An informational piece where you can pick all kinds of esoteric knowledge to baffle your friends in the pub… Or win pub quizzes. Or not. This one is about the oh-so-ruddy-lovely: Maldives. Check out other 10 Things for Hawaii and Yorkshire.
1. Mount Everest they aren’t
The highest recognised geographical point in the Maldives is, astonishingly, an unnamed point on Villingili Island in the Addu Atoll. This relative mountain, for the near sea level country, stands at a massive 2.4 metres tall. This is the world’s lowest national high point. You’d think they would give it a name or something, Hill Island for example. The lack of hills has severely limited the development of hang-gliding and mountain sports in the Republic and they have yet to pull off a Jamaican bobsleigh team style coup at the winter Olympics. As 80 percent of the land lies under a metre above sea level more tsunamis and sea level rise due to global warming are a real concern.
2. There are a lot of the little buggers
1190 islands. Count them. Not many are inhabited and many are little more than a cat litter tray of sand that sticks above the water at low tide. Eighty have fancy arse resorts on them and another two hundred or so are inhabited by the real people of the Maldives; who fish, dodge falling coconuts, eat fish curry and fish a bit more to fill their days.
3. It’s a fair and reasonable democracy
Ahem. Yes. Err. Yes…
4. There’s no such thing as going feral
In Indo and most other island chains you can turn up, board bag in tow and bum your way around on local boats, stay in local accommodation and generally spend five quid a day and live like a king. In the Maldives tourism is carefully controlled. No backpackers, no turning up and seeing how things turn out. You will stay at a fancy resort, costing lots, and have no contact with the locals or you can bugger off. The plus side of this policy is there is none of the crass commercialism that’s blighted Bali and the like.
5. It’s a really crap place to pull
Nearly everyone there is on their honeymoon, but apparently it’s still considered bad form to drop in on another dude’s partner when they have been married less than two weeks. If the object of your affections partner is a room bound with third degree sunburn from overdoing the bronzing and you’re leaving the next morning then go ahead, pull in.
6. Tony Hussein Hinde doesn’t exist
He does, sorry, that was a lie. But we had to shoehorn the legend in somehow. Good old Tone (R.I.P) got shipwrecked in the ‘Dives in ’73, met a local lass, got married, went native and kept the surfing secret to himself and a mate for 15 years. Then took his secret hideaway public by starting Atoll Adventures. Pasta Point is his legacy.
7. The names of breaks are real adventurous
Cokes is so named because of the Coke factory on the island. Chickens is named after the chicken farm on that island. Jails is by an island with, you guessed it, a jail on it. As for Ninjas, well, if the name scheme is correct then I don’t really want to find out what’s on that island. Unfortunately there is no surf spot called Palm Trees, which is surprising.
8. There’s more to the Maldives than the North Atoll
Everyone knows Pasta Point, Sultans, Jails, Lohis and the rest. Trouble is everyone is now going there. The last few years have seen a massive surge of surfers heading for the soft Indo, tempted by tropical waves and the exotic experience without the smell, hassle and danger of Indo. It’s the number one spot for honeymooning surfers. But there’s more, there are waves all the way down the island chain that stretches to the equator. The southern atolls have some cracking waves, which are hollower, pack more punch and are empty; no hotels and only a couple of boats down there see. But I didn’t tell you that.
9. The immigration is weird
When you land in the Maldives you’ll present your passport to one dude who’ll look at it, stamp it and give it back to you with a little white immigration form inside. You then pass it back to another person, sat four inches to the right of the first dude, who takes out the immigration form and stamps it. There is sometimes a third person supervising as well. Kinda overkill on the staffing front really.
10. They really do mean it when they say ‘Just Say No!’
As the dude in South Park says ‘Drugs are bad, mmmkay?’ The ‘Dives have a real zero tolerance policy towards any drug. You will get chucked in prison. Any prison is unpleasant but one with a tin roof, equatorial sun and no air-conditioning equals sweaty as all hell. Suffice to say, the Maldives Bastille is not anything like the swish B&Bs that masquerade as prisons in the UK: no Sky TV, no ping pong and no flushing toilets. You will languish there for years, wondering if life really means life while all your family bankrupt themselves trying to get you out. Don’t risk it. Leave the jazz fags at home.
Starring in the photos in order: Gracie Davies, Tassy Swallow, Robyn Davies, Jamie O’Brien, Tassy, Sophie Hellyer, Gracie Davies, Sam Lamiroy and a turtle.