Maldives: A journey-guide to authentic experiences on the paradise islands is written by Christian Brauner.
Malé - the lively capital of the Maldives
When you from the plane window over it Indian Ocean can spot one small bounty island after another, you will soon land at Malé Airport. The airport is located on an island just 4 kilometers from Malé itself, Maldives capital city. A city that is literally in the middle of it havet.
With its approximately 252.000 inhabitants, the city is a smaller capital, but that does not make it any less lively. Take, for example, the popular Malé Fish Market, which is well visited by both tourists and locals. Here, freshly caught seafood is traded that comes in directly from the port several times a day.
Another well-attended market is Malé Local Market, which sells local delicacies, spices and tropical fruits.
The island of Hulhumalé is located right next to the airport lake. Here you will find Hulhumalé Central Park - a really nice park with large green areas. On the island's east coast are hotels, guest houses, restaurants and cafes along the seafront.
The culture and the traditional cuisine
The Maldives is the smallest country in the world with Islam as its main religion. Islam means a lot to the Maldivian culture, and society bears the mark of it. Rules and norms are different than one is used to in Denmark. Eg. it is forbidden to drink alcohol - this does not apply to the many resorts.
There are many mosques, and in Malé is the country's largest and most famous mosque: the Grand Friday Mosque. The mosque is one of the main attractions in Malé and attracts both many tourists and many pilgrims.
The food culture of the country is inspired by India and the Indian cuisine, which is why very spicy and strong food is often eaten. Maldivian cuisine, however, stands out in that it eats a lot of seafood. Tuna in particular is often seen on the dining table. Soup, rice and chicken are also eaten frequently.
Stay on the local islands
Many people think that one travel to the Maldives is equal to staying at 5-star luxury resorts at prices that can hit most travel budgets. Admittedly, there are a sea of resorts - literally - but that's just a small part of what the Maldives has to offer.
If you live on one of the local islands, there is money to be saved, and at the same time you get a more authentic experience. On the islands, which on average are only 1-2 km2 large, small shops, souvenir shops, schools and houses are closely mixed with hotels and guest houses. The guesthouses are very popular, as tourists here can experience the culture closer and stay at a lower price,
One of the most popular local islands is the island of Maafushi which is 27 km away from the capital Malé. Other popular islands include Fulidhoo, Thoddoo, Dhiffushi, Ulkuhas and Rashdoo.
World-class diving and snorkeling
If there's one thing the Maldives is known for, it's the vibrant life below havets surface. Imagine putting on a pair of diving goggles and immediately you see a sea of colorful fish and beautiful corals.
Many divers - and future divers - travel to the Maldives each year to experience some of the best diving spots in the world. The opportunity to meet impressive sea creatures such as whale sharks, devil rays and tiger sharks is hardly greater.
The very best areas for diving are found south of Malé. The further south you go, the better diving spots. The islands of Dhigura, Dhanghetti and Fuvahmulah are all notable islands for diving tourists.
Snorkeling is also extremely popular. The clear water means that nemofish, sea turtles and coral reefs can easily be seen from the sea surface in several places.
There are good opportunities for snorkeling almost everywhere in the Maldives.
Transport to water
The Maldives consists of no less than 1200 small islands and 26 atolls. Almost none of these islands are connected by bridges or tunnels. Therefore, there are two overall options for transportation between the islands; at sea and in the air.
Where seaplanes are typically on the expensive end, there is money to be saved by taking a speedboat or ferry. The ferries are the cheapest way to commute between the islands. Here, a ticket costs from 12 to 34 Danish kroner depending on the length of the trip. The ferries sail from 06.00 to 18.00, except on Fridays, when many ferries are quiet due to public holidays.
Speedboats are more expensive than ferries, but cheaper than seaplanes. If you are determined to want a speedboat, you can order it in advance if you are several people away. The prices here can easily exceed 1000 kroner for a boat. On the other hand, it goes faster than with the ferries.
7 travel tips before traveling to the Maldives
- It is a good idea to bring cash with you. Either in the local currency Rufiyaa or US dollars.
- Friday is the "Sunday" of the Maldives, where public transport is limited.
- Carried alcohol will be confiscated during immigration at the airport.
- There are special rules for dressing. The only public places on the local islands where swimwear is allowed are on the so-called “Bikini beaches”.
- At the airport you can buy SIM cards for the use of data, if you do not want to be dependent on Wi-fi at the accommodations.
- You can travel to the Maldives all year round. May to November is the rainy season, but the precipitation is limited - there is rarely any daytime rain.
- There are plenty of opportunities for a number of water activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, fun tube etc. The activities can usually be booked directly from the hotel / guest house.
Have a good trip to the Maldives - enjoy!
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