15 Best Sights in Maldives

*Review of the best according to the editors. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective, not intended as an advertisement and does not serve as a guide to purchase. Please consult an expert before purchase.

Maldives is known as the Indian Ocean paradise. And most tourists come here for the comfort, tranquility, luxurious beaches. But the Maldives archipelago has more to offer than just doing nothing. What to see in Maldives? Our experts have tracked down for you the most popular and interesting tourist sites in the exotic country.

The best attractions in the Maldives

Best attractions in the Maldives1Islamic Center and Great Mosque5.0
2National Museum in Sultan Park4.9
3Vaavu Atoll4.8
4Maradu Island4.8
5Banana Reef4.8
6Fish Market4.7
7Muliaghe Presidential Palace4.5
8Medusirai Shrines4.5
9Hukukru Miskiu4.5
10The Tomb of Muhammad Thakurufanu4.4
11Hanifaru Cove4.4
12Sultans Park4.3
13Kuda Bandos Island4.3
14National Art Gallery4.2
15Vaadhu Island4.2

Islamic Center and Grand Mosque

Sight rating: 5.0

Islamic Center and Grand Mosque

Nearby attractions are a source of pride for Maldivians. The country’s population is predominantly Muslim, so it comes as no surprise that both buildings make up Asia’s largest Muslim center. The Islamic Centre was built in the Maldivian capital back in 1984.

The majestic 6-story building, funded by the Sultanates of Libya, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, has one single mission: to host the meetings of the Supreme Council. There is also a library with valuable books in the center. One of the most important places of the center is considered to be the excellently equipped classrooms for students.

Nearby, the Great Mosque is the center’s pride and joy: a massive religious structure with seating for up to 5,000 worshippers. Here is a prayer room in honor of Sultan Muhammad Tukurufan. This historical figure is especially revered in the Islamic world: he freed the inhabitants from the Portuguese colonization. The inhabitants of the archipelago value their independence and reverence the memory of their benefactor.

The Great Mosque is one of the few sites of Islam that members of other religions are allowed to visit. The construction of the mosque was entrusted to one of the most famous Malaysian architects of the time. All the rooms in the building are very voluminous and bright, the marble tiles on the floor shine with rainbow colors, and the prayer hall has luxurious carpets made by Pakistani craftsmen.

National Museum in Sultan Park

Rating of the attraction: 4.9

National Museum in Sultan Park

One of the most important cultural and historical attractions of the Maldives. It is the National Museum that gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the Maldives, immerse themselves in their distant and not so distant past. Walking around the museum, you can examine in detail a rich exposition of clothes, jewelry, furnishings and weapons used by representatives of the ruling dynasty in the past. The National Museum is a historically significant building: the only heritage monument to the lost sultan’s reign.

The museum also has local archeological finds: pre-Islamic statues, ancient Koran lists and other valuable exhibits from the excavations, in which the world famous Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl was an active participant.

Walking around the museum you can see a collection of old musical instruments, unusual drums, a large collection of ancient coins, historical awards, weaving devices, etc. At the entrance of the museum is another unusual exhibit: a motorcycle with bullet marks. It is a reminder of the events of 1988 when Sri Lankan mercenaries nearly toppled the ruling regime.

Waavu Atoll

Attraction Rating: 4.8

Vaavu Atoll

Considered the most sparsely populated in the archipelago. Represented by 20 small islets, of which only a quarter is inhabited. Vaavu is ideal for diving (the best in the Maldives), especially between May and July when the world’s largest stingrays arrive to offer a thrill to visiting underwater enthusiasts.

The underwater cliff of Fotteyo on Vaavu, white from the coral covering it, is a permanent member of the world’s top diving sites. Maradu Island is 50 kilometers long. Fotteyo is the easternmost point of the entire archipelago. Besides diving, the atoll is famous for its pristine nature, so tempting to travelers. Located near the capital Male’, the island is 65 km away and easily traveled by speedboat or hydroplane.

Maradu Island

Rating of the attraction: 4.8

One of the key tourist sites that are part of the Addu Atoll. Located right in the middle of a chain of islands connected by several dams. The island is quite popular with travelers, who appreciate it for its crystal clear, quiet beaches and spectacular views.

But Maradu is not only for nature lovers, the island is also considered a very interesting historical site: its northeastern part is dotted with former British naval bases. Their territory today is all private property.

What is worth seeing? First and foremost, the “Big House” (“Bondoge”): an unusual building, the largest and oldest on the island. In times gone by, it was a prisoner’s isolation ward and was also used as a theater. Today the building is solely administrative: there is a kids’ club.

The magnificent coral reef that encircles Maradu also deserves a lot of attention. This is a great place for diving: hundreds of exotic fish, including rare ones, amazing underwater scenery and incredibly clear blue water.

