Male is the capital of the Maldives, occupying an island all to itself. The country’s only airport is here so the majority of people pass through on their way to their island resort, but by doing so miss out on one of the gems of the Maldives. Male is densely populated with a lot of high-rise buildings, but it’s a colourful city with plenty of green spaces, and compact enough to cover in a day.
The Maldives is a Muslim country, so there are several landmarks in Male commemorating its religious heritage. The Islamic Centre has a mosque with a huge golden dome and a beautiful white exterior, and there’s also a library, conference hall and classrooms in the complex. Down the road, the Old Friday Mosque is less impressive from the outside, but is the country’s oldest Mosque and is still in use today.
The National Museum is housed in an impressive building that used to be the President’s home, and has a range of artefacts detailing the history of the Maldives. A city tour is a great way to explore, or you can charter a taxi for a reasonable hourly rate. Male doesn’t have beaches, but an artificial one has been made that is popular not just for sunbathing but also live music and events.
The Majeedhee Magu is the island’s main street running from the west to east tip, and is lined with shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery to electronics. The Local Market on the north waterfront gives you a peek into a more traditional side of the Maldives; here there are stalls selling local fruit and vegetables, sweetmeats, nuts and homemade sweets. Shopaholics will get a pleasant surprise here; shops stay open until 11pm.