Maldives — Attractions
Maldives attractions highlight a collection of the world’s best dive spots, natural coral cays and impressive resort options. Nevertheless, there is more to the region than just underwater phenomenon. Ancient Buddhist sites are located in many atolls across the country, and several archeological landmarks from early Maldivian settlements provide an interesting look back into man’s evolution. Speed boats and sea planes offer the best transportation so getting between islands and atolls is no longer the challenge it once was, which gives tourists more time to explore all the nooks and crannies of Maldives’ beauty.
There are actually two islands named Isdhoo so do your homework to make sure you end up at the right place. The other rests in the Gaffu Dhaalu Atoll, and boasts some magnificent Buddhist sites too. But this Isdhoo on the atoll of Laamu is home to some of Maldives’ most important archeological extravaganzas. The island contains several well-preserved sites dating back to the Buddhist period. Unfortunately, many of them have been ransacked and partly or fully destroyed by Islamic fundamentalists. Nevertheless, Isdhoo has something for everyone including the largest stupa in the country.
Address: Isdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Upper Southern Province, Maldives
The dive site known as Fushifaru Thila found in the Lhaviyani Atoll boasts a tremendous array of underwater scenery. It is located about 150 kms from Male International Airport, so reaching the island is very easy via sea plane or speed boat. The site is special for divers and snorkeling enthusiasts, and there are plenty of unique wildlife found in the area. Large snapper, sweetlips, turtles, shark species, and beautiful manta rays can all be spotted here and there is usually 25 meters of visibility in the best season.
Address: Fushifaru Thila, Lhaviyani Atoll, North Province, Maldives
A tremendously rich underwater attraction near the airport and city of Male, Banana Reef is just minutes away by speed boat. The site is located in Kaafu Atoll, about one mile off the coast of Hulhule Island. Diving is the most popular activity found here, but it’s the coastal overhangs, coral reefs and abundance of wildlife make this an ideal spot for snorkeling, scuba diving and boat cruising.
Address: Banana Reef, Kaafu Atoll, North Central Province, Maldives
The island of Gan is one of the most southerly destinations in the Maldives. It sits within Seenu Atoll and is among the largest islands dotting the country. It is quite long and narrow, but connects to several other islands through causeways. The main attractions are traditional villages with settlements to take you back in time. Enjoy a simpler way of life by getting around by bus, bicycle or foot. The island was once home to some splendid Buddhist stupas, but the British air force and navy demolished these preservation sites to build an air strip.
Address: Gan, Seenu Atoll, Maldives
One of the more renowned attractions in the Maldives, Hukuru Miskiiy is commonly referred to as Old Friday Mosque. It is situated in the city of Male, and stands as the oldest mosque in the country. Tourists will need prior permission to enter the site if they are non-Muslims. The mosque is renowned for its intricate wooden carvings which dominate the exterior, coral walls of the edifice. Interestingly, the building was first constructed in 1656 as a temple so the edifice doesn’t face Mecca, but west to the sunset. Worshippers pray to the corner of the mosque to solve this little architectural problem.
Address: Medhuziyaarai Magu, Male, Maldives
Sultan’s Park and National Museum
Housed in part of the former Sultan’s Palace, Male’s National Museum is an interesting attraction to gain insight into the culture of the nation. Getting into the museum is cheap, and the adjacent Sultan’s Park is free. Tourists should give themselves between one and two hours to appreciate the photography collections and memorabilia on display. Much of the country’s history is on exhibit and although it doesn’t compare with other national museums around the world, the National Museum of the Maldives is still an intriguing place to spend an afternoon.
Address: Chaandhanee Magu, Mali, Maldives