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Villingili Tour – A Land Of No Cars

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With the obvious lack of cocktails and sunloungers, because it is an inhabited island, Villingili - but a 10 minute ferry ride from Male, still has the feeling of being on a resort writes Donna . .
Country: Maldives
City: Villingili
Duration: 6 Hour(s) - 0 Minute(s)
Tour Category: Half Day Tour
Package Itinerary

With the obvious lack of cocktails and sunloungers, because it is an inhabited island, Villingili - but a 10 minute ferry ride from Male, still has the feeling of being on a resort writes Donna Richardson. Perhaps that’s because it used to be one. It was gifted to the community as a commuter village to solve overcrowding in populous Male’. Offering foliage and wide, open sandy streets, plus a decent house reef, this is a perfect antidote’ to the big smoke.

From the moment you step onto the island, you are astounded by its greenery and quaintness. It feels like you are miles away from Male’, and that’s what makes it appealing to many tourists who are forced to spend a portion of their holiday in the capital, as they await transfers to the resorts. First and foremost, it is an accessible island where you can enjoy peaceful ‘picnics’ and mix with the locals on their own turf.

There are two beaches to choose from to have your picnic on. One is facing the house reef and the other is facing the skyline of Male’. Upon alighting at the ferry terminal, stop to grab a drink and a snack at the quaint open air shop, then turn right and you emerge into a bustling port filled with trade ships and small dhoni’s and the occasional safari boat.

One of Villingili’s main attractions is its excellent house reef, making it a haven for snorkellers. Continue on from the harbour and you can enjoy one of the best house reef’s you will find outside of a resort in Male’ atoll. Under the water some of the most beautiful fish and marine life can be found in abundance. During a recent snorkelling trip a graceful green turtle glided over the drop off point, while many species of fish zipped in and out of the rocky coral outcrops and swaying sea cucumbers. Surgeon fish, butterfly fish, triggers and an abundance of other marine life species can be found here, resilient to its environment.

Mind. if it’s sunbathing you want –no bikini’s are allowed and even strappy tops can cause a scene. This is a local island and they will call the police on you - as one American journalist found when she innocently tried to sunbathe.

If you turn right instead and wade through the jungle outcrop you can see local life in action and be rewarded with a view of the capital’s skyline in the distance. Marvel at how it is possible to slip a pair of fins and swim out to the edge of the reef, yet there is nothing but a concrete sea wall in Male’.

Locals are curious of foreigners and want to say hello constantly. Constant reminders that this is a patriarchal society are evident in the pestering nature of the local men to western women. There is an older population who are conservative and the local women can only wade in their burka’s (known affectionately as burkinis). Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that, within just a span of a decade, with a whole teenage generation of Villingilian youths being born and having lived all their lives on the island, Villingili has now evolved for itself a unique cultural identity: its “natives” now feel Villingili’s culture is “separate enough” to refer to their neighbors in Male’ as “those people” in Male’. It is interesting, how in such a short period of time, people’s attitudes evolve, so soon distinguishing a cultural identity from their nearest neighboring towns and cities.

Written by UK journalist Donna Richardson

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