Destination Guide to Maldives

Maldives Travel Guide

28. Dec 2022
by Varun Sharma

With a wonderful year-round climate, pristine coral sand beaches, superb resorts, clean and warm seas, delicious cuisine, relaxing spas, plentiful sporting facilities and genuinely friendly people – Maldives is ideal for families, honeymooners, couples, and solo travellers. 

As a bucket list destination, Maldives offers amazing and diverse facilities and activities – with underwater restaurants, overwater villas, seaplanes, semi-submersible submarines and some of the best diving & snorkelling in the world. Maldives is home to over 2,000 species of fish. On land you will see fruit bats, lizards, and birds and underwater there are sharks, dolphins, coral, turtles, manta rays … the list is endless and is there to be explored! 

Located in the Indian Ocean, just south of Sri Lanka and east of the African continent, Maldives is made up of just under 1200 islands, of which 200 are inhabited. Maldives is spread out over 96,000 square kilometres of ocean and also crosses the Equator.

Maldives is a bucketlist destination in every way. 

There is an island, there is a resort, there is a beach for everyone in Maldives …

a couple walking on a beach in maldives
You can walk your own beach

Why Should You Visit the Maldives:

With stunning white sand beaches, fabulous resorts, superb Michelin-star quality cuisine, some of the best diving anywhere, and dazzling sunrises & sunsets, a trip to the Maldives at any time of the year is a must! Maldives is a bucket list destination – which becomes a habit.

The country is safe for couples, children and those who travel by themselves. There is a hotel to suit everyone’s taste … and restaurants to suits everyone’s palette and preferences. Maldives is easily accessible and a plethora of international airlines fly there. While you can visit the Maldives on a budget, you get what you pay for so our advice is to save that little more and visit in style! Maldives is one of the few destinations in which you can enjoy both overwater and beach villas in the same holiday. Both are a joy.

Maldives is for everyone – families, couples, foodies, oenophiles, divers, lovers of sports and of course those who like to do nothing but enjoy peace! For families, all-inclusive resorts are a great option, while couples can enjoy stunning “adult only” resorts - Hurawahli, for instance, complete with its undertwater restaurant!

Note, while you cannot get married in Maldives if you are not a local, you can enjoy a blessing but this is not legally binding. There are a plethora of resorts for couples, honeymooners and nearly all resorts will offer a blessing service - for a few or many guests. You could even push the boat out and book an entire island - something fabulous such as COMO Maalifushi.   

an overview of the overwater bungalows in the maldives
Sea, sand, sun … and superb facilites … Maldives!

How to Get There: 

Male’s Velana International Airport connects to major airports all over the world. BusinessClass.com searches hundreds of travel sites at once to help you find the best premium travel offers for both flights and accommodation in the Maldives. 

Read our reviews of airlines that fly to Maldives including: Qatar Airways, British Airways, SriLankan Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Emirates.

an empty beach with crystal clear water
Peace and tranquility

Getting around Maldives: 

Once you arrive on the tiny island of Male’ you can access an intricate network of sea planes, a domestic carrier to service the country’s main internal airports, a ferry network and a speedboat charter service as well as a burgeoning safari boat industry. 

There is no way about it to get around this watery island archipelago one relies on air or boat travel. However, once you are on land, in the populous capital that is Male’ which you reach via speedboat, you can get around by car or moped. On the resorts, golf cart, bicycles or feet are the best way forward! 

Speedboat or ferry are the most convenient way to get from the airport to Male’ and other destinations around the island.  Once on land everywhere is within walking distance but there are also many taxis. For inter-island transportation, Maldives ferry services, aboard dhoni’s and of course seaplanes are very convenient and reliable – although seaplanes can be rather expensive.

a seaplane at the bank of the beach waiting for its passengers
Taking a seaplane is a must!

Where to stay:

There are over 200 resorts across 26 natural atolls giving a stunning array of choices for all kinds of holidaymakers, from couples to families, from luxury-seekers to adventurers. 

BusinessClass.com has compiled a list of the best hotels in Maldives. For those seeking the healthy option, have a look at JOALI Being – a dedicated spa island. For the best family resorts in Maldives, LUX* South Ari Atoll – complete with its own ice cream shop is just the ticket. For couples looking at something relaxing, Kudadoo Private Island fills that yen. Take a cruise on the Four Seasons Explorer if you want to enjoy a sensational aquatic tour of the islands. Head to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa if you want to cross the Equator and for an all-round food/sports/spa experience Waldorf Astoria Maalafushi is for you. And if privacy is what you seek, the Four Seasons Resort Private Island at Voavah is the only place to book!

