The Mascareignes Archipel is made up of Mauritius, Reunion island and Rodrigues. It obtained its name after the dutch navigator Pero Mascarenhas who was one of the first europeans to indicate its existence at the begining of the 16th century. Mauritius, independent state, is situated at 890 KM east of Madagascar, between 19?50' and 20?32' of south latitude and 57?18' and 57?46' of East Longtitude. Reunion, french island, is 200 km south west and Rodridues, a dependence of Mauritius is 600 km to the East North East.
Of volcanic origin, these islands separated by sea pits of 4000 metres depth, have emerged from the abysses as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions that happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the continental block made up by Africa and Madagascar. Regarding the age of these different islands, it is known that Mauritius has started to emerge some 8 million years ago whereas Reunion emerged some 5 million years later. Even if the plateau under the lagoon of wide area surrounding Rodrigues may be much more ancient than the island, the island is only 1.5 million years old.
Regarding the topography of Mauritius, it has an area of 1860 Km2 and is made up of a central plateau gradually rising towards the south west where it reaches its highest point at 800 metres with the Piton de la Riviere Noire. This plateau is still surrounded with what is remaining from the primary crater in the form of a chain of mountains that are not very high (Moka, Corps de Garde, Pieter Both) and some isolated peaks (Piton du Milieu, Motte a Th?rese).
The richness and variety of Marine life in Maldives has to be seen to be believed. There are over 700 varieties of fish that have been seen swimming around the lovely coral reefs and atolls of the Maldives.
The system of coral atolls and reefs can be described as an underwater city, where coral reefs interspersed with aquatic plants provide fish and other marine life in Maldives, a viable environment to live in and flourish. In the open sea, tourists can see the stunning sight of sharks, whales, whale sharks and manta rays.
Nearer the reefs in Maldives where it is safe to swim, tourists can see turtles, sea anemones, octopus and eels. There are numerous species of fish that make up the marine life in Maldives. Some of the fish you can see in Maldives are Skipjack, also called Maldives Fish, Dogtooth Tuna, Butterfly fish, Sweetlips, and Fusiliers.
Little information is available on the ancient people and their way of life. Evidence suggests that The Maldives has been populated and thriving as early as the 4th century BC. It is argued that the earliest settlers migrated from Arabia, eastern Africa and the Indian subcontinent among other places. Today, the Maldivians are a mixed race. An estimate for 1997 estimate puts the total population at 263,189 out of which about 48.5% are women. It is expected that the figure would rise to 288,800 by the year 2000.
The people of the Maldives are its own unique character. They are a small, kindred society unified by common history, the Dhivehi language, and the Islamic faith. Islam has given strength to the society and the faith is taken very seriously. The ties and obligations felt by individuals to their community, to their President, to a whole nation reflects the tradition of strong family ties. Intelligent, as well as devout, the people of The Maldives are tolerant and respectful of each other and of visitors to the country.
The origins of the Maldivian people are shrouded in mystery. The First settlers may well have been from Sri Lanka and Southern India. Some say Aryans, who sailed in their reed boats from Lothal in the Indus Valley about 4,000 years ago, probably followed them. Archeological evidence suggests the existence Hinduism and Buddhism before the country embraced Islam in 1153 A.D.Not surprisingly, the faces of today?s Maldivian display the features of various faces that inhabit the lands around the Indian Ocean shipping and maritime routes, the Maldives has long been a melting pot for African, Arab and South East Asian mariners.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, a month during which Muslims mark 30 days of fasting. The working hours altered for the month, the government offices being open from 9.00a.m. to 1.30p.m. and the private sector also closing for the day at 3.00 in the afternoon.
Eid-ul Al?h?aa falls on the 10th day on Zul Hijja in the Islamic Calendar. While those who can afford are at pilgrimage at the holy Ka?aba in Mecca, for those who stay behind it is a time for celebrations and feasting.
As with all Muslims, Maldivians celebrate the Prophet?s Birthday. The prophet?s Birthday is 12th day of Rabee-ul-Awwal in the Islamic Calendar. Families invite one another to their homes to share the special dishes prepared for the day.
Kuda Eid is the first day of the month of Shawaal in the Islamic Calendar. This follows the end of Ramadan and is a period of feasting. Early in the morning men and women gather at the mosque to perform prayer.
The Independence day is celebrated on 26th July. The highlight of the day is the official celebrations held in the evening at the Republic Square. The event begins with a march past by the National Security Service and the National Cadet Corps.
On 11th November 1968 Maldives became a Republic of the second time. The day is celebrated every year with parades and marches.
The National Day celebrates the great victory of Mohamed Thakurufaanu over the Portuguese in 1573. The National Day is celebrate on the 1st of Rabee ul Awwal, the third month in the Islamic Calendar.
Situated on the Equator towards the south of Sri Lanka, Maldives is strewn with sun soaked beaches rich in coconuts and tropical fruits.
