With so many things to see and so many places to visit in Maldives it can be difficult knowing where to head first! To help you find your way around, we’ve done a handy guide of places to visit whilst you’re there!
Occupying an area of less than 2.5 miles, the capital city of Male is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Interestingly enough, the whole island nation now known as The Maldives is actually named after the capital; meaning “the islands (dives) of Male”. The city itself is quite an experience to visit since it somehow encapsulates both a bustling yet laid-back feel about it.
Given the size of Male it’s easy to explore within a relatively short period of time and you’ll find all manner of narrow streets packed with a total mixture of shops, restaurants and different accommodation types, ranging from crumbly old buildings through to modern, newly-built structures.
Whilst in the city it’s certainly worth visiting some of the local attractions such as the President’s Palace, the local fish market, the National Museum and the golden-domed Grand Friday Mosque (just be sure to ask for permission before entering).
You’ll also find a good range of restaurants and cafes within the city, just remember that alcohol is only served in international hotels.
Whilst not typically Maldivian, the artificial island of Hulhumale is definitely worth a visit if you want to mix with the locals and get a taste of the Maldives without being confined to a luxurious resort.
Since it’s more off the beaten track, prices here are a lot cheaper than the main resorts and there’s no shortage of shops or restaurants if you decide to stay for a couple of days.
Popular with backpackers, Maafushi has an industrious community thriving with fisheries and tourism. Since it was devastated during the first decade of the millennium by the tsunami disaster much of the area has since been rebuilt and there’s a real sense of community spirit among the locals.
During low tide you can walk to a small sandbar to the north of Maafushi, or take a boat to Furafathi for some great snorkelling opportunities. For those wishing to try their hand at fishing there are plenty of trips on offer and night fishing is especially popular; often incorporating some of the local cuisine in the process!
Maldives is the perfect place to relax
Steeped in Maldivian history, the island of Utheemu is the birthplace of national hero, Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu who, together with his brothers and companions, fought an 8 year long war to drive out Portuguese invaders who occupied the Maldives from 1558 and 1573 to gain independence. Today you can visit his famous Palace (Utheemu Gan’duvaru) – otherwise known as ‘the wooden palace’ – which remains well preserved and is a Heritage site well worthy of a visit.
Popular with divers of all abilities, Maradhoo is not only the main fishing village in the atoll but also has an exceptionally good house reef which is home to various varieties of fish and multi-coloured corals.
Meaning ‘sandbank’ in Maldivian, this island boasts a fantastic stretch of sand at the southern end of the island and makes for a truly tropical place to visit.
For anyone interested in diving, there are some excellent dive spots on the island where you’re likely to meet reef sharks, manta rays and even hammerhead sharks.
Named because it’s quite literally shaped like a banana, the Banana Reef stretches around 300m from the north-east to the south and is a firm favourite with divers who claim that the photo opportunities here are second to none. The reef is often visited by guests from nearby resort islands such as the Fullmoon, Club Med and Kurumba making it a popular place to visit all year round.
Huts in the Maldives.
The North Male Atoll is around 69km long boasting 50 isles and sandbanks, only 8 of which are currently inhabited.
Ideally situated for anyone wishing to go deep sea fishing or island hopping, the Male Atoll is a great place to relax and unwind since almost anywhere is accessible by boat.
Renowned as being a vibrant local village complete with stunning white beaches, this island not only has a remarkable house reef but the shores are also home to friendly dolphins who can often be seen saying hello to tourists on the many boat trips that operate on a daily basis.
As it’s located in Kaafu Atoll it’s extremely close to the capital city of Male and can be easily reached within 40 minutes by speedboat.
Meaning “Island of the Areca nut palms”, Fuvahmulah is the only one-island atoll in the Maldives and is nestled between Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Addu Atoll.
Fuvahmulah has many distinguishing features which set it aside from the other islands – not least of all fish and birds which can’t be found in any other part of the Maldives. It’s also one of the very few islands to have fresh water lakes.
Located in Vaavu Atoll on the eastern edge of the Maldives this island is one of the most famous channel dives in the entire world. In fact, it’s so beautiful it’s included within the list of protected dive sites; making it hugely popular with divers of all abilities, some of whom travel thousands of miles to admire its splendour.
For those looking simply to relax the island has secluded beaches, a spa retreat and speciality restaurants. In fact the only thing is does lack (by choice!) are televisions and phones!
Sitting at the most western part of Atoll Seenu, Hithadhoo is renowned for its lush vegetation and is notably characterised by its dusty roads and leaning houses.
Enjoying a simple and humble way of living the island is popular with backpackers and those wishing to get a taste of true Maldivian life.
Owing to the fact that the RAF base was established on the Seenu Atoll in 1956 most locals (Addu people) still speak very good English and are extremely friendly.
Situated on the eastern side of the Maldives archipelago, the Felidhe Atoll is 42km long and 55km wide and is shaped like a giant boot; the toe-end of which is Fotteyo Muli, a long reef which extends in from the northern side of Fotteyo Falhu.
In total there are 19 islands here, making it the longest reef in the Maldives.
A holiday in the Maldives.
Located on the northern reef of the Lhaviyani Atoll, an area which is particularly renowned for its abundance of marine life, Kuredu is a truly tropical island boasting beautiful white sands and aquamarine lagoons.
If you’re looking for that somewhere simply ‘perfect’ to relax then this island is a definite must see; although there’s plenty to do here too. In fact, avid golfers can even take advantage of the island’s 6-hole golf course and driving range. There are also other sporting facilities such as football, tennis and badminton, making it an ideal resort for families or those wishing to pack a little action in their holiday!
The 58 islands of the Lhaviyani Atoll are perfect for those wishing to explore underwater. Home to numerous fish such as soldierfish, harlequin sweetlips, squirrelfish and butterfly fish anyone choosing to dive here is in for a real treat – most divers even get up close and personal with the many manta rays and reef sharks that occupy the waters on the northern end of the Maldives.
Since only five of the islands are inhabited there’s a true Maldivian feel and for a taste of how the locals live you only have to take a short trip to Naifaru, the Atoll’s main island, where the locals gather to gossip, play cards and jam on traditional drums (something you’ll soon find the Maldivians are particularly fond of doing!)
Sitting just south of the equator and part of Addu Atoll, Gan is 5km long and 3km wide, making it the largest island in the atoll.
The island is of particular interest since it became an important air base for the British RAF during the Second World War and reminders of the British influence on these islands are still very evident today.
For divers, there are some great dive sites and in fact Addu Atoll was extremely lucky to have been spared from the effects of coral bleaching in 1998 that other reefs are still attempting to recover from. In fact, this particular Atoll is one of the few places in the Maldives where giant manta rays, with wing spans of 5 metres upwards can be found throughout the year. What’s more, there are also plenty of dive opportunities to explore the “British Loyalty”; the largest shipwreck in the Maldives which was torpedoed twice by enemy submarines during World War II.
Renowned as being a classic Honeymoon resort, Kunfunadhoo island is simply everything you could possibly expect from a Maldivian holiday and much, much more besides.
As regards accommodation, the private island is home to the award-winning Sonevafushi by Six Senses resort which offers a whole range of creature comforts including a holistic spa and an observatory for star gazing after an evening meal in one of the five stunning restaurants.
Here are some other informative articles on Maldives that will help you plan your holiday.