In getting to a resort beyond Male's neighbouring atolls - domestic air transfers are often a necessity for many guests.. But what are the options available for tourists having to make a stop over at the nation's capital city?
For those who maintain that getting to a destination is half the fun, the Maldives still has a few adventures for travellers even after they have arrived in the country from an international flight.
While resorts not far from country's two main airports of Male' and Gan in the southerly Addu Atoll tend to operate speed-boat services connecting directly to their properties, travelling to more secluded destinations usually requires a domestic transfer to your holiday island. These services are often provided by local carriers like Maldivian airlines, or seaplane operators such as Trans Maldivian or Maldivian Air Taxis.
With sea planes not operating at night, some resorts have taken up providing domestic flights “after dark”, yet other travellers may be required to spend a night near Ibrahim Nasir International airport for a next day connection – either somewhere in the capital of Male' or at the Hulhule Island Hotel (HIH).
located on the same island as the airport, HIH offers a free bus service covering the short distance between itself and the airport, making it perhaps the most convenient stop over point for guests finding themselves in Male' for an overnight stay before catching a connecting flight.
As well as being the only hotel not requiring a boat ride to reach from the airport, HIH is also unique in being the sole land-based property outside of the country's resorts to sell alcohol, which grants it a rather unique spot in the Maldives tourism scene. The property also provides a free ferry service into Male' for guest and expatriates looking to make use of the property's facilities. These run every hour and a half or so during the day until around 11 at night.
The "real" Maldives
For those looking to take in a spot of the “real” Maldives, or perhaps just to get away from the confines of the country's main airport, a ten minute boat journey over to the capital Male' opens up additional options for a potential stop-over.
The boat, which costs 10 Maldivian Rufiyaa (Rf) or US$1 per trip, has just one stop off at the Male' waterfront on a street called Boduthakurufaanu Magu. This is the main road that encircles the entire outskirts of the island of Male' – usually a round trip of twenty minutes by taxi depending on traffic and the number of motorised scooters that need to be avoided along the way by wily cabbies.
Barely a few minutes walk from stepping off the Airport boat in Male' are the Trader's Hotel and the Nasandhura Palace Hotel, which is based opposite the well-lit Sea House cafe on Boduthakurufaanu Magu.
The Trader's Hotel - formerly a Holiday Inn property now operated by the Shangri-La group - is one of the buildings that dominates the Male' skyline from the waterfront, making it hard to miss, particularly from Ibrahim Nasir International. As well as providing a gym and a small rooftop infinity pool for guests, the hotel has two main restaurants that are situated towards the ground floor and again on its roof.
The rooftop on a clear day or night offers spectacular views of Male', the airport and the lagoons and reefs surrounding the atoll.
Yet despite doing a fine selection of teas, mocktails, sharing platters and al a carte dishes, it is worth remembering that under local licensing laws, alcohol and pork products are not permitted for sale to enjoy the view with.
For those seeking absolute convenience in getting to the airport, the Nasandhura Palace Hotel is practically across the road from the airport ferry departure point – as well as being in close proximity to several cafes and restaurants surrounding the waterfront.
The property also operates it's own restaurant called Trends, based mainly in a garden courtyard and provides a mix of Asian dishes, salads, burgers, coffees, tea and mocktails. The property is one of the few places that serves food to foreigners and expats during the holy month of Ramazan in August. During this time, it is illegal to eat during day light hours owing to the country's Islamic laws.
More tips on traversing Male' and its customs can be found here.
Considering the city's size, there are a large number of hotel properties around Male available for guests to use, as well as an emerging number of more budget-friendly options in the form of guesthouses.
Male' can at times appears labyrinthine to the uninitiated, though it can be navigated via a brisk walk from one side to the other in about half an hour – so it needn’t feel too daunting. A preferable option for finding booked pre-booked accommodation would be in hailing down one of the many cabs that wrestle for space on the city's road with the constant swarm of locals on mopeds.
Taxi's in Male', and some larger surrounding islands like Hulhumale', operate on a basis of charging Rf20 per a single journey, though this cost goes up to Rf30 - about US$2 - if you are travelling with luggage. Usually taxis are able to locate many main hotels via name, though it may be wise to have an address written down just in case.
If you have had a stop off in Male' to await a connecting flight, how was your experience and what recommendations might you have for guests looking to take in the capital? Let us know below.