Real truth about the Capital of Maldives

Real truth about Maldives, Maldives Capital and local people life


Maldives islands – it’s a paradise on the Earth in our imagination.

Everyone dreamed to visit this dreamland with warm, clear sea, white sand and enchanting sunsets. Any traveler will be told with pleasure about Maldives like about paradise resort, where rich people relax in beautiful bungalows standing on a water.

I was fortunate to visit the Maldives for 4 days.

I have to say that the Maldives were not my destination path, I was planning a trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives were just a place for my first stop and the rest from a long 12 hour flight.

I want to tell about my first impressions about simple people’s life on Maldives, specifically, I’d like to describe Maldives Islands like a country, not like a resort in this article.

Maldives Islands have its own airport, its Capital, its own administrative buildings, its own police, its own food.

In order to understand the real life of local Maldivian people, the traveler must to visit directly places, where they live, they rest and, «sorry», swim the local people of this country.

Maldives airport

After the long flight by German «Condor Airlines», I was expected to land on a fantastic island surrounded by wonderful palm trees and friendly local people.

I was woken up by the stewardess, which offered to my breakfast. I have seen in porthole that I fly above the water surface and my plane is surrounded by tiny islands, more precisely «atolls», how to call them professional travelers. «Atoll» – essentially means coral island.

Maldives (view from porthole)

Maldives (view from porthole)

Maldives private island plane view

Private island, Maldives (Plande view)

The landing was hard, because the landing strip of the island, where was arranged airport was too short, our plane literally was hung his nose over blue water.

We have gone out from the plane and I saw a strange building of small airports.

The airport was really tiny, especially the arrival area. In the arrival zone situated customs control, which resembles the booth on the food market.

Not friendly customs officer asked me:

–       At what resort you’ll stay?

I answered:

–       I arrived in Male (capital of Maldives), in order to make a connection on the way to Sri Lanka.

Customs officer studied a long time my voucher from and with a gloomy face made a stamp in my passport «employment prohibited».

By the way from airport

After exiting from the arrivals area, I found myself on an island, surrounded on all sides by water. The water really was crystal clear.

Ferry taxi

Ferry taxi parking near Male airport

Near the exit from the airport I found taxi boats. I went to them immediately.

I knew that I needed to move to another island, but how to find the hotel, where to catch a taxi – I did not understand.

The cost of transfer on the boat was very cheap. I paid a mere penny for this little trip.

A young man walked through all the passengers and get from them a certain amount, as I remember, it was not more than a dollar. I had only large bills, which I prudently changed at the airport, a man, a little embarrassed counted the change and we went towards the Male.

From afar, I saw a hotel with a great name «Relax INN».

Hotel Relax INN (View from ferry taxi)

Hotel Relax INN (View from ferry taxi)

And only in the hotel, I realized in which country I was finding myself.

Maldivian Capital city Hotel «Relax INN»

I shall warn that to prepare trip: My House – Maldives – Sri Lanka and back, I had only 2 days. I was concerned at this point about visas and flight and rather poorly studied, in fact, the country, in which I was to travel.

At the reception I met two women wearing the hijab. And then it dawned on me – the Maldives – a Muslim country! Strictly speaking, I understood, that I found an expensive Egypt, and all following consequences of the Muslim world, namely a standard of behavior (including alcohol and appearance).

I understood that this hotel (in the capital) would not be very respectable, so I booked the best room on the top floor. Number even improved comfort (actually even Lux) was, roughly speaking, «not much».

Despite all the shortcomings of my room, the view from the window of the nearby island (that turned out was closed from the public visits), was beautiful!

Of course I wanted something to drink to celebrate his first day in the Maldives, but in Muslim countries alcohol is banned, so I went to the balcony to smoke. Before that, I quit smoking and have not smoked for about 6-7 months, but I still want to celebrate my visit to the Maldives, so forgive me this «detail».

Male – The Capital of Maldives

Of course, primarily I wanted to do two things – namely, a stroll through the capital of Maldives and swim in the crystal clear sea.

I changed into swimming trunks, more precisely – shorts, and primarily I consulted with the girls at the front desk how much defiant I look. Girls approved my dress code and I went for a walk around the capital.

