Must see attractions in Maldives

  • Top ChoiceSights in Male

    Old Friday Mosque

    This is the oldest mosque in the country, dating from 1656. It’s a beautiful structure made from coral stone into which intricate decoration and Quranic script have been chiselled. Non-Muslims wishing to see inside are supposed to get permission from an official of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Most of the staff are officials of the ministry, however, and so if you are conservatively dressed and it's outside prayer times, you may well get permission to enter on the spot.

  • Sights in North Male Atoll

    Thulusdhoo

    Thulusdhoo has traditionally been an industrious island, known for manufacturing of bodu beru (big drums), for its salted-fish warehouse and for its Coca-Cola factory, the only one in the world where the drink is made from desalinated water. In the past few years tourism has exploded, however, and there are now some 30 guesthouses here, with plans for a further 20. There are several stretches of good beach, including a bikini beach and a bridge link to a small island.

  • Sights in Male

    China-Maldives Friendship Bridge

    This incredibly impressive piece of engineering connects Male to the airport island of Hulhule, but unlike most of the causeways connecting islands elsewhere in the country, this US$250m project goes over the open sea, meaning that vast concrete supports have been planted in the seabed. The bridge was still not operational at the time of writing, and it wasn't yet clear how its opening would affect ferry services to/from Male from Hulhule.

  • Sights in North Male Atoll

    Himmafushi

    Himmafushi is famous for its main street selling some of the least expensive souvenirs in the country, such as carved rosewood manta rays, sharks and dolphins. Wander into the back streets and you'll discover a sleepily traditional village and a cemetery with coral headstones. A sand spit has joined Himmafushi to the once separate island of Gaamaadhoo, where there used to be a prison. The surf break here, aptly called Jailbreaks, is a great righthander.

  • Top ChoiceSights in South Ari Atoll

    Dhigurah

    Dhigurah is a charming, clean and friendly local island with about 600 inhabitants and around ten guesthouses. It's a very long island, with an absolutely stunning white-sand beach down one side that extends into a giant sandbank that sometimes connects Dhigurah to the LUX* Maldives resort to the south. There's a bikini beach, several cafes and lots of souvenir shops along the main street. It's a wonderful base for a diving and beach holiday.

  • Sights in Male

    Fish Market

    Although the squeamish may well object to the buckets of entrails or the very public gutting of fish going on all around, the Fish Market should not be missed. This is the soul of Male – and it’s great fun watching the day’s catch being brought in from the adjacent fishing harbour. Look out for some truly vast tuna, octopus and grouper. Maldivian women don’t usually venture into these areas, although foreign women walking around won’t raise any eyebrows.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Male

    National Museum

    Maldives' National Museum may be a ferociously ugly building gifted by China, but it nevertheless contains a well-labelled collection of historic artefacts that serve to trace the unusual history of these isolated islands. Sadly the museum was broken into by a mob of religious extremists during protests against former president Nasheed in 2012, and its most precious items, some 30 ancient Buddhist coral stone carvings from the country's pre-Islamic period, were destroyed for being 'idols'. Security remains tight.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Haa Alifu

    Utheemu Ganduvaru

    This small palace – now a museum – was the childhood home of Maldivian national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu, who, alongside his brothers, overthrew Portuguese rule in 1573. Visitors are escorted around the complex by a museum staff member to see the fascinating 500-year-old wooden interiors, including swing beds (used to keep cool in the heat), lamps that burn coconut palm oil and elaborate wooden carvings, plus a large palm-thatch shed used as a sleeping room for guests.

  • Sights in Gnaviyani

    Thoondu Beach

    At the northwestern end of Fuvahmulah, the absolutely stunning Thoondu Beach is a wide band of dazzling white overlooked by swaying palms. It's famous in Maldives for being the only beach in the country that is made up of coral pebbles rather than coral grains. Sadly, swimming here is dangerous due to strong currents; it's also a public (non-bikini) beach. It is however popular with surfers who come here for the short surf season in July–August.

