If you’re going through this vacation guide, chances are, you’ve already laid your eyes on heavenly photos of Maldivian waters and islands, and you’re itching to see it all for yourself. But you probably have a lot of questions like – what’s the best time to visit the Maldives? How will you reach all those idyllic resorts that are so far away from the airport? Can you have a good time if you don’t swim? Will American dollars work in the Maldives? Does it ever rain there? What should you pack for a holiday to the Maldives? Here’s our guide to a perfect vacation in the archipelago, covering all your doubts from start to end.
Maldives Vacation Guide
Is the Maldives for You?
Maldives is a great holiday destination for adults and children alike. If traveling on a honeymoon, choose an adults-only resort with an enticing honeymoon package that may include complimentary romantic dinners and massages. Those on family holidays can book resorts with recreational facilities for kids. It’s true that most activities in the Maldives involve being in the water. But even non-swimmers can engage in scuba-diving and snorkeling. And if you don’t want to get into the water at all, you can enjoy yourself on glass-bottomed boat rides, village excursions, sandbank picnics, and in-resort activities. Read about more great things to do in the Maldives here.
Deciding When to Visit
What’s the weather like in the Maldives? Well, it’s sunny throughout the year, with temperatures averaging 23ºC-31ºC. The monsoon lasts are from May to October, so apart from those months, you can visit at any time of the year. But if you enjoy surfing, you’ll get bigger waves and swells during the rains. Other reasons to plan a trip in the low season include fewer crowds and better prices. Diving is also possible in the monsoon months.
Planning Your Trip
Your first and most important step is to find the perfect resort for your holiday. There are over a hundred luxury resorts in the Maldives, and since you’ll be spending ALL your time on the resort island, you need to choose carefully. Check about the room types, proximity to the airport, amenities, and excursions offered. Also see if it’s a couple-friendly, or family-oriented hotel. Depending on your interest in water sports, it would be advisable to research nearby spots for surfing and diving. The best resorts tend to be in high demand, so book your flights only once you’re sure of your accommodation dates.
What to pack
The Maldives lies on the equator; so don’t forget your sunscreen, as well as beachwear and swimming trunks. It would be a good idea to pack a variety of summer accessories like hats, scarves, summer dresses for the women and tank tops for the men, flip-flops, and sunglasses. Of course, in case you forget something, you can always pick it up at the shop at your resort. We’d also recommend packing an underwater camera like GoPro, and some party wear for the evenings. Don’t forget portable speakers, plug adaptors, and plastic bags for wet stuff, though you’ll probably find these at your resort as well.
Rufiyaa (MVR) is the main currency in the Maldives, and if you’re wondering about the conversion rate of rufiyaa to a dollar, 15 MVR make up around 1 USD. However, you don’t need the local currency at most large resorts, where you’ll probably pay by card or in US dollars. Carry or convert to some rufiyaa for shopping and getting around. If you have any left over at the end of your trip, make sure you convert to your local currency at the airport, as rufiyaas are not much use anywhere except the Maldives.
Male International Airport (MLE) on Hulhule Island is the main gateway to the Maldives. There is another airport called Gan in Addu, which is the starting point for flights to Colombo. Once you arrive, you can pick up your free 30-day visa provided you have all the required documents, including financial proof.
Reaching your Resort
Many resorts are only a short speedboat ride away from the main airport in Male. If further away, you’ll probably get there by a seaplane or domestic flight. You’ll need to book these in advance unless they are included in your stay package. The alternative is a slower and more crowded public ferry with long waiting times.
Your resort will arrange boat or seaplane rides to nearby islands and villages as per your itinerary. In Male, the capital city, you can hail taxis to ferry your family around. If shuttling between islands, you can fly on air taxis operated by various local companies. Don’t worry about communication; English is taught in the schools and most Maldivians speak the language in varying levels of fluency although the local language is Dhivehi.
Meals and Costs
The Maldives is a luxury holiday destination, and resorts offer the best facilities that money can buy. It is advisable to opt for an all-inclusive package as you don’t have much mobility on the remote islands, and will anyway end up having all your meals at the resort. Expect to spend anywhere between 200-800 USD per night on your accommodation, depending on the scale of the restaurant and the inclusions in the room rate. Local food in the Maldives is heavy on fish, coconut-based curries, and elements similar to cuisines in the Indian subcontinent. But in the resorts, you will find restaurants catering to all kinds of cuisines and taste buds.
Good to Know
The Maldives is an Islamic republic, and alcohol is strictly prohibited. Make sure you don’t carry any with you. However, five-star resorts and restaurants are permitted to serve drinks; so you’re guaranteed to have a great time once you reach your place of accommodation. There are no restrictions on clothing but if you’re planning to visit a mosque in Male, you’ll need to be fully and modestly dressed. Lastly, it might be tempting to pick up some seashells or corals as souvenirs of your trip but the laws don’t allow you to take them away from the republic. For more information on the Maldives.