Male was quite small, but what can I say – just a tiny, you can explore the whole island around, if desired, for 15 minutes, with long-term study of all the streets and alleys – no more than 30-45, if you’ll wish to visit shops and attractions – no more than an hour.

So, how impressed I was the capital of Maldives? – Nohow!

Male – the tiny island, built so that there is no place to fall apple, garbage lying around everywhere, the streets are deserted, the café also empty, in the shops you can only buy pistachio nuts and find a small selection of soft drinks.

My wife and me we stopped in a cafe, where I drank a jar of non-alcoholic beer and a little bit snacks.

Yes, beer is really not enough. But what you want – you are in a strict Muslim country!

Beer in Male - 0% Alchogol

Beer with Male – 0% alcohol

Maldives beaches for local people

We arrived early in the morning. Realizing that there is nothing to do in the city, we decided to go to the beach.

All my conversations with the girls at the reception did not lead to anything. As I understood it, for the local people, there are only three islands, one of which “works” only on weekends, and the other is adjacent to the airport, and the third – just a residential island, where the school is located, a kindergarten and a military unit.

We decided to visit the nearest island, because we have quite a small time before the sunset.

Before, I have seen the «irons» from my window, that go back and forth, «irons» – a large ferry that looks exactly like the real «irons» that go between the islands or even float away in an unknown direction. On one of these irons and we went to the island.

What are we about to see on the island?

On the way to the island, I realized that I was the object of attention from the locals. Of course, a young white man floating to the «administrative» island from the «administrative» Capital. I hasten to note that it is unlikely in other countries you’ll be a «black sheep», if only you’ll not wander off into some remote places.

We have gone out from the ferry and we really did not understand what to do. All the locals quickly took a run at the corners. We had no choice but to rent a taxi.

The taxi driver, kindly, delivered us to the beach for $ 20. The entire road took no more than 2 minutes.

Now we’re told about most interesting…

That’s all sorts of ways – and the sun and the white sand and palm trees and crystal clear water, there is one important thing – garbage.

The whole beach was dirtied cans, bottles, bags, cigarettes, rusty barrels and simply waste. Sometimes there is more or less clean place, but, consequently, the garbage lying as huge mountains in the bushes.

We found more than a clean place and yet swim.

All the way back to the hotel I have not stopped thinking – how these people live, maybe I found myself not on the beach, but to the dump or there is some other island where locals just swim?

Attempt to travel to the Maldives beach number 2

The next day I decided to try to visit another island, the one on which there is a kindergarten, a school and a military unit.

This island was actually cleaner. In fact, we even found a blue lagoon, though its size was like a «children’s pool». There was even a «bar» on this island – well, of course, non-alcoholic bar.

We’re having fun when swimming and drink fresh squeezed juice.

Since one less decent place we found, we decided to explore the island in search of truly «paradise».

We walked around the island, watching the kids go to school, even saw a couple of soldiers and, finally, at the other corner of the island, we found a “heavenly place”, although debris was still, but given that it was still a village, in which there were boats and homes, it was still a little bit cleaner.

We pulled into the farthest corner, so as not to shock the locals by our swimwear and swim.

After, we saw how local residents return from the mosque and we decided not to disturb them.

On the way to the part of the island, to which «Iron» delivered us to, I had the feeling that I am a stranger in this place, there is not a welcoming attitude of the locals, you can’t safely swim, there is no entertainment, cafes and restaurants that can be found in every capital of the world, in general, there is nothing but water, sand and palm trees.

As for the «opportunity to swim» – we have experienced this feeling in full force, when police officers arrived at the beach and pointed to the fact that we are not dressed properly, but my wife was in a closed swimsuit and, in addition, she was shrouded by an opaque cloth throughout the body.

Bikini wear not allowed

Bikini wear not allowed

On the way to the hotel I could not leave ambivalent feeling – on the one hand, we were in paradise, not in the gray city, we saw the sun, but not a cold, instead of the concrete jungle were palm trees and sand, on the other hand – a complete lack sensation holiday, wet girls in black, from which water flows around and which stuck sand, debris and a complete lack of hospitality.


We returned to the hotel and I was waiting the end of these 2 remaining days in the Maldives.

