have moveable dates e.g. Ramadan, the month of fasting, which is towards the end of the year. Food is available as usual for visitors, but Muslims will not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. The end of Ramadan is marked by Kudald to celebrate the new moon.

Constant holidays include:-

  • Prophet’s Birthday, Martyr’s Day, National Day and New Year’s Day
  • Independence Day on July 26th
  • Victory Day on 3rd November
  • Republic Day on 11th November
  • Fisheries Day on 10th December

Maldives - Climate & Best Time To Go

back to top

This is the Tropics, so warm throughout the year.

Nov. to April is peak time, when it is dry with little wind and daytime temps 28 / 30c.

May to Oct. a little cooler – 25c – with the S.W. monsoon bringing regular showers, particularly in June / July.

Though the temps. are high, the sea breezes, particularly when you are on the water, keep you comfortable, so remember the sun protection at all times.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Very hot. Ideal for sunbathing, diving and sunbathing
Hot. Ideal for sightseeing. Occasional showers
Warm with regular short showers
Heavy monsoon rain in 70% of the islands

Maldives - Travel Tips

back to top

Food & Drink

A wide range of cuisine is available, Continental, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Oriental, the choice is yours.

Bear in mind that many of the ingredients are imported, which is reflected in the cost. In some of the more exclusive resorts the standard of food and wine is very high indeed, but pricey.

Local savouries are often fish based e.g. fihunu mas – fish with chilli paste, barbecued; gulha – ball shaped snacks with smoked fish stuffings; bajiya – pastry stuffed with fish, coconut and onions, etc. etc.

Dress

back to top

Informal, with loose, cotton or linen clothes being the most comfortable for men and women. This is a Muslim country so modesty prevails. In public places shorts and t- shirt is the minimum requirement for men. Women should at all times cover their shoulders and thighs by wearing a shirt or t- shirt and shorts or skirt. Nudity is forbidden even on the beach.

Currency

back to top

The Maldivian Rufiyaa, in notes and coin (currently U.S$1.00 – 12.75 MRf.) is the local currency, however $U.S. may be the most convenient to use as they are widely accepted and avoid the problem of converting remaining holiday cash. All major currencies are accepted for exchange at authorised dealers and major credit cards accepted in shops and resorts - Amex, Visa, Mastercard, Diners, J.C.B., and Eurocard. There are cash points in Male and in the airport but they offer Rufiyaa only. The banks in male and the airport give dollars.

Customs

back to top

A long list of prohibited imports includes alcohol and spear guns. Tortoise shell and coral may not be taken out of the country.

Entry Requirements & Health Issues

back to top

No prior visas are required – a 30 day visa will be issued to visitors with valid travel documents.

Exception – travellers from ‘yellow fever’ regions must show an international certificate of inoculation.

Anti – malarial medication is not a priority except in the outermost atolls. Most resort islands practice a very thorough spraying regime. During our many stays we have not been bitten once.

The more cautious may wish to seek inoculations against tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A.

Sunburn and dehydration are the most common causes of discomfort. Sea breezes may fool you, so sun protection – cream, hats, and shirts - when snorkelling, is necessary at all times. It is advisable to drink lots of fluids throughout the day, bottled water is recommended. Pharmacies, clinics and doctors are within easy reach of all the resort islands, but may be expensive, and cash is usually required up-front by hospitals.

Adequate travel insurance is a must.

Shopping

back to top

Maldives is not the best for shopping and can be very expensive with many retailers/hotels taking very large margins on imports from neighbouring countries. Male is the ideal place, with a wide variety of goods. The S.T.O. Trade Centre has many shops in one place, and the duty–free outlets ‘Islanders Maldives’ offer designer goods from around the world – clothes, sunglasses, jewellery, watches and cameras.

Note - shops are open from early morning to dusk or later, but will close for 10 – 15 minutes, 5 times a day, for prayer, also on Friday morning.

Banks are open each day until 4pm except Saturday – half day, and Friday which is a holiday.

Time Zone

back to top

Local time is G.M.T. + 5 hrs. However many of the islands operate at 1 hour ahead of Male in order to gain an extra hours sunshine.

Communications

back to top

International direct dialling, mobile phone and Broadband internet services are available from your hotel or a local cyber café. Fax is also common and efficient.

Electricity- 220/240v . Sockets may vary so an international adapter may be required.

Maldives - Travelling With Children

back to top

Whilst this is a perfect ‘sun, sand and sea’ destination for children, and there is complete personal safety, the sheer amount of surrounding water means it is necessary to keep a watchful eye on young children or non-swimmers.

For older children who enjoy the plentiful water sports, but who do not yet need a nightly disco, it is sheer heaven. Children are warmly welcomed by the Maldivians and some of the larger resorts have Children’s Programmes to provide interest and companionship. Seek out those resorts which do not advertise a special romantic or honeymoon atmosphere!

Some products are available from resort shops, but it is wise to come equipped with items such as nappies, specific sun creams etc.

Maldives holidays - check availability and book online with Boutique Sri Lanka, specialist consultants and a leading online resource for Maldives holidays
Consultant Helpline: (0094) 11 2699213 (Overseas) or click here to email our consultants

Sri Lanka Itineraries

Sri Lanka Hotels Style

Sri Lanka Hotels by Region

Interests & Activities

Sri Lankan Regional Reviews

Search By Hotel


 

Maldives - Short Island Hop