A string of pearls scattered over the deep blue Indian Ocean.The first glimpse you get of this fascinating atoll- formation confirms two unique aspects of the Republic of Maldives. Not only does it consist of the most beautiful tropical islands, but 99% of its 90,000 km² is covered by the sea.
Do I need a visa before I arrive in Maldives?
Any tourist from any nationality is granted a free 30-day visa on arrival in the Maldives. Hence, there is no need for you to undergo any hassle with regards to obtaining prior visa. Once you reach the airport, Immigration personnel will assist you with the visa procedures.
The free 30 day visa is granted upon complying with the following procedures:
- Visitor should have a valid passport or travel document authorised by a sovereign state.
- Visitor should have a valid return ticket to exit the Maldives.
- Visitor should have the financial capacity to cover the expenses for the duration of the stay or a confirmed reservation from a tourist Hotel or Resort in the Maldives. The financial capacity is measured by US$100 + $50 dollars per day.
History of Maldives
The Maldives (formerly called as the Maldive Islands) was first settled in the 5th century B.C. by Buddhist seafarers from India and Sri Lanka. According to tradition, Islam was adopted in 1153. Originally, the islands was under the suzerainty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They came under British protection in 1887 and was a dependent on then-colony Ceylon until 1948. An independence agreement with Britain was signed on July 26, 1965 .Being a sultanate for centuries, the islands adopted a republican form of government in 1952, but the sultanate was restored in 1954. In 1968, however, as the result of a referendum, a republic was again established in the recently independent country. Ibrahim Nasir, the authoritarian president since 1968, was removed from office and replaced by the more progressive Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1978. Gayoom was elected to a sixth five-year term in 2003.
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY
The republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation positioned in the Indian Ocean. Notably the South-Asian Island nation has no counterpart in the entire world in terms of its unique geography and topography.
The Maldives consists approximately 1,190 coral islands clustered in a chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. The atolls are scattered along the North-South direction with an area covering roughly 90,000km2. However, only 1% of this surface area consists of land. The nation lies between latitudes 07° 06”S and 08° 00” N, and longitudes 72° 32” and 73° 46”E.
WEATHER & CLIMATE
In Maldives, the sunny side of life is blessed with magical and breathtaking displays of sunshine for the better part of a year. Similar to tropical countries, the Maldives enjoys a dry and wet season. Conveniently, the hot and humid weather is complemented with cooling sea breezes and periodic rain. The dry season or the Northeast Monsoon locally known as “Iruvai” continues from January to March while the wet season or the Southwest Monsoon locally known as “Hulhangu” progress from Mid-May to November. Traditionally the natives use a calendar called “nakaiy” to identify weather developments.
People, Clothing & Language of Maldives.
Maldivians are esteemed around the World for their hospitality and affability towards their guests. Currently the population of the Maldives is 341,256. Additionally, close to 60000 registered foreigners reside in the country.
The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language having some similarities with Sinhala. The first known script used to write Dhivehi is “Eveyla Akuru” script which is found in historical recording of kings. Later a script called “Dhives Akuru” was introduced and used for a long period. The present-day written script is called “Thaana” and is written from right to left. Thaana is said to be introduced by the reign of Mohamed Thakurufaanu. English is considered the second language and the Maldivian education system has been following the British Standard since the 1960’s. It can be said that most Maldivians are quite fluent and adept at the English language.
For a long period the Maldivians were followers of Buddhism. It is widely believed that Buddhism was introduced to the islands from the neighbouring Sri Lanka. Before Buddhism became the dominant religion of the Maldives, there are signs indicating that since antiquity Maldivians had been practicing versions of Paganism and Hinduism as well.
Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. The main events and festivals of Maldivian life follow the Muslim calendar. Religious education is provided both at home and at school. Islam is part of the school curriculum and is taught concurrently with other subjects.
Culture & Ethnicity of Maldives
The Maldivian culture is heavily influenced by Sri Lankan, Indian and African elements, for example "bodu beru" -- A form of Maldivian folk music consisting of drumming is linked to African tribal drumming rituals. Folk music, dance, arts and crafts though being similar to those of our immediate neighbours and the African and Arab world, have a unique Maldivian tinge and twist to it.
The traditional Maldivian family consisted of a patriarch who earned a living primarily by fishing. Carpentry, seamanship, tapping toddy and boat-building are also traditional professions some men pursued. The woman normally stayed at home and took care of the children and other household duties. She was also responsible for activities like drying the fish and smoking the fish for commercial use.
The Maldives is renowned the world over as one of the top dive destinations in the world. The country is home to over a thousand beautiful reefs boasting of an abundant and diverse range of marine life and flora and fauna. Almost all of the resorts have PADI certified dive centres housing experienced PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters that will cater to all your scuba diving requirements.
Famous dive spots include “Mushimasmingili Thila” (Fish Head), “Maaya Thila” (Once voted as the best night diving spot in the world), “Lankan Manta Point”, “Banana Reef”, “Maldives Victory”, “Maalhos Thila”, etc.
Snorkelling in the Maldives does not require you to possess any specific qualification. Snorkelling is perfect for exploring the house reefs of resorts at a leisurely pace; however the dive centres also provide boat trips to different spots if you want to see and explore different sites. Liveaboards, though mostly offering dive and surf packages also offer snorkelling trips, so check with your tour operator/ travel agent for rates, timings and other details.