In the last days, I still attempted to go to the third «day off» island under the name «Picnic Island», but the girls at the reception desk said with regret that today and tomorrow will weekends, and these days the island is «opened» only for local residents. I worked hard to visit this island and was willing to pay money to go there, but the minimum price of $ 600 for a one side trip was too big for me and I didn’t want to try to buy a «pig in a poke».

Of course, I believe that it is clean in the Maldives Resorts, there are trained waiters, and you’ll spend the night in a bungalow on stilts, but the Maldives are the Maldives – I haven’t found anything new except the cleanliness, service and crazy prices at the bar. The same sea, the same sand, the same palm trees…

In the next article I will talk about the magic of Sri Lanka, a place where everyone should visit!

17 thoughts on “Real truth about the Capital of Maldives

  1. Penelope

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re saying and
    the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart.
    I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a wonderful site.

  2. Loïc

    Hi Guys,
    Feel sorry that you only discovered this of the Maldives – it is true that the country is rulled Under Mulsim law but out of Male (or Vilingili), things are still beautiful and people very lovely and respectful. 20$ for a taxi, the driver is an asshole. The taxi costs 2US$ for any trip. If you plan to go there again, let me know. I ensure you better Maldives 100%

    1. Alex Cardo Post author

      Hello, Loïc! Thank you for this information. At first, I want to tell. I didn’t want to make an accent to anything about religion. I’m respecting Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and all the variables off all of the religions. I just tried to explain real situation in Malé for travelers, who making a stop point in the Capital of Maldives (For example like me, in my way to Sri Lanka).

      Secondly: Of course I understand that all resorts on Maldives are more respectable than Malé. Next time I’ll visit Maldives directly to one of resorts.

      I just tryed to make some notices about Maldives’ capital and local people real life!

      But, anyway, thanks for invitation to Maldives. I’ll visit this islands in near future. So I’ve been happy with your help.


    Hello Dear , I am Editor of a magazine called “guidememaldives”

    I would like to publish you picture in that magazine , is it ok for you dear ?

    1. Alex Cardo Post author

      Hello, Eeusoph! I’m sorry for a late answer. I’am accepting to use these photos in your magazine. All I need it just link back to my site from online version of your magazine or in the bottom of an article in your magazine. Please, send me an article after publishing!

  4. Kathryn Sanday

    I am glad you tried to experience the real Maldives away from the resorts but there were many sites you missed in Male. The Presidential Palace is beautiful and close by there is the Sultan Garden. Along the harbourside is a grassy square with a huge flag and plenty of locals who would have took you on a guided tour for about $5. There is a handicraft market near the usual daily market, with authentic souvenirs, a lively fish market and all the shops along the main drag. There are a few good western cafes, including the Seagull which sells wonderful icecream and night life is often found at festival space near the artificial beach. There is a memorial to the Tsunami victims in that area and on Friday mornings, after prayers,it is teaming with locals going for a swim, playing football or just hanging out with family and children. Male is afast paced capital but you can escape at the airport hotel where the pool is available for day use and they serve alcohol to foreigners as well as western dishes. Your wife shouldn’t have worn a bikini as it is against the law and you are lucky you were not arrested and deported. Respect the local customs and laws and then people won’t rip you off. On the whole. Maldivians are very friendly, welcoming and generous.

    1. Alex Cardo Post author

      Hello, Kathryn! Thank you for an additional information of Malé!

      Do You know what are the impressions? The main role of my post was to describe the locals live outside the resorts in Male, firstly. Secondly, I’ve tried to describe the situations and the problems that could await for unready traveler. So, for example, do You think I never been at the Fairy station and I didn’t try to ask locals to travel any other Islands? – I did! Do You think I didn’t try to find any European cafe? – I did!

      So, I’ve tried to describe the “FIRST” impression, not a deep. Of course, if you (for example) work like a tourist Guide to Maldives and your guests have 1 night before flight, You can show them a Memorial, find a local who’ll explore the Maldives only for $5, but me…like a “FIRST TIME” traveller didn’t find all of this!