Sun bathe, swim and dive to your hearts content. Tranquil beaches of Cocoa Island, Nika and Banyan Tree Island are simply exotic. The lovely beaches in Maldives are just right for those on a luxury holiday and honeymooners, though law strictly forbids nudity and topless demonstration, as it hurts the sensibilities of the local people. Spend a quiet beach holiday on Kuda Bandos Island and walk hand-in-hand on some of the deserted beaches that envelop you in a warm embrace.
Enjoy snorkeling and deep sea diving as you luxuriate on the beaches in Maldives with Tourism in Maldives. The beaches in Maldives enchant you with their pure virginal white sands that sparkle under the warm rays of the friendly sun. Set out on deep sea fishing expeditions into the ocean and gaze wonder eyed at the panoramic vistas that greet you eyes.
Restaurants, coffee shop and well stocked bars with interior seating in all resorts provide varied and delicious meals with wide choice of fresh fruit juices, punches, cocktail, wines and spirits. All resorts serve food and beverages to suite demanding palate, be it favourite international dishes and or the fresh and exotic delights of seafood. Most resorts bring together tastes from many lands including highlights of local cuisine in set menus, altered daily for diversity. Many offer a-la-carte services that cover eastern and western flavours. Maldivian short eats served with tea or coffee are popular with most visitors as a snack in between meals while grills and barbecues are much in demand in most resorts. A few resorts have specialised restaurants each for favoured cuisines as European, Indian, Chinese and others.
The shops are well stocked with garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, watches or electronics, to name just a few. Many find it a pleasant experience to join the throngs of shoppers on the main shopping streets in the evenings. All shops are open until 11.00 in the night, except for prayer times, when they are closed for 15 minutes.
Canned fish produced at the canning plant in Felivaru, Lhaviyani Atoll is available in a number of shops in Male?. Tuna used for canning are caught by the traditional pole and line method, as are all fish caught in the Maldives, and therefore are ?dolphin friendly?. Vacuum packed smoked fish and chipped dried fish are also available in many super markets around Male?.
Here the pace is slower and the atmosphere peaceful, compared to the hectic activity in the rest of this neighborhood. Each stall is filled with a variety of local produce mainly from the atolls. Here you will find different kinds of local vegetables, fruits and yams, packets of sweetmeat, nuts and breadfruit chips, bottles of home made sweets and pickles and bunches of bananas hanging on coir ropes from ceiling beams. Another building just next door sells smoked and dried fish.
Most souvenir shops line the northern end of Chaandanee Magu, earlier known as the Singapore Bazaar for its many imports from Singapore. Guides and vendors speaking in English and other foreign languages patiently wait to serve the visitors. These shops are stocked with an ample supply of gifts and souvenir items. Best buys include the ?thudu kuna? the Maldivian mat woven with local natural fibers. Attractive too are the wooden miniature ?dhonis?. When shopping for souvenirs, do keep in mind that export of products made of turtle shell, black coral, pearl oyster shell and red coral is prohibited.
Maldives is the hub for enjoying great water sports activities. It entices adventurous tourists and offers extreme beach activities. Maldives offers best diving spots in the world. Enhance your holiday by indulging in various Water Sports in Maldives. With its turquoise glistening water and beaches, Maldives tourism boasts of its chief location in the Indian Ocean and rich underwater world. Scuba diving is the major beach activity in Maldives.
You can enjoy a wide array of water sports and beach activities like diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, water skiing, parasailing, fishing, catamaran sailing, speed boating, jet skiing, canoeing, etc. Laze down on the beach just doing nothing except watching the endless sea. Sunset fishing and sailing offers breathtaking sunset views.
Maldives beckons divers from all around the world. The best season for diving is from the months of May to November. This is the time of the year when you can clearly see the calm sea and exotic marine species. Explore the lagoons and observe the marine species, which includes manta rays, dolphins, turtles, lion fish, stingrays, moray eels, whale sharks and reef fish. Most of the resorts in the Maldives have dive schools, which will give you modern equipment and basic lessons for good diving.
Another of the popular water sports in Maldives is fishing. You can try night fishing, early morning fishing and sport fishing. The red snapper is the most sought after fish for sport fishing in Maldives.
Located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 2000 kilometers east of mainland Africa, the island of Mauritius is an oblong mass of coral reefs born out of a primeval volcanic eruption.
No prior visa is required to enter the Republic of Maldives. Entry permit will be granted to visitors on arrival at designated ports of entry, based on the immigration requirements.
The Maldives has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year round and a great deal of sunshine. The warm tropical climate results in relatively minor variations in daily temperature throughout the year. The hottest month on average is April and the coolest, December. The weather is determined largely by the monsoons.
The capital of the Maldives, Mal?, is situated close to the airport on the southern point of the North Mal? Atoll. Although accommodation is available, very few foreign visitors stay in the capital; even those doing business normally stay in one of the nearby resort islands and travel to Mal? by boat. The capital has several shops which sell examples of local handicrafts and imported goods. Other attractions include the Mulee-aage, a former palace; National Museum, located in the Sultan?s Park with a superb collection of artifacts including Sultanese thrones and palanquins; the fish and vegetable markets; the beautiful 17th-century Hukuru (or Friday Mosque); and the Islamic Center, with its magnificent golden dome. There are over 20 other mosques scattered around Mal?.