  • Sights in Addu Atoll

    Eedhigali Kilhi & Kottey Protected Area

    The lake at the far end of Hithadhoo is the biggest in the country and attracts varied birdlife to its shores. It has been incorporated into the Eedhigali Kilhi and Kottey Protected Area, which at 570 hectares is the largest of its kind in Maldives. There are 28 bird species present here, making it popular with birders. A visitors centre was under construction in 2017 and various wooden viewing platforms have already been built around the lake.

  • Sights in Haa Alifu

    Kandhuvalu Mosque

    The date of construction for this stone-and-wood mosque is unknown, although national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu is known to have prayed here in his youth, meaning that it's been here since at least the mid-16th century. It's a tiny place with a beautiful teak interior that can be glimpsed from the entrance. Sadly, entry is not possible for non-Muslims. Thakurufaanu's father is buried in the cemetery here.

  • Sights in North Ari Atoll

    Ukulhas

    This gorgeous island has become a backpacker favourite in recent years, with over a dozen hotels and guesthouses opening, direct speedboat connections to Male and a super bikini beach on the island's south side. Ukulhas takes its environmental responsibility seriously, with daily beach cleaning, waste management and biodiversity protection programmes. The island has a population of about 900 people.

  • Sights in Male

    Artificial Beach

    A sweet little crescent sand beach has been crafted from the breakwater tetrapods here where locals can swim and enjoy a day on the beach. There’s a whole range of fast-food cafes nearby, though the construction of the massive new China-Maldives Friendship Bridge has rather robbed the area of any of the charm it once had.

  • Sights in Haa Dhaalu

    Hanimaadhoo

    Hanimaadhoo has the atoll airport on it, and also has the best-developed guesthouse scene. It's an attractive and friendly island with some excellent beaches.

  • Sights in Male

    Grand Friday Mosque

    The golden dome of this impressive modern mosque dominates the skyline of Male and has become something of a symbol for the city. Opened in 1984 and built with help from the Gulf States, Pakistan, Brunei and Malaysia, the Grand Friday Mosque is striking in its plainness, built in white marble and virtually free from decoration. Set back off the main square, Jumhooree Maidan, it is the biggest mosque in the country.

  • Sights in North Male Atoll

    Huraa

    The island of Huraa is well used to tourists visiting from nearby resorts, but it retains its small-island feel. It is now home to several guesthouses, and a buzzing surfer scene with 15 breaks within easy reach. Huraa’s dynasty of sultans, founded in 1759 by Sultan Al-Ghaazi Hassan Izzaddeen, built a mosque on the island that still stands today.

  • Sights in South Male Atoll

    Guraidhoo

    Guraidhoo enjoys good anchorage and is a busy port used by both fishing dhonis and passing safari boats. Sultans from Male sought refuge here during rebellions from as early as the 17th century; today it’s popular with budget travellers who stay at the cheap guesthouses, and with visitors from nearby resorts – it’s actually possible to walk across the lagoon to the island resort of Kandooma at low tide!

  • Sights in Laamu

    Isdhoo

    At the northeastern tip of the atoll, the interesting island of Isdhoo is home to a hawitta (ancient artificial mound). Buddha images have been found on the island. HCP Bell – the British leader of early-20th-century archaeological expeditions – believed such mounds to be the remains of Buddhist stupas, while Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl speculated that Buddhists had built these on even earlier mounds left by the legendary Redin people.

  • Sights in North Male Atoll

    Dhiffushi

    Dhiffushi is an appealing inhabited island, with around 1000 inhabitants, three mosques and two schools. Mainly a fishing island, it has lots of greenery, grows tropical fruit, and is home to a couple of guesthouses.

  • Sights in Gaafu Alifu

    Kondey

    This traditional, largely agricultural island is notable for its four ancient hawittas (Buddhist prayer mounds). Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl discovered a limestone carving here, which he believed to be of the Hindu water god Makara. The statue must have been here before the Islamic period; it is thought to be over 1000 years old. Its significance, Heyerdahl believed, lay in the fact that it demonstrated that other religions aside from Buddhism permeated Maldives before Islam.