Have you ever wondered about visiting to the islands of the beautiful island country and taking a closer look at the rich culture which is a blend of India, SriLanka, and even as far as Arabia and Africa? Maldives Traveller focuses on five of the islands in the archipelago along with their highlights. Take back some knowledge about the place that gave you so much solace, the Maldives.
Utheemu Island, Haa Alifu Atoll
Arguably the most famous island in the archipelago, Utheemu Island is in the northern-most atoll – Haa Alifu Atoll in the Maldives. Every red blooded Maldivian knows something about the island for it is the birth place of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu, the hero who saved the country from the vicious clutches of the Portuguese invaders in mediaeval times. He is the patriarch of the Utheemu Dynasty, named after his birthplace, and eleven more sultans ruled during this dynastic period until 1692.
The island is thus historically significant as it houses the extremely well-preserved wooden palace where the king grew up.
Guests are allowed to visit the site of the place though it is not popular as a site due to the lack of a proper jetty on the island. Other places of historical interest in Utheemu include the “Badi Fasgandu” area, the old Kadhuvalhu mosque, and the Bodu Thakurufaanu Memorial Centre.
The closest tourist resorts to Utheemu are; Island Hideaway Spa Resort & Marina which is a 45-minute transfer by domestic flight followed by a 20-minute speedboat ride; and Beach House Maldives, a Waldorf Astoria Resort which is 75-minutes by their very own luxury seaplane.
Fuvahmulah Island, Gnaviyani Atoll
A large single island, in the Maldives considered as one atoll. Located on the south of equator and close to Addu Atoll, Fuvahmulah is known to have a beautiful and expansive beach.
Now you may wonder how a ‘beautiful beach’ in one place could be so popular since Maldives itself is known to feature luring sandy beaches. Well, this island has a ‘thundi’ or ‘thoondu’ as the locals say which is bedded with sand that sparkles even after you had taken them away from the beach.
If you find a sand-filled souvenir in the Maldives, the sand would probably be from Fuvahmulah. And interestingly, if you have seen the sand of the thundi beach, you will know it on sight from anywhere else in the world, that it is from Fuvahmulah.
‘Thoondu’ is located in Dhadimago ward. Hundreds of people visit this beach everyday and during festivals, people throng on the beach.
There are also several other exciting sites such as ‘kulhi’ or lakes. Dhadimagi kilhi, found in the centre of the district, consists of two fresh water lakes and the other, Bandaara Kilhi lies in Mãlegan ward. There is also a ‘havitta’, a sandy mound, possibly obscuring ruins of an ancient Buddist stupa.
Though for years transport to this beautiful island-atoll was gruelling, today they have a modern harbour and an airport is being constructed to facilitate easy access.
Innamaadhoo Island, Raa Atoll
It is the ultimate hub of craftsmenship. North Maalhosmadulu or Raa Atoll boasts exceptionally skilled ship craftsmen in the country and they are mostly known to build intricate vessels such as modern day safaris. Inguraidhoo island in the atoll is as much famous, and you could say, it is inherent in the culture of Raa Atoll itself.
One of the latest safari cruises to join the Maldives fleet, Carpe Vita, also the sister ship of Carpe Diem, was built in the boatyard of Innamaadhoo. A well known boat builder from the island himself designed the engineering of the ship and realised his plans.
Visiting the dock yard and watching these skilled men at work without much reference to architectural plans would be a fascinating sight! The closest tourist resort to Innamaadhoo is Adaaran ‘Select’ Meedhupparu which is 40-minutes by seaplane from the main airport.
Nilandhoo Island, Faafu Atoll
Also the administrative capital of Faafu atoll, Nilandhoo is known for the ruins in the centre of the island. These ruins have been weathered over years of abandonment and now are recognised as a historical site.
Nilandhoo Foamathi is where people seek when they are on the island. These ruins in the island have been discovered to have been a Buddhist temple, along with idols.
Aasaari Miskiy is also an important heritage as it was the the second mosque ever to be built in the Maldives. It is debated whether the mosque was built during the reign of the first sultan, Mohamed-ul-Adil (AD1141 – AD1166) or is 800-year-old and built by Sultan Mohamed Ibn Abdullah, who in power when the country embraced Islam.
Filitheyo Island Resort is one of the closest to the island which can be reached via a 35-minute seaplane journey from the main airport.
Gaddhoo Island, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
Have you seen a hundred percent authentic Maldivian mat, or at least, a Maldivian lady weaving it gracefully? Well if not, this is the place you must visit. Gaddhoo is located in South Huvadu Atoll or as administratively called, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
These beautiful mats are woven using the strands of the bark of Hibiscus tiliaceus and a kind of local grass called ‘hau’. The strands used to weave them are dyed in three colors; off-white, yellow and black and come in two qualities – thinner mats woven with simple knot, or thicker, good-quality mats woven using more complex knots.
Traditionally the best Gaddhoo mats were used by the Maldive Royals. Part of the annual tribute from the Huvadu Atoll Chief to the royal court, used to be in the form of Gaddhoo mats.
Resorts in Gaafu Dhaalu include Raffles Konottaa Maldives Resort which is a rough 50-minute journey from Malé International Airport to Kadehdhoo Regional airport and from there a 15-minute cruise in speedboat. Resort Raalhuveli Resort is also located in the atoll and is 380 kilometers from the main airport.
The list goes on, but these are some of them and you would find it surprisingly interesting and you might end up taking up on the country’s culture and history as well.