The spas in Maldives are incredible. Not only can you enjoy a dedicated spa resort - JOALI Being - you can enjoy treatments while overlooking the water - COMO Cocoa Island offers such indulgence.

 a picture of a beautiful island in the Maldives
Fore!

Food & Dining:

Renowned for its dining scene, The Maldives has a diverse array of options for the discerning foodie. We have put together a list of the best places to eat & drink in the Maldives. Waldorf Astoria Maalafushi now boasts a Zuma – along with ten other superb restaurants, JOALI Being serves the freshest, organic meals ever created, Hurawahli invites you to dine “under the sea”, while dining under the stars is also a must in any resort. 

Destinations Articles - Maldives Travel Guide
ZUMA at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Exclusive Experience:

Chartering a safari boat can be the perfect way to experience the amazing sea life of Maldives. A fantastic fleet is available to allow you to set sail in the turquoise tropical waters and anchor at one of the many uninhabited picnic islands. Yacht charter is a wonderful way to see the tropical islands and sandbanks of “paradise”.  The Four Seasons Explorer in Maldives is an ideal way to enjoy diving and yacht-life. You can charter the yacht and sail the Baa Atoll while experiencing some of the greatest undersea vistas in the world.  

Four Seasons Explorer in the sea
Four Seasons Explorer

Hidden Gem:

The whole of the Baa Atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Maldives and is a largely undiscovered gem with a fascinatingly rich reserve of marine fauna.  Baa Atoll consists of three separate natural atolls, nine inhabited islands and eight resort islands. It has a high diversity of reef animals, with stony and soft corals, reef associated fish species, turtles. It is thought to be one of the few places in the world where Whale Sharks meet to mate and mingle with Manta Rays. Maldives is renowned for its stunning coral. In 1998, 98% of the coral in Maldives was “bleached” and in 2016, another event occurred that decimated the coral in the country. The coral is – however – recovering and those who love diving and snorkelling can visit some of the best coral dive sites in Maldives - indeed the world and see it for themselves. It is also fabulous to see that so many resorts have created their own artificial reefs that are growing coral at a fabulous rate.

amazing coral reef
Amazing coral reefs

Activities:

There are many amazing surf spots in the Maldives to tempt adventurous thrill seekers. A popular surf point can be found in the heart of the capital city Male’ along with a vibrant local surf scene called ‘Towns’. Surfers in the know will charter a safari boat and head to Himmafushi where a collection of surf breaks with wide barrels can be found (Sultans, Honkeys and Jails). 

Being surrounded by water it’s not surprising that scuba diving is one of the premier sports of this nation and a reason that many of the 1.3 million tourists visit. Create unforgettable underwater memories when you dive deep into the many dive sites peppered across the archipelago. Banana Reef, British Loyalty wreck in Addu or the Fesdu Wreck of Ari Atoll are some of the best places to get up close and personal with the abundant marine life and the stunning coral reefs. The best time to dive in the Maldives is December to April during the high season, as the British summertime months bring the Maldives monsoons.  

Golf, football, and tennis are also popular in the resorts. Camps at some of the more exclusive resorts by top pro players help foster unique experiences for their exclusive guests. For instance, Soneva Jani put on an exclusive football camp for youngsters with legendary player Ronaldinho. Maldives is a beautiful setting for golf. Tee off at one of the many resort courses lined with palm trees and natural vegetation.  There best golf course in Maldives is Velaa Private Island (Golf Academy by Olazabal) and the most visited golf club in Maldives is Kuredu Resort & Spa.

an overview of a beautiful resort
Amazing colours … 

Best Time to Visit Maldives: 

The rule of thumb is to visit Maldives between November and April. Expect a huge rise in prices during Christmas, New Year and Easter Holidays though – for both flights and hotels. If you are looking for a hot, dry and quiet period for Maldives, March to April is the best window. From May to October, Maldives goes through its monsoon season. Yes, you may get some bright sunshine but also heavy, heavy deluges of rain and strong winds! You have been warned! 

overwater bungalows shinning at night time
Maldives shines at night

Culture & Customs:

The first inhabitants of Maldives came from Sri Lanka and India. With additional African and Arabic influences, visitors feel that they are in a truly multi-cultural society. The national language is Dhivehi but English is widely spoken too.

