The feeling of excitement cannot be explained as I step out from Mihin Lanka Airbus A320 from Colombo. I can’t believe I’m in MALDIVES!
Mihin Lanka flight from Colombo to Male, Maldives. Mihin Lanka is a low cost airline of Sri Lanka, providing quality services at affordable price.
Maldives is one of the sought after destinations. It is a group of island lying south of India and Sri Lanka in the vast Indian ocean. Maldives, known as the sunny side of life and the jewel of the south, is truly a paradise.
It was midnight when I arrived in Male International Airport. There were few passengers arriving, so getting all the docs checked in the immigration took only less than 5 minutes. Tourist visa is issued upon arrival in Maldives, as such there is no need to secure visa before travelling.
Male International Airport situated in Hulhule island. The airport is a modern facility providing an array of services that cater to the needs of passengers. It includes even a shower room to refresh oneself before boarding.
I headed to jetty port right outside the airport to get to Male. Even late night, “dhoni”, Maldives passenger ferry like our jeepney, is still available to take passengers to capital for 20 Rufiyaa (1.3USD). The dhoni was quite fast. Despite the rough sea, it took us only 10 minutes to reach Male. As seen from dhoni, Male seems like a floating castle swaying in the middle of the sea with bright lights illuminating its shores and with its skyscrapers coloring its skyline.
Ferry terminal just few steps from the airport (top). Dhoni, a passenger vehicle cruising the islands of Maldives (below).
Male, the center of commercial activities in Maldives, is urbanized with its entire area almost utilized. Buildings vertically built side by side racing to reach the sky. All roads are paved but are narrowed. Motorcycles are flooding the streets, but cabs are likewise available. Male is crowded with almost a third of the country’s population residing in the island.
The street in Male – parking area in one side of motorcycles plying the city.
Maldives is a Muslim country. And like other Muslim countries, it is conservative but to a lesser extent than Saudi. Liquors and pork and its by products are banned (except in resorts). It is not a place for party owls who like to booze on alcohols as there are no bars nor pubs. However, restos and cafes are lining the streets if one wants to get a dose of caffeine or to quench a thirst after a long walk around the city.
Nothing is so spectacular in Male, but the stay is worth having found two gorgeous and bubbly Filipino friends, Imee and Odette, who are both working in the city.
Male’s lovely faces, Odette and Imee.
We made the night fun, strolling around Male hopping from one place to another. We started with a good meal and ice cream treat in Seagull Café. Then our feet brought us to the Grand Mosque for a postcard shot, and spent a couple of minutes in the presidential jetty port. Imee even asked a coastguard for photo ops in front of the magnificent Presidential palace. We got a feel of the artificial beach at night and ended up in Oxygen bar right in front of the beach to get a sip of their in house drinks. As much as we want to stay to spend the whole night, the waiter politely reminded us that they would close at 2 AM. We call it then, a NIGHT!
Here are some of the many things you may want to do when in Male:
Take a dip in artificial beach – it is ironic but true, there is artificial beach in Maldives. Made for the residents of the city so that they don’t need to go to other islands to enjoy the crystal cool water of Maldives.
Cool off with Seagull’s Italian ice cream – Seagull has probably the best Italian ice cream in town.
Relax in Oxygen – the cafe opposite artificial beach has a relaxing ambiance, ideal to refresh oneself with fruit juice or coffee.
Tour the spots – a visit is a must to the Friday Mosque, the Presidential palace and jetty port, and the museums.
Stroll in Fareedhe Magu for a bargain – a stretch of stalls and boutiques where you can find a good bargain for RTWs, toys, souvenirs among others.
Sit and relax in Raalhugandu – the place is called the Surfer’s point. The best time to visit the place is during afternoon where you can sit and relax while watching surfers gliding over the waves.
Watch the sunset from the promenade – you may not miss the beautiful sunset viewed from the promenade facing Villingili island.
Drink buko (young coconut) juice – kiosks along Henveiru park adjacent to surfer’s point are erected every afternoon. Grab a fresh buko juice to get more chilled after a swim in artificial beach.
Visit Villingili or Hulhule island – the two of the nearest islands in Male. Villingili is a five minute dhoni ride from Villingili ferry terminal. You can hobnob with the locals and swim in its crystal blue water. Hulhule island is where the Hulhule Island Hotel is located, the nearest resort for an alcohol sip.
Get a fresh catch from fish and vegetable markets – fresh catch are brought daily in the fish market while the adjacent vegetable market is a place to savor local fruits and pick fresh vegetables.