Malé is both a city and an island, combining cosmopolitan style with laid-back islander roots. Candy-colored skyscrapers dominate the spectacular skyline, artificial beaches beckon visitors to the turquoise waters and historic sites await exploration. The islet is only 1.7 kilometers long and just one kilometer wide, but more than 100,000 people call it home. It is the world’s densest city, making it easy to explore on foot. You can walk around the entire island in about an hour, and nearly all the sights are conveniently concentrated on the north shore.
One of the most popular sights in Malé is the Hukuru Miskiyy, or Friday Mosque. Constructed in 1656, the mosque is a stunning example of local architectural style. The intricately engraved beams and fluted coral block walls decorated in ornamental patterns are awe-inspiring. Non-Muslims must be granted permission to enter the site, but it is worth the effort to explore the beautiful building.
The mosque sits at Independence Square, known to locals as Jumhooree Maidhaan. A giant Maldivian flag waves at the center of the little park, and nearly every political demonstration in Malé is staged there.
Just south of the square is the Islamic Center, the best-known architectural landmark in the capital. The complex is home to the country’s largest mosque, capable of holding 5,000 people under its glistening golden dome. Visitors can explore the center outside of communal prayer hours, but interior photography is forbidden.
The remains of the former Sultan’s palace make up part of the Islamic Center, and that area now houses the Maldivian National Museum. The haphazard collection features many old photographs and royal regalia, moon rocks and other artifacts from the country’s history. English explanations help visitors understand the context of each piece, and admission is just a few dollars.
The closet thing to the countryside near Malé is Hulhumalé Island. Boats depart from the capital each day to make the short trip to the artificial island. Construction is booming, but much of the island remains undeveloped.
A small artificial beach offers respite from the city center on the east coast. The turquoise waters are especially welcoming to surfers, and locals love to lounge on the white sand. The beach comes alive in the late afternoons and evenings, when locals come out to celebrate the day’s end by breathing in the fresh sea air and cooling their feet in the surf.
Malé is also home to a surprising concentration of shops and markets. The local market on the northern side of the island is a great place to catch a glimpse of local life while shopping for inexpensive but fresh fruits and vegetables. Two blocks away is the fish market, a true delight of energy and color. Visit in the late afternoons when the fisherman deliver the day’s catch, then watch the fish-cutters work their magic.
There are an abundance of textile shops on the island, and many local women buy custom-designed clothes instead of shopping in boutiques. You can design your own garments from the hundreds of fabrics available in every color, texture and design, then take home your custom souvenir.
For more conventional souvenirs, hit up the shops at Chandhanee Magu on the northern end of the island. Discerning travelers can pick up anything from shell necklaces and local handicrafts for reasonable prices.
Male Geographical Location
Male is located on the southern tip of the island North Male Atoll. It is the most populated city of the Republic of Maldives with approximately 106,000 people.
Maldivian is the official language of the Republic of Maldives although there are many dialects. Malé is the most common dialect of Maldivian and is spoken widely in Male.
Male Predominant Religion
- Sunni Muslim is the only accepted religion of the Maldives although Buddhism was practiced up until the mid 12th century.
The Rufiyaa is the official currency of the Maldives.
The temperature is consistently warm in Male and it experiences moderate rainfall throughout the year with January to March being the driest months.
Male Main Attractions
- The National Museum
- The Friday Mosque
- Maldive Victory
Other Attraction in Male
- Mulee-Aage Palace
- Fish Market
- Sea Explorer
- Veligandu Island Beach