The island of Giraavaru lies 11km (7 miles) west of the airport. It can be reached by speed boat (travel time ? 15 minutes) or by normal transfer boat (travel time ? 45 minutes). The well-appointed rooms face either a tropical garden or have a view of the Indian Ocean.
This small island is exceedingly beautiful and much photographed. The accommodation consists of simple bungalows.
East of Baros is the island of Bandos, one of the larger resorts whose accommodation consists of well-furnished beach bungalows with a view of the beach. There is a particularly good diving school; one of the attractions is a dive down to the aptly-named Shark Point.
A tiny island covering an area of half a square mile, Kurumba is 15 minutes by boat from the airport and 10 minutes from Mal?. There are conference facilities, swimming pools, gymnasia and jacuzzis, as well as five restaurants. Most watersports can be arranged, including scuba diving; the colorful fish in the lagoon will eat out of your hand.
Situated on the west side of the North Mal? Atoll and boasting the country?s largest lagoon, Nakatchafushi is perhaps one of the most photographed of all the islands. Located on the western side of the Mal? Atoll, it is 24km (15 miles) from the airport (travel time - approximately 90 minutes). The lagoon is perfect for watersports and a long strip of sand at the western end of the island is a haven for beachcombers. There is also a swimming pool.
Covering a land area of 60,680 sq m (653,160 sq ft) and with a beach length of 1024m (3360ft), this oval-shaped island is located approximately one hour by boat from the airport. One side of the island is full of corals, within 3 to 6m (10 to 20ft) of the shallow beach, perfect for snorkeling and diving lessons, whilst the other side is a superb beach ideal for swimming and water-skiing.
An untouched and beautiful island on the northwest of the North Mal? Atoll. Thatched bungalows and 10 water bungalows built on stilts over the lagoon are influenced by local architectural styles without missing any of the modern comforts.
This island is reached by a two-hour voyage from the airport. It is one of the most expensive resorts and one that is renowned for its food. The Maldivian-run island probably provides the best anchorage of any resort and always has yachts for charter. It is protected on all sides by a beautiful lagoon. The accommodation consists of individual thatched bungalows situated in coconut groves leading down to the beach.
The island of Kanifinolhu (Kani) is on the eastern edge of the North Mal? Atoll. The seas around the island boast some of the best inside reefs in the country, and the protection provided by the external reef makes diving possible even in the roughest conditions. The style of the accommodation is influenced by local and oriental design and some rooms have air conditioning. The island has a desalination plant for fresh water.
Still in the Mal? (Kaafu) Atoll, but to the south of the airport, are a further score of resorts. Notable among these are Biyadhoo and Villivaru which are 33km (21 miles) from the airport. Both are owned and managed by the Taj Group from India.
To the east of Coco Island, these ?twin? islands are connected by a causeway across the lagoon. The latter is the livelier of the two, with more rooms and more in the way of entertainment: Veligandu Huraa has individual bungalows and a more intimate atmosphere. They are only a gentle stroll away from each other should one feel the need for a change of mood.
The nearby Coco Island has only eight two-story thatched huts, all of which are beautifully furnished. Private groups can rent the entire resort.
South of Coco Island is Kandooma, where flowering shrubs surround chalet-style accommodation. Trips can be arranged to the nearby fishing village.
This diving paradise, on the north tip of the South Mal? Atoll and about 45 minutes by taxi boat and 20 minutes by speedboat from the airport, has a fully-equipped diving school. There are 31 cabana-style rooms on this island whose features include freshwater showers, and which reflect the high level of capital investment which has been made in the resort.
Located on the south eastern reef of the South Mal? Atoll, this island is ringed with a massive lagoon and connected to two uninhabited islets which can be reached on foot at low tide. All rooms are on the beachfront with en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, IDD telephones and hot and cold desalinated water
The Baa Atoll is about 130km (80 miles) northwest of the capital, one of the few places where traditional arts and crafts are still practiced, and now home to five resorts. The atoll?s coral reefs are in pristine condition and are famous for the large number of mantas and reef sharks visiting during the southwest monsoon (May to July). The resorts of Reethi Beach and Coco Palm are both 5-star, each with over 100 rooms divided into three categories of luxurious villas. There are five restaurants, a fully equipped gym and even squash and tennis courts. Unlike other islands, Baa has its own in-house doctor. Transfer is a 30-minute journey by sea plane or helicopter from the airport. The Soneva Fushi resort, situated on Kunfunadhoo Island, has 62 villas, all scattered along the beach front on both sides of the island. It is situated 121km (75 miles) north of Mal? airport (travel time ? 25 to 30 minutes by Hummingbird Island Airways). Soneva Fushi has two main restaurants, both offering interior and exterior dining with local and international cuisine. The atoll?s other resort is Royal Island, which has facilities for a wide range of watersports, a health spa and a professional dive school.
Located 11km (7 miles) from the airport in South Mal? Atoll, this resort offers 36 non-air-conditioned bungalows, 72 air-conditioned bungalows and 16 deluxe bungalows built over the lagoon. It boasts a house reef as well as two wrecks, caves and drop offs.