Maldives Travel Guide
Sun, sand and sea, an archipelago of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ islands, huge lagoons with various depths and dazzling underwater coral gardens make this the ideal tropical holiday destination. More than just a destination for honeymooning lovebirds, a unique and varied wildlife offers plenty of excitement for nature lovers.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Stunning beaches, uninhabited islands, diving waters with 50 meters visibility, fresh seafood, posh resorts, ocean bungalows on stilts, local Bodu Beru music and dance, great surfing, whale and dolphin watching, game fishing and submarine tours.
What’s Not: Sun, sun and more sun; expensive drinking water, booze and phone calls; rip-off cafés, canoodling honeymoon couples, everyone expecting a tip, locals soliciting to be your guide, pushy tourist shops in Malé and tsunamis.
When to Go
The Maldives have a hot, tropical climate with two monsoon seasons.
The southwest monsoon (May to September) brings rough seas and strong winds.
The northeast monsoon (December to April) sees clear skies, low humidity and very little rain.
The temperature rarely falls below 77°F and the best time to visit is November to April.
Getting There & Away
The main airport is just off Malé and inter-island travel can be done by air as well as by frequent ferry services. Local charter boats can also be easily hired. Few islands take more than 30 minutes to cross on foot, while Malé has some taxis for weary travelers.
Health & Safety
The Maldives are a very safe travel destination, although some petty crime has sprung up as a result of increasing drug use. Anything deemed mildly indecent, including alcohol and girlie magazines, will be confiscated on arrival, so don’t be surprised if you’re Sex in the City DVD collection gets mistaken as something a bit more hardcore. Try to avoid the midday sun unless you want to be mistaken for a crustacean that’s featured on the resort menu.
Food & Hospitality
Most accommodation on the islands is in resorts, where opting for all-inclusive packages will save you from exorbitant drink and food bills. Resort menus generally cater to European and Asian visitors. Malé has some exclusive hotels and plenty of guesthouses. While there are a few handicraft items on sale here, you won’t be missing out if you save your money for something back home instead. If you want to try the local food, you will have to break free from the confines of your resort and head to Male, where there are street vendors selling fish balls; but watch out, they’re hot! In contrast, if you want a drink or two, you’ll have to strictly stay at your resort, where the bar is licensed to sell alcohol. If you are looking for something stronger than alcohol, this is definitely not the place!
One week is the least you can get away with to enjoy some of the highlights.
Four or five days at a resort diving or relaxing.
One day and night to see the capital Malé.
Two or three days to see some other islands.
Four or five days to take a scuba diving course.
Two days to spend on an uninhabited island.
A week by the beach doing nothing.
Malé: is surrounded by sea walls and boasts an old bazaar and the beautiful 17th century Friday Mosque.
Seenu (Addu Atoll): is the best base from which to visit traditional Maldivian island communities.
Reethi Rah: is an untouched and beautiful island on the northwest of the North Malé Atoll, offering traditional Maldivian-style living.
Nakatchafushi: boasts the country’s largest lagoon and lays claim to the title of the most photographed of all the islands.
Banana Reef: was one of the first dive sites of international fame and offers excellent snorkeling.
Makunudhoo Island: is famous for its excellent cuisine and outlandish prices.
Diving and snorkeling: are the main activities here, with excellent reefs and facilities.
Sightseeing: trips to fishing villages combined with a trip to an uninhabited island and a beach barbecue.
Boating: in traditional boats (dhoni) or speedboats for private hire.
Glass bottom boats: offer underwater sights for land rats.
Submarine tours: take you to 100 feet below the ocean and are a unique way to experience the marine life while keeping your feet dry.
Surfing: on North Malé’s atoll, which is gaining international repute for its waves.
Fishing: in the morning or at night ensuring you have some tales about the one that got away to tell your friends back at home.
Whale and dolphin watching: at one of the world’s top sites, with over 20 species visiting the islands.
Festivals & Events
Maldives festivals are held according to the Islamic calendar and vary from year to year. Here are some of the best to get to.
Ramadan: is a month during which Muslims fast for 30 days.
Eid ul-Adha: is a time for pilgrimage to Mecca, while those who stay behind hold celebrations and feasts.
Kuda Eid: follows the end of Ramadan and is a period of feasting marked by a three-day public holiday.
July: Independence Day features drills and traditional dances performed by hundreds of schoolchildren in colorful attire.