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Coconut Palms, Visit the Maldives

Coconut Palms, Visit the Maldives

Visit the Maldives – Visa Requirements

There is no advance visa requirement for travelers who visit the Maldives. Entry visas are granted on arrival.  For further information, refer to the Republic of the Maldives, Department of Immigration and Emigration or check your specific country at VisaHQ.  For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.

Atolls, Visit the Maldives

Maldives Atolls, © Can Stock / mvaligursky

Visit the Maldives – Malé

When you visit the Maldives, your flight will land on an island next to Malé. Malé is the capital and largest city in the Maldives. More than 100,000 people live in Malé. The city completely fills the atoll that i has been built on. This gives Malé the strange appearance of a modern city set adrift in the sea. You can walk across Malé in 20 minutes.

Grand Friday Mosque, Malé, Visit the Maldives

Grand Friday Mosque, © Can Stock / gorilla2006

Visit the Maldives – Malé Mosques

  • The Islamic Centre containing the Grand Friday Mosque – the largest mosque in the Maldives.
  • Old Friday Mosque (Hukuru Miskiiy) – built in 1656 including the Minaret of Hukuru Miskiiy.
  • Eid Miskiiy – mosque built in the 1800s.

Visit the Maldives – Malé Markets

The Fish Market is west of Independence Square (Jumhooree Maidhaan) along the northern waterfront. Watch the catch being brought in each evening and watch the fish cutters at work. Across the street is the Local Market with fruit, vegetables and handicrafts from the neighboring islands.

Other Sights on Malé

  • The National Museum and Sultan Park – located at the site of the former Sultan’s palace called Mulee Aage.
  • National Handicraft Centre
  • National Art Gallery
Maldives Island Vacation Resort, Visit the Maldives

Island Vacation Resort, © Can Stock / Violin

Visit the Maldives – Island Hopping

Go island hopping from Malé. Look for a water taxi (dhonis) near the main ferry terminal to the airport or at the cruise ship tender dock. Then head out on an island hopping adventure. Visit a beach like Kuda Bandos Island Beach on the island of Kuda Bandos. Kuda Bandos Island Beach is about a 45 minute boat trip. Try snorkeling and diving there too.

Sunset, Maldives Island Vacation Resort, Visit the Maldives

Sunset, Visit the Maldives, © Can Stock / Fyletto

Visit the Maldives – Scuba Diving

The Maldives are one of the world’s best scuba diving locations. You can see sharks, turtles and whale sharks. Try scuba diving at Mushimasmingali Thila (Fish Head) near Mushimasgali Island in Ari Atoll. Fish Head has lots of gray sharks. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Fish Head.

Maldive Victory Scuba Diving

Another popular scuba diving spot is the wreck of the Maldive Victory. The Maldive Victory dive site is just a few minutes from Malé, but the strong currents mean you should be an experienced diver. The Banana Reef is great for diving too and it’s close to Malé.

Overwater Bungalows, the Maldives

Overwater Bungalows, © Can Stock / Konstik

Visit the Maldives – Island Vacation Resorts

Most people who visit the Maldives spend their time at one of its island vacation resorts. There are many island vacation resorts on the islands surrounding Malé. More than 80 resorts have leases to entire islands. These island vacation resorts usually arrange transportation to the resort. Guest typically stay in overwater bungalows. Once you arrive you are most likely going to have all your meals at your island vacation resort, because you will need a boat if you plan to dine anywhere else.  Resorts also arrange snorkeling and scuba diving excursions or day trips to the island capital of Malé.

Overwater Bungalows, Visit the Maldives

Overwater Bungalows, © Can Stock / Rixie

Savor the Tastes of the Maldives

  • Garudiya – fish broth, tuna chunks and tuna heads.  The Maldives’ most popular native dish.
  • Skipjack tuna is the most popular fish.  Yellowfin tuna, mackerel and sardines are common too.
  • Rihaakuru – fish paste, made from tuna.
  • Maldive fish – cured tuna.
  • Fish curry.
  • Mashuni – a breakfast of smoked tuna and coconut.
Malé Aerial, Visit the Maldives

Malé Aerial, © Can Stock / Malbert

Get to the Maldives

Tourism in the Maldives didn’t start until the 1970s, but it’s now replaced fishing as the major source of revenue. Tourists can get to the Maldives by flying to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Hulhule Island. Sri Lanka and India are the closest countries to fly from.

At the Maldives airport, you need to take a 10 minute ferry ride to reach the island capital of Malé. Ferries from the airport run day and night on a continuous basis. Cruise ships anchor off the northern shore of Malé and tender their passengers ashore. Most vacation resorts have their own island in the Maldives, so they arrange power boats or float planes from the airport for their guests.

Maldives Sunset, Visit the Maldives

Maldives Sunset, © Can Stock / Fyletto

Visit the Maldives – Background

When you visit the Maldives you can see more than 20 atolls encircling more than 1,000 islands. The Maldives are in the Indian Ocean, several hundred miles southwest of India and Sri Lanka. None of the islands have a height of more than 10 feet above sea level. The Portuguese briefly controlled the Maldives in the 1600s . The islands were a British protectorate from the late 1800s until 1965 when it became a republic.

Just over 300,000 people live in the Maldives. The official religion is Islam and the constitution forbids any other religions. Ancient Buddhist temples have been subjected to vandalism and destruction. The country has seen political unrest in recent years as it tries to respond to the economic setbacks from the 2004 tsunami and from the desire of many to preserve Islamic traditions.

Visit the Maldives – Weather

Maldives weather has temperatures between 25 C (80 F) and 35 C (95 F) year round. Although humidity is high, the low elevation of the atolls ensures exposure to the slightest sea breezes. The monsoons of India reach the Maldives and can cause thunderstorms and heavy rainfall that peak in the month of June. Warmer sea temperatures in recent years have resulted in declines in coral and other sea life. January – March have lower rainfall , so February is likely the best month to visith the Maldives for good weather.

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