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Travel Tips for Maldives: how to choose the best island, when to go, how to book your trip, what to bring, what documents you need and general information.
Going to the Maldives is probably the dream of all sea lovers.
Especially if you live in a city where it gets cold in winter and the only thing you want to do is staying in bed all day under your blanket. Or going to the Maldives!
If this dream is finally about to come true you can start smiling already. You are about to take an amazing vacation that you will remember forever!
But before you go you need a few important travel tips for Maldives.
The Maldives is an archipelago of 1.192 coral islands. And it’s not that easy to pick the right one for your preferences or needs. But don’t worry! In this post I will give you all the travel tips for Maldives you need to help you choose the perfect island for your dream holiday!
TRAVEL TIPS FOR MALDIVES: HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT ISLAND.
1. CHOOSING BETWEEN PRIVATE ISLAND AND LOCAL ISLAND.
The first thing you have to do is choosing between a private resort island and an inhabited island where local people live.
Let’s see the pros and cons of each one.
PRIVATE RESORT ISLANDS.
The private resort islands are the typical islands that you see in the vacation brochures with an amazing beach and luxury water villas on the ocean. Each resort in the Maldives has its own private island available only for the guests of the resort.
- They are exclusive islands for luxury vacation.
- They are absolutely neat and follow high-quality standards.
- Staying at a water villa on the ocean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Since they are private islands the local rules about alcohol and dress code don’t apply. So on a private island you can drink alcohol and wear your swimsuit wherever you want.
- They are very expensive. Some are more affordable but the price is still pretty high. Some others would upset even the Royal Family of England! There is a resort with an underwater suite (called Muraka) that costs $50.000 per night!
- The water villas maybe don’t have the insane price of Muraka but they are very expensive as well. So people would rather take a “regular” room instead.
- In my opinion they are not really authentic. There is quite no interaction with local people and their culture or traditions.
Local islands have recently opened up to tourism allowing budget travelers to finally take their vacation to Maldives.
- Costs are definitely lower than private resort islands.
- Staying on a local island would get you in touch with local people, their culture and traditions for a more authentic experience.
- Beaches are amazing just like the ones of the resorts.
- Any extra cost (excursions or shopping) would have affordable prices.
- Unfortunately they don’t take much care of garbage. Somewhere you would find a plastic bag, a piece of paper and filth.
- Alcohol is illegal so no one is allowed to drink beer, wine and any other sort of alcoholic drink.
- Some islands have a stricter dress code that requires people to cover up when getting around.
2. CHOOSING THE ISLAND ACCORDING TO THE DISTANCE FROM MALÉ.
Another very important aspect to consider when choosing the island is its distance from Malé, the capital city of the Maldives.
All international flights land at Velana International Airport in Malé (MLE). You will need then to arrange local transportation to your island.
The Maldives stretches from north to south over a length of about 800 kilometers and the only way to get to some islands would be by seaplane!
At the beginning I found a hotel on Gan Island but then I found out that the seaplane trip to get there would have cost me $1.000!
Taking a seaplane would be for sure amazing but if you want to travel on a budget then I suggest you choose an island not too far from Malé that you can reach by ferry or speedboat.
3. CHOOSING BETWEEN REEF AND LAGOON.
The Maldives is probably the best place for diving and snorkeling.
The most popular places for diving in the Maldives are Ari Atoll and Baa Atoll especially for whale sharks and manta rays.
Hanifaru Bay is a small bay in Baa Atoll that has seen some of the largest gatherings of manta rays in the world. So the chances to spot them are pretty high.
But keep in mind that reef islands have a small beach and you get immediately into deep water. These islands are perfect if you just want to do diving all the time.
But if you travel with someone who doesn’t like diving (or snorkeling) or if together with your diving you also want to relax on the beach then you should look for an island with a larger lagoon. And you can get to your diving site just by taking a nice boat trip!
MY CHOICE: DHIFFUSHI ISLAND.
