Maldives is a nation of more than 1000 coral islands scattered down the middle of the Indian Ocean like little gems. Surrounded by turquoise lagoons and home to rainbow colored fish, each island holds its own unique character. The land of turquoise waters is the ultimate in the space of luxurious beach vacations, a plethora of ancient coral reefs and delectable seafood.Spot rate tropical fish like neon clown fish to slow-moving manta rays on the diving spot called Fushifaru Thila. Revel in your rendezvous with solitude at the secluded beach resort at the Cocoa Island in the south Male Atoll and pamper yourself with decadent spa treatments. Explore the corals at Maa Kandu and Kuda Kandu. Indulge in some shark-viewing at the Hammerhead Point. Maldives has an extraordinary setting of water sports activities, even for some one who does not know how to swim and is ideal honeymoon getaways, an epitome of an indulgent holiday.
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- Getting Around
- Taxis are available only on Male although relatively small you may need the services of a taxi especially if it is raining. In Male Taxies charge between RF 15.00 to 20.00 per stop. With an extra charges of RF 5.00 for luggage carried.
- Water Transport: The Main form of local transport is the Dhoni a traditional all purpose vessel now usually powered by a Diesel engine only for a short distance.
- Seaplanes are often used as a quicker option by tourist resorts located atolls further from the airport. Catching a seaplane is a rare treat that adds an extra layer to your experience of the Maldives by putting its unique geography into perspective through cottony layers of cloud.
- To get Male’, the capital, you can catch a ferry from the airport, that leaves every few minutes for just a dollar or 10 Maldivian Rufiyaas during daytime. Dhonis have been used by locals for centuries and this ferry is a modern adaptation to the traditional one and are often bedecked in kitsch decorations.
- Facts you need to know about
- The official name of Maldives is the Republic of Maldives. However, the official local long form name for the Maldives is Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa.
- Maldives was under Portuguese occupation between 1558 and 1573. It became a Dutch protectorate in the seventeenth century. In 1887, Maldives became a British protectorate and remained so till 1965, when it gained full independence from the United Kingdom.
- Maldives Population is concentrated on the comparatively larger islands of the archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The approximate population of Maldives is 369,031. Of the 1,190 islands forming Maldives only 200 are inhabited and 87 are used as tourist resorts.
- Maldives Forests cover an area of approximately 30% of the total land area of the island nation. The small coral islands forming the archipelago of Maldives do not have any dense forest cover.
- One of the best tourists’ attractions of Maldives is the Sultan Park, which is now a public park, built in 16th century, on the southern side of the demolished royal palace grounds in Male. It is a witness to the glory of Slutanate’s era.
- According to Historians, Maldives has been populated as early as the 4th century BC. It is speculated that the early migrants were from Arabia, eastern Africa and the Indian subcontinent among other places. Today, the Maldivians are a mixed race.
- Interestingly the flag of Maldives also has a story behind it. The white semi-circle symbolizes Islamic faith. The red color of the flag is the signification of blood sacrificed by the nation’s heroes. The green section of the national flag represents the life source of Maldives that are the palm trees.
- Maldives is home to the lowest highest point in the world at just 2.3 meters
- It is illegal to practice any religion but Islam in public
- Time Difference Maldives is half hours behind India time.
- Weather and Climate Maldives Weather is influenced by the geographical location of the island nation and the effect of sea breezes. The location of the island in the Equatorial region of the globe makes the weather of Maldives fall under the category of monsoonal type.
- National carrier (Airlines) Maldives National Carrier is Air Maldives.
- Currency MVR
- Languages Spoken The Official languages are Maldivian, Dhivehi and English
- Electricity Plug Details The electric system is 220-240 Volts – the same as the UK. The plug sockets are usually 3-pin UK type sockets too.
In the crystal waters of the Indian Ocean, southeast of India is the archipelago of the Republic of Maldives. It consists of 1,192 coral islands in 26 coral atolls, 200 of which are inhabited by the Maldivian people. There are 80 islands leased to international resorts. The local staple is fish, usually combined with coconut and rice. Capsicum, chills, onions, curry leaves and lemon juice are used in many preparations. Many of the flavors are derived from Kerala and Sri Lanka and are often very spicy and hot.
