Flights to Malé, lying as it does among the scattered islands of the Maldives, are popular with those in search of serious relaxation among some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
There are those who think of Malé as merely a gateway to those picture-perfect islands (which it isn’t, as the main airport is on the neighbouring island of Hulhulé). But stick around in the capital a little longer and you will find a miniature jungle of winding streets, high-rise buildings and a diverse and fascinating culture.
Malé’s colourful streets, wacky skyscrapers, endless alleyways and busy roads can lead you to any number of places attributed to a modern city. Only 1.7km long and 1km wide, the island is no more than a sliver of sand in the ocean. However, its skinny shores are home to more than 100,000 people. The whole island can be covered on foot in no more than an hour, although public transport is cheap and accessible if you’re not too keen on stretching your legs.
The city was once the home of the king’s palace, from which the royal dynasties of the Maldives ruled the country. However, the palace and its forts were destroyed when the monarchy was abolished and President Ibrahim Nasir took office in the late 1950s. This has resulted in some beautiful ruins and a story that the city is keen to tell. Nowadays, tourism generates nearly a third of the country’s income, so it’s easy to meet backpackers and fellow travellers from all over the world.