About The Maldives
Sprawling across the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, The Maldives with it’s white sand beaches, lively inhabitants and exotic sea-life is every traveler’s dream destination to relax and unwind.
With pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine, the upscale beach resorts provide the ideal desert island style luxury retreat for travelers seeking to indulge in some time-out. Whether you wish to enjoy a luxurious vacation here or explore the mainland, Jetset Bunny delves deeper so read on for some practical Maldives travel tips.
The Maldives Travel Info
Language: The official language of The Maldives is Dhivehi. It is also the most commonly spoken languages in The Maldives. Arabic is spoken by Muslims and is taught in schools and mosques. English is also a popular language here and is widely spoken by the locals.
Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa.
Visa: Tourists from every nationality are issued a 30 day Visa on arrival at The Maldives. The Visa is issued by the immigration department of The Maldives.
Electricity: The Maldives receives electricity supply between 220V to 240V with 50Hz AC. The standard socket is a three pin plug. However there can be some variations in it. Most resorts will provide guests with adapters but I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to buy a new one for other countries you visit in future.
Eid-al-Adha: Eid-al-Adha is one of the most prominent religious festivals of Maldives. You will get to hear different names for the same as Eid-e-Qurban, Festival of Sacrifice or Qurbani Eid. As per Islamic Calendar, people celebrate it on the tenth day of the month of Zul Hijjah.
Independence Day: The Maldives was a British Protectorate for nearly 78 years and accomplished freedom on 26th July 1965. Independence Day is celebrated officially since then at the Republic Square. The celebrations begin at night with a march past the National Cadet Corps and National Security Services which is followed by a drill and exhibitions by Maldivian school children.
Prophet’s Birthday: The Prophet Muhammad’s birthday is a day of immense significance for all Muslims. It falls on the twelfth day of the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal as per the Islamic Calendar. The Prophet’s birthday is marked by partying, decorating houses, streets and is celebrated across the Maldives. People visit each other and share the delicacies prepared and arranged at each other’s homes.
Safety In The Maldives
Safety for travelers visiting The Maldives is not really a concern for most people. Pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and other scams to take advantage of travelers are not common here. The Maldives is a Muslim country so women travelers should take care to dress appropriately. The main safety issues in the Maldives would more likely be involving water sports accidents, and other injuries from island activities. Based on many years of solo travel around South Asia I would never leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you before you leave.
Amazing Things To Do In The Maldives
Globetrotters visit the Maldives to basque under the sun and soak up the ultimate picture perfect beach paradise. There’s so much more to do here than just sunbath and scuba dive so here’s our pick of the top things to do, in-between lounging around in a bikini, in the Maldives.
Diving In The Maldives
The Maldives is among the prime scuba diving destinations around the world with several affordable PADI dive centers that give you a chance to dive even if you are not certified. You can also choose various dive options to any of the reefs. The Maldives is also famous for its whale shark migration, stingrays, and sea turtles. The waters are crystal clear and offer extreme visibility. A bonus about diving in the Maldives is that you do not even need a wetsuit as the water is so warm.
If diving is not your cup of tea, another excellent option for you is snorkeling. The Maldives has such pristine reefs that you do not have to go particularly deep to have a great experience. You can snorkel with turtles and see them enjoy their lunch in the ocean. Schools of fish swimming together floating with the tide are a treat to witness. There’s always so many bright, exotics and beautiful sea creatures to observe when snorkeling that you will definitely lose track of time.
The dolphin excursions are without a doubt one of the best things to do in the Maldives. Just before sunset go and find a lookout spot for pods of Dolphins. Once you spot them watching them playing and leaping is the most spectacular sight. Just maintain a respectable distance and let them flip and twirl at their own pace. Intruding too much into their territory and chasing them will spoil the show and scare them away.
Hit The Waves Surfing
The Maldives is a premier surfing destination and the Cinnamon Dhonveli, a top surf resort in the Maldives, is a magnet for surfers from all over the world. It gives you an opportunity to break free from the crowds and spend some time in peace riding the waves. Although you need to be a professional to hit the waves, just watching the professional surfers head out and face the pipe is thrilling in itself. Some islands in the Maldives even provide surfing lessons for those who want to join the pros.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Another great way to enjoy the ocean is through paddle boarding. SUP or Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the Maldives is just superb since the calm, shallow waters surround most of the islands. They only flow and recede with the rising tides. You can safely paddle away in water so clean that you can see fish swimming below your board.
Explore the Malé Fish Market
On the island of Malé to the west of Republican Square is the Malé fish market. Away from the glitz and the glamour of the Maldives Resorts, this is the best way to interact with the locals and get to know how they go about their daily lives. There are no set hours for the market but it’s best to visit during afternoons or early evenings because this is when most fishermen come with their catches. The most popular fish caught and sold here is tuna. You can also grab some fresh fish and vegetables and prepare an authentic Maldivian meal for yourself.
Maldives Island Hopping
The Maldives have large settlements, and a large number of locals live and work on the island. If you are staying on a private island, ensure that you book an excursion to visit the nearby local communities. Since the Maldives has a strict Muslim culture, dress conservatively when on these islands.
Take a Scenic Flight over the Maldives
Seeing the different shades of the tropical ocean sparkling below you as you fly overhead is truly mesmerizing. Some resorts require a flight on a twin-engine float plane to reach them. In case you are not among the ones living in such a place, make sure to book a scenic flight over the archipelago. The islands form a pattern in the sea with the deep ocean crashing into coral reefs and sandbars. An aerial view gives the real feel of how beautiful and isolated the Maldives islands really are.
