Okay! Be honest, who doesn’t dream about visiting the picture perfect Maldives? This archipelago is made up of several thousand tiny islands that are again surrounded by crystal clear water. And this is by far one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world. However, it can be pretty difficult and confusing to plan a vacation to the Maldives and there are some heavy misconceptions about traveling to this island paradise. So, I thought I need to put on some ideas regarding the Maldives that you should know before you make a plan. Hence, without further delay, let’s start with the 14 Things You Must Know About Maldives Before Fly Off.
1. “The Maldives” is made up of around 1,200 small Islands
While talking about the Maldives, they are basically referring to a collection of islands or archipelago that is located in the Indian Ocean. All these small islands are further divided into 26 natural atolls that stretch from the north to south across more than 800 kilometers.
Do you know the capital of the Maldives? Well! It is Male and that is where most international visitors will fly into- Velana International Airport. Around 200 of these islands in the Maldives are inhabited and yet another 200 islands are resort islands. Apart from that, Maldives covers about 90,00 square kilometers and it has a land area of under 300 square kilometers. And hence, the Maldives is the 9th smallest country in the world.
2. No, you don’t need a visa!
If you want to enter the Maldives, you don’t need a pre-arrival visa. Yes! You will have a thirty days visa issued on arrival for all the nationalities. However, you need to make sure that the passport of yours is having at least six months of validity remaining. Apart from that, you must have a valid tick out of the Maldives so that you don’t land up in any trouble.
3. Only 1 hour away from Sri Lanka
Wondering how you can enter into the Maldives? Well! Most people don’t really know this but the Maldives is only an hour away from Sri Lanka by plane. So if you have any plan to visit Sri Lanka, you can just add an extra two to three days to visit the Maldives or vice versa.
In fact, there are around 3 to 4 direct flights each day between the Velena International Airport and Colombo International Airport and around 3 flights a week Colombo International Airport and 3 flights a week between the Gan Internation Airport and Colombo International Airport in case you are heading towards the southern atolls in the Maldives. Moreover, there are direct flights to the Maldives from India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and many more.
4. Islam is the official religion of the Maldives
At the end of the 12th century, Islam was introduced to the Maldives, and then then, the vast majority of the population are Sunni Muslims. Alcohol, as well as pork, are forbidden on local islands and you may hear people calling out to do prayer all day long in case, you are staying near a mosque.
However, it is pretty much important for you to respect the local culture of the Maldives and you can’t show too much skin on local islands or showing too many public displays of affection. And you can’t wear a bikini or skimpy cloth unless you are on a dedicated “Bikini Beach”. If you are staying on a private tourist resort island, you can easily wear a bikini.
5. You cannot bring alcohol into the Maldives
You can’t bring liquor to the Maldives. In case, you bought any spirits, wine, or beer from a duty-free shop on your way to the Maldives, you need to leave them with the customs right at the airport. And you will able to pick it up on your way out of the Maldives.
This is because the Maldives is an Islamic nation, you are not allowed to buy or drink alcohol on any local inhabited islands. However, the private resorts are pretty much licensed to serve alcohol to the tourists, albeit at a markup.
6. Peak season is from early December to March
The climatic condition of the Maldives is tropical with the temperature hovering at around 28 to 30 degrees Celsius on most days. But the rainfall increases during the monsoon season that is from April to October and to be very specific June to August. And hence, for the same reason, the Maldives sees an influx of travelers especially during the time period of December to March. However, at that time of the year, the hotel prices tend to be more expensive.
I have visited the Maldives during the “monsoon season” in July and have experienced some of the scattered storms. However, most of our days were breezy with plenty of sunshine. In fact, I got my tan on! The perks of going to the Maldives during the off-season is that the prices are comparatively lower and there was a lesser number of people.
7. But the peak surf season is the opposite!
Are you an avid surfer and you want to look for that amazing epic swells of the year? If yes, then the best time to visit the Maldives is basically during the monsoon season in June, July, or August. These are the three peak seasons for surfing. If you are an intermediate surfer who wants less intimidating swells and less crowded lineups, then you can visit the Maldives during the shoulder season that is in April, May, September, or October.
