Maldives is an island state in the Indian Ocean. The state consists of the two chains of islands with the total length of 820 km. 1196 islands formed 26 atolls.
The climate is tropical marine. The temperature does not change significantly during the year. The average annual temperature is around +28ºС. All the seasons are good for traveling to Maldives but the best time is when the Iruvai monsoon runs from November to April. The weather during this period is dry and the sea is calm.
The people on the island are the followers of the Sunni. The official language is Divehi.
Maldives is an ideal place for beach holidays. The North Malé Atoll consists of 50 islands and this is the main archipelago in Maldives with white sandy beaches and luxurious hotels. The tourists traveling with children should go to the South Malé Atoll which consists of 30 islands. On the Addu Atoll, anyone can receive a certificate about crossing the Equator.
Ari Atoll is the main destination for those who prefer country holidays. On the beaches of Ari Atoll, there are convenient accesses to coral reefs and the undercurrent is not so strong. During your trip to Meemu Atoll, the tourists will have a chance to watch sea turtles and reef sharks. And on the Dhaalu Atoll, you will become closer to the exotic wild nature.
The lovers of active holidays, parasailing, surfing and diving should go to the South Malé Atoll. The best places for diving are Vaavu Atoll and Haa Alif Atoll. The fans of kitesurfing and windsurfing gather on the Lhaviyani Atoll. On the most famous island Kuredu, there is the largest water sports center. Go to Malé for city entertainments and shopping.
Flight is the most convenient way to get to Maldives.
The citizens from the European countries can take transit flights with a stop in Dubai, Colombo, Doha, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.
The Russians can take direct flights from Moscow to Malé offered by Aeroflot and Transaero. The flight time is 9 hours. Srilankan Airlines offers regular transit flights from Moscow to Malé with a stop in Dubai or Colombo.
The travelers can fly with Emirate Airlines through Dubai, with Qatar Airways through Doha and with Singapore Airlines through Singapore.
One can take a flight from Sri Lanka offered by Srilankan Airlines.
Emirates Airlines and AeroSvit offer flights to Maldives from Kiev.
The citizens from Kazakhstan can take a flight to Malé offered by Emirates Airlines and Air Astana (with a stop in Dubai) or by Malaysia Airlines and Astana (with a stop in Kuala Lumpur).
The citizens of the Russian Federation do not need to obtain a visa to travel to Maldives. The visa is issued at the border. At the airport, the tourists must show to the Customs officers:
- valid international passport;
- booking confirmation or travel agency voucher;
- return ticket with a fixed date;
- confirmation of financial sufficiency for the period of your stay in the country;
Visa is issued free of charge and is valid for 30 days. You can extend your permit to stay in the country by obtaining a visa in Maldives.
The legislation of Maldives prohibits the citizens of Israel to enter the country for rest or for any other purpose.
The Customs rules do not restrict import and export of foreign currency.
The tourists can bring in Maldives the following goods duty-free:
- personal belonging (one piece per person).
It is prohibited to import:
- pork and pork products, salami;
- equipment for underwater hunting.
The tourists are not allowed to export:
- Black coral and any products from it. The exception is the officially produced certified souvenirs.
- Goods made of the turtle shells except souvenirs;
- Shells of the pearl oysters;
- Objects found on the bottom of the sea.
There are certain restrictions concerning pets but dogs of any breed are not allowed at all.
The staple food of the traditional cuisine of Maldives is rice, seafood, and hot spices. The main ingredient of almost all national dishes is fish. The basic ingredient is tuna served with rice, pepper and sauces (coconut curry) and smoked and dried fish Hiki mas. We highly recommend fish pies Cooley borkiba and Bajiya, and soup Garudiya. Gulu (tuna patties with coconut) and Kimiya (fish rolls) will delight the lovers of seafood.
The locals almost never use chicken, eggs and vegetables. Chicken is usually prepared for important events, the locals cook Biryani or traditional chicken with curry sauce. The travelers will be offered various rice dishes with seafood, fish, pepper, and vegetables. Lime paste, chopped nuts, and the leaves of the betel pepper are served at the end of the meal for better digestion.
The meals are served with bread Roshi, especially with Mas Huni (fish cocktail with lime, chili, onion and coconut). The locals like breadfruit, they slice it, roast and serve as an appetizer.
Those who have a sweet tooth can treat themselves to coconuts and fruit desserts. Try fruit salads, puddings, and rice flour pastry.
Maldives is a Muslim country and alcohol is restricted here. Of course, the tourists can buy alcoholic drinks in the bars on the resorts but still a traditional drink of the local people is tea with milk. On a hot day, try a low-alcoholic drink from fermented palm milk Gaa, Kira Sarbat (sweet milk), Ras (palm juice) and Suji.
The national currency of Maldives is Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). The bank notes from 2 to 500 rufiyaas and the coins lari are in circulation.
Exchange currency at banks or in exchange offices. Be aware that Friday is an official day-off in Maldives. A fixed exchange rate is set at airports.
The tourists can pay for goods and services in rufiyaas, Euros and US dollars. Almost all hotels, restaurants and large stores accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
One can cash traveler’s checks in many hotels in the capital city. At the end of the holiday, one can perform a reverse conversion.
Details of interest
Customs and traditions of the islanders
Maldives is a Muslim country so it is necessary to observe a dress code, to cover your shoulders and not to show your legs and arms.
The laws prohibit underwater hunting and illegal fishing. No one is allowed to take sea animals, sea shells and corals (dead or live).
If you want to visit the island which is closed for the tourists, you will need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Atolls Administration.
Sightseeing in Maldives
- Malé is the smallest capital in the world. The Grand Friday Mosque with the golden dome is a must-see. We also recommend visiting the local markets such as craft market, vegetable and fruit market. There you will find the goods from many other islands of the country.
- The Soneva Gili is the largest sea villa in the world.
- The Reethi beach resort on the Baa Atoll is the UNESCO biosphere reserve.
- The Seenu Atoll was the Air Force base of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. The Atoll is known for its amazing underwater world and wonderful coconut and banana groves.
- The Maa Atoll is known for the historical fact that in 1602 a French explorer Francis Pirard disembarked here. Today, the Atoll is famous for cotton clothes, crafts and fishing.
- Dhaalu Atoll can boast of its untouched nature and mangroves. This is also a habitat for the sea turtles.
- The Atolls Meemu and Lhaviyani attract the tourists with their lush vegetation and clean white beaches.
- The Ari Atoll has a unique underwater world where one can see butterfly fish, filefish, gigantic blanket fish, reef sharks and sea turtles. The Ari Atoll is known for its oceanic reserves.
Souvenirs in Maldives
In Maldives, the tourists usually buy:
- models of a dhoni sailboat made of mother-of-pearl, corals or wood;
- shark teeth;
- oriental jewelry including the things made of red and rose corals;
- cane mats Tunda Kuna;
- coconut matting Cajan;
- national clothes.