Visit the National Museum, Malé
The National Museum in Male was a a gift from China, the building itself is not very pleasing to the eye however the treasure it contains inside is well worth your time. The museum houses a well-labeled collection of historical artifacts that help visitors understand the history of the islands. Unfortunately, in 2012, a mob of religious extremists broke into the museum protesting against the former president Nasheed and destroyed some of its most precious pieces of art for being ‘idols.’ Expect the security surrounding the museum these days to be quite strict.
Old Friday Mosque
This mosque is the oldest in the country dating back to 1656. This beautiful structure is made up of coral stones, and intricately chiseled with Quran verses. Non-Muslims need to get permission from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to see the Mosque from inside. Most of the staff belong to the ministry. So if you dress appropriately and don’t turn up during their prayer time, you may get lucky and be given permission on the spot.
What To Eat In The Maldives
Bis Keemiya: This is a pastry puff stuffed with sautéed cabbage, spiced onions and hard-boiled eggs. The pastry is flaky and pleasantly chewy. This snack is something between a samosa and a spring roll and is extremely easy to prepare for something that is so tasty.
Garudhiya (Fragrant fish soup): This recipe is a must try for all the miso and dashi fans. It’s a traditional fish soup with spices and lemon juice for added flavor. The primary ingredient is fresh tuna which gives the soup it’s preferred umami flavor. Season the dish with crunchy fried onions and some lime. This easy to prepare soup is served warm in winter and is a clear soup for summer.
Boshi Mashuni: Also known as banana flower salad, this is a mix of a salsa and a salad. Made out of a blend of fresh coconut, banana flower and spices, it’s hot and zingy due to the inclusion of Maldivian chili and lime. The backdrop of the dish is savory thanks to turmeric, cumin and curry leaves.
Huni Roshi (Chapatti bread): As the Maldives has a close proximity to Sri Lanka where pol roti is a staple, it’s not surprising that it has it’s own version of coconut bread. Huni Roshi is a flatbread that has crispy fried coconut added to it. Its texture and the gentle flavor are due to the coconut that is an integral part of the ingredient list.
Saagu Bondibai: Sago is an essential part of the diet of Maldives natives. Saagu bondibai is a traditional sago pudding made of coconut milk, rose and cardamom and topped with creamy condensed milk. This dessert will make you realize why sago is the favorite desert option for the locals in the Maldives.
Where To Stay In The Maldives
If you have a high travel budget then you can really experience the ultimate in luxury at the Maldives. This is a well-known honeymoon destination but people vacation here knowing that paradise comes with a high price tag. Expect to pay from $300 to over $1000 a night for a room at one of the Maldives luxury resorts. If you have a set amount to spend on your Maldives vacation then it’s recommended to make sure your resort offers an all-inclusive package so you don’t need to pay extra for food and drinks. The reason for this is that all drinks and cuisine at these resorts need to be shipped in, making it very expensive and pushing up dining prices for any visitors that don’t have an inclusive deal.
If you’re planning to visit the Maldives it’s really wise to book your accommodation well in advance to get the best deals and to take advantage of any special offers available. The Maldives is a once in a lifetime experience, so now is the time to splash out! Besides, it may soon be completely submerged in water, thanks to global warming, so the time to experience this ultimate island paradise is of the essence.
Jetset Bunny loves Booking.com for finding the best deals for the Maldives resorts.
The Maldives Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit The Maldives
The Maldives is warm and sunny all year round but has a dry season and a rainy season. The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April however there are pros and cons to visiting in each season. You’ll experience the best weather between November and April but this is also the busiest time of year and therefore most expensive. May to October is the rainy season which also brings strong winds. For this reason travelers to the Maldives will get better deals for this time of year even though a deal in the Maldives is still going to be quite expensive for the average tourist. If you’re a surfer then the rainy season is a great time to visit the Maldives because you’ll get great waves during this time.
The Maldives Travel Budget
Maldives is really expensive for the majority of visitors, no question about it. The amount of money you spend really depends on how much you want to indulge yourself and the level of luxury you want. There’s mid-range luxury and then there’s the blow your mind luxury. The Maldives is not really a great destination for backpackers or anyone on a budget however there are occasional deals to be had and you may be able to take advantage of a special offer if you book about one year in advance. Just make sure, if you’re not looking to spend alot of money, that the Maldives resort you book includes an all-inclusive package otherwise you will get seriously stung by the cost of dining.
- Budget: Forget about it!
- Mid-range: $150+
- Splurge: $300+
Meal For One
- Budget: If you’re on a budget prepare to catch your dinner yourself in the ocean or make sure you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort.
- Mid-range: $50+
- Splurge: $100+
The Maldives Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to the Maldives is actually quite unlike packing for a trip to most other places in South East Asia. If you’re going to the Maldives you want to bring smart-casual wear for the fancy restaurants in the evening. Pack a shawl or cover up just in case the evening gets cool. You want to look your best during the day by embracing the salty sea hair, barely there makeup look (and inevitable sunburn).
The most important things to pack for a Maldives vacation is a bikini… in fact as many bikinis, kaftans, straw hats and flip flops as you can squeeze into your luggage. Plus a pair of oversized sunglasses to complete the look. In the Maldives Island Resorts you can really wear what you like however considering this is a Muslim country if visiting Male or when arriving at the airport, do dress conservatively so you don’t offend the locals.
So if you’re traveling to the Maldives then it’s necessary to pack clothing that’s lightweight, breathable and conservative. Women travelers in the Maldives who choose to wear revealing or figure-hugging clothing may receive unwanted attention and stares. Read What to wear in India: Style Guide for Female Travelers for more information about how to dress in a conservative country and apply those tips to what you choose to pack for the Maldives.
Other essential items to pack for any long distance trip include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you while you’re traveling their. For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to the Maldives check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List For Women Travelers.