Just because you rode a speedboat from the airport to your resort hotel or flew a seaplane across an entire atoll, don’t assume you’ve seen all this amazing country has to offer. With a diverse array of traditions, top-notch beaches with 99 percent sea and one percent land, Maldives ranks as one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Here’s where to start and most of them are unusual experiences for a tourist staying at a chic resort hotel.
Snapping a photo with a whale shark
Snapping a selfie or a photo with the largest fish in the ocean is one of the ultimate bucket-list experiences. Lucky, then, Maldives is one of the few destinations around the world to see this magnificent creature all year round, at any time and on any given day, but luck plays a huge role. The best place to dive and see them is South Ari Atoll.
Smoking Gudugudaa like a local
Gudugudaa is the ancient version of the Maldivian shisha, it involves smoking tobacco, traditionally mixed with molasses sugar, through a tube that ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke and burn the substances into the lungs. Gudugudaa smoking is derived from Middle East and still popular among many senior citizens across the Maldives.
Getting lost in the trance of Baburu dance
Baburu dance first emerged in the Maldives before the 11th Century AD. It starts with Boduberu (Drums) and is performed by a group of about 15 people, usually including three drummers and a lead vocalist. The song begins with slow beats, emphasis on drumming and dancing – as the music gradually gets louder and faster, one or two dancers continue maintaining the wild beats with their frantic movements ending in a trance.
Boning a fish
The fish market in Malé is relatively empty, until the fishermen begins to arrive with the day’s catch. The crews of the dhonis (local boats), having scorched under the sun since dawn, carry the catch mainly bonito, swordfish and Skipjack tuna to the local fish market for processing and sale. The fishermen cutting and cleaning the fish earned a skilful art that can easily impress anyone watching it.
Watch the fishermen cut and clean the fish and ask him politely to let you try, thank him and tip a dollar once you master it.
Tapping toddy from a local palm tree
This is a fading local tradition and culture of the country. One such process is the extraction of ‘toddy’ from local palm trees. Toddy tapping used to be a historical occupation practiced by our ancestors, with the art of climbing the coconut palm passed from father to son. Each island had at least three to four toddy tappers, and there was always a favorite Toddy tapper – or Raaveriya depending on the consistency of freshness.
Maldivian coconut palm trees, some are as tall as 30 meters (90 feet) and if you are afraid of heights, adrenaline climbing is not your game.
Ride a cargo boat from Malé to Addu
Traveling across the Maldives in a boat can be difficult, but definitely a lot of fun. Hop on a cargo boat heading to Addu at Male’ Fruit and Vegetable market and you could find yourself stopping-over to two or three local islands en-route and set foot ashore for an hour or two while the crew offloads supplies. Addu is the South of Maldives and the journey can take up to 36 hours depending on weather conditions, in rough weather these are not for the seasick passenger.
Rihaakuru is an ancient Maldivian side dish consumed almost daily in every household mainly with rice, even with roshi. It is a brown fish-based thick paste, made from tuna after prolonged heating. The color varies from light brown to dark brown.
Eating Theluli Banbukeyo
Thehuli Banbukeyo is fried breadfruit chips, considered as a savory snack and commonly produced in local villages, often sent as gifts from the islands to friends and relatives in Male’ usually in large tins. You have to have strong teeth, they are hard and difficult to bite and chew.
The Art of Doing Nothing
Maldives is the absolute antidote for daily stress in modern times. These idyllic islands, surrounded by the opaque waters of the Indian Ocean are perfect for visitors to rejuvenate their mind, nurture their body and nourish their soul. Learn the ‘Art of Doing Nothing’ and in turn feel emancipated with a genuine form of pure relaxation. Engage in a mental state to become more centered and balanced; where by focus on the surrounding breathtaking beauty of nature, it can alleviate anxiety and stress.
Marvel at Utheemu Ganduvaru
Utheemu Ganduvaru is housed in the island of Utheemu in Haa Alif Atoll, a small palace – the childhood historical home of Malidivian national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu, honored for freeing the Maldives from 15 years of Portuguese dominion. Visitors are guided into the palace by a museum staff and the palace is well maintained more than any other existing building in the Maldives, the lifestyle of the rich, centuries ago.
Disclaimer: Smoking Gudugudaa is injurious to health. Gudugudaa smokers are at risk of the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smokers, such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy. The information provided on this website is for general information only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.