1. Get your spice fix
Fusing the spices of India and the aromas of South-east Asia, Maldivian cuisine is a melting pot of flavours. This explains local speciality addu kukulhu reha, a curried chicken cooked in spices and served with flatbread. Try it at Aioli Restaurant, a sleek, upmarket pan-Asian restaurant.
2. Have seafood on an artificial beach
With so many beguiling islands and beaches across the archipelago, it may seem strange that Male has an artificial beach on its eastern shore. But locals come not only for the sun, sand and surf, but also for the delicious seafood and sizzling platters at Breakwater.
3. Admire religious architecture
Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as Male’s Old Friday Mosque (Medhuziyaarai Magu), is the country’s most spectacular place of worship. With preserved coral architecture and features such as hand-carved walls and beautiful Koranic scriptures, it’s a dreamlike place to wander. Also a work of art, the Islamic Centre is a great example of local architecture with a resplendent golden dome and towering minarets. It’s open from 9am to 5pm, but only to non-Muslims outside prayer times.
4. Dress the part of a beach babe – or hunk
Not having the right set of sandals or slip-ons in the Maldives is practically a crime. Make sure you invest in beach-ready footwear at famous European shoe retailer Bata. The largest retailer of its kind in this part of the Indian Ocean, Sonee Sports is a long-running favourite. So if you can’t get beachwear essentials here, you won’t be able to get them anywhere else.
To see how Maldivians live, take a trip beyond Male to Maafushi in the Kaafu Atoll. One of the most happening islands in the archipelago, it’s home to coral mosques and houses, sandy roads used by beach bikes (there are no cars on the island), and schools with coconut palms in the playground.
– TEXT BY MIKE MACEACHERAN
PHOTOS: BATA MALDIVES, AIOLI RESTAURANT, BREAKWATER
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.