Male is the capital of the exotic Maldives and is an edge-to-edge island city surrounded by clear turquoise waters. The city spreads over to three other islands, including Hulhule Island, where the Male airport is located. One of the islands, Hulhumale, was man-made to accommodate Male's ever-increasing population. The central island of the capital stands in stark contrast to the more laid-back beach life of the other Maldives Islands and gives visitors the opportunity to experience the real life, culture and bustling economy of the country and get to know its people, away from the more generic beach resorts. One of the best things about the city is that it is small enough to easily be navigated on foot. For those visitors who enjoy sun and sand, there is an artificial beach on the east coast of the island which offers excellent surfing.
The city is packed with attractively coloured buildings and historic mosques, along with plenty of shops and markets to explore. The main market in Male is definitely worth a visit with its array of varied offerings. The Sultan's Palace and Maldivian National Museum offer a chance to visit one small part of the only remaining historic building dating back to the island's Sultanate past. While there is no surrounding countryside in Male itself, a visit to this area gives the opportunity to relax in the green and pretty park. The Islamic Centre is one of Male's most well-known landmarks, topped by an attractive golden dome, while the Friday Mosque and Kalhu Vakaru Miskiy mosque are an interesting visit.
The city also offers a variety of alcohol-free bars and restaurants worth a taste test, with many serving the traditional local cuisine but also a range of more international dishes. For those visitors wishing to travel further afield, Hulhumale Island is a short boat trip away, where there are several cafés and restaurants and a pleasant beach. Among regular events held in the city are the exciting Male Midnight Run held each July. Both National Day and Republic Day offer a series of colourful marches and parades through the city, as does Independence Day, with its many exciting and colourful festivities and delicious foods.
Things to Do
Due to its relatively small size, the city of Male can comfortably be explored on foot. Whether browsing the many shops and markets of the city, or wishing to learn more about its history, Male offers a variety of interesting sites to visit, as well as a small and pleasant man-made beach close to the harbour.
History in the Sultan's Palace and Maldivian National Museum
The Sultan's Palace is located in Sultan Park and is the only remaining portion of the original Sultan's Palace. It has been converted into the Maldivian National Museum, where a collection of photographs and royal regalia can be viewed, as well as three moon rocks displayed with a Maldivian flag that actually travelled to the moon. The building is surrounded by a pretty park with trees and flowers -- perfect for relaxation after a day of exploring the city.
The iconic Islamic Centre of Male
One of Male's more iconic landmarks, the Islamic Centre complex houses the Grand Friday Mosque. This is the largest of its kind in the Maldives and can accommodate 5,000 worshippers. The modern building is topped by an attractive golden dome which dominates the city's skyline and can be visited outside of prayer hours. Please note, however, that taking photographs inside the building is prohibited. The mosque is located in the main city square Jumhooree Maidan.
Shopaholic heaven in the main market of Male
The main market of the city is located on the waterfront esplanade in Male close to the harbour. Here can be found a wide variety of goods, including fresh fish and vegetables, various local food items, fabrics and clothing. Close by is what has been dubbed Artificial Beach, a protected ocean pool where visitors can cool off after a hot day. Please note that conservative swimwear is a must here.
Take a boat trip to Hulhu Male Island
Enjoy a short boat trip in the fresh sea air to the reclaimed and man-made Hulhumale Island. The island offers a feel of the countryside outside of the main city along with several cafés and restaurants. It was built to meet the housing requirements of the city's burgeoning population. There is also an attractive beach on the opposite side of the island from the jetty. The island is connected by a causeway with Hulhule Island, where the airport is housed.
Calendar of Events
From celebrations of national pride to fun sporting events, there is sure to be something fun for visitors to take part in, no matter when they visit Male.
Male Midnight Run. Held each year on varying dates during July, the Male Midnight Run is an exciting night running event where participants can choose from three categories: the 5 km or 10 km race or a Half-Marathon. The midnight run is one of the largest annual running events in the Maldives and is a non-profit event organised by running enthusiasts, and can be entered by visitors to the city.
National Day. The Qaumee Dhuvas annual celebration is held on the first day of Rabee-ul Awwal and falls in February or March depending on the Islamic calendar. Spectacular marches and parades are held across the city and throughout the country.
Independence Day. Celebrated each year on 26th July, the event celebrates the 1965 independence of the Maldives from Britain. Locals and visitors alike pack the streets as parades, performances and other festivities and food events are held. The event gives visitors an insight into the traditions and culture of the local inhabitants.
Republic Day. Republic Day falls on 11th November each year to celebrate the end of the Sultanate on 11th November 1968 and the start of the Republic of the Maldives. A variety of parades and festivities are held in the streets of the city, while locals and visitors alike can enjoy the various traditional foods of the day, including a delicious coconut cake, sweet rice snacks and fish-filled pancakes.