Trip Index (what we have published so far):
The Maldives is an island nation. However, it is different than other islands in the fact that the islands are small – really small. You can walk around the perimeter of most Maldives islands in just 10 minutes. The biggest island is called Male and you can walk around its outer perimeter in just 60 minutes.
The airport transfer to and from the city is done by a low-lying boat and the clear waters of the Indian Ocean greet you just outside the terminal.
Most resorts will organize an airport pickup and whisk you away from there by plane or boat in minutes. However, before you head out to your Maldives resort, consider spending a day seeing this fascinating island life.
Where to stay
Hotels are pricey in the Maldives in general and on Male Island in particular – most hotels are calling for $200+ room rates. The western part of the island (remember that you can walk everywhere in 30 minutes) is much cheaper, with many 3 star hotels pricing out at $50 a night.
The Traders Hotel is a safe, though expensive, choice.
I stayed at the Coral Hotel & Spa before and liked it. It has a cool rooftop terrace.
The island boast a wide range of surprisingly good places to eat. Use the Foursquare app to find your favorite eatery or type of food.
SeaHouse has great food at low prices with a lovely view. Sala Thai and Thai Wok rate well for Thai food. Since tuna is caught locally (not a lot of other food is grown or caught locally in the Maldives), it can be had everywhere fresh and cheap.
The bad news first – there is NO alcohol on the island (as only resort islands have a license). The only exception is the odd hotel on the airport island.
There are two dozen 'bars' that serve alcohol-free drinks – some with a gorgeous view onto the Indian Ocean.
My favorite again is SeaHouse with its terrace.
The rooftop bar and restaurant at the Traders Hotel has some of the best views in town.
My favorite coffee by far was at Cafe'ier – a fashionable Italian-styled coffee shop.
What to do
There are a number of government buildings, mosques and museums that keep you busy on a rainy afternoon.
If you like surfing, the island's northeastern edge is a good surf spot and you can spy on the incoming planes while you wait for the next wave.
The incessant scooters and the vehicle traffic on the crowded island will get to you. There always seems to be a scooter on your back, waiting to pass. Drivers are used to mingling with pedestrians, though, so try to relax.
While the picture-perfect islands of the Maldives are the draw to take these long flights, consider a day or two on the main island. It's a glimpse into a fascinating island culture that is unique and very welcoming.