The Maldives are an archipelago of a multitude of small islands scattered over a wide expanse of the Indian Ocean. The islands are situated in proximity to the Equator and in recent decades have gained worldwide renown as a pristine tropical haven for holidaymakers from around the world. The local people of the Maldives are descended from settlers from India and Sri Lanka and speak Dhivehi. The predominant religion is Islam.
Islamic guidelines prohibit alcohol, pork, dogs and the public practice of other religions on the major islands; however these rules do not apply in the resort islands. The weekend falls on Friday and Saturday in the Maldives. A 30 day visa is provided free of charge if you have a genuine travel document, evidence of adequate funds and an outbound air ticket. Transport within the islands is by motor boat, helicopter or seaplane.
The culture of the Maldives is an amalgamation of South Indian, Arab and Sinhalese influences. Since almost all Maldivians are Sunni Muslims, day to day life in the islands follow Islamic precepts; therefore pork, alcohol, dogs and the public display of other religions are prohibited on the inhabited islands. When visiting mosques appropriate modest clothing should be worn. However these restrictions do not apply to the resort islands, allowing tourists to act as they would like.
Weekends in the Maldives falls on Friday and Saturday, which means that government offices, banks and many stores are closed on these days. Again there is little effect on the operation of the resorts except that the lunchtimes on Fridays may be adjusted to allow for prayers.
The Maldives have a very simple visa policy; everyone receives a 30 day visa free of charge upon arrival as long as you have a proper travel document, evidence of adequate funds (ie. a reservation in a resort or cash of at least US$25 per day) and an outbound air ticket.
For transport in the Maldives the options available are motor boat, seaplanes or helicopters and private yachts. Motor boats come in many shapes and forms including the local wooden dhoni craft.
Resorts by law require payment in hard currency. All resorts feature at least one restaurant, serving the cuisine expected by customers. Local Maldivian food typically features fish, and resembles South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine.
The Maldives is blessed with a wonderful sunny climate during the greater part of the year. For the extent of the drier season the visitor will be able to experience eight to nine sunshine hours each day. Avid sunbathers will find the Maldivian climate to be delightful, with temperatures averaging about 30 C.
Rainfall is experienced during the southwest monsoon which occurs from June to August. Forceful weather conditions seldom occur in the Maldives and are of very short duration.
The Maldives offer the water sport enthusiast with an array of options from swimming and snorkelling to scuba diving, surfing, sailing, parasailing, waterskiing, catamaran sailing, fishing, angling and dolphin watching.
There are several attractions of note which will draw the attention of every visitor to the island nation. These include the Grand Friday Mosque, the Male National Museum, the President’s Palace, Republic Square and the unforgettable Male Fish Market.