This is my favourite photograph of the Maldives, because I think it is quite an artistic composition (personal opinion!).I know a dead tree isn't quite as romantic as a coconut palm leaning over the beach - but the beautiful colour of the ocean, the white sand and the islands on the horizon still capture the tropical atmosphere of the Maldives.
The ocean around the Maldives really is this beautiful aquamarine/turquoise blue colour.There are about 1,200 islands in the Maldives (of which about 200 are inhabited) stretching over a distance of more than 1,000 km. This boat is pulling into the wharf on BandosIsland - a popular resort island only 20 minutes from the Male international airport by speedboat. Other resorts further from Male can take several hours to reach, either by speedboat or sea-plane.
A typical Maldives beach scene. I tried to take this picture with more of the beach in the picture, but the sun was so bright, and the sand so white, that the light being reflected into the lenses completely locked the camera up (I think the problem was that it didn't have a shutter speed fast enough to cope with the very high light level). The camera would only unlock when I moved so that I got some of the darker vegetation bordering the beach in the picture.
Tourists go to the Maldives mostly for the diving, snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. These are some of the dive boats and a coral reef observatory boat at BandosIsland.
Most of the signs on the tourist islands are in Italian and German, as well as English.This is because the largest number of tourists come from Italy, followed by Germany, and then the UK. It was in fact an Italian who started the tourist industry in the Maldives about 30 years ago, after a tourism consultant hired by the Maldives government produced a report saying the Maldives had no potential for tourism!That also explains why you see so many cappuccino machines and pizza ovens in the Maldives.
After tourism, the main industry of the Maldives is fishing.Here on the wharf at Male, the capital of the Maldives, are some fishing boats of different sizes - large, medium and small! The middle size boat appears to have lost the decorative hook that is a feature of the traditional fishing boats in the Maldives (it appears to be tied to the mast in the middle of the boat).
Here a boat laden with freshly caught fish is waiting to be unloaded at Male.
The fish are loaded onto trolleys on the wharf and then wheeled across the road to the fish market.
At the fish market, the fish are tipped onto the floor and then sorted into baskets for buyers. The fish market trades mostly reef fish in the morning and tuna in the evening.
It's not just fish that are unloaded at Male's wharf -- all sorts of commodities are loaded on and off the boats.Produce from the islands are brought in, and building supplies, gas bottles, foodstuffs and drinks are loaded back onto the boats to return to the islands.I was watching this guy loading roof guttering for a while.He missed spearing the lounge suite sitting on the road several times by mere centimeters.
The wharf is so busy that the boats are often tied up five or six deep, and the unloading has to be done with small rowboats shuttling back and forth between the larger boats.
This old man was really struggling under the weight of the bunches of bananas that he was carrying on the wharf.He was tottering so much that he attracted the attention of all the passers-by who looked worried that he was going to collapse under the weight.
Male is quite a modern small city with passenger and cargo boats of all sizes coming and going all of the time.
Many parts of the city though still retain their old world character.This is a typical corner shop in one of the older sections of Male.
Local Maldivians stop to chat on a street corner, in front of a colourful wall mural.
The building code in Male prohibits any buildings over 100 feet -- that is why you see so many building 8 or 9 stories high of similar design.Many of the buildings are finished in bold colour washes, giving the city a distinct character.
The bright colour washes on some of the buildings add a splash of colour to some of Male's backstreets.
The shape of these carved tombstones in the grounds of Male's historic Hukuru Miskiiy mosque indicates who is buried here.The pointed tombstones are for men, and the rounded tombstones for women.Small ones like those in the foreground indicate that it is children that are buried there.