An independent republic since 1945, the 1200 coral islands of the Maldives are spread over 300 km2. The archipelago depends principally on tourism, coconut farming and the natural resources provided by the sea. Here is some information that will permit you to better understand the history and the culture of the country.
A population living on water:
Of vast and diverse origins (India, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle-East), the Maldivian people are renowned for a laid back, easy going attitude towards their way of life. It is a style of life totally adapted to their magnificent surroundings and essential to the legendary tranquillity of the country: therefore you won't be surprised by the smiles and the welcome of these people. The activities of the Maldivians are mainly connected to the sea: they are famous mariners, excellent fishermen and more than pleased to share their experience with divers. The official language is Divehi and English is spoken by many of the inhabitants. The main religion of the archipelago is Muslim and family values are essential to these people. Importantly, if you visit one of the fishing villages we ask you to respect one essential rule: correct dress code (shoulders and knees covered). On the beaches topless bathing for ladies is prohibited. Also alcohol and pornography (photos and videos) is strictly forbidden in the Maldives.
One table, lots of flavours:
The Maldives are totally dependent on the importation of food staples and therefore has never been considered as a "gastronomique: destination. However the last few years have seen a marked improvement, not only in the hotels but also aboard the charter vessels. The meals you will be served will be very varied. Inspired by European, Asian and Sri Lankan recipes, the dishes served by our chefs will surprise you with their flavours and colours. Breakfasts are of an "improved" continental style (eggs, bread, jams, coffee, tea, cereals...). Lunch and dinner will be mainly composed of fish (grilled or in sauce), salads, poultry. Side dishes will include rice and potatoes, both natural or flavoured with spices. For dessert there will be lots of different fruits. On our cruises bottled mineral water is always included and a fully stocked bar (soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits) will be available to you (at additional cost).
Living their life:
Bottom line fishing
Without a doubt the principal activity in the Maldives consists of fishing with a long fishing line, a hook and a lure. With their boats positioned just above the reef the line is thrown into the water with the view of catching a small fish and to use it as bait for bigger fish. This type of fishing is very rudimentary but with sometimes miraculous results. Our mariners will be more than pleased to introduce you to this age old technique.
The fish markets of Malé
At the end of your voyage we will guide you through the streets of the capital, Malé. Just opposite the quays where the fishing boats come in is the fish market where all of the daily catch is put on display: Spanish mackerel, tuna, jacks and barracuda. Take some time to get inside these markets and watch the marvellous world of negotiation between the buyers and the sellers.
A few moments on a fisherman's island
During your cruise you will certainly go ashore to sample the daily lives of a Maldivian fishing village well outside the capital. Traditionally visitors are authorised to come ashore after sunrise and must leave the island by dusk. Dressed correctly (upper body and knees covered), you can wander the streets and see the rudimentary houses built from blocks of coral. In the gardens the women take care of their young children while their husbands fish from the beach or build a "dhoni" from coconut wood. If you are lucky enough you will get to see the school children leaving at the end of their day dressed in their impeccable uniforms. They will come to meet you with a beaming smile and millions of questions.