Maldives boasts of a number of good surfing spots which includes the famous “Pasta Point”, “Honkys”, “Sultans”, “Jailbreaks”, etc. found in the North-Malé Atoll and “Shangri-la”, “Zubair’s”, “Kottey”, etc. found in the Addu Atoll (Southernmost) as well as spots like “Tiger Stripes”, “Love Charms”, etc. found in Huvadhoo Atoll. Thaa and Laamu Atoll are also home to good surf spots. If you wish to explore a wide range of surf breaks, we suggest that you book a surf package from a liveaboard (safari) as they will normally cruise to different spots per trip. However, if you wish to stay in a resort and want to catch a good wave, resorts such as “Chaaya Island Dhonveli Resort” (home to “Pasta Point”) and “Hudhuranfushi Island Resort” (home to “Lohi’s”) among others are perfect destinations. Surfing season begins in May and ends in December.
Maldivian resorts as well as private charter operations offer big-game fishing trips. Adrenaline junkies can savour that feeling of hooking a large yellow-fin tuna, wahoo, marlin or a majestic sail-fish on such trips. There are no local laws that stipulate the mandatory release of big-game fish after catching and often the catch are taken back to the resort for a Maldivian style BBQ.
Para-sailing, jet-skiing, wake-boarding, water-skiing, catamaran sailing, canoeing, wind-surfing, kite surfing, etc. are all fun- filled water based activities to indulge in at your selected resorts. Many resorts have water sports centres with professional instructors and guides that also offer courses of different levels for water sports requiring skill and ability such as wind- surfing and wake-boarding.
An island hopping excursion lets you visit a set number of inhabited islands, uninhabited islands or resorts in a day for general exploratory purposes. Mostly package combinations of visiting one inhabited island, one uninhabited island and one resort per day-trip are offered by resorts. However, you could request a change in the itinerary from the resort to customise the excursion to suit your preferences. Some excursions are also specific to visiting the capital Malé for spending the day. Excursion packages include BBQ lunches on the beach, fishing, etc.
The Maldives is a world’s hotspot for dolphin and whale watching. Varieties of playful dolphins and mammoth whales frequent the Maldives especially during May. There is no better tropical setting than the Maldives to discover diverse species of dolphins and whales.Presently over 23 different genuses of dolphins and whales have been recorded in the Maldives.
Species of dolphins that you can explore in the rich waters of the Maldives include Spinner Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Spotted Dolphins and Striped Dolphins. Dolphins are a creature of habit. Hence, they have a very consistent routine. This makes it easier for you to observe them. Large schools of the acrobatic Spinner Dolphins can be found frequently during the morning and afternoon hours.
These are aerial flights presenting you the opportunity to gaze over the islands from above by sea plane. Some selected resorts organize group photo flights and private flights upon request. You could also book your own photo flight by contacting offices of the sea plane carriers, “Trans Maldivian Airways”.
The Maldives is blessed with sunshine throughout the year. Accordingly the Maldives is renowned for offering the best glimpses of the sunset and the sunrise. Sunset is considered the most beautiful time of the day.
There is no better way than taking a sunset cruise to capture the magnificent vista of scarlet skies, brilliant hues of lavender and rich blue wisps of clouds as the sun is about to set. Resort islands in the Maldives organize sunset cruise for visitors in love with the sunny side of life.
'Dhoni' or Doni (pronounced Doni) is a multi-purpose sail boat with a motor or lateen sails that is used in the Maldives. It is handcrafted and its use within the multi-island nation has been very important. A dhoni resembles a dhow, a traditional Arab sailing vessel.
The traditional dhoni is one of the oldest known sea vessels in the Maldives. Many of these traditional sailing vessels were, of necessity, built using coconut palm timber. The sailing dhoni was used in earlier days by Maldivian fishermen. During the industrial revolution many fisherman changed to a mechanized dhoni.
Transportation from the airport to your holiday getaway is additionally available through Speed Launches. These Speed Launches will deliver you a journey to remember and you can discover many islands en route.
Normally when you book for your holiday through a travel agent or directly from a resort, they will be present at the airport to receive you. In light of this, you can remain calm without any anxiety about reaching your chosen holiday spot, as everything will be arranged for you.
Most travellers in the Maldives are far more likely to use the services of the seaplane company, Trans Maldivian which fly tourists from the seaplane port next to Male’ International Airport to resorts throughout the country. fly 18-seater DeHavilland Twin Otter seaplanes under contract to resorts throughout the Maldives.
All seaplane transfers are made during daylight hours, and offer an amazing perspective on the atolls, islands, reefs and lagoons. The cost is between US $250 and US $450 return, depending on the distance and the deal between the resorts, and it’s generally included in the package price. If there is an option of a boat transfer, or you are an FIT, the seaplane will be charged as an extra.
Upon arrival at Malé International Airport, visitors will be met by our Airport Representatives who will escort you to the domestic terminal for the enjoyment of the services provided by the Airport Lounge whilst all formalities are completed. Visitors will embark upon domestic flight on the local domestic carrier from Malé International Airport to the Domestic Airport where once again you will be met by our Domestic Airport Representative, who will whisk you away to the awaiting speed boat for a sea transfer to the Resort island.