Banana Reef

Rating of the attraction: 4.8

Banana Reef

This coral reef gets its unusual name because of its unusual shape, very similar to a fragrant, yellow fruit. This place is one of the first to go scuba diving. Often on the banana reef (on the east side), at a depth of 15 meters you can see whole flocks of angel fish.

Their shoals sometimes reach 1,000 individuals: with such a large concentration, divers are sometimes completely lost for a while in a whirlwind of bright, shimmering fish. Not so friendly sea creatures are often found here: this part of the reef is a habitat of formidable moray eels. Banana Reef is also famous for its caves: a fascinating journey for scuba divers who encounter almost every type of tropical fish there is.

The west side of the reef is no less interesting: it looks like a half-curved wall, creating a unique phenomenon – streams of water spiraling downwards (divers call it nothing less than a “washing machine”) when there are powerful currents. They are so strong that they can shake up even the experienced divers.

The best part of the reef is considered to be the northeast part. Incredible mountain ranges, large caves, and deep troughs. The sea life is no less exciting: you can watch sharks, barracudas with your own eyes, look at the incredibly beautiful clusters of coral (at the top of the reef).

Fish Market

Rating of the attraction: 4.7

Fish Market

Definitely one of the highlights of the Maldives: not for nothing is the country known and proud of the variety of seafood and all kinds of fish that live in the Indian Ocean. As soon as the sun rises, the market fills with fishermen, each offering the freshest catch. Then at lunchtime fishermen arrive with bigger fish like shrimp, coral grouper, barracuda and more.

Restaurant owners buy their goods at the fish market: in fact, the freshest and very tasty seafood is sold here. The fish market is one of the archipelago’s most colorful must-see spots: a paradise for lovers of quality seafood. Here you can buy them at a reasonable price, and if you want you can brag about your catch, caught on a popular tourist fishery.

Muliaghe Presidential Palace

Rating of the attraction: 4.6

Muliaghe presidential palace


  • The spectacular building, built in 1906, is located in the commercial part of the capital. It is an unmissable venue for important guests and political meetings. The architecture of the palace leaves a lasting impression, even on the most experienced travelers. A visit to the Presidential Palace is a must on the itinerary of any tour of Male.

    It was built in the colonial style and is a magnificent symbiosis of national traditions and modern technology. The history of the palace is quite nontrivial: it was created by a Ceylon architect by order of Sultan Mohammed Shamsuddin III himself, who planned to make the palace a home for his son. But, 30 years later a political crisis broke out in the country and the Sultan and his family were exiled to Fua-Mulaku Island and the palace became state property.

    Medusirai’s Tomb

    Rating of the landmark: 4.5

    Medusirai Mausoleums

    Immediately after visiting the Presidential Palace, you can go to the nearby Mausoleums of Medusa. The historical site is revered by locals and fervent followers of Islam, making it the most revered shrine in the Maldives. The tomb of renowned traveller and Islamic preacher Abu Al-Barakat Yusuf Al-Barbari was a significant figure in the development of Islam.

    The small chapel, decorated with white flags, is modestly hidden from prying eyes behind a coral wall, opposite the Hukuru Mosque and just around the corner of the Muliage Presidential Palace. The traveler’s tomb is available to visit 24 hours a day, admission is absolutely free.

    Hukukru Miskiu

    Rating of the attraction: 4.5

    Hukukru Miskiu

    Also known as the Friday Mosque. This iconic structure is located in the central part of the capital and is considered one of the most striking architectural monuments in the country. The cult building was erected by order of Sultan Iskander in the middle of the 17th century. It took only two years to build a religious structure of coral blocks covered with original lacquer frescoes, which is magnificent in its austerity.

    The interior decoration of the Friday mosque deserves no less attention than the exterior: it is decorated with a variety of carved ornaments made of wood and stone. Hukukru Miskiu, one of the finest examples of religious Maldivian architecture of its time. In 2008, the site was included among the candidates for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    Prayer complex built on the site of a pagan shrine where people worshipped the sun deity in ancient times. This fact explains the rather unusual location of the entrance to the mosque: according to Islamic canons, it should face Mecca, but in this case it is different – the entrance is oriented to the east.

    Mohammed Thakurufanu tomb

    Rating of the sight: 4.4

    One of the most historically important sites for the locals. A national hero and liberator, Mohammed Thakurufan, succeeded in stopping the Portuguese invasion of the Maldives. The famous military leader who lived back in the 16th century, became famous for his hard fight against the Portuguese colonialists, organizing night guerrilla raids on the islands of the Maldives for 8 years.

    Fighting sorties paid off: the Maldives did gain independence, and Thakurufan himself became the ruler of the country. During his 12-year reign as sultan, the national hero managed to create an effective active army, expand the country’s trade relations, introduce a stable currency. But the most important merit of this ruler is considered to be the founding of the new Utimu dynasty.

