Most people, when traveling to the Maldives, directly go to one of these Resort Islands. And yes, these islands are just beautiful but don’t forget that there is more to this country than white beaches, crystal-clear water and palm trees. People actually live there and almost one third of the 440.000 inhabitants live in Malé, the capital and main island of the country.
When arriving in the Maldives, we decided to spend our first night in Malé. Even though the airport is (on) the neighbor island (it is actually an airport island) a ferry goes to the capital every ten minutes. Given the fact that 600,000 people travel to the Maldives every year, we were quite surprised to discover that we were the only tourists on the boat.
Malé is one of the most populated cities in the world and already covers the whole island and three other islands around. But being surrounded by the sea makes it difficult to expand any further. Streets are therefore small and crowded and buildings are high.
Most of the things to see in Malé are in walking distance, so we started our tour after breakfast by wandering around the busy streets. I must say that the people were super friendly, were always smiling at us and very helpful when we tried to roll our suitcases through the narrow streets packed with scooters and cars. We spent half a day walking through this small city and these are our top 5 places:
- Market: The Market is a colorful place where locals buy their fresh food. Fruits and vegetables from all over the Maldives can be found in one place. However, our favorite place definitely was the fish market where huge fish is laying on the ground. It is impressing to see the merchants cutting this huge fish in small pieces in only some seconds.
- Republic Square: The Republic Square, also known as Independence Square, is a square with a little park and a huge flag of the Maldives in its center. During the year many activities but also demonstrations take place at the square.
- Islamic Center and Friday Mosque: Since the 12th century, the main religion of the Maldives is the islam. The Islamic Center is therefore a major landmark of the city. In its center, the beautiful Friday Mosque with its golden dome and a beautiful architecture is making this place one of the major tourist attractions in Malé.
- Sultan Park and National Museum: The Sultan Parks is a small but very nice public park in fron of the Islamic Center. It is the only place in Malé that remind of the Royal Palace from the 16th century. In the park, you can also visit the National Museum with its large collection of historic artifacts.
- Artifical Beach: An artificial beach in the Maldives? Sounds weird as there are so mmany beautiful beaches in this country. But it is true that the main island does not have a natural white-sanded beach… so they created one. It is a nice little place where mothers are playing with their children. The restaurants around are a great place to eat or have a drink while enjoying the sea view. But don’t forget that this is not a bikini beach.
Indeed, Malé is not the most beautiful, most exciting or most adventurous place in the world but it is definitely a place to get the know the real face of the Maldives, its inhabitants and their culture.
To learn more about our snorkel experience in the Maldives, watch our youtube Video on the timeoffaroundtheworld channel.