ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beyond the Beaches: Your Guide to a Local Maldivian Experience

Updated on January 5, 2018

The Maldives is an island nation of about 1200 small emerald gems of land strewn on the navy blue velvets of the Indian ocean. Dubbed the “sunny side of life”, (yes, the weather remains pretty much sunny throughout the year!) the islands are renown as luxury beach retreats, and is one of the famed destinations for tourists at the higher end of the spectrum. The people who visit this island nation do not usually come down here with the intention of exploring the local culture and lifestyle of the people.

However, if you are among the exceptions who are looking for a local experience here, you’re in luck. In my first ever piece of article, I’m going to arm you with some tips and tricks to enjoy a local “Dhivehi” experience, while also saving some money, in the Maldives.

Set your holiday plans for the time of Eid

Being a completely Muslim population, the Islamic festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Ad’ha are the two major celebrations in the country. It is during this time that you get to experience the major cultural activities; the rituals of the Eid, the foods cooked for the festivals, the games and dances that go on throughout the days and into the night are parts of this Muslim culture that cannot be observed during any other time of the year. Of the two Eids, Eid al-Fitr is the best time to visit Maldives, since there are much more celebrations to be had after the holy month of Ramadan, and there are many organized cultural events and activities during this Eid.

Bodu-Mas (Big Fish) is one of the many accessories that are paraded around the town during Eid. They are made from palm leaves.
Bodu-Mas (Big Fish) is one of the many accessories that are paraded around the town during Eid. They are made from palm leaves.

Stay at a guesthouse

This is a no-brainer; to get a local experience, you obviously have to stay around locals. This is not possible if you choose to stay at one of the luxury resorts, with its beautiful water villas and water bungalows.

In the Maldives, each resort is in its own private island, they are pretty expensive, going at around 200 USD per person for a night (during off season) at the lower end bargains, to the best of my knowledge. These resort islands are dedicated for tourism purposes, thus there are no locals inhabiting these islands.

In the past few years, the development of guesthouses throughout the country has facilitated the dreams of mid-budget and low-budget travelers to visit the Maldives. Prices of rooms at guesthouses average at about 70 USD during high season, and 40 USD during off season.

I would personally recommend that you stay at one of the guesthouses in the island of Hulhumalé, which is 15 minutes by ferry from the capital Malé. This way, you get to see the hustle and bustle of the city life, and also enjoy the island life, while staying in a place somewhat in the middle. Speaking of islands…

A guesthouse in Hulhumalé. Guesthouses line the beachfront in this recently developed island.
A guesthouse in Hulhumalé. Guesthouses line the beachfront in this recently developed island. | Source

Explore nearby islands

There are a handful of islands near the capital, where you can travel to enjoy some sun and beach, and experience some of the local culture. Villimalé, Huraa, Thulusdhoo and Dhiffushi are some of the islands that come to mind as I write. You can take a ferry ride to these islands for about 20 to 40 Maldivian Rufiyaas depending on the island. The duration of travel ranges from 1 to 3 hours from closest to farthest. Another alternative would be for you to actually rent out rooms from a guesthouse on one of these islands. Don’t forget to check out some of the underwater life by snorkelling or diving while you’re at it.

If you’re into history, there are some other islands you could visit to around the country, including HA. Utheemu, AA. Thoddoo, GDh. Thinadhoo, and S. Gan. (Interesting fact: The letters before the dot refer to the atoll that the island belongs to. Cool huh?)

A fisherman prepares his net for catching bait. Fishing exports are a major means of income for the island nation.
A fisherman prepares his net for catching bait. Fishing exports are a major means of income for the island nation. | Source

Eat local

Most of the restaurants scattered around the capital serve continental food, as in demand by the majority of the population. However, they do not serve local cuisines. To get a taste of the local dishes, you have to visit one of the local restaurants around town, or as we Maldivians call it, a kada. They may look less appealing than the usual restaurants you come across, but you can get dishes by the flavorful. Order a roshi mas’huni for breakfast or or stop by for a lunch of rice and garudhiya (local tuna broth) at one of these places. Some of the popular kada in Malé include Shabnam café, Eat More, Maryam café, and Moon café. (Side note: alcohol isn’t allowed in any of the inhabited islands, so if you’re looking to have a glass of beer after the meal, I’ve got bad news!)

Mas-huni is a popular breakfast dish, traditionally made with dried tuna and shredded coconut. It is consumed with flatbread.
Mas-huni is a popular breakfast dish, traditionally made with dried tuna and shredded coconut. It is consumed with flatbread. | Source

Try the local snacks

The Maldives doesn’t have a street food culture; restaurants and cafés are the way to go over here. However, we do have a variety of snacks and shorteats known as hedhikaa, which you will find popping up in convenience shops and cafés as teatime draws near. Items such as Gulha, Bajiyaa and Boakibaa are common on the teatime platter, and can be enjoyed along with a cup of milk tea or black tea. More traditional delicacies can be found as you move farther out from the capital.

An assortment of Hedhikaa (Maldivian short eats)
An assortment of Hedhikaa (Maldivian short eats) | Source

The islands of Maldives has endless relaxation and comfort to offer in its milky sands and crystal clear waters. However, the notorious prices that accompany this destination has always intimidated most of the travelers looking for a more mid-range, yet intimate experience within the pristine islands. Not any more; now you can afford to fulfill your dreams without breaking the bank. The sunny side of life is cheaper than ever, and it could be your next adventure.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)