Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the Maldives

I still remember the first time I saw a picture of the Maldives. It looked too perfect to be real place and too remote to be a realistic trip. I put it on my mental bucket list as a dream destination I would maybe one day get to see.

It wasn’t until we were planning our honeymoon that I began seriously researching the Maldives. I realized that visiting wasn’t as far-fetched a goal as I originally thought and that you could actually do it on various budgets – no need to spend your entire life savings, yay!

We spent 6 days in the Maldives as part of our 3-week honeymoon trip and it was everything I had hoped for and more. All the cliched words to describe it are completely accurate: paradise, heaven on earth, a dream come true.

Here is everything you need to know to plan your own trip to the Maldives.

When to Go

High season in the Maldives is from November to April because it’s the dry season. The rest of the year is rather unpredictable weather wise. I read a lot of articles and opinions about this because we were going in early October, which falls into the Monsoon season.

My take-away: go at any time. Rain is unpredictable and usually short lived. Even during dry season there can be days of rain. During our 6 days we got sunny skies and zero rain for 5 days. On our last day it was overcast and we got a bit of drizzle.

So if you want to save a little money, avoid the peak season and go from May-October.

Getting there

All international flights arrive in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives. If you’re coming from Asia, there are several direct flights from Singapore, Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia or Scoot that are very reasonably priced. There are also direct flights from many European cities such as London, Frankfurt, or Istanbul. We flew in from Istanbul on Turkish Air and flew out to Singapore on Singapore Airlines.

Once in Malé, you can either stay in the city, take a public ferry/speed boat to nearby islands, or take a sea plane to islands that are further away. Keep in mind that air transfers via sea plane are quite expensive, generally in the range of 400-600 USD per person depending on distance. This is a big factor in choosing your accommodation since flight costs are not included in hotel prices.

Accommodation

When most people think of the Maldives, they think of ultra luxurious hotels that will require you to sell an organ in order to afford a stay. While this is definitely an option (who needs 2 kidneys?) there are also numerous alternatives that don’t break the bank. Here are the main factors that you should consider when choosing a place to stay.

Resort vs. local islands

The biggest distinction is between resorts that are on their own private islands versus hotels/guesthouses that are on local islands (public islands where the locals actually live). Most luxury resorts that you associate with the Maldives are on private islands.

Local islands now also offer accommodation in the form of smaller, more budget-friendly guesthouses (this wasn’t permitted until around 2009). You won’t be experiencing the luxury of a resort, however you will still have access to the turquoise lagoons and abundant sea life that the Maldives is known for. You’ll also get a more authentic experience of Maldivian life on the local islands.

My pick for the top luxury resorts offering the best bang for your buck:

  • Constance Moofushi – This is where we stayed. Good value because it’s all-inclusive.
  • Velassaru Maldives – Good because it’s a short 25-minute speedboat ride away from Male and therefore has low transfer fees.
  • Anantara Veli – Also close to Male with relatively low transfer fees.

My pick for the top local islands offering good accommodation options:

  • Maafushi – One of the most popular local islands with plenty of places to stay and things to do.
  • Thulusdhoo – Known for great surf spots.
  • Himmafushi – Great surfing and diving spots.
  • Dhigurah – Farther from Male than the above but has a remote feel with great snorkelling and diving.

Type of room

If you’ve decided to stay at a resort, the type of room you stay in will have a big impact on the price. Do you want to stay in an overwater villa? A beach villa? A treehouse overlooking the ocean? All these choices come with their associated price tags.

Most resorts offer a combination of these rooms, and you can choose to stay in more than one type during your stay. For example, stay in a water villa for a couple of nights and then move to a beach villa, this way you can get the best of both worlds.

What to do

The Maldives is known for its bright turquoise lagoons and abundant sea life. Water activities are the main draw for most visitors. Regardless of where you stay, you’ll be able to find plenty of snorkelling or diving spots with colourful fish, reef sharks, and endless other sea creatures.

Most resorts and hotels also offer tours that take you to deeper waters where you can snorkel or dive. We opted to do one of these and it was definitely worthwhile.

The Maldives is also the perfect place to relax. I tend to always be on the go when I’m traveling, but since we were staying on a resort island I had a rare chance to just hit pause and enjoy living on island time. We spent our days sleeping in, enjoying breakfast by the water, snorkelling or stand-up paddling, lounging on our deck, and watching the sunset. It was probably the most relaxing six days of my life.

How long to stay

So how long should you stay in the Maldives? That will depend on what you plan to do and what your budget is.

For a resort stay I would recommend no more than 5-6 days. It’s the perfect amount of time to relax and enjoy the scenery without becoming too bored. If you’re planning to explore the local islands then I would recommend island hopping and staying 3-4 days on each island.

There are few places in the world as stunning as the Maldives. Tourism is definitely flourishing with new budget friendly options popping up on many local islands. Regardless of where you stay, the moment you lay eyes on the unbelievably blue lagoons and white beaches you’ll feel like you have landed in paradise.

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