Off the Beaten track Maldives

/ / Specialist Travel
Off the beaten track Maldives

Getting off the beaten track in the Maldives

Maldives is an archipelago of islands near India and Sri Lanka. It’s Asia’s smallest country, but this tiny island nation packs in big adventure, scenery, and tropical vibes. The country is best known as one of the world’s top tourist destinations for relaxing in luxury. With some of the best hotel brands having resorts in the country, the Maldives offer the ultimate luxurious surroundings for being treated like royalty. The attractions of a holiday vacation in the Maldives are obvious. The Maldives is a real-life desert-island fantasy and it’s a favourite place for honeymooners.  Crystal clear lagoons and frosted white-sand beaches come as standard.

It is a heaven for those who love scuba diving and it is often referred to as ‘a treasure trove of marine life.’ Various fish and plant species are found around the coral reefs. More than 700 species of fishes are found, such as Trevally’s, Dogtooth Tuna, Tuna, Jacks, Sweetlips, Butterfly fish, Wahoo and Fusiliers.

What if you want to get off the beaten track in the Maldives?

While most of the population lives in the capital Male, there are small towns and culturally rich villages scattered around the 200 inhabited islands of Maldives.

The Maldives has been inhabited since around the 5th century BC by people coming across from, what is today, Sri Lanka and India. Evidence suggests early inhabitants were Buddhist but by 1153 CE, Islam was adopted across the islands when Arab interest in the region became prominent. Before converting to Islam, the Maldivians were known to practice Buddhism and ancient paganism. Ancient Buddhist ruins are preserved in the country and antique Buddhist artefacts are displayed in the National Museum in Male.

The Sultanate became a Republic in 1953 with Mohamed Ameen Didi (formerly Prime Minister) as President for a few months before the Sultanate was restored. The Maldives became independent in 1965. Three years later the Sultanate was abolished again, and Ibrahim Nassir was elected President.

Steeped in rich culture and tradition, the Maldives culture is heavily shaped by Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysia, Arab, Persian, Indonesian and even African influences. Maldivians are incredibly warm, welcoming, and friendly people who will go above and beyond to make your visit to their home truly unforgettable. Maldivian food is a mixture of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan and oriental flavours, so it’s the ideal place to visit if spicy food is your thing. You can try everything from freshly caught seafood, to fragrant curries, and zesty soups that’ll leave flavours lingering in your mouth. Traditional Maldivian cuisine is based on three main ingredients and their derivatives, namely coconut, fish, and starches containing grains and vegetables.

The most common breakfast here is called mas huni. This dish is a combination of smoked tuna, onion, coconut and chilli. It’s usually mashed altogether, and comes with a side of flatbread called roshi, so you can savour every morsel. It’s very tasty and keeps you going until lunchtime.

Local Travel in Maldives

Maldivian people are very much aware of their beautiful surroundings and make the most of living in paradise. The beach is a popular hangout spot where locals of all ages visit throughout the day. You’ll find island residents at the beach playing, swimming, or having a picnic with the family.

When staying on an inhabited island, please remember that all tourists (men, women, and children) must dress conservatively on public beaches. This is all part of getting off the beaten track in the Maldives and it is a great experience to visit the public beaches and interact with the residents.

In the past, when no hotels or guesthouses existed in the Maldives, the locals would lodge at friends’ homes when visiting other islands. However sometimes and often due to inclement weather conditions, people would be forced to anchor at unfamiliar islands. When this happened, the locals would befriend the visitor, offer a place to stay and extend any other needed assistance. In this way, Maldivians were able to befriend strangers and forge new friendships and this same sense of warm hospitality can be experienced on your visit as well.

The language of Maldives

An important way to show respect for any culture is to embrace cultural differences. This can be as simple as taking the time to learn a few key phrases or words of the local language. Even if you are unable to say them perfectly, your efforts will always be appreciated. The language of the Maldives is called Dhivehi (sometimes written as Divehi). Over the years the language has been influenced by several other languages, mainly Arabic, French, Persian, Portuguese and English. In a curious bit of trivia, English words such as ‘atoll’ and ‘doni’ are widely regarded to be anglicized forms of the Dhivehi words ‘Atholhu’ and ‘Dhoni’.

Anyone doing their research in to where to visit in the Maldives will have seen that they must include Male Island, Hulhumale Island, Biyadhoo Island, and Fihalhohi Island. However, islands such as Guraidhoo, Maafushi, and Gulhi are also great for first time visitors. The added bonus here is that you can appreciate the culture, scenery, and people with the opportunity to get involved in local environmental projects. This is getting off the beaten track but with a purpose.

Getting around the Maldives Islands

If you plan to see the Maldives independently and you are on a budget, traveling by the public ferries is the best option. They connect all the local islands (meaning the inhabited public islands) and prices range from $5 to $30. However, remember that this is the Maldives, expect services to be unreliable and the timetables to require a Phd to understand.  When planning island hopping and looking at doing this on your one independently, then expect to spend much of your of time waiting around. In many cases you may have to stay overnight on an interim island to get to your destination.

Seaplanes and private boat charters are possible but expensive. If just going to the one resort island then these are a great option and often arranged by the resort. If you are looking at getting around and seeing the real Maldives, then our get in touch with us at Our Local Tour and along with our expert local travel planners, we can put together the ideal Maldives tour.