The Republic of Maldives is a gorgeous patch of nearly 1200 coral islands that makes the Laccadive Sea a heavenly place to be. Coral reef, lagoons and fabulously white beaches make it look like a piece of heaven on earth.
In Maldives, it seems like the galloping waves and the warm of water of the sea come together to perform a duet that oozes with ecstatic melody. So crystal clear is the water that one can see the fishes scrambling along in the water at a distance of almost 50 meters! You can give free reign to the amateur diver in you as almost all the resorts and safari boats provide basic to advanced training using well-monitored diving facilities of a high standard.
Maldives is a country of not only natural exotica but also of daily luxuries. Gorgeous resorts with water bungalows and villas, underwater restaurants, and state of the art diving excursions all make it a luxurious holiday. While Maldives is one of the best beach and diving destinations in the world, it is necessary to point out that alcohol is illegal in Maldives. But do not fret; you can have it in the resort where you would be staying.
Shopping is one of the major activities that you would want to indulge in during your stay in Maldives. Maldives has some lovely products that you can take back home; hand-woven mats, pretty boxes with lacquer work, and dhoni models (traditional boat). You can flex your muscles and hone your skills at marine sports like surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, night fishing, windsurfing and water skiing.
Places to See in Maldives
Male is the hands down winner with some lovely sights. If you can tear yourself away from its beaches, spend some time at the Sultan Park which was once part of the Royal Palace. It is a leafy haven you can retreat to, maybe under the shade of an ancient frangipani tree. At its entrance, you will see the Jumhoorie Binaa. Two of the oldest mosques in Maldives are nearby, Kalhuvakaru Miskiiy and Dharumavantha Miskiiy.
Huskuru Miskiiy or the Grand Friday Mosque was built in 1656 in coral stone. It is the biggest mosque in Maldives. The steps leading up to it, the lacquer work and the carvings on wood are beautiful. Quran verses are etched on its walls. Don't forget to peek into its well.
Kulhudhuffushi has many sharks swimming around. Whale Submarine is a great way to see the reefs especially if you have kids in tow.
The beaches in this country and the accompanying coral reefs are among the best in the world. And their classy restaurants promise you some great food and unforgettable experiences. Try the Ithaa Restaurant, Aioli, Seagull Cafe, Saffron Cafe and Symphony.
Things to do in Maldives
Swim with the sharks. There are many species of sharks in Maldives. Grey reef Sharks, Whale Sharks, Zebra Sharks, Silvertip Sharks and Tiger Sharks are just a few of the friendly sharks that hang around the reef. They prefer planktons and tiny fish over humans, so you are safe.
Underwater photography can't get any better with the sublime aquatic life that the reef brings into the picture. It is vivid, exotic and exciting. You can rent underwater cameras from most of the folks organizing diving expeditions and at dive schools.
Try night fishing in Maldives on a dhoni. Reel in your catch, have it cooked and eat it.
Hail a sea plane. It is like a taxi. Well, almost. The aerial view of Maldives, a sulphur blue patch in the sea with a mop of green canopy, is impressive and a vision that stays with you always.
Dine in the underwater restaurant, Ithaa restaurant, 16 ft down in the sea.
Places to eat in Maldives
Fish (mas) rules the Maldivian cuisine. The dishes are similar to what you find in India, Sri Lanka and the Orient. The Arab influence is also present. Hotaas, local cafés, are good places to try local food. There are many extraordinary restaurants around that are known for their ambience. Fried Yams and Hedika (fried fish short eats) are great snacks as are Kavabu (tuna fritters).
Fresh coconut and curry leaves are regularly used in most dishes. Tuna is the favoured fish. Garudhiya (fish broth), Riha (curries), Roshi (flatbread), Bambukeylu Hiti (breadfruit curry) are few of the dishes that make up the local cuisine. Mashuni (smoked salmon) is commonly eaten at breakfast.
Sweet black tea (sai) is preferred. You will find jellos in Smoothies. And fruits are eaten for dessert. Try a pandanus (screw pine). Even Fruit Bats love to eat these tropical fruits. Bodibaiy (sweet rice) is another delicacy. Watermelon is consumed in large quantities during Ramadan.
Shopping in Maldives
Though trips to Maldives don't revolve around shopping, there are many trademark Maldivian products one must buy. The pretty wooden vases are one of them, made by artisans. The dhoni replicated in wood is a neat souvenir. The mats woven with coconut leaves and reeds are gorgeous especially on the Gaafus Dhaalu Atoll. You may come across the roughly hewn palm leaves slippers. Coconut leaves are also used to make baskets, trays and eekle brooms. The coconut leaves are used to design a replica of a big fish, locally called bodu mas, which is carried during the Bodu Mas Parade.
Male Fish Market is a huge market that is quite an experience even if you don't buy any fish. High quality diving equipment is sold in Maldives seeing that diving is big here. At the STO trade centre, a supermarket, you can buy fruits and vegetables, jams and pickles, and a few packets of Breadfruit Chips.
Watch out for a mobile market around your resort. For clothes, bags and cosmetics go to Majeedhee Magu. Chaandanee Magu or Singapore Bazaar sells goods from Singapore. Women can try out the attractive traditional dress called Libaas-Feyli. The tunic (libaas) is usually in red with yellow embroidery around the neckline. The skirt (feyli) is black with three horizontal white stripes. A top knot covered with a headpiece and a gold chain completes the outfit.