The Maldives are a fascinating place; an island state marked by a mysterious past and incomparable natural beauty. Everything here revolves around one thing: the ocean.
Underneath the water’s surface lie the amazing treasures of the coral reefs and the deep blue. Marine life is abundant and there are plenty of fascinating coral formations and wrecks to discover.
On land, life proceeds at a calm pace and there is a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Most of the almost 1,200 coral islands are tiny; you can walk around them in less than twenty minutes. Only 202 of them are inhabited. Setting foot on a lonely island is an experience not to be missed, a true Robinson-Crusoe moment.
As you cruise through the atolls on one of our ships, you will feel like a modern-day explorer, off to discover new worlds above and below the water’s surface.
Capital city: Male
Islands: 1190, of which 202 are inhabited (87 are tourist resorts).
Population: 270,000 according to 1998 census.
State religion: Islam
Location: South-West of Sri Lanka, on the equator.
Average temperature: 29–32 ╦ÜC
Local time: GMT +5 hours
Currency: Rufiyaa (1 Rufiyaa = 100 Larees)
Electricity: 230-240 Volts –AC
International dialling code: +96
Best time to visit:
Essentially, every season has its advantages. While the weather is most reliable and the visibility the clearest in February, March and April, the higher levels of plankton during other periods attract a large number of pelagics such as mantas and whale sharks.
In general, the weather is tropically warm and humid all year round, with only minor changes of temperature in different seasons. In recent years it has become harder to predict the timings of the wet and dry seasons, as the equatorial climate is changing.
Even in the so-called wet season, prolonged periods of rain are rare and precipitation is usually limited to short but strong downpours, swiftly followed by more sunshine.
Local culture and laws:
The Maldives are 100% Muslim and guests should respect local customs, laws and cultural sensibilities. Topless sunbathing is prohibited and, when visiting islands, revealing clothing is frowned upon. The import of alcohol, pork products and pornographic material is strictly forbidden. Drug offences carry heavy prison sentences. We strongly advise our guests to respect local legislation at all times.
The Maldives could be hit especially early and especially hard by climate change, as its coral reefs are among the most complex and fragile eco-systems in the world. The smallest change in water levels or temperatures could lead to dire consequences. Together with our guests, we would like to do our bit to protect the environment. All our ships are obliged to use resources responsibly and dispose of grey water and rubbish in a conscientious way. We kindly ask our guests to preserve water and electricity, not throw rubbish over board and refrain from destroying animals and plants during dives.
You will automatically be issued with a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the last day of your holiday.
The Maldivian islands have been inhabited for over 3,000 years, but not much is known about the origins of the Maldivian people. Much of their long history is shrouded in mystery.
For centuries, the Maldives have been a thoroughfare for trade ships, many of which were shipwrecked in the intricate network of reefs. The castaways and traders brought different cultural influences to the country, creating a veritable ethnic, cultural and linguistic melting pot.
As a result the cultural heritage of the Maldives is complicated and enigmatic, with influences stemming from the Asian Sub-Continent, West Africa, China and Arabia. Though not much remains of earlier cultures, it is easy to imagine that those who landed in the Maldives, whether by accident or design, were pleased with what they found.
Trade with cowry shells was the mainstay of the Maldives for many centuries. These precious shells were used as an international currency in Africa, China, Arabia and India – and Maldivian cowries have been found as far away as Norway.
Dhivehi, the Maldivian language, translates literally as “island” and has its roots in Sanskrit and other South Asian languages. Since the introduction of Islam in 1153, many Arabic influences have shaped the language. Many words are also derived from English, which is spoken widely.
Dhivehi is a fascinating language and it is always met with much enthusiasm when a guest learns a few words of Dhivehi. So if you want to chat with the locals – and perhaps impress your friends - here are some useful Dhivehi phrases:
Hello (formal) Assalaamu - Alaikum
Hello (among friends) - Kihineh?
How are you? - Haalu kihineh?
Yes - Aan
No - Noon
Where? - Kobaa?
Why? - Keevve?
Who? - Kaaku?
There - Ethaa
Here - Mithaa
What? - Koacheh?
This - Mi
That - E
What is (your)name? - Kon nameh kiyanee?
My name is - Aharenge namakee
Good - Ran'galhu
Goodbye (informal) - Dhanee
Where are you from? - Kon rasheh?
Thank you - Shukuriyaa
I am sorry - Ma-aafu kurey
How old are you? - Umurun kihaa vareh?
My age is - Aharenge umurakee
Where are (you) going? Or What place are we going? - Kon thanakah dhanee?
What time are (we) going? - Kon irakun dhanee?
What is the price? - Agu kihaavareh?
How long will it take? - Kihaa ireh nagaanee?
What time is it? - Gadin kihaa ireh?
What island is that? - E-ee kon rasheh?