While all the resorts in the Maldives provide a great variety of international food, many with restaurants covering Italian, Japaneses, French and Indian food, eating new dishes can be one of the real pleasures of traveling so read on if you wish to learn more about local Maldivian cuisine.
Tuna is the main fish served. Skip-jack tuna, little tunny, frigate tuna and yellow fin tuna are the favourites. Wahoo, Mahi-mahi and big eye scad are also eaten. Fish is prepared in several ways including boiled, smoked, sun dried or processed.
Processed tuna, or Maldive fish, is produced in the Maldives and is a staple of Maldivian cuisine. It is also exported, mainly to Sri Lanka. The production process is to cut the fish in a particular way, boil it in water, smoke it and sun-dry it until it is like a piece of wood. With this type of preparation, the fish can be kept without refrigeration for years.
Maldive fish is flaked or pounded into small pieces and added to other dishes as flavoring. It is also sometimes used to make the filling for a dough-wrapped pastry eaten as a snack called short eats.
Garudiya is a traditional preparation which may be served every day. It is a clear fish broth made with one of the favorite fish. After cleaning, the fish is well cooked in boiling water with salt. It will produce foam on top that is removed and discarded. Chilies, onions and curry leaves may be used to flavor the soup, but usually it is made with fish, salt and water. It is served hot with rice, lemon, onion and chili.
If the soup is cooked until all the water is boiled away, a thick, brown paste remains. This is called Rihaakuru and is also a traditional Maldivian dish. It is consumed almost every day in Maldivian homes. In the Maldives, eating raw fish is not in their tradition.
Coconuts are used in most Maldivian recipes. They are grated, squeezed for the coconut milk or pressed for coconut oil. Grating takes place on a small stool with an extended serrated blade. The cook sits on the stool and scrapes the coconut meat from the inside of the half shell. To get the milk, the scraped coconut is squeezed after soaking in water. This coconut milk is used in curries, desserts and other dishes. The oil is used for anything deep fried.
There are three stages of the development of the coconut that are used in Maldivian cooking. The first stage is called Kurumba. It is tender coconut and the coconut water is taken as a refreshing drink. The custard-like flesh is also eaten.
The coconut develops soft, fleshy meat. It is grated or removed with a knife and eaten with coconut honey or as an ingredient of some desserts. It is called Gabulhi.
The coconut that is used for cooking is the hard flesh. It is scrapped out of the half shell and added to fish and curries. Coconut milk is made from this flesh.
Rice is boiled or ground into flour and there are also tubers used in Maldivian cuisine. Taro, sweet potato, tapioca are used as is breadfruit, which are all eaten boiled. Fruits include pandanus, bananas, mangoes and papaya.
Flat bread called roshi is traditional. It is like an Indian chapatti or parotha. It is made with three cups of all-purpose flour, three tablespoons of vegetable oil, one and a half teaspoons of salt and warm water. All the dry ingredients are mixed together and the warm water is slowly added. The dough is kneaded until it is dry and smooth. Small pieces, about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, are rolled out to a flat circle about six inches in diameter. It is cooked on both sides on a hot griddle with no oil.
- Food & Eating Guide
The most common Maldivian breakfast is Mashuni. It is a smoked tuna dish with coconut.
1 cup diced smoked tuna
1 cup scraped coconut
1 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped Chinese capsicum
Lemon juice and salt to taste
Mash together the onions, capsicum, lemon juice and salt. Mix in the tuna until it is well combined and add the coconut. This is eaten with roshi.
Sometimes Mashuni is baked inside the roshi. This is called Masroshi. The Roshi is shaped into small balls and flattened by hand. The Mashuni is also formed into small balls and folded into the roshi and shaped into round cakes. This is baked in medium heat until it looks golden brown.
The correct use and proportion of spices is important in Maldivian cooking to make sure the right flavor is achieved. The spices not only create the flavor, but also the color, which is just as important.
Maldivian food includes curries that came to the islands from South India and Sri Lanka, but the Maldive people made them all their own. Dhon Riha or Maldivian Tuna Curry is a favorite. It is eaten with roshi or rice.