So with all that in mind, I chose a local island with a large lagoon that I could reach by speedboat from Malé in just 45 minutes.
The name of the island is Dhiffushi.
Did I like it? No. I loved it!
Very easy to reach, stunning beaches, amazing boat trips for diving and snorkeling and a magic vibe all around.
Besides, the hotel where I stayed was absolutely amazing!
The name of the hotel is Araamu Holidays & Spa and it’s probably the best one on the island. Amazing service, nice and clean room, and a beautiful spa where you can get spoiled a bit!
I suggest you book as soon as you can because they run out of rooms quickly.
WHEN TO GO TO THE MALDIVES.
Now that you have picked the perfect island for you, let’s find out when it’s the best time to go to the Maldives.
Weather-wise the best time is from December to March. If during these months it gets cold in your country Maldives is the best escape for you! Besides, it would be the dry monsoon season so it hardly rains.
But since it’s the best time it’s also the most expensive time! There’s always a downside right?
From May to November prices go down but storms are pretty frequent.
Prices get particularly high during Christmas time, New Year, Easter and August.
So basically the worst month to go to the Maldives would be August. It rains a lot and the hotels are expensive too!
HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO THE MALDIVES.
A trip to the Maldives is the classic all-inclusive travel package trip.
So many people book flight + hotel (full board) through travel agencies.
But if you too are kind of allergic to travel agencies or if you are backpacking around Asia and the Maldives is just one stop of your journey then take a look at the deals available for the island you picked. Full board is in my opinion the best option.
My advice would be to spend the last night in Malé. That way you would have the chance to explore the capital city of the Maldives and also to be close to the airport the day before your flight. Usually public ferries operate just once or twice a day and it’s not easy to arrange the ferry trip according to your flight schedule on the same day.
WHAT TO BRING TO THE MALDIVES.
Probably your bag for the Maldives will be the lightest bag you will ever pack! Swimwear, hat, flip flops and lots and lots of sunscreen!
Bring with you the best SPF 50 sunscreen as the sun is very strong in the Maldives. And if you are going to the Maldives in winter I bet you look white like a mozzarella!
Don’t forget to pack some clothes to cover up especially if you are planning to visit a mosque.
Masks and snorkels are generally provided if you book an excursion but if wearing someone else’s snorkel kind of grosses you out then bring your own one!
You will just need that one jumper that you will wear on the plane. Don’t pack others. You absolutely won’t need them! The minimum temperature in the Maldives is usually 27°!
WHAT DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO TRAVEL TO THE MALDIVES.
You just need your passport to be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival day.
You don’t have to request any kind of visa in advance as you will get a tourist visa upon your arrival at the airport.
If you are not traveling through a tour operator you will need to bring with you a hotel booking confirmation.
ADDITIONAL GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR MALDIVES.
TIME: GMT +5. There is no time change in summer as Daylight Saving Time doesn’t apply in the Maldives.
ELECTRICITY: Usually Type A Plug. Most hotels provide travel adapters.
CURRENCY: Rufiya. Small local stores accept payment just in rufiya cash only. Elsewhere dollars are widely accepted. Keep in mind that if you use your credit card for services not provided directly by the hotels they will apply a surcharge of 3.5% for all transactions. Most local islands do not have ATM so it would be better if you arrive with some cash already.
RELIGION AND TRADITIONS: The Maldives population is 100% Muslim. Alcohol is illegal and people have to dress appropriately. Usually on local islands more open to tourism guests are allowed to wear their swimsuit in the guesthouse and at the beach called “bikini beach”. Outside these areas tops and shorts are just fine. These rules don’t apply to private resort islands.
A trip to the Maldives is a very easy trip that doesn’t need much planning. The only effort you have to do before you go to the Maldives will be just finding out which island would be the best option for you according to your preferences and your budget.
But don’t worry! Once you have picked your island and booked your trip you can finally enjoy your amazing holiday in the Maldives and just not worry about a thing!