One can find anything between a one-man canoe and a
container cargo carrier in the Maldivian waters, depending on where one
decides to go in the Maldives. However, when one has to make a decision as
to what the star performers are and what the attention grabbers are on the
seas, there are a few honorable mentions.
The star performer in Maldivian seas is easily the uniquitous Dhoani. The
Dhoani is a unique craft. Each Dhoani is unique by itself in that it is
normally hand-built by master craftsmen who work without blue prints and
with only the general directions given by the prospective owner as to the
dimensions of the vessel. Built of strong wooden planks, which are shaped
and pegged to each other round a strong wooden frame, the Dhoani is built to
sail in almost all weather conditions. Dhoani are used as fishing vessels
and as inter-island ferries throughout the Maldives. It is a well known fact
that most sea-wise persons choose a Dhoani over any other type of vessel
when the sea gets rough. Traditionally sporting a lateen sail that is
extremely versatile, the Dhoani has also recently married well with the
marine diesel engine and has become the work house of the sea in the
Maldives. Custom-adapted Dhoani serve the tourism industry well as diving
boats, excursions craft and supply tenders.
Powerboats of varying designs and sizes have become almost a new culture in
the Maldives, especially with the advent of a serious tourism industry in
the country. In a country where the International Airport is on an island
all by itself, and where all the tourist resorts are on separate islands,
the Speed Boat have come into its own in a manner that is purely Maldivian.
In addition, the Speed Boat performs well in its more conventional roles in
recreational activities like pleasure cruising and water skiing.
When the windsurfer first arrived in the Maldives, some daring young
persons began using it as a means of getting around. After a few
hair-raising incidents, this highly unconventional practice was banned - a
fact that the new visitor must remember, for the temptation is ever so
strong. Though now restricted to tamer seas within the house reefs of
individual islands, the windsurfer was made famous throughout the country
because of this.
Getting around in the Maldives is not restricted to a boat either. Very
competent parties operate seaplanes and helicopters that make island hopping
easier and faster than ever before, not mention the additional bonus of the
breathtaking view of these magnificent islands from the air.
Though bound to the sea by nature, the Maldivian is certainly not immune to
the wheel-mounted internal combustion engine. It is quiet normal to have the
latest sports car whiz past one on the roads of some of the bigger islands,
especially on the capital island of Male'. Motorcycles and scooters of all
imaginable forms and bicycles are very common.