Best Things To Do in Maldives
With 1,190 islands (only 200 are inhabited), you've got plenty of territory to explore. Despite the numerous isles, most visitors simply lounge at the palatial resort of their choice. While travelers should certainly unwind, a few excursions should also be on the itinerary. For one, the capital city of Male' (one of the smallest capitals in the world) bustles with activity from the fishing docks to the National Museum. If you are a scuba diver, you can't miss the riveting Maldives Victory shipwreck and the shark-filled Fish Head area. And don't forget about the beaches: The soft sands fade into colorful reefs beneath brilliantly blue waters.
Updated November 25, 2019
- #1View all Photos#1 in MaldivesBeaches, Natural WondersTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural WondersTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Many vacationers head to the Maldives solely to relax on the beach – and for good reason. The sugar white sand and striking blue water make for the perfect beach vacation backdrop. Most island resorts offer their own private stretches of sand, complete with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Some resorts that boast notably beautiful beaches include: the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, aaaVeee resort, COMO Cocoa Island, Fihalhohi Island Resort and Angsana Ihuru. Past visitors said the beach scenes in the Maldives are hard to describe, saying their beauty is unparalleled. There are public beaches on a handful of Maldivian islands, though visitors must be covered as wearing revealing clothing is illegal. A very few "bikini beaches" (on Rasdhoo and Maafushi) allow sun-seekers to wear typical bathing suits. However, travelers recommend sticking to the beaches on or near your island.
In addition to lounging on the beach, travelers can enjoy various water sports activities in the Maldives. Many resorts offer equipment for rent, sometimes included in the room rate. Windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and surfing are just a few water sports options popular in the Maldives. Some resorts offer other games and activities like beach volleyball for visitors to enjoy.
- #2View all PhotosfreeMale'#2 in MaldivesShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Male' is one of the world's smallest capital cities at just 2.2 square miles, but it packs in the people and sights. Top sights to check out in the capital city include:
Republic Square: This green square is situated on the northern edge of Male' and lined with palm trees. The square was constructed in 1989 and features a flagpole with the nation's largest Maldivian flag waving proudly. This area is also a popular spot for locals to meet.
- #3View all Photos#3 in MaldivesNatural Wonders, SightseeingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, SightseeingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
With exceptionally clear water and thriving marine life, the Maldives makes for a great environment for scuba diving and snorkeling. Many resorts feature reefs so close travelers can easily swim from the beach, while others offer snorkeling excursions where a boat and tour operator transport you to deeper waters and even more colorful reefs. Meanwhile, beginner and seasoned scuba divers can enjoy dive trips around the Maldives. All scuba divers are required to do an initial guided orientation dive before any additional dives; experienced scuba divers should bring their dive certification and logbook as well. Most scuba divers may go on one or two dives organized through their resort or spend their Maldives vacation on a LiveAboard vessel, which travels to different dive sites daily. Divers and snorkelers were very impressed with the variety of fish and sea life they saw in the Maldivian waters. Many also had high praise for the friendly and knowledgeable tour operators.
Some of the most popular fish you may see in the Maldives include butterflyfish, clownfish, angelfish and parrotfish, in addition to sting rays, whale sharks, reef sharks and eels. Keep in mind, there are several dangerous types of fish and marine life that inhabit the waters surrounding the Maldives. You'll want to avoid getting too close to lionfish, triggerfish, moray eels, sharks and sting rays, as stings or bites from these animals can be fatal. A good rule of thumb is to stay about 8 feet away.
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If you wish to catch a glimpse of Maldivians' daily lives, look no further than the Male' Fish Market. This is the commercial epicenter of arguably the country's most important industry: fishing. Here, the foot traffic peaks in the afternoon as fishermen from the entire country sail right up to the edge of the market and unload the daily catch. Tuna is the most popular fish for sale, but you'll find some other types as well. Visitors say watching the workers filet and clean the fish is impressive. You could even pick up some fresh fish for dinner, if you have a facility to prepare a meal. Though, some previous travelers warn communication may be difficult here as some Maldivian fishermen do not speak fluent English.
There is no set opening and closing times for market, but you'll find the best selection in early morning and between 3 and 4 p.m. in the afternoon. The Male' Fish Market is located along the inner harbor on the north side of the island, just west of Republic Square.
- #5View all PhotosfreeHukuru Miskiiy#5 in MaldivesChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as the "Old Friday Mosque," dates back to 1656 and is the oldest mosque in the country. The exterior is made of coral stone and features intricate designs and inscriptions from the Quran. While it may seem underwhelming to the average traveler from the outside, the inside of this mosque displays intricate woodwork and exquisite inlays.
Although admission is free, non-Muslim visitors are required to get permission from an official of the Ministry of Islamic affairs before entering (many staff here are officials and can grant access). You should dress conservatively if you want to gain entry to the mosque and plan on visiting outside of prayer times. Your best chances to get inside are Sunday through Thursday before the noon prayer; religious services are conducted on Friday and Saturday. You'll find the mosque on Hulhumale', just north of Velana International Airport.
- #6View all Photos#6 in MaldivesRecreation, Sightseeing, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Sightseeing, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The Maldive Victory sunk in 1981 after hitting a reef. Now, the dive site attracts scuba aficionados thanks to its particularly challenging currents and the rich sea life (picture thriving coral and colorful fish) that has made the wreck a sight to behold.
The Maldive Victory rests below the waves on the Hulhule House Reef, which stretches between Male' and Hulhule. Experts say this site is gorgeous year-round. And be sure to take one of those experts with you, since currents here can be dangerous. Scuba diving excursions range in price, depending on the necessary level of instruction, the amount of rental equipment and transportation to and from the dive site. Be sure to check with your resort concierge for more details and to help make arrangements for you.
- #7View all Photos#7 in MaldivesSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Travelers seeking ultimate relaxation should book a spa treatment (or a few) while visiting the Maldives. Many of the resorts in the Maldives offer their own spa on-site and use island-sourced ingredients in their treatments, such as papaya, seaweed and pineapple. Services range from typical massages and facials to signature options like citrus hydrating body treatments and customized acupuncture and chakra balancing. The Maldives is also home to the first underwater spa in the world, Huvafen Spa. What's more, several resorts host yoga classes that complement the spa relaxation and wellness offerings.
For additional information on spa treatments, visit the individual resort or spa website. The Maldives tourism board offers some spa tips and information on its website as well. Keep in mind, as with many things in the Maldives, spa services will cost a pretty penny.
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