The Maldives may not exactly be known as a shopping mecca, after all, most people head there to indulge in a little rest and relaxation as opposed to hitting the racks. However, there are a number of cute boutiques, malls, traditional bazaars and bustling markets to choose from. These places offer somewhere to buy everything from traditional handicrafts, vibrant sarongs, beautiful stone-set jewellery, designer clothes, cosmetics, perfumes and even some good old duty free bargains to take with you back home.
Male International Airport
The International Airport is actually a decent place to do a little shopping before you get on your plane. There are a few places to choose from including a dedicated liquor and tobacco store that stocks some pretty rare and fancy drinks that you add to your liquor collection. They say that one of their bestsellers is a rare 50 years old BALVENIE single malt scotch whisky, but there are also wines, champagnes and other spirits to choose from.
There is a perfume and cosmetic area within the Duty Free Store which stocks all the major big name brands including Dior, Chanel, YSL, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, Body Shop and many more. Here, you can sample scents and shop for things like lipstick, mascara and body lotions.
Wander over to the souvenir section of the duty free shopping area you’ll find beautiful batik sarongs, as well as crafted wooden items, hand-painted t-shirts, and mini dhoni boats that make lovely souvenirs. Just be prepared for the higher prices. If you’re more of a bargain hunter when shopping, then may want to check out the affordable markets and bazaars where you can knock down the prices a little.
No airport shopping spree is complete without a visit to Spice Island, which stands out from the crowd of other brand-name offerings. Before heading to your hotel, check out this store, which store provides a lovely place to pick up some culinary gifts to take back home. You will find a range of tropical spices which can be used to recreate a Maldivian curry back home, plus it has a wonderful selection of quality teas and coffees.
Male Local Market
Quite often voted the number-one shopping spot in the Maldives, Male Local Market is filled with all sorts of vibrant trinkets and beautiful gifts that will make lovely souvenirs from your vacation in Paradise. You can spend a good hour or two exploring all the stores which have shelves that are crammed full of all sorts of goodies, including miniature boats and handmade anklets, as well as even more unusual food items such as local pickles, sweet jams and creamy fresh coconut milk that we highly recommend. You’ll find this market located in the North Waterfront area of Male, which is surrounded by comfortable hotels. It’s open between 8am and 11pm, but we recommend getting there early if you want to miss the crowds. Then you can admire your purchases while enjoying a lunch overlooking the water after.
Island Bazaar is a relative newcomer on the shopping scene in Maldives. It offers a beautiful blend of island style products that really capture Maldivian life. Choose items from here to take home and give your living space that tropical vbe. We absolutely adore the hand-printed cushions which feature things like ocean-blue prints and tropical leaves, as well as the sweet, eco-friendly tote bags that are perfect for taking to the beach.
There are also a lovely selection of handmade malas on offer here made from wooden beads and cute charms, and they will make a lovely gift for any yoga-lover. What makes this store even better, is that many of the products are actually sourced from local artists. You will find this store located at M.Karishma. Level 1, Fareedhee Magu, Male’, Maldives. Opening times vary, so check their website for more details.
If you are looking for big-name designers and ultra-lux items, then the Centro Mall is for you. This a large shopping zone than contains a big variety of brand-name outlet stores – making it arguably one of the most classiest places to ‘shop til you drop’ in the Maldives. As well as beautiful clothing items, you’ll also find a selection of home appliance stores, a full-service salon, a spa and even several incredible dining options such as the much-loved Manhattan Fish Market restaurant. A great thing about shopping here is the opening hours: It is open between 7am and midnight every day.
If you want to pick up some Duty Free items before you head to your island resort as opposed to when you are on the way home, then check out Le Cute. Here you can get some great deals on your favorite scents, makeup, beauty products and toiletries.
The nice thing is that they also have a healthcare section along with natural herbal products that are a great choice when you are heading to a resort island. Many shampoos, conditioners and sun creams actually contain toxic chemicals that can damage the fragile coral reefs around the island. For this reason, if you get the chance then try and do your bit to by choosing to use all natural haircare and sun creams. You’ll find Le Cute located on Majeedhee Magu Road, so you can combine a stop here with a little market shopping too.
