In this travel guide you will find out all you need to know about Maldives: where is it, where to stay, when to go, how to get around, what to do there and much more.
Why Maldives is famous
As you probably know, Maldives is a country well known for its pristine water, white-sand beaches, luxurious resorts and great surf and dives sites.
A lot of people see Maldives as a place for honeymooners. Indeed it is a great option for couples, but I have been there for 4 weeks in total, 2 of them with a friend and 2 traveling solo.
So, I can ensure you it is also a great place for couples, a group of friends or solo travellers to chill as well.
Where is Maldives
Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean, near India and Sri Lanka. It is part of the asian continent.
Maldives on the map
Maldives International Airport (MLE) is located in Hulhumale, and not in Male (the capital) as most of the people think.
What is the population
The population of Maldives is about 400.000.
Dhiveri / Divehi is the Maldives local and official language. English is widely spoken by those working in the tourism industry, but do not expect every Maldivian to speak it.
How many islands there are in Maldives
The archipelago has over 1,190 islands grouped in 26 atolls. Did you imagine this many islands? I got shocked when I figured this out.
The currency in Maldives
Rufiyaa (MVR) is the currency in Maldives but dollars are accepted. Bear in mind that ATM’s are available only in few islands. In Dhigurah for example there isn’t an ATM, luckily I had some cash with me =)
Islam is the official religion in Maldives.
- Dogs and pork are forbidden in the country.
- Besides that, alcoholic drinks are also not allowed, unless you are in a resort, safari boats or the airport hotel called Hulhule Island. Do not bring any alcoholic drink to the country, otherwise they will be confiscated at the airport.
- Please, note that Friday is their weekly holiday, so you will find most of the establishments closed. To check prayer times, click here.
Because of their religion, everyone shall cover chest and thighs in the local islands. Swimsuits are allowed only at the accommodations, boats, and the Bikini Beach. P.s.: Every local island has a Bikini Beach which is designed for tourists.
In the resorts though you don’t need to worry about it.
Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers arriving from a high risk of yellow fever transmission countries. To check the countries that are listed, click here.
Also check our Travel Medicine article for more information about vaccines and how to keep healthy during a trip.
Don’t forget you travel insurance as well =) In my trip I got World Nomads insurance since they cover adventure sports such as scuba dive.
How to get a Visa
30 days visa is given during arrival in Maldives. So far, they do not require a visa to any country but you can check any updates here.
Return or Onward Flight Ticket and Accommodation booking proofs for all length of your stay are required.
In my case, I wasn’t sure how long I would stay in the country, so I booked a flight considering the fee I would pay in case of changes.
For the accommodation, I booked a hotel that had a free cancelation fee.
LMTM tip: You may also check with the hotel you will stay in the first nights if they can send a confirmation for the whole trip, knowing that in fact you will stay only for couple of nights.
Tourism in Maldives
In the past Maldives only had resorts for tourists, but fortunately things have changed. I will share now what I have learned during my stay in Maldives.
Maldives’ tourism started in 1970 with luxurious Resorts. In 1984, the government created a law saying that tourists were only allowed to stay in Resorts.
Only in 2009, the government allowed the local islands to build Guest Houses, making the tourism in the country affordable.
Because of these changes, it is now possible to find fancy Guest Houses that provide a high-level service.
Where to stay in Maldives
Check it out where I stayed in the following islands:
Taxes and Fees
Taxes and fees in Maldives are often not included in the prices of accommodation, activities, packages and so on.
For you to have an idea, accommodations charge:
10% Hotel Service + 12% GST (Goods and Services Tax) + USD 3 of Green Tax per person per night + If you decide to pay something with your Credit Card, the establishments usually charge between 3,5% to 5%.
How to get around in the archipelago
You can get around the Maldives‘ islands by ferry, speed boats, sea planes and and domestic flights.
Ferry is the cheapest way to move around in Maldives, but it is not available to every island, they run in specific days and times and it may take many hours for you to get to your destination.
The schedule is available at MTCC’s website, but unfortunately their website is not really foreign friendly as they separate the files per atoll.
Speed boats are run by several companies. My recommendation is for you to get the company’s name with the hotel you will stay and contact them directly so you don’t need to pay taxes twice.
Flights are operated by Flyme, Maldivian and Trans Maldivian. They are quite expensive.
LMTM Tip: I recommend you to make sure you check the transportation options, dates, times and prices before making your trip itinerary and bookings to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Weather in Maldives
The Maldives are hot all year long, the temperature average is 23-31 degrees Celsius.
The best time to visit Maldives is between November and April because it is least likely to rain.
High Season: From December to February. You can expect little rain and high prices.
Low Season: From May to November due to the monsoons. The monsoons peak is in June.
Surf Season: From April to October.
I was there in April, it did rain couple of days and I also noticed that when it rains in one island it isn’t necessarily raining in the others.
What to do in Maldives
There are plenty of things to do in Maldives:
- Dolphin Watching
- Island hopping
- Manta Watching
- Romantic Dinner
- Sandbank visit
- Sandbank BBQ
- Scuba Diving
- See the bioluminescent planktons at night
- Watching the sunrise or sunset
- Whale Shark Diving or Snorkeling
And if you are lucky enough like me, some local may invite you to have dinner with them =D
Check it out on my Instagram the incredible experience I had while dressing up like a Maldivian and eating at a local’s house.
Waste management issue
In my first day in Maldives I already noticed some garbage at the local island beaches, which doesn’t happen at the resorts islands and I will tell you why this happens.
Couple of decades back, the only garbage Maldivians would produce would be things like fish bones and other natural stuff, so they were used to throw their garbage in the ocean. Every island had a swimming beach, fishing beach, garbage beach…
As the tourism started to grow, they had to import things and started to receive many packages like cardboard and plastic.
Now, imagine how hard it can be to manage the garbage of over 1,000 islands? Soon, this became a big issue as they were not ready (and still not ready) to deal with it.
The government is working to change it. They failed while trying to change adult’s mindset about it. Now, they have a program with the kids at school, where they show corals to the kids, show all the bad impacts plastic makes to the environment, so they can see and think in a different way.
In the meantime, life at the resorts are totally different, with the high rates and less people to deal with, resorts can keep their private islands clean.
While you are in Maldives, please make sure you take full responsibility for your garbage!
Internet in Maldives
If you are looking for being a digital nomad in Maldives it is better to think twice.
The Internet in Maldives isn’t the best, even at resorts and guesthouses. If you would like to keep connected during your trip it is nice to get a local sim card.
I bought a prepaid package with Dhiraagu at the airport which helped me a lot.
Coupons and Discounts
Live More, Travel More followers have discounts for many hotels and tours in Maldives =)
Click here to see them! #SaveMoneyTravelMore
I hope you found this post useful! =D
Any questions about Maldives? Feel free to ask below =)
Read more from Maldives: