If the phrase “a tropical island paradise” sums up your dream destination, then the Maldives has to be on your bucket list. It’s made up of 1192 islands – each boasting a unique “style flavour”. Your dream holiday does exist. The Maldives is made up of 26 atolls, comprising over 1000 islands. It’s located in the Arabian Sea, which is situated in the Indian Ocean. This smallest country in Asia enjoys a tropical climate, which is characterised by two seasons: dry from December to March and wet from May to November. April is considered to be the “transitional” month, which is typified by warm weather. It’s fascinating to note that the temperature stays at approximately 30°C throughout the year.
Dhlvehi is the main language spoken by the majority of the population when conversing with each other. English is also widely spoken by the locals. Islam is the official religion in the Maldives. Interestingly, the country restricts the freedom of religion; non-Muslims are therefore not allowed to vote or obtain citizenship. Arabian culture has been an overarching influence in the Maldives since the 12th Century – this has therefore filtered down into the music and cuisine. The country’s music carries Indian, Arab and even East African influences. The form of indigenous music, known as Boduberu, is extremely popular. It is performed by a group (approximately 20 people) and includes three drummers and a lead singer. The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on the fishing industry and so fish – especially tuna – is the staple of the population’s diet. Coconuts are also very popular and are a main ingredient in the majority of dishes, specifically the milk and oil – the latter is used to deep fry foods.
There are three dishes you have to try:
1. Fihunu mas: fish that has been basted with chili and then barbecued.
2. Mashuni: smoked fish that has been shredded and served with grated coconut and onions. This is the most popular breakfast dish.
3. Garudhiya: a fish soup, served with rice, onions, lime and chili.
Let’s not forget snacks (known locally as Hedhikaa). You’re definitely going to want to sample these.
Bajiya: pastry that is stuffed with fish, coconuts and onion.
Gulha: pastry balls that are stuffed with smoked fish.
Keemia: deep fried fish rolls.
Kulhi boakiba: a spicy fish cake.
Masroshi: mas huni that has been wrapped in roshi bread and is then baked.
It’s important to note that because this is an Islamic nation, the population doesn’t drink alcohol. However, the majority of resorts do stock it.
Watersports and a variety of cruises are found in abundance on the islands. However, a tour of the capital, Male, mustn’t be missed!
Diving and snorkeling need to be experienced! The beauty of the underwater world of the Arabian Sea needs to be experienced to be fully understood. The majority of resorts have their own dive sites. You can expect to see: Moray eels, Arc Eye Hawk Fish, Leopard Shark and so much more. If you’re looking for an adrenalin surge, surfing, jet skiing and kitesurfing are available. The ability to glide through the wondrous water is a real privilege. The Maldives is a hub of excitement and intrigue, but tranquility, reflection and spiritualism are also found here. So, why not find yourself while practicing the ancient art of Yoga? You will feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Day, sunset and night fishing – Cost: $40 per person (day and sunset) $45 per person for night fishing
Do you have what it takes to be a big-game fisherman? Well, the Maldives is the perfect place to test your skills. Oh, and did we mention that some of the fish are huge? Yes, the marine life is numerous and varied. You will be trolling for fish such as Dogtooth Tuna; Dorado and Marlin. If you choose the night fishing cruise, it is possible for the fish that you catch to be prepared for your dinner the following night, if you wish. It’s not difficult to find an activity that gives you the opportunity to relax on a boat and watch the sun setting over the horizon; it is surreal. This is an adventure that you’re not going to find anywhere else.
Photo flight – Cost: Approximately $180 per person
Aboard a seaplane with bird’s eye-view of the postcard-worthy islands surrounded by stunning coral atolls – this is the way to see the true magnificence of the Maldives. Make sure that you have a high-quality camera with great zoom at the ready!
Sunset photo cruise – Approximately $25 per person
If you’re on your honeymoon, then this cruise is an absolute must! Just picture this: cuddling on a boat, sipping champagne while you watch the sky change from a deep blue to a Turkish delight colour. Use this time to start making memories together as you embark on your journey.
Island Hopping – Cost: Approximately $100 per person
The Maldives is made up of 1192 islands, many of which are uninhabited. On these cruises, you are taken to your own personal playground for the day. Explore, play games, swim or simply relax – it’s completely up to you. You’ll also be treated to a delicious BBQ lunch. Now that’s a wonderful outing!
Submarine Tour – Cost: Approximately $170 per person
Once you’ve taken a dive and have seen the picturesque underwater world, you’re going to want more! So, why not jump into a submarine? Yes, you read that correctly! You’ll feel the thrill as you submerge and slowly embark on a unique adventure.
The extraordinary marine life will delight you and you’ll have an experience that will give you a new perspective of the beauty that lies under the sea. Don’t pass this opportunity up!
Male Tour – Cost: Approximately $96 per person
Male is the smallest capital city in Asia, home to a population of approximately 100,000 people. However, its size doesn’t limit the wonderful plethora of sights to feast your eyes upon.
A few of the places that need to be on your itinerary are:
- Sultan Park: An idyllic garden that exudes a soul-enriching ambiance. It’s the perfect place to relax and reflect on all of your experiences in this incredible nation.
- Mulee Aaage Palace: You have the opportunity to soak yourself in the fascinating history of the Maldives. It was built in the 18th Century by a sultan and is renowned for the luxuriant décor – especially the white carvings. They have to be seen to be truly appreciated; photos don’t do them justice.
- Majeedhee Magu and Chaandanee Magu: Shopping alert! You’ll find everything from local garments and electronics to marvelous imported products. It’s also filled with souvenirs – perfect for friends and family.
- The fish market: This is one of the best places to experience Maldivian culture. It is a shining example of the traditional lifestyle of the locals. There is a large variety of seafood to purchase – go wild.
So by now you’re about ready to book your package, right? That’s awesome! But the last thing that you want is to blow your budget too quickly because of underestimating the prices of items. Here is a list of the approximate price of food, drink and certain services. Please remember that prices will change depending on what you choose to buy and where you decide to visit. There’s no doubt that you’re going to need these drinks during your trip. Water will help you stay hydrated and there’s nothing better than an ice-cold soft drink to replenish and beat the heat.
Please note that prices are shown in USD.
A one litre bottle of water – $8
A soft drink such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi – $8
Whether you’re sitting down to a mouthwatering dinner or out for a night on the town, a beer or glass of wine is the ideal accompaniment.
A beer $7
Alcoholic Cocktail $12/$15
Wine by the glass $12
Bottle of wine – house $50 – $150
Spirits (pouring brand) $9
You’re going to get hungry throughout the day. So, make sure that you grab a snack in the afternoon and at the end of the day, you can indulge with a gourmet dinner.
Light lunch such as a sandwich or a pizza $25
A 3-course dinner $80
A burger $18
There’s nothing stopping you from enjoying the best of both worlds. You can enjoy your daily activities and then come back to the resort in the evening and melt into a soothing massage. If your kids are on vacation with you, there are babysitting services available.
A standard spa massage $130
A dive for a qualified diver $90
Babysitting $25 per hour (generally from age 3 upwards)
These prices should be used as a budgeting guide only and are based on the average costs calculated across a wide range of hotels. (Prices estimated as at February 2017).
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