The people and places of Maldives extend such a gracious welcome, few tips are needed to make each visit an escape to paradise. These few facts can help you to plan your journey to our gem-like islands, drowsy lagoons and vast underwater treasures. For instance, visitors are often surprised to learn that most foods and virtually all products must be imported to the country. Our islands are so tiny there is no manufacturing. That accounts for the limited variety of branded items such as sunscreen. Native seafood, coconuts, papayas and bananas are abundant but most other fresh fruits and vegetables are imported.
Here we’ve gathered additional data that we hope is informative and useful to our guests.
The bare facts
Maldives’ capital is Malé (pronounced: "Mah-lay"), perched on the Malé or Kaafu Atoll. It is the most populous and urbanized of the nation’s islands, with high-rises and numerous restaurants, shops and services, as well as charmingly picturesque, golden-domed mosques and swaying palm trees. Here and elsewhere throughout the country, English is commonly spoken. Most islands speak several languages, including the native Dhivehi.
The local currency is the rufiyaa, or rupee, which is divided into hundred laari available in coins of one, five, ten, twenty-five and fifty. Coins are available, also, for one and two rufiyaa with the paper denominations ranging from five to 500. International currencies can be converted at the airport, many resorts, and at local banks (commonly open for commercial transactions from 8 AM until 1:30 PM). However, US dollars and other currencies frequently can be used in the form of credit cards, traveler’s checks and sometimes cash. There is no limit on the import of currency. Keep in mind when buying souvenirs and eating off the boat that a 10% service charge is commonly added to the tally for products as well as restaurant services.
In the city of Malé, drinking water is engineered from desalinated ground water but on board Manthiri, guests are treated to unlimited pure bottled water, chilled in our coolers.
Where to visit
While onboard Manthiri, you can depend on our crew to guide you to the most rewarding dive sites and most beautiful vistas by sea. On a visit to Malé, we can assist with recommended restaurants and impressive sites, such as The Old Friday Mosque, housing art treasures considered priceless, and the new Grand Friday Mosque — the Masjid-al-Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaan-al-Azzam. Guests also enjoy visits to the Singapore Bazaar and National Museum. Water sports can be arranged at many locations, from benign canoe paddles to more daring parasailing and windsurfing. Unspoiled and unsophisticated, the islands are not a hub of nightlife but instead are the ideal choice for the sun-worshipper or active diver looking for an unparalleled experience.
Be sure to bring
Your preferred brands of sunscreen and insect spray. While both are available on the island, you may not find the one you like best. Bug bites are harmless here in Maldives; however, as in any tropical locale, they’re not uncommon, so an effective spray or cream is advised. Sunshine here feels dreamy but can produce burns quickly if not protected by sunscreen, covered shoulders and shady hats. Speaking of which, women should routinely cover their shoulders and also wear shorts or skirts of more modest fashion (knee-length or lower) when touring the islands, out of respect for the largely Islamic local population.
See also ESSENTIALS for travel tips specific to your visit onboard Manthiri.