The Local Experience - The People of Maldives
A large number of Western style resorts dot the islands of the Maldives. Their five star amenities are perfect for those visitors who choose to bask in the natural beauty of the country while being overly pampered. All inclusive holiday packages are available for just this purpose and you will never have to leave your resort.
However, other tourists prefer to sample the local lifestyle. The more daring visitor, with a modicum of effort, can enjoy a fantastic adventure by visiting these fascinating and exciting attractions.
With a little over 100,000 residents, the capital city of Male’ contains fully one-third of Maldives’ residents. It is by far, the most crowded island in the country. In fact, it is severely overcrowded crowded by Western European and American standards. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable place to visit.
The city offers a rich blend of local customs, culinary delights and trinkets. It ‘s a great way to experience the local flavor and interact with a distinctly non-Western culture. Remember, there is no alcohol in the city of Male,” a restriction that these devout Muslims take very seriously.
The island of Gan is the largest and most southerly of the atolls in the Maldives. In general, the government restricts, or at least frowns upon, visitors straying from the well beaten tourist path. On Gan, however, they have significantly loosened their grip. The government does not make it easy, however, The staging point for self-guided tours on Gan and the neighboring islands is a budget resort, Equator Village, that offers few Western-style amenities. Still the natural beauty of the local flora and fauna is worth the effort and they provide a wonderful opportunity to meet the locals outside the somewhat “touristy” confines of Male’.
As mentioned, the tours are self guided to several of the islands near Gan. These tours do not involve renting boats or swimming, however. The island used to be a primary naval base for the British in the Indian Ocean and they spent some money improved the infrastructure. There are three causeways open to tourists that allow them to visit the neighboring islands of Feydhoo, Maradhoo and Hitdhoo. There are bicycles and even some taxis to take you to the more remote corners of these natural wonders.
Unlike Gan, the other atolls generally require that tourists visit neighboring atolls by boats chartered and managed by any of the local resorts. The charters usually have a set itinerary but, for a price, a boat captain can be convinced to take you to almost any island. As they say, some restrictions apply. In particular, the locals are loathe to leave you on an uninhabited island and in no cases will they allow an unscheduled overnight stay.
In short, it is best to negotiate prices, routes and accommodations ahead of time. Nevertheless, the trips can be eventful and will provide views of the islands that are unavailable to any land-locked tourists.
While surfing is obviously an outdoor activity that is normally considered an extreme sport, in the Maldives, it is also an excellent way to meet the natives. The sport was unknown here until the early 1970s when two Australians were marooned on one of the northern atolls.
The two Aussies were largely self- sufficient and while repairing their boats surfed many of the reefs north of the capital. The local population became enamored of these two iconoclasts and eventually some of them braved the waves and learned to surf.
Today, there are hundreds of locals who have embraced the surf culture and welcome anyone with the desire to surf or just paddle the waves. In many ways, these Maldiveans are the cosmopolitan of the entire population.
The Natural Experience - The Indian Ocean
No holiday in the Maldives is complete without experiencing all that the Indian Ocean as to offer. 1200 islands spread across 26 atolls and 90,000 sqyare kilometers of ocean provide a gigantic and diversified playground. From the romantic to the exciting, be sure to take advantge of each of these Maldives’ experiences.
Stroll The Beach
The Maldives offers ocean front and protected lagoon beaches and each has its own charms. Almost every resort opts for the lagoons and their rooms are always just a few steps from a romantic stroll down the beach. The Maldives highest elevation is only one meter, so magnificent sunsets are available from any beach.
Combined with the finest accommodations and amenities, the scenery, climate and service would make for a truly memorable honeymoon or anniversary holiday. Be sure to bring thr right travel luggage when visiting the Maldives.
The diving on the Maldives is world renowned and justifiably so. Banana and Fish Head reefs are only two of the more prominent ones. All offer a staggering variety of sea life that can be explored in the open ocean or along the shore in caves and under overhangs.
For the less adventurous, snorkeling is available in the protected lagoons. There is still a amazing variety of fish, invertebrates and flora n these areas and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean cannot be beat.
Due to its location on the early trade routes, the Maldives has seen its share of shipwrecks. The Maldives Vistory Wreck offers seasoned divers a chance to enjoy a challenging and rewarding dive in 30 meters of water.
Located almost 500 kilometers from the nearest continent, the Maldives has managed to maintain a remarkably pristine ecology. In turn, the ocean provides some of the best sport fishing in the world.
Gliding sailfish, magnificent marlins and incredibly feisty barracuda inhabit these waters in prodigious numbers. In addition, no long boat ride is required as the islands are essentially in the middle of the ocean. Most of the big fish feed near the atoll and are readily found there. This activity is, indeed, one of the best things to do in Maldives.
Maldives is Always at its Finest
The Republic of Maldives certainly contains some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and it can be visited at any time of the year. If you would like a taste of some other Indian Ocean paradises, try these articles on Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.