1 medium size tuna that has been skinned, boned and chopped into chunks of one inch
One Fourth tablespoon turmeric powder
1 inch crushed ginger
Salt to taste
2 cups thick coconut milk
1 cup thin coconut milk
1 cup scraped coconut
1 finely sliced onion
Half tablespoon cinnamon powder
7 teaspoons curry powder
2 pieces of raw mango skinned
Half chili pepper
To prepare, blend into a smooth paste one quarter tablespoon turmeric powder, salt and one cup scraped coconut.
Mix together one cup of thick coconut milk and one cup of thin coconut milk. Keep another cup of thick coconut milk aside. Mix one half tablespoon cinnamon, one inch of crushed ginger, one finely sliced onion. Put half of this in the coconut milk. Let this boil on low heat. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut paste and the rest of the cinnamon mixture and dip one inch cubes of 500 grams of tuna filet into this mixture. When the coconut milk combination begins to boil add the tuna, seven teaspoons of curry powder, half of a red chili pepper, two pieces of skinned raw mango and salt. Stir while cooking over low heat. When it begins to boil, add the other cup of thick coconut milk and let it cook for three more minutes.
The luli Mas
The luli Mas is spicy fried fish. It is a very common dish and quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes the ingredients change a bit on different islands
3 tuna steaks about 1/3 inches thick
2 and half tablespoons lonumirus curry powder
2 and half tablespoons tomato paste
Half cup oil for frying
Start with one third inch thick tuna steaks. Mix to a paste two and a half tablespoons of lonumirus curry powder, a hot chilli curry powder, and two and a half tablespoons of tomato paste. This paste should be rubbed into the tuna steaks and covered with plastic wrap.
After half an hour, heat one third to one half cup of coconut or vegetable oil in a pan and arrange the steaks in the oil. Put on the lid and let it cook on low heat until the bottom side is brown. Turn the steaks over and cook until the other side is brown. They should be slightly crispy. This can be served with rice, roshi or vegetables.
Breadfruit is used for curries, desserts and short eats. A popular breadfruit curry is Banbukeylu Harisa.
1 breadfruit skinned, cored and steamed until very soft
One fourth of a smoked tuna thinly sliced
2 chopped onions
1 hot chili pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
One fourth teaspoon ginger paste
2 cups thick coconut milk
One fourth teaspoon turmeric powder
1 piece pandan leaf
4 curry leaves
1 tablespoon ghee
Salt to taste
One small breadfruit is skinned, cored and steamed until it is tender and then mashed. One tablespoon of ghee is heated and a quarter of two chopped onions is added to the ghee along with one piece of pandan leaf, one quarter teaspoon of ginger paste and four curry leaves. This is stir-fried until the onions are golden. Then it is moved to a plate.
The remaining onion, one red chili, two teaspoons of salt and two teaspoons of lemon juice are mixed together. Add one quarter thinly sliced smoked tuna to this and then add the breadfruit and mix thoroughly. When it is mixed, add two cups of thick coconut milk and one quarter teaspoon turmeric powder and bring it to a boil on low heat. When it begins to boil, add the fried onion mixture that was set aside. This is served with rice or roshi.
- Culture & Customs
- The culture of the Maldives is derived from a number of sources, the most important of which is its proximity to the shores of Sri Lanka and South India. The population is mainly Indo-Aryan from the anthropological point of view
- The language is of Indo-Iranian Sanskrit origin, which points at a later influence from the north of the subcontinent. The Dhivehi language is closely related to Sinhala. According to legends, the kingly dynasty that ruled the country in the past has its origin there.
- These ancient kings may have brought Buddhism from the subcontinent, but it is not clear. In Sri Lanka, there are similar legends, but it is improbable that the ancient Maldives royals and Buddhism came both from that island, because none of the Sri Lankan chronicles mentions the Maldives. It is unlikely that the ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka would have failed to mention the Maldives, if a branch of its kingdom had extended itself to the Maldives Islands
- Travel Tips
Tipping is very common among travelers visiting the Maldives. Even if you don’t tip, you will not be discriminated against, as tipping is not compulsory. Taxis drivers are not tipped.