Special Six: Weekend in Malé

I was beginning to feel a little burned out at work towards latter 2010. I felt I needed to travel someplace outside the country, to re-energize myself and to regain my focus. Somewhere where I could simply relax, without going about much. My travel budget was almost non-existent since I had undertaken a major travel earlier in the year so my options were quite limited. My colleague and friend, who had traveled me with a couple of times in the previous year, also felt the same. It was while discussing that it emerged that I had sufficient air miles for two return tickets to Maldives and that my friend had a Maldivian friend from university, who had invited her for a visit. So that is how the two of us ended up going to Malé, one October weekend, after checking that it was ok with her friend to host me as well.

The capital of Maldives is a place that travelers usually skim past on their way to the resort islands. Our weekend though was based in Malé and we enjoyed it very much. This must have been the first trip that I had taken without reading something about the place before going there.
View from hotel in Male.JPG

I discovered several things that endeared Malé to me:

  1. It was the first time that I had landed at the international airport, in the capital of a country, which was on its own island. We had to take the airport ferry from the airport island to the city.

Plane landing.jpg

2. Walking around Malé was fascinating. I felt that if I were somewhere in the middle of the city, it would take me at most 15 – 20 mins to walk to any end of the island. The island has an area of 5.8 km2. The narrow streets, in the residential areas, were rather charming. I would have expected that the lack of space would have prevented the use of vehicles but there were so many motorbikes parked everywhere, as well as cars plying the main roads.

Motorbikes on every street.JPG

Our host’s mother, whom we visited a few times during our visit, mentioned that bicycles had been the most common mode of transport in the city decades ago and lamented the influx of automobiles with increase in wealth generated from tourism. She still continued to use her bicycle to get about the city.


3. The beautiful waters. I haven’t seen shades of blue of the sea as I saw them around Malé, and I didn’t even go to the less inhabited islands. We enjoyed taking short rides, on public ferries, simply to go across the waters. Most of my photos from my weekend are of the sea. It was beautiful.

Blue Maldives.JPG
Waters of Maldives.JPG
view from ferry.JPG

4. Since we did not have any specific plan for our weekend, besides relaxing, we were content going out on leisurely walks on our own or with our host. During these leisurely, slow-paced moments, I experienced something that I felt was sort of unique to Maldivians – at least to those living in Malé. We would start from the apartment, just the three of us – our host, my friend and I, and we would walk over to her mother’s place for a chat and then meander to another relative’s place, all the while the group becoming bigger as some relatives or friends would add to the group continuing on, while others remained behind at a house. It was such a relaxed group all the way, but was full of surprises as one didn’t exactly know where one would end up or how many would remain in the group at the next place we stopped at. One evening, we ended up at the rooftop restaurant of a hotel, which was our host’s favourite. Another night, we ended up by the jetty area, where there was an open air concert organized by Alliance Française.

AF concert.JPG

5. I enjoyed my Maldivian breakfasts of roshi and mashuni on the lovely rooftop area, at the nearby Seagull cafe. While roshi and mashuni resembles one of the popular breakfasts of Sri Lanka, roti and pol sambol, in its description, it does taste and look different. We did try out a couple of other restaurants for some meals, but this was my favourite meal in Maldives, besides the one I had at the home of our host’s mother.

roshi and mashuni_Lauren

Photo credit: Never Ending Footsteps/ Lauren Juliff

6. We were in Malé, coincidentally on the weekend Maldives was hosting the Hay literary festival. The festival was being held at Aarah island, the official private island retreat of the President of Maldives, which had been opened up to the public for the first time to host the Hay festival. Since our host’s mother was talking about her recently published work at one of the evening sessions, our hosts and some of their relatives wanted to go for that particular session. We had to hire a speed boat, as there was no public ferry at the time the group made it to the jetty. Going on a speedboat was so much fun and we made it just in time for the session. After the session, we walked around the island, enjoying some food and exploring the island. I remember the food stalls, live music, the carnival atmosphere but for some reason, that I don’t exactly remember, the only photos I took at the island that night was of the coconut trees. So, here’s one of those photos of the Aarah island coconut tree 🙂
Coconut tree at Aarah island.JPG
It was a delightful weekend, very much relaxed and filled with lots of wonderful conversations particularly with our host’s creative mother, good food, leisurely walks and surrounded by beautiful waters.

colour contrast of sea.JPG

Have you visited Maldives? What were your impressions of Malé?

[I have linked this post to:

*Monday Escapes #37, hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase

**City Tripping #32, hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum]

Travel Monkey

29 thoughts on “Special Six: Weekend in Malé

  1. I haven’t been to Maldives yet, but it is high on my list of places I would love to visit. Some day… 🙂 #MondayEscapes

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes… there is certainly something to the blue of the waters around Maldives. And, so many beautiful shades to them as well! Apparently, on the beach of Vaadhoo island, you can see a phenomenon called bio-luminescence. Hope you get to visit there soon.


  2. The Maldives is such a special place! I adore it. The sea really is something else. Like most tourists we flew in and out of Male but spent no time there, quickly getting a ferry over to one of the islands. I love the stories from your trip though…you experienced the city from a ‘local’ perspective. I particularly like the image of the group of you all gradually getting bigger and bigger as you go from one house and bar/restaurant to another. Thanks for linking to #citytripping x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. Delighted to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Maldives. I do hope to revisit Maldives again, this time to one of the other islands especially Vaadhoo island, as I have been admiring the glowing sea (like an Avatar scene) around that island.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would love to go again… Think we’re going to wait until the children are a bit older and can appreciate all its marine and beach life x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post – like you, all I really know about the islands tends to be outside the city, focusing on the reefs and the beaches (although the Maldives do have the most amazing sea around them). I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about Male itself and how great to see it from the point of view of a local. So far I’ve only touched down at the airport on the way to Sri Lanka (convinced we were about to land in the sea!) but it would be wonderful to go back once day. Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds fascinating Ahila! I love that you got to spend the weekend with locals and got to get a glimpse of how they relax and spend their time. I would have loved this experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved your description of the walks, with the increasing group of walkers! I haven’t been to the Maldives, one day maybe 🙂 #Mondayescapes

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this post! I’ve been wanting to go to the Maldives for a long time now. I love the story about walking from house to house and acquiring new walkers, and I love how the airport is its own island. And that water…#citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had a glorious ten days in the Maldives but like most tourists, didn’t stop in Male. It’s so interesting reading about the city from a local’s point of view. I’m sure the stay recharged your batteries – and how exciting that you got to go to the literary festival too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a very interesting perspective of the Maldives Ahila. I have been there for my honeymoon, but I only went to one of the islands, Thudufushi, and didn’t get to visit the capital Malé. I miss that amazing water!!

    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Allane. The waters are amazing, aren’t they? I am keeping my eye out for an affordable trip later in the year to one of the Maldivian islands as there are now more budget friendly accommodation as well.


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