There are several places
of tourist attractions in Maldives. Move around
the tropical paradise and revel in the scenic
Male', the capital of the
Maldives, is the commercial center, seat of
government and the location of many important
historical and religious landmarks. With an
area of just over 1.77 square kilometers, it
is home to over sixty thousand people, and is
the busiest and most populous island in the
archipelago. It has been known as the Sultan's
Island in the past.
There are no beaches on Male';
instead seawalls surround all its sides. However,
a newly landscaped artificial beach area and
adjoining breakwater stretching all the way
round to the harbour in the southwest of the
island provide a pleasant jogging route, especially
popular in the evenings when it is cooler.
Male' is still relatively green and pleasant.
The streets in the residential areas are shaded
with trees, at places forming an arch overhead.
A fair number of main streets are lined with
big trees providing shade on both sides. Even
a stroll around it would offer interesting sites
and shots for the memories; the fish market
and the local market at the northern waterfront,
the new harbour in the south-west corner to
name a few. A stroll around the residential
areas or shopping streets would provide an insight
into the life and livelihood of the residents
of the capital. Or simply sit down and relax
at one of the small parks dotted around the
capital and just observe the pace of life.
The fruit and vegetable market
and the firewood market are busy and colourful
where islanders from outer atolls trade their
goods. The fish market nearby is always immaculately
clean, until the fish is landed in the busy
hours of late afternoon when fisher-folk begin
to arrive with the day's catch. The fishermen
cutting and cleaning the fish have developed
the process to an art. It is a clean and well-maintained
area that generates much interest from visitors
and provides a glimpse into the life of typical
Seenu is the 'second city' of
the Maldives, and the resort here is the best
base from which to visit traditional Maldivian
island communities. The Addu people are fiercely
independent, speak differently from folk in
the capital and at one time even tried to secede
from the republic.
British influence can be seen
in plenty on Addu's modern history. The British
bases were first established on the island of
Gan during WWII, as part of the Indian Ocean
defenses. In 1956, they developed a Royal Air
Force base as a strategic Cold War outpost.
The base had around 600 permanent personnel,
with up to 3000 during periods of peak activity.
The British built a causeway connecting Feydhoo,
Maradhoo and Hithadhoo islands, and employed
most of the local men. In 1976 the British pulled
out, but many of their employees, who spoke
good English and had experience working for
westerners, were well qualified for jobs in
the soon-to-be-booming tourist industry.
Tourist development in Addu
itself has been slower to start, but a resort
has been established in the old RAF buildings
on Gan and there are now reliable connections
to the capital in a new Air Maldives jet. The
Ocean Reef Resort is not a typical Maldives
tropical paradise resort island, but the old
military base is a unique feature. Causeways
to the adjacent islands link Gan, and it's easy
and pleasant to get around them by bicycle,
giving unmatched opportunities to visit the
local villages and see village life.