The capital of the Maldives is not the most popular tourist destination, it is more of a transit point where tourists linger for hours waiting for a transfer. But there’s also a lot to see in Male. Must have – a stroll through the local market filled with aromas of tropical fruits and spices, roasting freshly caught fish on the beach and an afternoon relaxing in the shade of coconut palms in the city park.
Basic information about Male
Male is a tiny island city, the capital of the Republic of Maldives. It is impossible to get to the luxurious Maldivian hotels-resorts bypassing Male because it is the only sea and air gate of the country. Tourists think of the capital as a transit point, but it’s worth stopping here for a couple of days to enjoy the tropical exotics, walk through the bustling city center and visit the sights.
History of the city
Civilization on these islands has existed for more than 3,000 years.
The ceramic fragments found in the Maldives allow scientists to argue that this area was inhabited by Redina, then they were replaced by Holina, about which almost nothing is known, and the community giravaru.
In the second wave of settlement on the islands of the archipelago moved Indians, Malays, Sinhalese, who spread Buddhism. For more than 1,000 years the local population practiced Buddhism, until in 1153 an Arab merchant landed on the shores of Male and convinced the king to convert to Islam. From this time the era of Islam and sultanates began.
In the 19th century, the Maldivian government, fearing expansion by India, signed an agreement with Great Britain. Today there is little British influence in the architecture and culture of the islands. The British presence in the Maldives continued until 1965.
Weather and Climate
Summers in Male are short and hot, and winters are warm but windy and humid. Throughout the year, temperatures range from 26°C to 31°C. The hottest months are March, April, and May, and the coldest is December.
Tourist season lasts from late December to early March. During this time, the cost of airfare and hotel accommodation soars to a maximum, and the islands become crowded.
To save money, you should go to the Maldives during the summer months. It often rains at this time, but not for long.
The capital of the Republic of Maldives has administrative buildings, an airport, marine terminal, several universities and business centers. Male has many skyscrapers, and the perimeter of the city is surrounded by a busy road, which is quite unusual to see after the white beaches, vast ocean and tropical jungle on the other islands of the archipelago. The city does not even have natural beaches – only an artificial Artificial Beach.
What time of year is better to visit
In the Maldives, comfortable temperatures are maintained year-round, so the holiday season never ends.
From late April to November it rains for a short time, which will not spoil your vacation. At this time pleasantly pleased with the cost of tickets and hotel accommodation. From late November to April, the dry season.
Money and currency
Tourists only need to bring with them U.S. dollars in cash or a bank card with a convertible currency. Self-travelers are better off exchanging some money for Maldivian rufies. It is more profitable to pay in local currency, and in many places outside the hotel-resorts accept dollars.
Those who vacation on the resort island and do not go outside the hotel area, it is definitely worth a walk through the streets of Male. In the city you can get acquainted with the locals and their culture, visit the fish and fruit markets, buy souvenirs.
There are several showrooms in Male: Reefside, Evince, Sonee Sports, Le Cute. Art lovers should stop by the Oevaali Art Shop.
There is a local market on Male Higun Street where you can buy handicrafts, exotic fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish, coconut milk and butter.
The Singapore Bazaar is the most popular shopping spot in the Maldives. Imports used to be shipped to the Maldives from Singapore; the name has remained unchanged since then.
How to get to Male
The international airport is located on Hulule Island, 2 km from Male. The runway begins and ends at the shore of the Indian Ocean, so when landing passengers observe an impressive spectacle.
Aeroflot direct flight from Moscow will bring you to Male’. There are flight options with connections in Doha, Dubai, Istanbul. Once you have landed, take the ferry to Male, which takes 5-10 minutes.
What to see in Male in the Maldives by yourself
The area of Male is only 6.8 square kilometers. All the streets of the island can be explored in a few days. It is worth a walk through Independence Square and Sultan Park, admire the mosques, take selfies at the Sino-Maldives Friendship Bridge, eat freshly caught fish and buy exotic fruits.
Independence Square, located in the northern part of the island, and the surrounding small park with coconut trees and walking paths are called Jumuri Maidan by the locals. Here you can hide from the tropical heat, enjoy the sea breeze, have a picnic outdoors. In the evenings, open-air concerts and other events are often held in the park.
The Old Friday Mosque is interesting to look at from the outside – it is built of coral stone with an interesting texture and decorated with intricate ornaments with lines from the Koran. Inside, it is decorated with intricately carved wooden panels.
Entrance to the mosque for non-Muslims is closed, but custodians sometimes let tourists in. Women can only go inside with a headscarf over their heads, covering their shoulders and knees. Men should be wearing pants, not shorts.
China-Maldives Friendship Bridge
The world’s first bridge built on coral atolls connects the capital to the island where Xinhua International Airport is located. This is a popular location for photo shoots.
Boats arriving at the pier unload the freshly caught fish directly onto the counters, and skilled vendors not only skillfully carve the tuna, but also cook it here on an open fire. Activity peaks around lunchtime when the fishing boats return with the day’s catch. Not far from the market you can see large reef sharks swimming to the shore to eat fish giblets, which vendors dump into the sea in buckets.
National Museum of Maldives
The museum displays artifacts from Sultanate times: ceremonial robes and turbans, jewelry, armor and weapons. Judging by the reviews of travelers, the collection is scarce, but a walk through the National Museum is worth at least to take a breath in the cool rooms on a hot day.
