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Home Destinations Maldives for the Culturally Curious Traveller

Maldives for the Culturally Curious Traveller

by uma


Award-winning VARU by Atmosphere offers a truly authentic experience for guests 

A chain of more than 1,200 islands located in the northern Indian Ocean, the Maldives is home to just over half a million native people, with a distinct culture and traditions. While for most visitors the Maldives affords the ultimate opportunity to lay back and relax on pristine white beaches with a cocktail in hand, experiencing the rich culture, diversity and history of the incredible archipelagic nation is not to be overlooked. 

Embracing and experiencing authentic Maldivian culture is made possible for guests at luxury Maldives resort,  VARU by Atmosphere. Located on the North-West edge of the Male Atoll, the five-star resort by hospitality group Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts offers a ‘Naturally Maldivian’ experience, combining local tradition and culture with contemporary design and first-class service. In Dhivehi, the Maldivian dialect, VARU means ‘living life in abundance, strength, resilience, and above all – authenticity.’ 

VARU by Atmosphere is a showcase of Maldivian culture and aesthetics. From the structural design, through to the interiors of the villas, authenticity is at the forefront. The Maldivian islands and atolls are a synonym for sun, sand, and sea, and it is precisely in this – the natural environment – that VARU’s design was inspired.   

Resort guests can immerse themselves in the Maldivian culture when staying at the resort, with the opportunity to join local island excursions to see the Maldivian way of life, listen to traditional music made with boduberu drums, and experience authentic cuisine created by local chefs.  

Kaagé, the resort’s signature Maldivian restaurant, was recently named a winner in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022. Designed like a traditional Maldivian house and serving authentic food with a contemporary twist, it was voted in the top 1% of restaurants worldwide by travellers and named the second-best date night restaurant in the world, and eighth-best fine dining restaurant in all of Asia. 

Kaagé offers a complete culinary experience, whereby guests are welcomed with a traditional drink and then invited to watch a short film about the history of Maldivian food. Once seated in the restaurant, guests feast on three courses of carefully curated delicacies, each with descriptions of the offering to enhance the immersive experience. Guests can dine at Kaagé as part of the all-inclusive VARU Plan – the resort’s premium all-inclusive plan offering an array of food and beverage options and amenities, activities, excursions and more. 

Curious to learn more about Maldivian lifestyle and what you can experience? Here are five things you might not have known about Maldivian culture… 

  • Background

Maldivian culture is formed of a multitude of different heritages. Travellers from various parts of the globe settled in the Maldives over centuries, meaning there’s an assimilation of influences from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, Persia, Indonesia, Malaysia and East Africa.

  • Language & Culture

The native language in the Maldives is Dhivehi and their current script is Thaana; a unique script developed from Arabic numerals in the 16th century.

Music and dance are an integral part of the culture of the Maldives and take great influence from East Africa and Arabia. One of the most well-known performances is the Boduberu – performed in a group of 15-20 men and incorporating singers, drummers and dancers. Many of the team working at VARU by Atmosphere are versed in this dance, and host incredible live performances for guests.

  • Cuisine

The delicious traditional cuisine found in the Maldives finds its inspiration primarily in South Asian influences. It is often hot and spicy and features a number of curries, soups and dishes served with rice, coconuts and yams. 

Coming only second to the tourism industry, a large portion of the Maldives’ economy is driven by the fishing industry, as the waters of the atolls are home to over 1,200 species of fish. Fresh snappers, lobster and tuna are consumed by locals, as well as coconuts, pumpkins and sweet potatoes which are grown locally.

  • Religion

The primary religion practised in the Maldives is Islam, often reflected in the clothing worn by locals. Men tend to wear sarongs and white cotton shirts, and women a traditional libaas, a long dress with silver and gold thread. 

In Male, the capital of the Maldives, there’s a multitude of Mosques with beautiful architecture for tourists to visit, including the Islamic Centre, Old Friday Mosque and Rasrani Park.

  • Tourism

Tourism in the Maldives began with the opening of its first resort in 1972 and since then it is home to over 165 tourist resorts. The beautiful landscapes, coupled with the famed hospitality of locals, makes the Maldives a true bucket-list destination. 

With so many resorts to choose from, opt for a resort that blends luxury with local culture and customs to get the most out of your trip to the Maldives.