It is a world-class surf destination with several beaches and there are some private beaches that will require to have a special kind of license to access. Apart from that, you can always opt for a charter boat with some friends so as to access some of the remote and reef breaks.
8. You don’t have to stay in an overwater villa to enjoy the Maldives
Well! You heard me right. Look, if you are planning to visit the Maldives for a vacation, trust me it can be amazing too without staying in an overwater bungalow. In fact, I stayed in a sunset beach villa that has a private pool and I loved being able to walk right out onto the beach every morning.
Moreover, it will offer much more in terms of protection during a rainy or windy day. So don’t just let your idea of a stay in a villa stop you from visiting the Maldives. There are several other types of accommodation to choose from while you are in the Maldives.
9. Choosing a hotel can be overwhelming
Have you heard the news? There are several accommodation options and you are not limited to only US $1000 a night resorts. In fact, there are so many atolls having hard to pronounce names, that it might get difficult for you to select a hotel.
Which atoll you want to visit is entirely up to you. Do you want to book a private resort or you want to go to a guesthouse on a local island? Are you up for a private resort or you want to have a hotel that is accessible by speedboat or one that’s only reachable by seaplane? Overwater Villa or Beach Villa?
If you are on a budget too tight, then you can go to a hotel that is close to the airport. There are several websites available that you can check out for hotel options as per your budget.
10. Get used to “Island Time”
Well! Don’t be in shock if your resort is around one or two hours ahead of the time in Male. Yes! In fact, there are several resorts that are having their own “island time”. It will help you to make the most of the sunlight hours and it can get a little hard to get used to for at least the first few days. However, then you can learn to forget about time altogether.
11. Seaplanes are AMAZING
I have been into several planes, some propeller jets, and a few helicopters, but have never been on a seaplane. Let me tell you something- the experience that I had was super amazing that I can’t explain in words. However, the return airfare can be around anything from US$200 to $500 from Male International Airport but the views that you will see are worth every single penny. So just take a look at this.
While you think of booking your hotel, ensure you have the arrangements for your seaplane flights as well as check whether the seaplanes are scheduled as per demand and your flight time will only be confirmed one night right before your arrival.
12. Taking seashells with you is illegal
One of the most lesser-known don’ts in the Maldives is that the government is really strict when it comes to collecting sand, seashells, coral, as well as tortoise shells. Shells are actually the home for hermit crabs and they, in turn, play a very vital role in controlling the sand fly population.
13. Impressive internet connectivity
By seeing the remote location, you may expect to have somewhat patchy internet connectivity. However, it is not at all that horrifying. You can opt for the local SIM card at the airport for US$15 and then you will have 4 GB of data or you can opt for the $20 for 17 GB of data.
Then again, if you are staying at a private resort, you can expect to have fairly stable WiFi and it should be available in your room as well as in all the common areas.
14. The Maldives has outrageously cool marine life
The Maldives has some amazing marine life and comes along with more than 1,000 fish species, 40 species of sharks, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, tropical fish, stingrays, whale sharks, and sea turtles. In fact, the Maldives is world-class diving as well as snorkeling destination that has some incredible coral reefs, however, it is important to know that marine ecology is increasingly become fragile due to over climate change, fishing, pollution, and so on.
As the islands are just one or two meters above sea level, the Maldives is extremely susceptible to any other effects of climate change. You can do your part just by taking shared transportation, partaking in beach cleanups, reducing the usage of single-use plastic, and not touching the coral reef or animals, or refusing towels to name a few.
In case, you want to learn more about conservation in the Maldives, then you can check out Kanuhura’s Marine Biology Research Centre. This is dedicated to the conservation, coral reef ecology, and research as well as helps to raise awareness about ocean conservation initiatives in the local communities.
So these are the basic things that you need to know before you plan a trip to the Maldives. If you want to plan a trip to the Maldives, then you need to go through these tips and you will have an amazing vacation. Do let us know what are your thoughts on this and do you have any other tips that you want to give to other readers, then please comment it down below.