WHY TO VISIT THE MALDIVES
The name of the Maldives has for several decades been associated with beautiful turquoise water, white sand beaches, coral atolls and the magnificent seabed. As a tourist paradise, many of the archipelago’s islands have been transformed into hotels and are not easily accessible from the main territory without special authorisation.
First you will probably wish to discover the capital, Malé, small and peaceful, with small mosques, a large bazaar and many tea rooms, and of course the reasonably priced hotels and restaurants perfect for independent visitors. At the extreme South, Addu Atoll is home to Seenu, the second largest town of the archipelago. This city shows many traces of its English influences.
Diving fans will find the best spots on the three atolls near Malé: Ari, South Malé, and North Malé. To explore the fabulous underwater world you will have the choice between snorkelling and scuba diving if you want to see rays or sharks up close. Fuamulaku, isolated from the archipelago and not in the more touristic zone has however something not often seen in the Maldives: From its fertile soil farmers grow agricultural products absent from the other islands including bananas, oranges and mangos.
Apart from the diving and relaxation on the fabulous beaches, there are few other leisure activities: Sports fishing is quite popular, there are several beautiful surf spots and most hotels have a health centre where massages and body care are available.
The marine environment is definitely the most popular attraction in the Maldives, with magnificent coral landscapes for the enjoyment of divers and all fans of the scuba diving world. In fact, almost all of the flora and animal wealth of the Maldives can be found on the seabed. On land, the Maldives archipelago doesn’t have a lot of wildlife except for the bats which seem to be the most common species of local land animal. So, diving sites are numerous, around a hundred in total throughout the archipelago, each of them has attractive services and offers. Sometimes hotels themselves propose their own sites to their clients and provide all the equipment required. For a reasonable price, divers will be able to go down to the sea bed to admire thousands of marine animals, some popular and others extraordinary and unique to this area, including sea turtles, dolphins and others. All can be seen freely swimming on the sea bed, as in a gigantic natural marine aquarium. Surfing is also a very popular activity in the archipelago. On the numerous and magnificent beaches, surfing is more than a simple leisure activity, it’s a real moment of relaxation.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE MALDIVES
Top destinations in the Maldives are:
- Hulhumale Island
- Veligandu Island
- Banana Reef
- Thulusdhoo Island
- Alimatha Island
- Kunfunadhoo Island
WHEN TO GO TO THE MALDIVES
Best period to visit the Maldives is from December to April, so it is not by chance that at this time the tourist influence is higher as well as the prices.
The climate in the Maldives is driven by the monsoons; in winter, from November to March, it is hot with light humidity, and in summer, from May to November, there are strong winds with a lot of rain and storms. Between them, there are short but very pleasant periods. The temperature is around 28°C all year round.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of the Maldives.
Haj and Bodu Eid: In January, possibly the most poignant of the Maldives' festivals takes place. It’s the annual Haj pilgrimage during which, many Maldivians travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It’s the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and the fifth pillar of Islam: An obligation that must be carried out at least once in the lifetime of every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. It’s a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people and of course a commitment to their belief. The three days that follow the pilgrimage are national holidays in the Maldives. Communities throughout the Maldives celebrate with families and friends by sharing food and playing games.
Eid-Ul-Adha: is one of the major religious festivals of Maldivians. This festivity is known by different names like the Festival of Sacrifice, Eid-e Qorban, Qurbani Eid and many more. It is celebrated on the 10th day of Thul Hijjah, according to the Muslim calendar.
Kuda Eid: also known as Fithru Eid (october), is an important religious festivity that marks the end of Ramadan, as in the Islamic month of fasting. Usually, the Kuda Id festival of Maldives falls on the first day in the month of Shawaal, according to the Islamic calendar. It is a three day long festivity, which is observed as a public holiday period.
Maldives Independence Day: has a lot of significance, as it is on this day that this country got freedom from the clutches of Britishers. It falls on the 26th in the month of July. In the year 1887, Maldives became a British Protectorate. During that time, the Britishers agreed that they wont interfere in the internal affairs of Maldives.
National Day: is an important day, as it is observed to celebrate the victory of Muhammad Thakurufaanu over the Portuguese in the year 1573. According to the Islamic calendar, the National Day of Maldives falls on the 1st of Rabee ul Awwal, the third month.
Prophet Mohammad's Birthday: is celebrated with great pomp and show. It falls on the 12th day in the month of Rabee-ul-Awwal, according to the Islamic Calendar. It has a lot of religious significance for the Muslims, as the festivity is observed to celebrate the birthday of holy prophet Mohammad.
Republic Day: has a lot of significance, as it is on this day that Maldives became a republic, after so many years as a monarchy. Initially, republic was formed in the year 1953, but it could not last for a long time and the monarchy was restored in the same year.
Ramadan: also known as 'Rorda Mas', is one of the most important festivals of Maldivians. It has a lot of religious reverence. According to the Muslim calendar, Maldives Ramadan festival falls in the ninth month. It is basically the Islamic month of fasting, in which the Muslims observe 30 days of fasting.
Victory Day: is of supreme importance, as it is on this day that a terrorist group from Sri Lanka attacked the Maldives government. They attempted to overthrow the Maldivian Government, but did not succeed. When they failed in their mission, they fled from this country.
- Fishermen's Day: This Maldives’ festival on the 10th of December commemorates the importance of fishing to the people and the country of the Maldives. Make sure you check out the Malé fish market on one of your island shopping trips. Fishing is crucial to the economy of the Maldives. Much of the line caught tuna we get in Europe comes from the Maldives. It’s worth finding a friendly Maldivian fisherman and going out for a spot of line fishing with them, besides they’ll be able to read the weather better than most!
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH THE MALDIVES
To travel in the archipelago, taxi, bike or motorcycle are popular in the capital city, the islands can be visited on foot. Local boats are used as shuttles between the islands.
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE MALDIVES
country entry requirements: passport + visa (on arrival, check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: none
local currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa
local time zone: GMT+5
electricity: type A, C, D, G, J, K and L (230 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN MALDIVES
typical food in the Maldives
- Banbukeylu harisa: Curry of steamed breadfruit, chilli, onion and coconut
- Bis keemiyaa: Pastry filled with tuna and hardboiled egg
- Hedhikaa: Traditional snacks, or "short eats", such as samosas, sold by small cafes
- Garudiya: Fish broth prepared using chillies, onion and lemon juice
- Rihaakuru: Brown paste made from concentrating down fish stock
- Mashuni: Mashed tuna mixed with coconut, chilli and onion and served for breakfast with roshi
- Roshi: Flatbread
- Thelui mas: Spicy fried fish such as grouper, swordfish, jobfish or octopus
- Kavaabu: Deep-fried snacks made from rice, tuna, coconut, lentils and spices
- Dhon riha: Tuna curry with coconut, mango, cinnamon and ginger
- Dhonkeyo kajuru: Fried banana cake flavoured with rose water or vanilla
- Sai: Tea; a Maldivian favourite
- Raa: Toddy tapped from palm trees, sometimes left to ferment and thus slightly alcoholic – the closest any Maldivian gets to alcohol
souvenirs from the Maldives
- lacquered wooden boxes
- reed mats
- handmade jewellery
- Dhonis, maldivian sail boats wooden models
- Kunaa mats
- coconut shell items
- coir, ropes made of coconut husk's fiber
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