Find out where is Maldives located, when to go, what to do there, where to stay, how much is a trip to Maldives and much more.
This is a full travel guide with everything I learned during my 30 days trip to Maldives while visiting 10 different islands. In this article you will find out all you need to know about the country: where is it, where to stay, when to go, how to get around, what to do there and much more.
Let’s start planning your Maldives vacation?
What you need to know before planning your trip to Maldives islands:
The Republic of Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean, near India and Sri Lanka. It is part of the asian continent.
Check it out where is Maldives on the map:
The population is about 400.000.
The archipelago has over 1,190 islands grouped in 26 atolls.
The Maldives International Airport (airport code: MLE) which is called Velana International Airport is located in Hulhumale, and not in Male (the capital) as most of the people think.
Dhivehi / 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.
Rufiyaa (MVR) is the currency in Maldives but dollars are accepted. Bear in mind that ATM’s are available only in few islands, so you always need to have cash with you. In Dhigurah for example there isn’t an ATM, luckily I had some cash with me =)
Islam is the official religion in Maldives.
No, it is not mandatory. But we highly recommend you to get a travel insurance whenever and wherever you travel.
Being very honest, I felt safe at all times in Maldives, even being a woman walking around by myself.
If you are looking for being a digital nomad in Maldives it is better to think twice. The Internet there 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.
Why you should visit the Maldives
As you probably know, Maldives is a country well known for its pristine waters, white-sand beaches, luxurious resorts and great surf and dives sites. A lot of people also see Maldives as an excellent place for honeymooners because of the bungalows.
Well, I stayed there for 4 weeks: 2 with a friend and 2 by myself. I can affirm that besides being a great place for couples it is also amazing for a group of friends on holidays or for single travellers who are looking for a place to recharge their batteries.
Which island to visit
The answer may vary according to what you are looking for. In Maldives we have:
- Local Islands: These islands are inhabited by the maldivians, the native people.
- Private Islands: These islands are private properties and in the Maldives the resorts are only allowed to be built in private islands.
My suggestions based on my experiences are:
Dhigurah is a beautiful and quiet island, really nice for those who like to scuba dive and want to dive with whale sharks.
Maafushi is the best one if you are traveling on a budget or only have a couple of days in the archipelago.
Rasdhoo is a great choice if you want to stay for about 7 days in Maldives and enjoy a mix of scuba dive, local culture and romance.
But Maldives also has many other islands, there are some which are great for those who like to go surfing for example, so it is always good to search more about it.
Requirements to get in Maldives
You need to have a passport that is valid for at least another 1 month. It used to be 6 months but in October/2020 they changed it.
A 30 days visa is given during arrival.
Yellow fever vaccine
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.
Flight ticket to Maldives
During the check-in the airlines ask for the return flight ticket, to confirm when you will leave the country. 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.
Accommodation in Maldives
Besides the return flight ticket, they also ask for the accommodation reservations. I ended up booking a hotel on Booking.com 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 and best time to visit
Did you know that the tourism in Maldives began recently? 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 at the local islands.
How is the weather in Maldives? What is the best time to visit?
It is 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.
How to get around in the archipelago?
You can get around the Maldives’ islands by ferry, speed boats, sea planes and and domestic flights. Be aware that the islands can be extremely far one from another, so you need to consider the distances while planning your trip ok?!
A little more about transportation in Maldives:
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 ferry 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
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.
– Local Flights
Flights are operated by Flyme, Maldivian and Trans Maldivian and 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.
Respecting the locals and the local culture
Since Islam is the official religion in Maldives, they have some specific laws that are applied on the inhabited islands. So it is important for you to know that:
1) Some animals are forbidden
Dogs and pork are forbidden in Maldives.
2) Alcoholic drinks aren’t allowed
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.
3) Bikini Beach
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.
4) Weekly holiday
Please, note that Friday is their weekly holiday, so you will find most of the establishments closed. To check prayer times, click here.
Why is garbage a problem in Maldives?
Unfortunately you will see some garbage at the local islands, which doesn’t happen at the resorts islands.
Before judging the locals, please understand why it 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, a fishing beach, a garbage beach…
As the tourism started to grow, they had to import things and started to receive several packages like cardboard and plastics. Now, imagine how hard it can be to address correctly the garbage of over 1,000 islands? Soon, this became a big issue as they were not ready (and still not) to deal with it.
Is the government doing something about it?
Yes, 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.
To have an idea, nowadays the kids can only bring reusable bottles to school, they can’t bring single use plastics anymore.
Why you won’t see this happening in resorts
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.
Why you need to know about this
Knowing how hard it is to take tourists garbage out of the islands and how it became a huge problem to this country, we shall be responsible travellers and do our best to reduce waste while travelling.
We have an article with 10 zero waste travel tips in case you are interested in learning more about it.
It is hard to not produce any garbage though, so while you are in any remote island, please make sure you take full responsibility for your garbage and take it back at least to the capital 😉
How much is a trip to Maldives?
The trip costs will vary according to where you are located and your travel style.
Cheap flights to Maldives
You can search for the cheapest flight to Maldives on flight booking sites such as Skyscanner.
LMTM Tip: Try to combine Maldives with a trip so some country near by which has direct flights to the archipelago. I went to Maldives while travelling in India. I paid about US$100 for my flight from Kochi (one way) back in 2018.
Where to stay cheap in Maldives
The best way to save some money in the Maldives is by staying in guest houses in some of the local islands.
You can find simple hotels with nice reviews from US$50 up + taxes in Maafushi Island, like Kaani Beach Hotel for example.
In Dhigurah there is White Sand Dhigurah which is a more sophisticated option with an amazing restaurant that offers rooms for US$110 per night. In this case, considering the taxes already as our followers have a nice discount to stay there.
There are resort options in Maldives for different budgets.
Up to US$500
Kandima Maldives has more affordable prices, starting with studios for around US$250 and bungalows for US$400.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has an underwater restaurant and might be an amazing experience.
If you are looking for traveling as luxury as you can and as cheap as you can, check it out Luxury Travel Hacks website 😉
Resorts Day Use
If you would like to go to a resort but the cost is being a troublemaker, you can also enjoy a resort for a day. The easiest way to find a good day use option will be by asking your accommodation staff what are the day use resorts available near them and the costs.
Check it out how was my experience in a resort near Rasdhoo.
Taxes and Fees in Maldives
Be aware! 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%.
Food in Maldives
In the local islands you can find simple meals for about US$8, and some fancier restaurants with meals for about US$20.
If you are traveling on a budget, you can always get some cheaper things at the grocery store.
Coupons and Discounts
Live More, Travel More followers have discounts for many hotels and tours in Maldives! #SaveMoneyTravelMore
Click below to check all the options we got for you:
I hope you found this post useful! =D
Any questions? Feel free to ask below =)
Maafushi: Maldives on a budget
Male, Maldives: A travel guide to the capital of the Maldives
Dhigurah Island, Maldives: The diver’s dream
Rasdhoo: A nice island to stay for about a week in Maldives