The local stores have a small selection of fruit, so for gastronomic delights should go to the market. The small shops offer a huge variety of unusual fruits and vegetables. It’s worth trying mango, kuruba, papaya. You can buy spices harvested from the islands of the archipelago, golden palm juice (raa) and bars of coconut pulp mixed with honey, wrapped in palm leaves.
A small town beach in the shape of a semicircle, protected from the sea waves 2 breakwaters, visited mostly by locals. There is a strict dress code, as in any other Muslim country: you can swim only in a special closed suit. There are no such restrictions on the territory of resorts and hotels.
Together with the Great Mosque, it is the largest Muslim center in Asia. The buildings are located at the intersection of Medusiyarai-Magu Street and Chandani-Magu Street.
The golden dome of the mosque can be seen from almost every point in the city, a reminder of the importance of religion in the lives of the locals.
The six-story Islamic Center serves as a venue for conferences, meetings, and meetings of the Supreme Council. Tourists can visit it any day from 9 to 17 hours. There are no tours of the halls of the Islamic Center, so it is better to just walk around in the evening, when the buildings are beautifully illuminated.
The Presidential Palace is the main point of all sightseeing tours of Male’. The palace is located on Orchid Magu Street in the western part of the Male’ shopping area. The building is in the colonial style. However, you can see it only from a distance: the territory is closed to the public and surrounded by a fence.
The official residence of the president of the Maldives
“In addition to the modern presidential palace (Theemuge), there is the Muliagge residence. Like the presidential palace, it can only be viewed from the outside.
Next to the Islamic Center, the Sultan Park, buried in the greenery, is located. At its entrance there is an aluminum monument created to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. Another attraction is the wish tree, which is over 100 years old.
For foreigners there is a fee to enter the park. On weekdays the ticket price is 75 rufiya, on weekends – 100 rufiya (better stock up on the local currency). Park Sultan offers guided tours for an extra fee. You don’t have to join them, you can walk around the park on your own.
Sala Thai Restaurant
An authentic Thai restaurant in a boutique hotel is one of the best places to go for a bite to eat after a day at the beach or a stroll through downtown Male.
Seafood dishes are worth trying here, for example:
- Lemongrass soup with crab, shrimp, cuttlefish;
- steamed marinated shrimp;
- A crunchy salad with fish and sour mango;
- fried thin noodles with shrimp, octopus;
- steamed fish curry.
Prices are reasonable for those who are used to rest in good restaurants: a good dinner for two will cost 80-100 dollars.
Belle Amie Bistro
At The Somerset, it’s not a bad place to get a refreshment. The bistro offers Asian cuisine, but also has a European menu with burgers, steaks, and light salads. The prices are budget. Belle Amie Bistro often has lines, so don’t come here too hungry – you may have to wait for your order.
Port of Male’.
The inner harbor of the port of Male is used by fishing boats and cruise ships, while the outer harbor can be used by large ships. You can hardly find snow-white yachts and luxury boats on the piers, but you can stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the sea breeze.
The best hotels in Male’
The capital of the Maldives is used by tourists mainly as a transit point on the way to the five-star luxury hotels.
But in the capital you can find hotels with good service:
- Hotel Jen Male, Maldives by Shangri-La. The hotel has an outdoor rooftop pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, a spa and a 24-hour café with light snacks.
- Samann Grand. A hotel with small, cozy rooms and an open rooftop restaurant where you can admire planes coming in for a landing.
- The Melrose is a budget establishment for a one-night stay.
Transport in the Maldives
Locals move around the city mostly by motorcycles and scooters, and between islands by ferries (there are also domestic flights that do not depend on the weather). Tourists can walk (Male is quite small: the length of the island is 2 km, width – 1 km) or rent a bike, motorcycle, scooter.
Cheap cafes and restaurants in the island capital
The most popular local dish is curry with chicken or fried fish with unlimited rice. A large plate costs about 30 rupees. Tourists can try traditional Asian food (e.g., soba with chicken and vegetables, salad with shrimp and funchose) or European dishes (pasta carbonara, risotto, pizza, beef stroganoff, burgers).
Several visited cafes in Male, where you can have a tasty and inexpensive lunch:
- Shell Beans. The small establishment is located right on the waterfront.
- Kinkao is a Thai bistro with an original interior and a view of the Indian Ocean.
- Lemongrass Fifth is an establishment where locals often dine. The portions are large and tasty, and the average bill is 250 rupees for two.
Excursions and their prices in Male
Male is the transport hub and the political and administrative center of the Maldives. There are few tourists in town, so the locals do not offer tours right on the waterfront, as is often the case in the resorts.
The capital is not rich in attractions. All key points (National Museum, Jumuri-Maidan Park, Medu Ziyarat Chapel, Islamic Center) can be seen during the sightseeing tour, which lasts 4-5 hours.
Much more interesting than staying in the stone jungle of Male, go on a traditional dhoni boat to a deserted island and watch the sunset, fishing for octopuses at dawn or dive to see the coral reefs and the bright underwater world.
The most interesting excursions from Male:
- The island-village of Huraa. It is worth walking through the mangrove groves, trying the local tea hudikaa, and on the way back to admire the vast starry sky from the open deck of the yacht.
- The island of Vilimale (Villingsili), where life is measured, and the eye pleases with small multi-colored houses.
- Giravaru Island with beautiful corals and a bright underwater world. There is a biosphere reserve on the island.
Those who have already seen all the sights and tried the most popular Maldivian activities (snorkeling, boating with a transparent bottom, fishing), should enjoy a quiet beach holiday on the beaches of one of the resort hotels.