      Anyway, the Maldives is a very beautiful country with the nice and friendly locals, but I’ve described in my post only “my own thoughts and impressions about the Malé and the nearby Islands”…

      This way, probably, Your information is correct, so I’ve been published your comment. But there are some points which I can’t agree in your comment, so there is a resume:

      1. I didn’t visit the Presidential Palace and the Sultan Garden (as minimum because I’ve seen a revolution against this president from my room’s balcony);

      2. I didn’t find any local who can help me for $5, because the only taxi fee for 100 ft cost $20 (only for me, not for You and other travelers maybe);

      3. Yes, I’ve seen a handicraft market, but the souvenirs didn’t impress me;

      4. I didn’t see the festivals during the 4 days, and I didn’t see a night life, may be other travelers will;

      5. I’ve visited many cafes, but they are not …Euro…

      6. Yes, I’ve seen a Memorial…

      7. Please, write me the name of this Hotel with an alcohol and the swimming pool on the airport island (Resorts has…of course, but not for the locals)!!!

      8. My wife had no “special swimming suit” and there were no shops to buy it, so we’ve made this “special swimming suit” with the bikini and the shawl…

      9. And, finally, I’m respecting the laws and local customs of any countries. I just aware my readers and other travelers that the Maldives is a strictly muslim country…because for example the Emirates and the Egypt are different, so I do not want to mislead my readers, who are accustomed to rest in the UAE or Egypt!

      10. Anyway, I’ve accepted your correctives and posted your comment.

  5. Kathryn Sanday

    Wow, fast reply. The hotel is 500 metres from the airport arrivals hall and they have a free shuttle bus. The hotel is called Airpot Hotel, and many flight crew stay overnight here. It is expensive for an overnight stay but the pool is clean and the alcoholic drinks at the pool side bar are not too expensive. There are also 3 hotels with pools on Male capital island; Mookai, The Kam and the Boutique hotel…the latter are cheap places costing about $50 a night including breakfast where as the Mookai is about $100 without breakfast but with free Wi-Fi and mini-bar. All taxis cost 25 ruffia by law no matter the distance and some charge an extra 5 for bags in the boot. There is also a new museum in Male and the children’s park has a live crocodile. Well done for the improvised swimsuit but someone must have seen your wife without the shawl to have called the police…close call. With the law changing, there are lots of guesthouses available with varying degrees of quality and facilities. Those closer to Male are good because they can be reached with a cheap boat fare. Once seaplanes factor in the cost shoots up at least $300. An alternative is to take a domestic flight to Gan and see the southern side of the Maldives which is a big contrast to the northern regions.

  6. Merissa

    This is a meager description of the Maldives. You travel uninformed, and you’re disappointed that it’s not what you expect, what sense does that make? Also, uninformed travelers fall victim to their ignorance, that’s why you grossly overpaid for your taxi and couldn’t find anything. There are plenty of Euro-style cafe’s. Just wander the streets with your eyes open. And why do you look for a Euro café when you’re not in Europe? That’s not what travelling is! The locals are extremely friendly, and very willing to help if you ask them how to find something. You are a tourist, not a traveler, and yes you would be happier in a resort, where you can have euro-style everything and not experience the Maldivian culture.

    1. Alex Cardo

      Merissa, This is only my opinion! As many people on the world as many opinions. This is a private blog and all I wrote is true (from my side).

      I just tried to illustrate the local’s life. And of course it were my first imaginations about the capital of Maldives. I’ll come back soon and I’ll study it deeply.

  7. Jully

    i’m currently planning a trip to the Maldives when I decided to search about bikini rules and I found your blog!
    After reading I went back to my hotel searching when this called my attention, this hotel seems to be using pics from your wife on their add, is it correct?
    I just wanted to let you know


    1. Tinker Bell

      Hello, Julliene!! Thank you to let us know!! No, it is not correct! It is our private photos, which were stolen from our blog! I advice you to expect this hotel from your booking, because they are liars!

  8. ava

    You must not travel much or perhaps you’re just an ignorant person. “I immediately noticed I received a lot of attention from locals”

    …oh dear me….
    amazing country by the way. going back again in a bit.

  9. Mo

    You overpaid the taxi driver. It’s about 2USD from anywhere to anywhere. ( fixed price )

    You’re right about the capital islands of Maldives. It’s doesn’t have cleanest beaches and the cafes are small. From time to time you’ll see the community cleaning the place but they can’t do much about the small cafes’.

    Your headline is misleading. The Maldives is not only about the capital islands. There’s more to it, you missed much about the place.


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