An Asian gem, Maldives is the perfect vacation destination for beach lovers. The country is a cluster of 1,200 small islands which are grouped into atolls. While most travellers visit here for the luxury resorts on private islands, Maldives walking tours provide for a nice way of exploring the public islands.
You only need to spare a few hours to discover various local isles which are inhabited by Maldivians. While most walking tours are focused around Male, the world’s smallest capital city, there are a few walks that are organized on other public islands. Some private island resorts also offer walking tours of their property or conservation initiatives. Take a look at some popular walking tours across The Maldives.
#1 Male City Walking Tour
Male is the capital city of The Maldives and also home to Velana International Airport, the main entry point into the country for foreign visitors. Maldives’ weather remains largely balmy and pleasant throughout the year. The islands see some rain from May through October. However, November to March remain the best time of the year to visit The Maldives.
A 4-hour comprehensive walking tour of Male is a good duration to see the main attractions of the city while also getting a glimpse of its off-beat side. For just USD 40 per head, you can get under the skin of Male and discover its history. The fee includes a 10% service charge and 12% GST which are part of the local taxes.
The Male City Walking Tour generally has two operational slots every day, 9 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM. If you happen to stay at a hotel in Hulhumale or Male itself, you can be picked up from there. Otherwise, even jetty pickup is available for participants arriving from nearby islands.
At the outset, the walking tour guide will give you an overview of Male’s harbour area and other parts. The harbour sees a lot of activity and is an essential part of any island. As you walk past Male’s oldest school, you are given an insight into the Maldivian education system. You get a peep into the Islamic religion while watching the Old Friday Mosque and Abu – al – Barakaath’s tomb.
The walking tour of Male is not only about trotting past sightseeing spots but also immersing yourself in its culture and history. The tour takes you into a café located inside a nobleman’s mansion where you can sip on some traditional black tea and watch the locals socialize. After the break, you get to see the November 3rd Memorial as the guide tells you the story of 8 martyrs.
The next stop is Sultan Park, and your entry fee is covered in the price of the tour. You can optionally explore the National Museum which is located inside this sprawling park. Thereafter, walk by the Islamic Centre and the Independence Square, learning about the Islamic architectural styles and the significance of the Maldivian flag.
The Male City Walking Tour will also take you through the hustle and bustle of the local market and the fish market. The intense smell, the hubbub of haggling and the vibrant sights will enthral you. You will also be able to snack on some tropical fruits and freshly made sweets from a stall. The tour ends atop a tall building in Male from where you get a bird’s eye view of the rest of the city.
#2 Huraa Island Walking Tour
Located on the Kaafu Atoll of The Maldives, Huraa Island is the perfect place to learn about the mangrove ecosystem of this archipelago. Only 21 km from Male, the island is just 850 metres in length and 300 metres wide. If there is any island that is completely walkable, it is this!
The northern part of Huraa Island is a protected nature reserve because of the mangrove swamps present here. 10 different tree varieties make this island a rare one with such type of vegetation on an otherwise sandy isle. Birdwatchers will be pleased to learn that a lot of protected bird species can be spotted here.
Huraa Island Walking Tour is priced at USD 75 per head and operates from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM from Saturday through Thursday. On Fridays, the tour is held from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM. You are picked up from Male and taken on a speedboat to Huraa. Sometimes, it is even possible to spot dolphins along the ride. Maldives also presents its travellers with many amazing half day tours and full day tours.
Once you reach Huraa Island, the local walking tour guide will tell you about the village life and how simplicity runs deep in their lifestyle. You will also get to know about the fragility of the mangrove ecosystem of this village. This is one of the few public islands with its own freshwater lake in the middle of the saltwater sea!
An interesting experience during the walking tour will be learning about the process of drying and curing fish. You will also be able to sample a local delicacy with the pungent rihakaru paste. Lunch will be at one of the cafes on the island, after which you will get some time off at the beach. There is a small bikini beach here, but most of the beach requires that you cover your knees and shoulders.
#3 Guraidhoo Walking Tour
South Male Atoll is home to Guraidhoo, a public island which is rather quiet and lesser known than most other fishing islands. The island is characterized by its palm fringed beaches and unpaved sandy streets. Apart from fishing, the island offers a closer look into carpentry as many inhabitants help with the construction of dhonis (traditional Maldivian wooden boats).
A walking tour of Guraidhoo not only includes a visit to the local shipyard but also a rather intimate dinner with a family. It is one of the most popular day tours in Maldives. Exchange stories with your local host as they serve you Maldivian seafood, spicy curries, steamed rice, sweet and savoury snacks and hand-rolled flatbread.
If you have more time with you, visit the island mosque and watch how the Muslim prayers are held. You can even notice the distinctive architectural style of this building as compared to the other houses and shops in Guraidhoo.
On some days, you will be able to enjoy an outdoor barbeque on the beach as the waves crash softly lap away at the shore. The traditional Maldivian procession dance will be performed before you by the local artists who match their rhythm to the beat of the ‘bodu beru’ drums.
#4 Thoddoo Island Walking Tour
The paradisiacal island of Thoddoo is located in the North Ari Atoll of The Maldives. A place of agriculture, Thoddoo sees a lot of fruit and vegetable cultivation, most of which is exported to other islands or countries. A local farm tour will be part of the walking tour, letting you identify different herbs and fruits such as watermelon, papaya, coconut and banana.
The island is 2 km long and 1 km wide, but for those who love their long walks, this is fantastic. With almost a third of its area dedicated to farming, Thoddoo isn’t without beaches. There is plenty of shoreline to feed manta rays. Along with mesmerizing beauty to greet you with, many of the Maldivian Islands have various kinds of activities to keep its tourists entertained.
#5 Villimale Eco Walking Tour
Environment enthusiasts have plenty of activities and volunteering options on various islands in The Maldives and even underwater. An eco walking tour offered on the island of Villimale is a great way to get started without veering too far from the capital city of Male.
Ranging from USD 60 to USD 150 per person, depending on your preference to participate in marine conservation or opt for a snorkelling or scuba diving experience. All the participants are picked up from Male, the capital of The Maldives and taken on a short 15-minute ferry to the island of Villimale.
Formerly called Vilingili, this little island has a history of contrasts. Home to the country’s prisoners who needed reformation, Villimale used to be the official prison island of The Maldives. The isle also was a resort, paving way for the influx of boutique tourism. There are two beaches that cater to all the lovers of sands and sea views.
Fairly untouched by modernization, Villimale still preserves most of its greenery. If you wish to gain insights into marine conservation, the NGO Save the Beach will show you how it has used the power of the local community to protect the ocean and the island. You will see how this work is faced with various challenges, thanks to coastal development, especially of the harbour, and land reclamation.
You will also get to identify different tree species and know their names in the local Dhivehi language. Discover more about the conservation efforts through coral planting and waste management as you chat with an NGO representative over some tea at a café on Villimale. You can also have ‘hedika’, a local delicacy that goes quite well with black tea.
While walking may seem uncommon in The Maldives, it is certainly a great way to take in the beach vibes slowly. Apart from the tours listed above, there are many others – to fishing villages, sustainable islands, sand bank tours and more.