Indian ocean

Mysterious Maldives: a north to south voyage

Published on 01 december 2015 at 0h00

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Part of what makes the Maldives so fascinating is how little most of us know about the small Islamic country. The common perception is of a peaceful, sun-kissed Indian Ocean paradise that caters to the famous and honeymooning. In truth, it’s a deeply complex country of 394,000 (with one third of those being foreign or illegal workers). Most people either work in the resorts, for the government or they fish. And right now the Islamic Republic is struggling to stabilize its nascent democracy.
Until 2010, when the Local Tourism Laws went into effect, visitors were exposed to very little of the internal workings of the country. All boaters saw of the Maldives were select ports and, if they were lucky, a couple of the 112 secluded private-island resorts. Most villages were off limits. But with the changing of laws came a change in cruising itineraries—not only could boaters explore uninhabited islands and the tried and true ports of Uligamu, Kulhudhuffushi, Hulhumale and Gan but, with the new laws, the whole country was suddenly accessible.
The Maldives are made up of thousands of islands, with tongue twister names, that are scattered between 26 atolls running down the country’s 520nm length. Only a portion of these islands offer secure all-weather anchorage and even fewer are highlighted in any sort of cruising guide. A visit here requires a combination of old-fashioned adventurous seamanship and the judicious use of modern technology. Basically, we checked the charts ...

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