24 hours in Malé
Written by Sarah Harvey
In contrast to the pristine beaches and idyllic turquoise lagoons of the resort islands, is the Maldives’ frenetic yet fascinating capital city. Tourism is the biggest economy in this Sunni Muslim society (the country welcomes almost a million visitors per year); fishing is the second-largest economy. Speedboats carrying tourists to resorts criss-cross over the channel, iPhones buzz in the coffee shops, scooters weave through the narrow streets, and colourful fishing boats chug in and out of the harbour. The Maldivians have a vibrant heritage and are believed to originate from India, Sri Lanka, Africa, and Arabia. Ancient mosques and souvenir shops selling traditional handicrafts stand alongside glittering high-rise offices on this compact 2.2km2 island.
Since Malé is so small, a taxi ride to any destination costs the flat rate of 20 rufiyaa with an additional charge of 5 rufiyaa for luggage.
The reliable bus network is an excellent way of exploring the city. Routes loop around the periphery of the island or snake through the central streets.
You can cover the city on foot in less than a day. Alternatively, join throngs of locals ‘promenading’ in the cool evenings on Marine Drive.
The airport is located on an island of its own. Hop on a wooden ferry for the ten-minute journey to Malé, and watch the cityscape emerge from the sea.