Maldive Islands

Who knew! These aren't just any old atolls. We were used to flat coral islands created with the occasional palm tree spouting around. The Maldives are like a mirage or oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean. From miles away you can spot a skyline like a miniature New York. They have made use of every possible inch of their scarce square footage. When that wasn't enough they reclaimed some and built their own island. Amazing!!! A total of 1,190 islands, only 192 of which are inhabited, totaling 90,000 sq. km. A population of roughly 300,000. We visited 3.


1300 miles of crossing the Indian Ocean and two time zones later we found ourselves anchoring in the ferry lanes next to the island of Male, the capital of Maldive. Right off the bat, you are in awe of the buildings that they have erected to provide the space they need to live and work. Second, your eyes are drawn to enormous cranes and shipping containers stacked along the water front. We were curious as there is no agriculture here, very little grows on coral. What possibly could they be exporting. Nothing. Everything, absolutely everything needs to be shipped in, including the water. Let us tell you, they do it right. From the moment we were boarded by our agent Ahamed and the other officials to process our paperwork, we were impressed. They know what they are doing in this country and they have got it organized! The town itself has a store for every need, they want for nothing, except maybe more space.

To the right is the oldest standing mosque in the Maldives.

Since there are relatively little resources available out here, they realized the one thing they do have to offer is the location itself. Tourism! 700,000 visitors a year. With no real down season they have got it covered. Pristine clear waters, world class diving, wonderful surfing and no less than 90 resorts and counting, at the present moment.

The a second resource would be fish. At the local fish market along the Male waterfront after a day of fishing we found boats laden with tuna unlike anything we had ever seen before. We have NEVER seen yellow fin so large in our lives. It took 3 men and all their strength to lift them out of their boats. And they had many. We are a little afraid to put a line in the water now. And the sheer numbers of the smaller ones (small being a relative term) was outstanding. They all line up on the bow of their boats and if they run through a school of fish they literally drop the line in, hook the fish, fling them onto the boat and repeat as fast as they can.

Our first true introduction to a completely Muslim country, it was visibly a "man's" world. Many women could be seen around town tending to their children, many covered in their traditional clothing but not with a veil covering their face. They came in many colors as well, not just black. A few women could even be found working in offices and banks. Aside from that, then men ran the fish and produce markets, the majority of the businesses. Many times you could see their amusement as Kelly girl and I tried to negotiate our way through piles of mangos, cucumbers, eggplants and melons.

They had the absolute tastiest little Maldivian mangos, and the tiniest eggs we've seen to date. The carrots were huge and overgrown and never fear, Washington State grown apples. Makes us proud. Surprisingly, we find them everywhere. Should have gotten them to sponsor us before we left and reported back to them our findings. Makes us proud.

Ferry Terminal in Hulhumale


Hulhumale is the anchorage tucked within the airport island. It is conveniently situated right next to the ferry terminal. The ferry is the only means of getting back and forth to the town of Male where all the provisioning and official work was to be done. A half hour ride, very hot and noisy, was always an adventure.

The continuous flow of boat traffic inside and out the anchorage can create some serious chop. Add a little wind and you had yourself a Mr. Toads wild ride trying to take the dinghy to shore. The external reef doesn't provide that much protection to the winds that were beginning to pick up. As the locals continually let us know, winter was coming early. We tried to keep our days in this anchorage to a minimum and enjoy some locations with a little less activity and roll.

Surf and Sun in Maldive Islands

No better way to celebrate Lisa turning 40 then to round up the fleet and share the day on the waves.



The second anchorage we frequented the most was on the island of Himmafushi. Formerly the jail island, we are not sure what it is used for now though there was a lot of boat work being done at the dock. It was nearest to our surf break as we could get without anchoring around the corner on either a marine park or at the break itself. We did try anchoring out in the channel a few days though the amazingly strong currents there, often 3 knots made us a bit tentative, especially when Ohana Kai decided to come off her coral anchor hold and begin to drift away one day. Then there was a formal complaint placed by the local dive charters and we were promptly asked to move.

Surrounded by substantial reef, HImmafushi is well protected when the winds would occasionally blow 30+. After one surprise gale caught us all off guard, we struggled for hours against wind and current to tuck ourselves back into safety and realized just how protected we were in there.

We were in good company here as well with all the local dive and surf charters that kept their guests close to their desired destinations too. It was easy for us to take our boats out each day to Honky's surf break and enjoy some fun and recreation, surfing with our pals and quite a few tourists who fly in for just this adventure. We met folks from France, Italy, Germany, Australia and Holland (hello Hizkia) to name just a few.

Only a couple hours hop back to Male, we could easily make a run for supplies when needed.


The sight to see from Thulusdhoo

We made one other quick stop on the island of Thulusdhoo. A very busy location for the local fishing boats and Coca Cola bottling plant (weren't we happy), the island itself doesn't have any resorts located on it. This gave us the opportunity to view a bit more of the local flavor and life. The harbor officials of the location were kind and helpful when they communicated with us, making us feel welcomed. But unfortunately we were quickly informed by our shipping agent that it would be best if we left immediately. We were allowed to anchor only in front of resorts, if we received permission from them first. We were terribly disappointed. We did manage to get a few great sessions of surf in at Chickens break set way off in the distance in the photo to the right.

The short time we did spend ashore was very pleasant and the locals showed us all around. They were as interested in our lives as we were in theirs. Most of the women were in their homes taking care of the children. The men were perplexed as we carried our own bags and they explained their women just didn't do that, let alone surf. They generously gave us some of their trinkets as gifts and they made sure we didn't leave empty handed with new foods to try like sugar candy, water apples and special seasonings for our soups and rice.

A beautiful location for a get away and quite the playground for folks traveling from Europe. We do know of some sailors who took the northern route and we are sure had a much different experience than we did. Maybe a little easier and less expensive than the southern route we chose, but we hear still difficult to find places to go and visit. The Maldives were a pleasant surprise for us but not necessarily the easiest cruising grounds we have found.