As the capital of the Maldives, Malé is the most bustling place in the country. Compared to other destinations in the archipelago, it is buzzing with vibrant energy and is the best place to visit if you want to experience the local culture and see how the locals live. While tourists often forego visiting Malé to spend their vacation entirely on an island resort, you’ll find that this city actually has a lot to offer for those seeking a rewarding holiday.
The local market in Malé is a great place to discover the local produce of the Maldives. Here you can find various fresh vegetables and tropical fruits, some unique to this region. Things worth looking out for when you visit are local spice mixes and Scotch Bonnet chilis, known locally as Githeyo Mirus. This chili is one of the spiciest in the world and is widely used in Maldivian cooking. At the fish market, you’ll also see various fresh catches, big and small. You can even find Maldivian smoked and dried fish in vacuum-sealed packs that you can bring back home.
Old Friday Mosque
The Old Friday Mosque or Hukuru Miskiiy is one of the most significant historical landmarks in Malé, and the Maldives as a whole. Built in 1656, it's one of the oldest structures on the island and is made up of coral boulders which were abundant around the island. This beautiful structure has ornate patterns and Quranic scripts carved around its walls, proof of the skills and creativity of people on the island.
Grand Friday Mosque
The Grand Friday Mosque is another must-visit landmark when you travel to the Maldives. Opened in 1984, it's covered in white marble and has a minimal, modern design. The large golden dome is one of the defining symbols of the city and has to be seen up close to be appreciated. Able to accommodate 5000 people at a time, the mosque is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed during prayer time. When you visit, remember to dress appropriately, with clothes that cover your legs, to respect the largely Muslim population here.
Maldives National Museum
The Maldives National Museum holds numerous priceless artifacts from Malé's history. Some of the things you can find here are ceremonial robes, ancient carvings and statues, as well as ancient weapons and armours unique to the country and region. When you’re here, you can visit both the old museum building which is the site of the Royal Palace, built in the 17th century and the new building, opened in 2010 as they are both only separated by Sultan Park.
Majeedi Magu Shopping Street
Majeedi Magu is where you can head to for last-minute shopping for gifts and souvenirs. This street is lined with shops selling everything you can think of including food, clothes, and souvenirs. The prices here are very reasonable, unlike what you’d usually expect when you shop at really touristy areas. If you love nautical memorabilia, you can also look out for a miniature dhoni which is a Maldivian sailboat to take home with you.
If you want to go on a family-friendly underwater adventure in the Maldives, then Malé's submarine tour is perfect for you. With portholes all along the side of the vessel, you can have a clear view of the surrounding coral reefs, fish, and other marine life from eels to turtles. There are also friendly crew members on board who will explain about the local marine biodiversity and answer any questions you have.
Other major landmarks worth checking out when you visit Malé are the Tsunami Monument, Sultan Park, and Malé's artificial beaches. Built to commemorate the lives lost during the 2006 tsunami, the Tsunami Monument is a significant part of the city, and so is Sultan Park. A vital green lung on the island, this park is, in fact, a former site of part of the Malé Royal Palace.
Whether it be for a day or two, visiting Malé should be on your Maldives travel list. You'll not only get close to the local culture and history of the country, but also have a great time in this city. At Club Med Kani and Finolhu Villas, we can arrange for a tour to discover Malé, among many other excursions. So if you're looking for a great place to stay in the Maldives, don't hesitate to check us out.