Surprisingly, they also have a home entertainment section where you can pick up things like travel speakers, headphones, and phone gadgets including clip-on lenses that can improve your smartphone camera. It’s a good buy if you fancy getting some great snaps of your paradise island stay. Le Cute have a good website where you can view all the products they stock to see if there’s anything that you like the look of before heading there. You can even choose to purchase from the site – either in US dollars or Maldivian Dollars, and have your selected items delivered to your mainland hotel. Shipping to your resort or back home is sadly not possible here.
Your Resort Shop
Okay, so this isn’t actually one place but it’s worth noting that many of you may not actually be stopping on the main island and instead will head straight to your remote island resort. If so, your only shopping option (not counting the airport) will actually be your resort shop. Some of the smaller the resorts will only have a tiny convenience store or souvenir shop with a few items. However, if you’ve gone for a fancy mega-resort then you will be likely to have better amenities and shopping.
Take the celebrity favorite, the One and Only Reethi Rah, which is home to an enormous fashion showcase. If you’re staying here, you’re lucky enough to have access to some of the most beautiful designer goods including exclusive Melissa Odabash beachwear, clothing by Missoni and Kisshoten, jewellery, artwork and some beautiful scented candles that are perfect for burning in your luxury villa. If you purchase larger items from here, the resort will be able to arrange them to be safely shipped back to your home or office.
Another Maldives resort that is said to have one of the best boutiques around is that of Karumba Maldives. Here you will find the fashionable Nala Boutique which offers a wonderful selection of men and women’s apparel, beachwear, accessories like sunglasses and some flowing evening gowns that will be sure to turn heads at dinner. We also recommend stocking up on some freshly made coconut oil from here too. The shop offers a range of beach toys that will help to keep little ones entertained while on vacation. The store is pretty easy to find on the island, and it is open between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Majeedhee Magu is considered to be the one stop shop for all your souvenir clothing shopping needs. However, unlike many of the other options listed above, this is the place to really test out your bargaining skills – with a smile, of course. Bargaining is very important when you make any purchase, and you can score some amazing deals when you choose to buy several items from the same seller and then knock the price down. Make it light and fun, good bargaining should always be pleasant for both you and the person selling. You may have to rummage through some tat in order to find the gems here, but they’re awesome great finds to be had in this sprawling street market. Bargaining is hard work, so after you finish you can always check out the dining options the area like Cafe Asiana which serves up traditional Maldivian favourites. The market is located on Majeedhee Magu Road, Male, Maldives and it’s open between 9 a.m. and 11 pm.
STO Trade Centre
STO Trade Center contains a large supermarket where many of the locals choose to head for their grocery shopping. It’s actually a good place to stop ion the main island in the Maldives if you want grab a few items to make your own food or pick up some snacks for your hotel. On the second and third floors you will find several souvenir counters that offer small mementos and handicrafts with very affordable price tags. You will also find some electronic stores which sell gadgets, so you may be able to pick up things like phones and cameras here too. The STO Centre is located in Orchid Magu, Male, Maldives and the opening times and between 8:30 am and 10:00 pm.
A Note on What Not to Buy in the Maldives
The Maldives have an incredibly fragile ecosystem, which many of the big resorts work tirelessly to ensure that they are causing minimal impact to. Because of this reason, you should be mindful of how you purchases are affecting the island. Avoid purchasing anything which is made from shells, sand, coral or other natural items. Yes, it may seem like there is an abundance of these things (it is the Maldives after all), but by buying them you are actually contributing to the destruction of the islands. You also don’t know where the object came from – that piece of coral could have been living (or Nemo’s home), so just do your best to avoid buying these items.
There are so many other gifts and souvenirs to choose from, many listed above. Think sarongs and dyed fabrics, anklets, bracelets, artwork, wooden sculptures, wicker mats, even a good old fridge magnet.
Another tip is to ensure that you carefully package your items to make sure they’re not damaged during the journey home. You may not have the right materials to protect your items, so if this is the case then you can always ask you over the resort concierge and they may be able to assist you with the packing. The large supermarket also stocks some materials that you could use to package your items.
So there you have it, a list of the top places to shop in the Maldives. Bookmark this article or note down the names and addresses, and you’ll be good to go when you get there. If you’re still in the process of planning a vacation to the Maldives then you want may want to check out some of our other travel guides. These include everything you need to know before you go to the Maldives, and some of our top picks for the best resorts in the Maldives. Happy shopping!
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