Maldives is one of those tropical picturesque countries that is on almost everyone’s bucket list. The Maldives truly is a beach lovers dream destination with its crystal clear water, fancy resorts, & over water bungalows. But Maldives also comes with a lot of questions when it’s your first time travelling there. Like how do you get around? Should I stay on a local island? And how much is this vacation going to cost me? The following answers to the common questions for what you need to know before travelling to Maldives.
MALDIVES IS MADE UP OF 1200 ISLANDS
Maldives is predominantly made up of water and almost 1200 small islands. In fact 99% of Maldives consists of the sea, and is arguably the most picturesque water in the world. Out of these 1200 islands there are 200 that are inhabited by locals plus 154 tourist resorts. Since the Maldives islands are spread out over 297.8 km² this means that getting anywhere in this country will require a boat or an airplane.
LOCAL ISLANDS VS RESORTS
If you are travelling to Maldives for a holiday you’ll have the choice between staying at a beautiful resort or a home stay on a local island. There are pro’s & con’s to either option, and depending on what kind of holiday you’re looking for, either one can be perfectly suitable for you.
First off, let’s talk local islands. This can be a great option for those travelling on a budget or who wants to experience the local culture. The local islands are significantly cheaper than resorts and you can still find some really beautiful places to stay. While on the local island you can do excursions including scuba diving, trips to sandbars and even get day passes to resorts. You’ll also be supporting local communities by staying in their accommodation and making purchases at the local stores and restaurants. The downside of local islands is that if you’re a woman you’ll need to keep covered up (explained below) and alcohol is not available.
On the other hand, if you are looking for pure luxury, incredible service, and picturesque locations then a resort is most definitely the place to be. This is where you’ll be treated like royalty and have a beautiful, relaxing holiday. The downside of this of course is that prices can vary anywhere from $500 per night up to $10,000 per night. The prices for Maldives resorts can cost you a small fortune, but it’s so worth it!
ALCOHOL & SWIMSUITS ARE ILLEGAL
Maldives is a Muslim country so if you’re planning on staying on a local island there are a number of things that are illegal . It is illegal to bring alcohol into this country so if you’re thinking about bringing some with you know that it will get confiscated at customs. It’s also illegal for women to show skin or wear swimsuits (except at private beaches), public displays of affection are also not allowed. The exception to all these rules are if you are staying at a private hotel resort. At the resorts you can wear whatever makes you comfortable, and the resorts ship in their own alcohol so you can indulge all you like.
TRANSFERS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE
Something to take into consideration of your overall cost is the price of transfers. There are a few different transfer options but depending on where you’re staying they may not all be possible. The cheapest transfer option is a local ferry which only travels to local islands and are very slow. The best transfer option when staying at a resort is a speed boat. The speed boats are only available to resorts that are located near the airport, most resorts being within an hour’s ride from the airport. For the speed boat transfers you can expect to pay upwards of a couple hundred dollars per adult. You can also get private boats to these resorts that will cost much more. The other transfer option and the most expensive one is sea plane transfers. The benefit of taking the sea plane is the picturesque view you’ll get while flying. These transfers generally cost upwards of $1000 per person round trip.
When you’re researching prices for hotels the cost of transfers are usually not added in until the end, and are mandatory to book through the hotel. Each hotels transfer options will differ in price so be sure to do your research before finalizing your booking. And if you want to keep your costs lower it’s best to choose a resort near the international airport so you can take a boat instead of seaplane.
Another decision to make that can make a huge difference in your overall cost when travelling to Maldives is the type of meal plan you have included. The most common meal plan options are bed and breakfast, half board, full board, and all-inclusive. Bed and breakfast is the cheapest option upfront but may end up costing you more in the end. This means the only meal included is breakfast and after that you’ll be purchasing any other food at the resort’s prices. Half board, in my opinion, is a great option with all your breakfasts & dinners included. Full board includes all your meals and snacks throughout the day. And all-inclusive is all food and alcoholic beverages included (often excluding premium alcohol).
Personally I like the half board option the best. Not only does it save you a lot of money in the end, but from past experience I just can’t eat and drink enough to make up the additional cost of the all-inclusive option. For me, I’ve found that choosing half board then buying drinks off the menu is cheaper in the end. You can always upgrade when you arrive to the resort for 1 or 2 nights if you really feel like indulging.
Looking for more tropical inspiration? Check out my photos to inspire you to visit Philippines.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO MALDIVES
Maldives is a tropical destination and has two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The best time to visit Maldives for dry weather is between November to April. The high season runs between December and March which means prices are higher and the resorts are busier. The driest month of the year is February and the wettest month is September with the most amount of rainfall. I personally think the best time to travel is off peak season but still in the dry months which is April & May. You’ll be less likely to have rainy days and your prices will still be a bit lower than high season.
EASY WAYS TO SAVE BIG MONEY IN MALDIVES
Maldives can certainly be an expensive holiday but there are very easy ways to significantly lower your costs which can save you possibly thousands of dollars. Firstly travel at a time of year that is not during peak season when room rates can be halved. Secondly, pick a resort that is close to the airport and offers you speed boat transfers as opposed to sea plane transfers. Or even better, look for a deal that includes transfers in the price of your package. Also consider the room type you’d like to stay in. For example an over-water bungalow will cost a lot more than a room on the beach. If you want to upgrade your room choose to do so for only 1 or 2 nights as opposed to your entire stay. Another way to save money is to pick the half board meal plan and buy your drinks as needed. Trust me on this, you’ll save yourself a lot of money by doing this. And finally, consider staying at a local island for at least half your stay. You can get a wonderful experience at the local islands so it’s definitely worth looking into.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE ARRIVAL TIME OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT
If you are planning on staying at a resort it’s important to pay attention to the time your flight arrives into Male. This is mainly because of the transfers. If your transfer requires a sea plane be aware that they only fly during daylight hours. So if you’re arriving late in the evening it’s best to book a cheap local hotel on Male then take your transfers in the morning. Another reason this is a good idea is because if you’re arriving late you probably won’t want to be paying $1000 for a day that you only go straight to bed.
BRING EVERYTHING YOU NEED
Apart from some overpriced gift shops at hotel resorts, there won’t be much opportunity for shopping in Maldives. Pack wisely and bring everything that you’ll require while you’re there. Some suggestions include a reef safe sunscreen, a lot of cute bikinis, a camera (and a backup camera in case you drop your camera in the water like I did). If you’re planning on snorkeling, an underwater camera is a good idea. I also like to bring my own mask & snorkel so I don’t have to rent it from the hotel which they run out of sometimes. Make sure you bring a sun hat, sunglasses and a beach cover up. And some other things I like to bring include a portable speaker to play music in your room or on the beach. A good quality lip balm since the constant air conditioning is very drying. Also a good after-sun moisturizer after swimming in the pool all day. And finally, if you have a drone this is the perfect place to get some epic photos and videos. But make sure you check first that your resort allows drones as not all of them do.
SHOP MY MALDIVES ESSENTIALS
PIN THIS TO READ LATER