Maldives is predominantly Muslim country. However, unless you are in the capital city Male or one of the larger inhabited island, you will not feel this. Most of the resorts are managed by international hotel companies with staff from all over the world. Some resorts – Kudaddoo for instance – will have their own mosque for guests and staff alike.

Being a nautical country, Maldivians are master boat-builders. The dhoni is their method of aquatic transportation and what fishermen use to catch one of the staples in the Maldivian diet. Locals rely on rice, fish and coconuts for their sustenance. Something to buy as a souvenir are reeds mats, coral that has been carved and lacquered wooden ornaments. 

The music of Maldives is mostly generated from the songs and dances that are prevalent in west and southern Africa. The famous dance with drums is called Boduberu – (bodu – big, beru – drums). It is great fun to watch and even to particpate in!

natives playing the drums
The Boduberu

Maldives Travel Costs: 

The national currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa but the US Dollar, Euro and British Pound are also widely accepted. All the usual debit and credit cards are accepted.

Maldives is not cheap! You do get what you pay for and if are staying at the likes of the Four Seasons Resorts or Velaa Private Island, you can expect your bill to be on the high side. 

Several quality resorts – LUX* South Ari Atoll and Siyam World for instance – will offer half and full board options which will be the most cost effective.

Getting to & from island is mainly by seaplane which does add up but indeed no visit to the Maldives is complete without a trip on a seaplane! Please note, excess baggage costs also mount up so check with your resort the company they use and the excess baggage fees. 

There are several resorts close to Male Airport including Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ilafasghiyhhi which means that need only take the resort yacht to and from the island. 

a stunning overwater villa
Overwater villa anyone?

Entry & Exit Requirements: 

All travellers must fill in a travel declaration form within 96 hours of arrival/departure.

While a PCR is no longer needed before entry, you should carry your COVID pass and proof of vaccination. COVID vaccination passports or certificates are not mandatory to enter the Maldives. Now if you are a Covid vaccine certificate holder, you won't need to present a negative PCR test nor follow a quarantine. 

Always check the COVID vaccination requirements when entering any country as they can change. 

a cycle at the beach
Cycling around an island is always fun!

Passport Validity:

If entering Maldives as a tourist, you will be granted a 30-day visa upon arrival and your passport must be valid for a minimum of one month. However, if arriving by air, most airlines state that your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the Maldives. Check with your transport provider or tour operator before travelling. You should ensure your passport has no damage or you may be stopped by Immigration, who examine passports carefully.

private pool in your room overlooking the sea
A private pool is a delightful extra

Maldives Travel Tips 

  • Go today – tomorrow may never happen!
  • Have a healthy budget plus a contingency for something special
  • Maldives is better in sunshine than rain
  • Book airline and hotel through BusinessClass.com
  • Fly as direct as possible
  • Go full-board if you love your meals!
  • Pack a maximum of 15 kilograms to avoid excess baggage charges on the seaplane
  • Rooms in resorts typically have sunset or sunrise views. Chose a room keeping in mind your sleeping cycle.
  • Ensure long sleeved tops/sarongs and trousers for any cultural visits
  • Pack suncream and anti-mosquito cream
  • Pack sunglasses
  • Male time and your island time may differ! Beware!s
  • Carry currency (British Pound, Euros or US Dollars) for tips
  • Do not take alcohol into the country
  • Learn basic Dhivehi phrases – you will make friends this way!
  • Buy a local SIM – always use Wi-Fi
  • Smile!

Do’s and Don’t’s:

  • No topless bathing
  • No duty free alcohol allowed into the country
  • Also not allowed – pornographic materials, pork or pork products, weapons and any literature deemed contrary to Islam
  • Only drink alcohol in your resort
  • Always drink bottled water
  • No drugs – however “soft”. Will lead to jail.
  • Wear long sleeves/trousers/sarongs when visiting any local islands
  • Apply suncream and mosquito repellent
  • Same-sex relations are illegal
  • Do not pack coral or tortoise shells to take home!
  • Tip – 10% is usual
  • Enjoy!

BusinessClass.com searches hundreds of travel sites at once to help you find the best premium travel offers on flights and the finest hotels in Maldives . The Flight Search on BusinessClass.com includes all the information you will need to help you make a considered choice - from price to time in the air, seat size to Champagne marque! 

Book your next flight to Maldives now: 

 

 

 

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