Islamic Centre, the largest mosque in the Maldives

Malé (މާލ), pronounced Mah-lay, is the capital of Maldives. The city occupies the entire islet of Malé and is located at the southern rim of North Male Atoll.


The island is 1.7 km long and 1.0 km wide, but with more than 116,000 people crammed onto it, Male is by some measures the world's densest city. The new island of Hulhumalé, built (as the name says) between Male and Hulhule, is being reclaimed from the sea to provide some much-needed extra space.

Male is occasionally dismissed by travellers as a mere transit destination with "nothing to do", and it is indeed not a party place. However, it does have a distinctive character of its own, with narrow streets, colorful houses, graffiti and a strong communal feel, and it may be interesting to stop a little longer and soak in the atmosphere if you've got time on your hands. The neighboring islands Hulhumale (artificial) and Vilingili are served by frequent and very cheap public ferries, and provide much quiter get-aways from the capital city. To see the "real" Maldives (i.e. the ones familiar from postcards) one needs to get further away, of course.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 30.0 30.4 31.2 31.5 31.0 30.5 30.4 30.2 30.0 30.0 30.1 29.9
Nightly lows (°C) 25.4 25.6 25.8 26.4 26.2 25.8 25.6 25.5 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.1
Precipitation (mm) 75.1 49.7 72.8 131.6 215.7 171.9 147.2 187.7 242.8 222.0 201.0 231.7


Male's main street Boduthakurufaanu Magu, home to banks and most government buildings, runs along the north shore. Roughly in the middle is the square of Jumhooree Maidhaan, a handy reference point since it has a giant flagpole visible from far away. From the flagpole extends a series of ten jetties running eastward, with jetty #1 (the Presidential Jetty) right in front of the square and jetties #9 and #10, used by the airport ferry, at the northeastern tip of the island.

Get in

What's in a name?

The city's name is alternately spelled Male' with an apostrophe, Malé with an accent and just plain Male. Technically, the first is correct it's an abbreviation of Malei, the original name but the second is popular among foreigners writing about the Maldives, as it both hints at the correct pronunciation and helps prevent confusion with the gender.

Male International Airport (IATA: MLE) is located on the neighboring island of Hulhule. The airport has a good set of facilities, including bank, ATM, pharmacy, internet cafe and a left luggage service ($5/bag/day) located just outside the arrivals area. For more information visit the friendly information kiosk at arrivals.

Most visitors to the Maldives are met by travel agent reps right outside Customs, who then whisk them away to their resorts by speedboat or plane. If your destination is the city itself, turn right and head for the public ferry dock. Ferries to the city take about 15-20 min and leave every 10-15 min during daytime (Rf.10 or US$1), every 30 min after midnight ($2).

Note that you will not be allowed into the airport's air-conditioned departures area until flight check-in opens, usually 2-3 hours before your flight (check the monitors hanging above, a number next to your flight indicates the boarding counter number). Facilities "outside" include free showers, nursing room, pharmacy, stationary shop, an Bank of Maldives ATM (accepts Visa, Master; gives Rf. only, no Dollars), a Help Desk and 2 Restaurants.

It features a lounge with a/c and free wifi, but confused staff and an even more confused menu (sorry, just sprite, no coke, ice-cream but only one type) don't justify the higher price (here you pay in dollars only. Since these things can be expected to be sorted out in the future, this is the prime address in the Airport to go to. 1 Rf. and up.

Get around

Male is small enough to walk around in an hour, and almost all sights are concentrated on the north shore, within a 15-min walk from airport ferry jetty (#9-10).

Public transportation in Male is available in taxis, which charge a flat Rf.20 plus Rf.10 for trunk usage. After 11 PM, the taxi fare rises to Rf.30.

Expect the buses to be crowded during rainy weather, and take the timings as a rough estimate, since traffic density weighs down heavily on them.

There are also ferries from the new terminal next to Jetty #10 to the new Hulhumale development every 20-30 minutes from 5 AM until 1 AM.


Jumhooree Maidhaan, the heart of Male




Note: during Ramadan many cafes and restaurants are closed, or only open after sunset. The restaurant at the Nasandhura Palace Hotel (see Sleep) is open during the day.


No alcohol is available on Male, even at the hotels, with the solitary exception of the Hulhule Island Hotel.

The ride takes approx. 15 min. free. These are the departure timings of the ferry service:

HIH Male'
06:00 06:15
06:45 07:15
07:30 08:30
09:30 09:45
10:15 10:30
12:00 12:15
13:30 13:45
14:15 14:30
16:15 16:30
17:15 17:30
18:15 18:30
19:15 19:30
20:15 20:30
22:30 23:00
00:40 00:45


Many visitors to the Maldives end up spending a night on Male out of necessity, as transfers to more far-flung resorts are generally only available during daylight hours.

Male's guesthouses are targeted primarily at traveling locals and do not always offer air-conditioning. The price range is 150-400 ruffiya (close to 400, you should be getting a clean, though perhaps a bit rundown, room with air-conditioning). Walk in the streets looking for ROOMS or ROOMS FOR RENT signs, postings on the walls advertising the same (with contact phone numbers provided), or ask the locals if they know a place renting rooms.

The cheapest actual hotels in Male cost about US$50 for a single. If you are staying in Male for more than one night, consider one of the splurge options for accommodation as budget and mid-range hotels have been known to be somewhat loud and dirty.

Hotels on the artificial airport island (Hulhumale) are cheaper, and you may expect a pleasant spotlessly clean beachfront room for US$50 or a bit more, for example at Relax Beach Inn.

It's good idea to book before arriving to the Maldives as immigration will want to know where you are staying. If you are a tourist, tourist tax is added on top of the price.





Dress respectfully if visiting Male. Men should wear at least T-shirts and shorts below the knee, while women should keep shoulders and legs covered.

Stay safe

Anti-government protests broke out in 2003, 2004 and 2005, all turning into riots that were brutally suppressed by the government, but things have been quiet since the elections and peaceful political transition of 2008.

While foreigners have not been specifically targeted, a small bomb exploded in front of the National Museum in 2007, injuring several tourists.

Crime rates in Male are low, although some advise not walking around alone after dark.


Go next

Traveling by boat in the Maldives

From Male, resorts all around the Maldives pick people up and whisk them to their idyllic shores. If you are in the Maldives for longer than a few days, you should consider leaving Male and checking out another island.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, December 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.