My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Introduction
Male is the Maldives commercial center with a population density exceeding that of Hong Kong. The capital island is now connected to the former backwater of Hulhumale by a newly built bridge that also connects both islands to the airport island. After this extension, the area is becoming one big city and property values are going through the roof.
Hulhumale has some pretty decent beaches and Male is the commercial center of the Maldives - I find the area much more interesting than most (more famous) Maldives resorts. Stay for a few days and enjoy the amazingly friendly locals and local Islamic inspired hospitality.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Get Around
Taxis are abundant and with the bridge and extended roads around Male, it is now the best way to get around. The typical fare is MVR 100 (US$7) from anywhere to anywhere in the three islands (that includes the airport).
The typical Maldivian boats and ferries shake a lot even with moderate storms - you better get used to it quickly. Somehow whenever I'm in the Maldives it pours at least half the time (and plenty of wind to boats).
Keep in mind that there are plenty of motorcycles going EVERYWHERE on male and sidewalks are small. It is usually safe but takes a while to get used to it.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Connectivity
This used to be a major issue in the Maldives but you can see plenty of advertising for ADSL lines in the city. Many coffee shops and restaurants now provide 2 Mbit or better connections.
I got a SIM card on my last trip and had a stable LTE connection everywhere. There are data bundles for 50GB for $50 per month if you stay longer.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Pollution
There is very little air pollution with the fresh winds of the sea. The waters around Male are visibly full of trash but just going to Huluhumale assures you clear and warm water.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - See and Do
Hulhumale Eastern Beach
This section of the Eastern shore of Hulhumale comes with a picture-perfect beach with clear water a world away from busy Male. However, it is just a 15-minute taxi ride now from Male downtown. There is a large 'pool structure' if you like to swim a few lanes in the beautiful warm water.
Since locals like to go for a swim late it has powerful illumination as well.
Male Main Mosque
Religion plays a huge role in daily life in the Maldives. Most mosques are much more interesting from the outside than from the inside (by design!). Stroll by the main mosque for a bit.
Walk downtown Male
The sheer energy of this island is fascinating - lots of new construction, old buildings - traffic and the port make for unique sightseeing - all you have to do is wander the small alleys.
This stunning little island is about an hour from Male and it is open for day trips. There are many operators organizing small scale tours to it - just ask around for the best price.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Eat and Drink
Male and Hulhumale provide a surprising selection of high-end coffee and good food. Keep in mind that the nation of the Maldives is a dry one - alcohol can only be served to registered guests at the resorts.
My Favorite Things to do Maldives (Male and Hulhumale) - Where to Stay
There is an incredible amount of resorts all over the Maldives. Generally, resort room rates have trended down while the transfer fees (i.e. a hidden resort fee) are sharply up. There are a number of properties to redeem points and free night certificates in the Maldives but you will need to buy very expensively food/drinks and the roundtrip transport from the resort that easily exceeds the room rate in most places now.
The best business in the Maldives is now shuttling tourists from/to their resorts as return trips for 30-minute flights can easily cost $600 per person!
Hulhumale has a number of excellent smaller guesthouses and boutique hotels. The rooms can be small and there are no chain hotels but I had no trouble finding a quality room around $70 when I just walked up. Prices on the major booking sites seemed a bit higher and it was hard to judge accommodation just by the pictures (there are some really sketchy ones in the area).
SeaHouse features great, Indian inspired food at low prices with a lovely view towards the sea and the airport runway. My favorite place on the island.
Sala Thai isn't the cheapest option but will make you miss Thailand. Excellent preparation and presentation.
Meriyaki Coffee Roasters
Espresso is the 'drug of choice' in many Islamic nations and Meriyaki Coffee Roasters combines it with superb beans and presentation. It is not cheap but it is delicious and strong. The only issue - there is no Wifi offered.
Another example of excellent, high-end, third-wave coffee on the tiny island.