If the moon in the center of the Maldivian flag wasn’t an instant give away, let me remove all doubt. Yes, the Maldives is indeed a Muslim nation.
As such, it is conservative by western standards with what is considered appropriate attire, even at the beach.
When the Maldives opened up to tourism, this issue was addressed by limiting alcohol and bikinis to resort islands, away from the majority of the population. However, this policy hit a snag when tourism was opened up in local islands in 2009 and the result – Bikini Beaches!
A bikini beach is a blocked off area where only tourists and those dealing in the tourism industry are allowed to enter.
‘Allowed,’ however, is entirely on the honor system and no one will stop a local if they decide to walk across a bikini beach as a short cut. Indeed, going around the bikini beach in Dhigurah is rather cumbersome and if there aren’t many people around, locals normally cut across.
There is literally a black tarp wall* around these beaches, preventing anyone from “accidentally” looking in at westerner’s heathen ways.
At first, I thought this would feel weird, but it was actually alright because of the relaxed nature of it all. The wall is more of a way for the government to feel at peace that they are not “contaminating” the population with un-Islamic values but not exactly a rule they are draconian about.
Young people are often seen hanging out on the beaches right next to the bikini beaches and curious locals sometimes park their boats right in front of the border, too. All in all, I feel it is a fair compromise.
TL;DR – It is a special designated area on a local island where you are allowed to wear a bikini or somewhat skimpier clothing.
Note -The wall is paid for by the GST from the tourist hotels. Seeing how I visited these hotels and am Mexican, I guess Mexicans literally did pay for it -_-. Well done Maldives, well done.
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