Male – exploring the urban heart of the Maldives

photo by CC user Shahee Ilyas on wikipedia.org

There is more to the Maldives than all the luxury all-inclusives that you have been marketed to by travel media.

Male is the urban heart of the Maldives, and with seemingly every square inch of this atoll taken up by human habitation, there is no shortage to the cool things you can discover here…

Visit the Old Friday Mosque

Built in the 17th century, this stately house of Islam is the oldest mosque in the nation. While non-believers are normally forbidden to enter (with proper permissions from religious authorities, it is possible), you are free to admire its design from the exterior. With intricate wood carvings and brilliant lacquer work, it is a great place to start your tour of Male.

Learn more about this archipelago nation at the National Museum of the Maldives

If one truly wishes to understand this country beyond its luxury resorts, head over to the National Museum of the Maldives.

Opened in the 1950’s, this institution is the place to go to find artifacts that tell the story of this island nation.

Though the Maldives is now a Muslim country, it was once a Buddhist territory – a fact that the museum curators make a point of not hiding in their collections. While translations are not perfect, many exhibits are in English, allowing you to get your money’s worth out of your admission.

Can’t/don’t like diving? Take a coral reef excursion on the Whale Submarine

Want to see the splendor that lies beneath the waves, but are scared of donning a SCUBA apparatus, or have a condition that prohibits it?

You don’t have to be kept from the brilliantly coloured world under the water, as the Whale Submarine will take you there.

Departing from Male’s harbour, this excursion will allow you to see the technicolor sea life at home in its own environment; just be sure to use the bathroom beforehand, as this tin can doesn’t have facilities aboard.

Watch today’s catch get cut up and sold at Male Market

Given its location in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it isn’t terribly surprising that the average Maldivian’s diet consists of the bounty of the sea.

See it get brought in, sliced up and auctioned off to buyers from across the isles at Male Market. If you’re looking to get an authentic taste of some Maldivian dishes that normal people eat, be sure to check out some of the restaurants close by to the market – well worth the effort!

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