Malé – the city in the ocean. It’s not a place most people think about when visiting the Maldives. In fact, most tourists never even set foot on Malé – the international airport of Maldives has its own separate island!
But the capital city of Maldives has a charm unlike no other, and to miss a tour of this city-isle would be to miss a key part of Maldivian culture, heritage and soul.
We’ve hand picked ten must-see sights of Malé, which you can cover in a day or two!
1 — The Fish Market
Come early to the Jetty and see the rows of quaint and colourful local fishing boats, called “Dhonis”, sleepily bobbing on gentle waves as fishermen unload their day’s catch and carry the fish by hand across the streets of Malé to the market.
The fish market comes alive in the late afternoon. Expect to see the frequently-caught Yellow Fin and Skip Jack Tuna and most breathtaking of all, the famous big game fish, the “Blue Marlin”.
2 — Snack at a Local Stall
Grab a snack at any one of the numerous small stalls along the ring road around the city, facing the vast ocean. They open in the late afternoon, peddling the freshest coconut juice and various local delicious short eats.
Just pull up a chair (which are often provided), lay back and relax. Let the fresh aroma of food and sea fill your lungs as you watch the bustling charm of the island city pass you by.
3 — The Artificial Beach
Funny but true, the capital city of the Maldives doesn’t have a natural beach!
The government built an artificial beach on the east side of the island. It’s very popular among the citizens, especially the women and children. It’s a peaceful place to have a cooling dip and mingle with the friendly locals.
You’ll find convenient changing rooms and showers, but just make sure you pay the 5 Rufiyaa (approx USD 0.39) for the use of the shower.
4 — Watch the Surfers
With only one surf break in Malé, this is where local surfers gather for a surf in the mid-afternoon. It’s a great place to sit by the sea wall and enjoy the spectacular stunts of these surfing pros. We don’t recommend swimming here unless you surf as well. If that’s not your thing, it’s perhaps better to take a calm stroll along the artificial beach.
5 — Mingle with the Locals at the Water Hole
Since Malé doesn’t have natural beaches, the locals get creative with what they have. You’ll find the water spot in the south side of the city. It’s a man-made harbor closed off from the boats, perfect for locals in the afternoon to take a refreshing dip to escape the heat. You’ll hardly find foreigners there, which makes this a fantastic opportunity to mingle with friendly locals.
6 — Grab a Fresh Local Fruit
Round the corner from the fish market, you’ll find the produce market. This is a great place to buy cheap local produce like fruits and vegetables.
Arm yourself with small notes of the local currency, Rufiyaa, and be ready to buy locally grown coconuts, watermelons, bananas, papayas, mangoes and a wide selection of exotic vegetables.
Apart from that, you absolutely can’t miss the the sights and fragrance of these fresh fruits.
7 — The Grand Friday Mosque
Open to visitors daily from 09.00 to 17.00; it is worth visiting. It was built in 1984 and it’s the biggest mosque in the country, and can accommodate 5000 devoted.
At night, the mosque takes on a new charm with a majestic golden glow.
8 — Visit the Abu Al Barakaath Tomb
Abu Al Barakaath was one of the most important historical figures in the Maldives. He was responsible for bringing Islam nearly a millennia ago, in 1153.
His tomb is located across the road close to the Maldives’ oldest and most famous mosque, the “Hukuru Miskiy” mosque.
9 — Visit the Historic Hukuru Miskiy Mosque
UNESCO has recognised this mosque as a pristine example of sea-culture architecture. It was built nearly 400 years ago in 1658 and is one of the largest and finest coral stone buildings in the world.
It naturally is the oldest mosque in the country, and is possibly the most important heritage site in the whole of the Maldives. Local artisans have immaculately carved its interiors. The gorgeous lacquer work and fluted coral walls give this historic building a timeless grandeur. It is decorated with carvings of historic significance, including one that commemorates the introduction of Islam in the 13th century.
Visits to enter the mosque must be pre-arranged. Not to worry, you can ask the staff of the resort you’re staying at to assist you, or we could do it for you too!
10 — Malé by Night
When sunset hits, the temperature cools down and the streets of Malé come alive.
Take a walk down the Majeedhee Magu, the main street of Malé, to see the variety of shops, eating places and walk along with the locals in the bustling walkways. It’s an eye-opening experience to experience a vibrant and modern city perched atop a tiny coral island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.