The Maldives from the air is a spectacular sight. As your airplane descends over this tropical paradise, thousands of little islands appear, each with its own ring of white coral reef enclosing its own blue lagoon. Male International Airport sits on its own island and is a short distance from Male, home to about half the country’s population of 300,000. Once you land a speed boat or sea plane transfers you to your resort.
History suggests that the Maldives has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years, perhaps first settled by travellers on the ancient Silk Route from the Indus Valley civilization. Archeological evidence suggests the existence of Hinduism and Buddhism before the country embraced Islam in 1153 A.D. The physical features of today’s Maldivians, their traditional rituals, music and dance forms as well as their cuisine is a result of a melting pot of cultures. Dhivehi, with its origins linked to the Indo-Aryan group of languages, is the country’s official language. English is also widely spoken by Maldivians in Male with French, Italian, German and Japanese also spoken by staff in the resorts.
Islands of the Maldives do not exceed more than six feet above sea level, inviting fears that this paradise is under gradual threat from global warming and rising sea levels.
The Maldives has a tropical climate, hot all year round and influenced by two monsoons. The south-west monsoon runs from May to September, more prominent in the northern islands. Wind may make the sea rough and discourage diving although it is popular for surfers. The north-east monsoon, from October to early December, is much quieter and brings occasional showers and evening thunderstorms, especially in the southern atolls. Peak season from mid-December to April has the most reliable weather.
Temperatures are stable: highs are around 32 °C and lows around 25 °C for most of the year. Relative humidity is high at around 80%. and stable throughout the year as well, around 80%.
Food & Drink
Maldivian cuisine is a spicy blend of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lanka and Oriental flavours with fish, mainly tuna, being a favourite. Resorts on the Maldives usually have international cuisine and interpretations of local dishes as a part of their buffets. For those wishing to try authentic Maldivian cuisine, we recommend eating at a café in the capital, Malé. Here varieties of snacks or `short-eats’ – pastries such as samosas are served. Lunch includes fish and curries served with roti - pancake style breads.
Shopping almost exclusively takes place in Malé, unless you want local handicrafts or hotel or national-branded garments from the resorts. In Male, the Majeedhee Magu, which is the main road on the island, has along its sides various shops selling goods from the smallest commodities to virtually everything you could think of. Most souvenir shops are found in the northern end of Chaandanee Magu in Male.
The Maldives follows the Muslim calendar, the most important festival being Ramadan which is strictly adhered to in the Maldives. There are also a number of national days in the calendar but these do not usually affect the resorts.
Read through our Activities section to discover more about the ancient cultural sites in this region.