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Highlights10

Maldives Visitor's Guide

Specks of emerald green surrounded by clear turquoise waters, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are more than a thousand islands and coral reefs. In fact, the word 'Maldives' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Maladip', meaning 'garland of islands'. Pristine white beaches, swaying coconut palms and the most incredible underwater marine life and an amazing cultural diversity together with traditional Maldivian hospitality make these islands in the sun an incredible holiday destination.

Maldives at a glance
Time: +5 hrs GMT
Capital: Male
Number of islands: 1,190
Inhabited islands: 200
Resorts: 88
Population (2006): 2,98,842
Major industries: Tourism and Fisheries
Currency: Rufiyaa
Working hours: Government - 7.30am to 2.30pm (Sun to Thur)
Private sector- 8.00am to 5.00pm (Sat to Thur)
Banks- 8.00am to 5.00pm (Sun to Thur)

Language:

Dhivehi is the official language of the Maldives, though English is widely used. In the resorts, the staff is usually multilingual and can speak languages like French, German, Italian and Japanese.GeographyThe atolls of the Maldives are formed from coral structures. Ring-shaped reef structures from the atolls and these reefs provide the natural barrier against wind and wave.

Culture

As the Maldives is located at the crossways of the Indian Ocean shipping routes surrounding the Indian subcontinent, the islands were a meeting point for African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian mariners. Therefore Maldivian culture was shapped by these many influences and this is evident in the country's cuisine, music, art and craft.

Sightseeing and Excursions

The Hukuru Miskily Mosque built in 1656 built with finely fluted coral blocks, the Presidential Palace, Mulee-aage, the former Presidential house built before World War I, Islamic Centre, Sultan Park and Museum, and a unique artificial beach are some of the tourist attractions here. Almost all the resorts offer a variety of excursions: island hopping, night fishing and barbecues, photo flights to savour the beauty of the Maldives from the air and trips to the capital, Male commercial and political hub of the islands.

Travel

The Maldives is easily accessible by air from anywhere in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe. Flights to Male, the only international airport in the Maldives would take about an hour from Colombo, about four hours from Singapore and Dubai and about nine to eleven hours from Europe. The airport complex also has duty free shops, restaurants, medical facilities, bank, post office, landside shops, etc. The airport hotel is also in Male.

Immigration/Visa

Tourists are issued a maximum of 30-day tourist visa on arrival. A valid travel document is necessary. Visa extensions are granted by the Department of Immigration in Male.

Health Requirements

Visitors arriving from infected countries need an international certificate of inoculation against yellow fever and cholera.

Resort Transfer

Resort transfer is usually arranged by the resort with which you have a booking. Depending on the distance, options available are sea plane, speedboat, motor boat or dhoni.

Weather and Climate

The Maldives has a warm tropical climate throughout the year. Maximum and minimum temperatures very between 31.1 ° C and 25.5 ° C. The south-west monsoon is form April to October and the northeast, from December to March, through there is a great deal of sunshine between December and April.

Things to Do

Diving: The Maldives is one of the best dive destinations in the world. Diverse fauna and flora inhabit the coral reefs. There are thousands of dive sites and one can literally swim from one to the other. Each dive site is unique in form, flora and fauna. The resorts here have dive centres staffed by experienced and qualified divers.

Water sports: All the resorts offer a range of water sports and fun activities like snorkelling, wind surfing, catamaran sailing, kayaking, kite-surfing, water-skiing and jet skiing. Surfing is another popular sport and the annual International Surf Event has put the Maldives firmly on the world surf map. The surfing season is April October, with the biggest swells from June to September. The best known surf breaks are in the North and South Male Atoll.

Excursions: Some of the favourite excursions on offer are island hopping, night fishing, photo flights and the Male excursion.

Spas: The Maldives spas are amoung the best in the world. They offer a perfect blend of luxurious therapies with classic European
spa techniques.

Entertainment: Resorts offer varied entertainment - a club atmosphere, discos, live music and traditional dance programmes.

Clothes

Lightweight casual clothing is recommended. Swimwear is the norm on resorts; when visiting inhabited islands, shorts and shirt are acceptable for men, and women should cover their bodies and things. So pack tee shirts, beachwear, wraparound skirts, cotton shirts and shorts. Sandles, sunglasses, sunscreen and caps are necessary accessories. Mosquito repellent is useful if you plan to travel to many islands.

Medical Facilities

There are two hospitals in Male the government-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGM) and the privately-owned Abduarahman Don Kaleyfan Hospital (ADK). Most resorts have resident doctors.



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