    Hanifaru Bay

    Rating of the attraction: 4.4

    This unique place is a natural reserve. The bay is a real find for those who know a lot about excellent snorkeling and will enjoy underwater walks with whale sharks and huge manta rays (sea devil).

    In order to preserve the natural site and the surrounding environment, the government decided in 2009 to create a marine reserve in the bay. And after a couple of years, it was recognized as a protected area within the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

    The reef, located here, is a rather unusual phenomenon. It takes the form of a huge sinkhole measuring over 1,600 m. During the season from May to November, large shoals of plankton swim into this funnel, attracting whale sharks and manta rays for a feast.

    Hanifaru is completely uninhabited. The bay is completely closed, its size is approximately the size of a soccer field. Baa Atoll, where Hanifaru is located, is home to many and varied types of marine life. The bay is also one of the few places in the world where whale sharks come to mate, and the graceful and curious manta rays. Hanifaru Cove, the world’s largest feeding station for these cute, harmless giants.

    Sultans Park

    Attraction rating: 4.3

    Sultans Park

    Incredibly beautiful place – quiet, green, blooming – perfect for leisurely walks in the shade. Impressive size of the green area located not far from the Presidential Palace. Large centuries-old trees, unique tropical plants, dozens of wild shrubs, many flowers magnificent in their riot of color – all this is Sultans Park.

    There are beautiful water lilies, wild orchids, roses blooming all year round, ficus banyans, etc. The colorful fountains and the unique centennial “wishing tree” are of special interest for visitors to the park.

    Sultans Park is also a reminder of the past: it is a shadow of the former grandeur of the Sultan’s Palace gardens, once located on the territory of the park. The park originally belonged to the residence of the ruler of the Maldives and was buried in the lush greenery of trees and flowers. But armed conflicts have left their mark on this place.

    The palace, unfortunately, has not survived: only one surviving wing of the residence – now the National Museum – reminds one of it. And the nature reserve has withered away, losing its former grandeur and beauty. Over time, it has been partially restored and turned into Sultan Park. Today, it is a natural paradise surrounded by the stone metropolis.

    Kuda Bandos Island

    Rating of the attraction: 4.3

    Kuda Bandos Island

    The modest island is located in close proximity to the island resort of Bandos, just a 15-minute drive from the capital’s airport. Technically, Cuda Bandos is considered uninhabited because it has no hotel infrastructure and no settlements. Nevertheless, this tiny island is perfectly equipped to welcome guests.

    If they wish, tourists can visit the makeshift foot court and enjoy a barbecue picnic or relax on the local beach, snorkel or engage in other water sports. Often the island hosts traditional wedding ceremonies for honeymooning newlyweds.

    This kind of entertainment for guests is possible thanks to the fact that the island is not completely uninhabited: there are permanent employees on its territory, whose job is to maintain the landscaped tourist infrastructure and to charge entrance fees.

    Important! Cuda Bandos is also quite popular with locals who enjoy coming here for picnics, so when planning a trip to the island, it’s important to consider the time factor: on weekends, it’s crowded.

    Rating of the sight: 4.2

    It is the unmissable ‘pilgrimage’ destination for travelers who love painting. The gallery is located in an old building, built in classical style (19th century) – the former residence of a famous nobleman, close to the Sultan. It’s also noteworthy: the walls are elegantly carved. The exposition inside is an amazing symbiosis of different historical epochs and artistic trends.

    Here you can get a real aesthetic pleasure: the Picture Gallery consists of works of local masters of abstractionism, landscapists and portraitists. If you want, visitors can watch the work of artists directly in the process of creating a masterpiece and even purchase any piece of art as a keepsake. Gallery often arranges exhibitions of design works of both Maldivian and foreign artists. Silkscreen paintings, fabric paintings, even handicrafts can be seen with your own eyes.

    Vaadhu Island

    Rating of the sight: 4.2

    Vaadhu Island

    It is truly a piece of starry sky on the surface of the earth. The vast Indian Ocean and the incredibly beautiful beaches, glowing bright blue at night. A unique natural installation. Once here you can have the most romantic or relaxing evening of your life.

    Getting here is easy: by boat or by hydroplane. The coastline of the island may seem unremarkable on arrival, with the same sand on the beach and the same palm trees. But as evening falls, everything changes. As stars appear in the sky, they appear in the water. In the calm waves rolling on the shore, literally sparkling sea “fireflies” (phytoplankton) and it seems that the stars are reflected in the night water. This phenomenon, of course, is not found only on Vaadhu, but it is on this island that it manifests itself most vividly.

    Important! Seeing the “starry” ocean, many tourists are tempted to take a dip in the magical water, but this is not recommended. According to those who have risked such a feat, the pleasure of it does not get from the word at all: the glowing phytoplankton delivers considerable discomfort.

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