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|Tours to Male (Maldives)|
If it is paradise you are looking for on earth, come to Maldives. This is the place where you can have your tropical island with swaying palm trees, white beaches and brilliant blue water. Maldives is also the place where scuba divers can have a great time, exploring the unexplored depths of the seas with their coral reefs and marine life. However, a word of caution: Maldives is certainly not for the backpacking or budget travellers. As an island, Maldives has nurtured its tourism product with care. Since everything has to be brought from the mainland, the little island caters to the well-heeled. Naturally, the resorts that have been developed are exclusive. Each is on its own uninhabited island, where there is no traffic or pollution or even large numbers of people. At the same time, the country is interested in keeping its traditional Muslim communities intact. So, tourists are not encouraged to stay longer than necessary. And as for tours, most of them are guided visits to the local fishing villages. The climate of Maldives is warm throughout the year. Since it is on the Equator, the monsoons are mild. It was found that the country had approximately over 2,700 hours of sunshine.
There is no other way but to fly in to the Maldives. The Male International Airport, situated in Hulhule Island, is barely over a kilometer or about ten minutes by boat from Male, the capital. Everyone makes a beeline for Maldives from December to March and most of the resorts on the islands are full. So, anyone willing to visit the islands around those months must hold confirmed bookings in hotels. There is a wide choice of accommodation from among the 69 resort islands. The number is going to increase to 74 and that will include, not only the guest houses but also yachts and yacht-dhonis, a specially converted Maldivian vessel, which are licensed to accommodate visitors.
A resort island is a world by itself. Developed on uninhabited islands, each island is just one hotel, exclusively maintained and serviced for only a limited number of guests. The untouched white beaches are perfect for relaxation. There are coconut palms and greenery around the resorts. The resorts contain small bungalow-style rooms with excellent views of the beach, the sea and nothing but the sea beyond. The resorts are equipped with modern conveniences and at least two restaurants. The larger resorts often have as many as five different restaurants serving a wide variety of local and Continental cuisine. The hotel tariff includes bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Most of the activities for visitors to Maldives center around the sea. The reefs around the islands are excellent for diving and snorkeling. There are a host of other activities like water-skiing and windsurfing. In addition, the resorts and hotels have facilities for lawn tennis, soccer, volleyball, and indoor games such as billiards, table tennis, chess or darts.
For those who want total relaxation, there cannot be anything better than lazing on the beach and simply stare away at the green islands springing out of the blue ocean. And you can do so without anyone peering over your back since the beaches are never crowded. The nights and evenings too are delightful for under the clear sky in Maldives, the stars seem extra bright.
The other form of relaxation is cruising among the islands. There are yachts and yacht-dhonis with bunk beds or private cabins available for hire. These boats can accommodate between eight to twenty passengers on cruises that sail for ten to fifteen days. Some of the larger vessels have scuba diving and windsurfing facilities with qualified instructors on board. Food prepared by the crew using the day's fresh catch of fish may be modest, but a tourist is never too far to stop for a sumptuous meal or a drink.
The tourist resort islands have their own transfer boats to ferry their clients. Visitors with confirmed reservations are normally met on arrival at the airport and transferred by boat, helicopter or sea-plane to the resort island of their choice.
There is no regular inter-island transportation system between inhabited islands. The ad hoc transportation system is serviced mainly by local boats called Dhoni or Baththeli. A lager number of dhonis move around the Male International Airport and Male route as ferries. Air Maldives, the national carrier, operates regular flights to the domestic airports at Hanimaadhoo, Kadhdhoo, Kaadedhdhoo and Gan.
Male, earlier known as Sultan's Island, is the capital of the Maldives. It is the commercial centre, seat of government and the location of many important historical and religious landmarks. With an area of just over 1.77 sq km, it is home to over sixty thousand people, and is the busiest and most populous island in the archipelago.
Among the tourist attractions is the Grand Friday Mosque, the biggest mosque in the Maldives. It also includes the Islamic Centre. This mosque with its golden dome is a landmark in Male. It can accommodate over five thousand worshippers at a time. There is also the old Friday Mosque with its unique minaret and the tombs of national heroes and members of royalty, which provides a glimpse of the country's past. The mosque has some wonderful architecture.
Other important sites in Male include the tombs of legendary saints,
Mulee-aage - the Presidential Palace and the National Museum in the Sultan
Park. All are within a ten minute stroll.
Male, incidentally, is the best place for shopping if you are interested in buying imported goods. Most of the shops that specialize in tourists do sell a lot of local handicrafts and souvenirs. If you are looking for duty free shops, there are some located at the Male International Airport. They offer a wide range of goods from cameras, cosmetics, electrical and electronic equipment, cigarettes and other merchandise.
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