Malé – pronounced mar-lay – is the capital of the Maldives, and is just as fascinating as it is tiny. And it’s fast becoming a popular place for holidaymakers to visit, thanks to its wealth of culture. To get there, you can easily catch a ferry directly from the airport, and the travel time totals just 30 minutes.
Malé is where you’ll get to experience the authentic Maldives. This place is marked by brightly-coloured skyscrapers, historical mosques and bustling city vibes that contrast with the laid-back way of life in the surrounding islands. If you’re looking to get a dose of culture, look no further than the National Museum. You’ll find this converted palace in Sultan Park, housing royal possessions, Buddha heads, and monkey statues, to name a few. Elsewhere, there’s Huskuru Miskiiy, a beautiful 17th-century mosque made from coral stones and wooden carvings. And if you’re a fan of football, there are plenty of pitches dotted around the city where you can watch the locals competing against each other.
When it comes to wining and dining, Malé definitely holds the crown for variety. You can pick from Maldivian, Asian, Indian, Malaysian, and international cuisine. One of the capital’s most prized eateries is Maarukeytu Hota. It’s got a tea-shop-meets-restaurant vibe, and sits right above a fishing market, giving you great views of the city while you dine. Be sure to sample their speciality black tea while you’re there - it’s delicious.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie or an advanced scuba diver, night diving is a must-try in the Maldives. When the sun goes down, the coral reefs literally come to life. You’ll get to watch all kinds of marine residents appear from the shadows, including bioluminescent plankton, sea spiders, sharks, and tonnes of tropical fish. It’s a really spectacular sight. Alternatively, if you’re after more of a relaxing experience, grab your snorkel and simply float on the surface – and make sure to bring a head torch.
Thanks to its tropical climate and northerly position in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a heaven on earth for surfers. You can catch the very best waves from April to October, when they total around three to eight feet in height.
One of the top places to hop onto your long board is in the northern Malé atolls. The waves here are extremely sought after, and play host to many international competitions each year. Here, there are well-known breaks such as Lohis, Cokes, Chickens, Sultans, Jailbreaks, Honky’s and Ninjas. And in terms of experience, whether you’re a budding beginner or an advanced surfer, there’s something to suit everyone.
It goes without saying that the Maldives are one of the best places in the world to go snorkelling. Plus, the entire archipelago has applied for UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status for 2017, which will help to promote the sustainable use of natural resources in the atolls. Below the surface, meanwhile, there are over 1,000 coral reefs, which are home to even more species of marine life. And if you’re lucky, you might get to swim alongside the likes of dolphins, manta rays and turtles – so it’s a paradise for nature lovers.
Did you know you can visit deserted islands in the Maldives? It just so happens there are 1,000 of them, too. As they’re all tucked away in the immense stretch of the Indian Ocean, these islands are some of the most pristine retreats on the globe. If you opt for a day trip, you can spend the day swimming in one of the lagoons, explore the shoreline by foot, or simply roll out your beach towel and take it all in. Plus, you’ll get to have your own private picnic where you’ll get to catch and cook your own fish.
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Author: Olivia Hunt
Stay at the Meeru Island Resort & Spa and you’ll have access to waterside restaurants and pristine beaches.
You’ll be surrounded by dolphin and turtle-friendly waters when you stay at the Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives.
Morning massages and Champagne paired canapés are just some of the luxury touches at the Olhuveli Beach And Spa Resort.
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