Visitors to the Maldives may choose to spend much of their time on the country’s incredible, palm- fringed beaches, simply relaxing, sipping a drink and enjoying the beautiful scenery. For those who tire of lazing on the beach, however, there’s plenty to see and do.
Diving and snorkelling
The Maldives offers one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world, and this is home to incredibly diverse, colourful marine life. Even if you’ve never dived or snorkelled before, this is the place to do so. Among the Maldives’ many incredible sites for diving and snorkelling are:
- Fotteyo (Vaavu Atoll)
Fotteyo features underwater caves and arches, covered with soft corals that compete in colour with an array of colourful marine creatures – among them barracuda, hammerhead and reef sharks, manta rays, tuna, grouper and triggerfish.
- Hammerhead Point (Rasdhoo Atoll)
More experienced divers should consider a descent to Hammerhead Point; there’s a 200-metre drop just beyond the reef, and the water here is so clear you can see for miles.
- Hanifaru Huraa (Baa)
UNESCO has declared the Baa Atoll a World Biosphere Reserve, thanks to its rich marine life. Hanifaru Huraa is the focal point for divers, with a marine ecosystem that’s astounding in its beauty and variety.
- Manta Reef (Ari Atoll)
Also known as Madivaru, Manta Reef lies at the end of a channel with strong currents. These carry plankton from the atoll out to sea, where manta rays feast on them. Reef dwellers include parrotfish, snapper and Napoleon wrasse, and beyond the reef slope, you’re likely to encounter turtles, tuna and a variety of sharks.
- Shark Point (North Malé Atoll)
Shark Point gets its name from the various sharks that frequent the area, including white-tip and grey-tip reef sharks. Stingrays, jackfish and fusiliers are also common. A further attraction of this protected marine area is a series of underwater caves.
Fish Market (Malé)
Fishing is central to the livelihoods of many Maldivians, and freshly caught fish and seafood is a core feature of the local diet. For an interesting, “fishy” experience, head to the bustling Fish Market in Malé. Here fishermen lay out their catches, including octopus, tuna, grouper and an array of other locally caught fishes. In case you’re squeamish, note that fish get gutted in the open.
Grand Friday Mosque (Malé)
Malé locals are rightly proud of this mosque, which opened in 1984. Its golden dome, supported by pristine white marble, is visible from afar, and the mosque is the largest in the country. It has become symbolic of the city of Malé.
Old Friday Mosque (Malé)
The Old Friday Mosque in Malé was completed in 1656 and continues to awe visitors with its intricate carvings on coral stone. You can request special permission to see the fascinating lacquer and wood work in the interior of the mosque. A well-preserved minaret dating back to 1675 overlooks the mosque and its surroundings, which include a cemetery with magnificently carved tombstones.
National Museum (Malé)
Located in Sultan Park within the Maldivian Royal Palace compound in Malé, the National Museum houses an interesting collection of historical artefacts, including textiles, weaponry, carvings and lacquerware. In 2012, a mob destroyed many of the most valuable pre-Islamic pieces in the museum, including a collection of ancient Buddhist coral stone carvings. The remaining collection is nonetheless of interest.