Maldives is an archipelago of just under 1,200 coral islands, comprising 26 natural atolls, in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka. Many of these islands have been developed exclusively for tourism, one of the nation’s most important industries. Visitors are attracted to the glittering beaches with their cowrie shells, the coral reefs and their stunning blue lagoons, the luxury resorts, the sounds of the craft shops and the aromas of the fresh fish markets that provide for an unforgettably enchanting experience.
The people of Maldives have a rich cultural identity. They continue to cherish their rural island lifestyle while enthusiastically embracing the fast-paced rhythm of the capital city, Malé. Their economy thrives on tourism, fishing and boatbuilding. Tourism feeds the handicrafts and cottage industries as travelers long to take home something personal and authentic when they leave. Local craftsmanship includes complex carvings, calligraphy, lacquer work, rope making and mat weaving. Souvenirs of remarkable quality may be acquired in the shops and marketplaces around the islands.
Maldivians value forms of music, dance and craftmanship that have been preserved through generations. Many of the island resorts offer cultural performances where visitors may experience time-honoured music and dance. Most famous is “Bodu Beru,” in which 20 or so performers wearing traditional costumes draw guests to enjoy the rhythm of the drumbeats.
People and Traditions
Maldivians are known for their friendly hospitality. Islanders often welcome visitors with a beautifully decorated, traditional fresh coconut drink. Prepare yourself to be spoiled!
Maldivian folklore is a treasure that has been passed down through the generations. Since the people are surrounded by the ocean, many of their folktales describe spirits and sea monsters that haunt the islanders.
The climate in the Maldives is sunny the majority of the time with average annual temperatures between 24 and 30°C. The tropical heat and humidity are cooled by sea breezes and welcomed rain. The rainy season extends from May to August. December to March brings the drier and milder gentle winds.
Whether by ferry boat, charter boat, seaplane or a domestic flight from the airport—however you travel—explore Malé City and some of the islands.
Take a cycle or walking tour of Malé to visit the famous landmarks and unique shops. Have a holistic spa day and be pampered in tranquility that can only be found in the islands. Take a day trip to a local island, where a guide will introduce you to the lifestyle of the villagers and the delicate ecosystems. Or on a sun-splashed day, spend your time in the water. Investigate the beauty of a lagoon by canoe, parasail behind a speedboat, windsurf, or glide below the surface of the sea on an underwater scooter. But do participate in some expeditions!
Excursions are available to discover all that is magnificent in this island paradise. For divers and snorkelers, it is paradise indeed! Head to Addu, the southernmost atoll, to spend a day in the sea watching whale sharks, sea turtles and spinner dolphins play.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a 45-minute submarine tour of the underwater world of Maldives. Certified crew on a German-built passenger submarine afford visitors an opportunity to investigate the depths of the Indian Ocean including coral reefs, manta rays and reef sharks.
Many of the important landmarks of Maldives are located in the cosmopolitan capital city of Malé. Republic Square boasts an enormous flag that proudly displays the national colours. The square has a small park where travelers may take a moment of respite and observe the local people in their everyday lives. Another resting spot is Sultan Park with its beautifully coloured flowers and tall trees. It is adjacent to the Republican Monument, which was erected to celebrate Maldives’ independence, achieved in 1965. The 2008 constitution of the republic established Islam as the official state religion.
Maldivians originally embraced Islam during the mid-12th century, and it has played a significant role in the molding of their society. The structures of some of the famous attractions, such as the Islamic Centre with splendid golden domes, have been greatly influenced by traditional Islamic architecture. The Friday Mosque contains Maldivian cultural art forms such a lacquer works, wood carvings and intricate stone carvings adorned with coral. The National Museum preserves a rich assemblage of crafts and cultural artefacts. The Tsunami Monument in the southwest part of Malé City commemorates the devastating effects of the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami of 2004. Malé embodies the heart of the country, where visitors enjoy browsing in markets and small shops and eating in restaurants, cafes and tea shops that offer delicious local and international food and beverages