Maldives is a paradise, you have probably seen fifty shades of blue in different pictures with a sea that looks like an infinity pool. Maldives is a country that has 1200 islands on it, so to choose where to go it is a big part of the decision making. All the islands are encircled by a lagoon, what makes them have this crystal clear water that can be seen from the sky when flying over the islands too. These islands are protected by a reef structure, housing one of the most exclusive and spectacular underwater life.
When I started researching about the Maldives I had a lot of questions and some of them were hard to find an answer for, luckily Maldives Tourism has a complete website with the most FAQ and I will be sharing with you what I learned.
It is important to know that there is free visa of 30 days regardless of your country of origin, and you will get it on arrival at the airport. Electricity voltage is provided in the Maldives at 220-240 volts and the plugs are the British standard three pin sockets.
Atolls in Maldives
It is vital to know what will be your route if you want to stay in different islands or if you will have a base location and do day excursions. The capital of Maldives is Malé and is where your plane will land to start exploring the country.
You need to take into account that Maldives is formed as one of the most complex and vibrant atoll structures found. They have 26 natural atolls and those are categorized into 20 atolls for administrative purposes.
Every atoll has different characteristics so investigation prior to choosing what will be your place it is important, don't choose randomly only for the hotel or resort you will stay in. We chose three different atolls for a 9 days stay, so three days in each island to have a taste of different places. We have stayed with Crown and Champa resorts chain in different islands:
Faadhippolhu (Lhaviyani Atoll): Kuredu
Kuredu is one of the biggest islands in the Maldives, that gives plenty of options for activities, places to discover in the island and also space for more resort facilities such as sport courts. The island has 7 restaurants to choose from, three of them à la carte and the rest daily buffet, there is the misconception that buffet are "cheap food", I changed my mind in Kuredu, the buffet was incredible, every night a different food theme, so flavors for all tastes.
As any part of the Maldives the turquoise crystal clear water follows you everywhere, I really enjoyed Sangu area in the resort, where the water is the blueish and probably the most quieter part since is where the water villas are located. The snorkel was amazing in Kuredu we saw very big fish and a 1.5m sea turtle just a few metres from the shore, I would recommend it to everyone.
North Male atoll (Kaafu Atoll): Meeru
Meeru is an island one hour far by boat from the capital, Malé. The island has a house reef accessible by boat only 10 minutes away from the shore, there are turtle excursions to do from the island as well to discover these creatures. There are different excursions available to visit a local island, island hopping through the south of the atoll and among others spent the day in a sand bank on your own for privacy and as a special offering.
The jacuzzi water villas in Meeru were the best ones we saw in the three islands we visited, they are wooden bungalows right in the lagoon, with a jacuzzi too, a lot of space in the room and in the bathroom that takes you to the jacuzzi.
Ari Atholhu Dhekunuburi (Alifu Dhaalu Atoll): Vilamendhoo
Vilamendhoo is a little island in the Alifu atoll, a famous atoll to gather some of the most known resorts but why? Because, the coral reef is amazing and alive, probably one of the areas with the best-preserved coral in the area. The main attraction in Vilamendhoo is snorkelling and diving to enjoy the coral and the sea life in the area, the house reef at the resort is very impressive. There are view points for whale sharks, turtles and manta rays at less than one hour from Vilamendhoo. They offer a wide variety of excursions and snorkelling and diving activities.
Weather in Maldives
Maldives, it is called the sunny side of life since it is blessed with sunshine almost all year around. Let's not forget that Maldives is similar to tropical countries so it has a dry and a wet season. The dry season is for sun lovers and you will see clean blue skies and quiet blueish water, during the wet season is quite the opposite, there is torrential rain and occasional thunderstorms, as a consequence the ocean generates large waves so it is a good chance for surfers.
The dry season goes from December until April-May and the wet season goes from Mid-May to November. The temperature though is on average between 31ºC and 23ºC at night.
The weather in the Maldives is unpredictable, it can be pouring down and the next moment is sunny with no clouds on the sky, I visited the county in November that it is supposed to be the wet season but we only had a rainy afternoon of 10 days we were there. I would say that you shouldn't be scared about the wet season, there are tropical storms but then they go away.
Islamic country and religion
The Maldives is this paradise seen from Western countries, and it is, but there are some things that need to be taken into account. The Maldives is an Islamic country and the law includes the norms and provisions of sharia. Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.
Due to the religion, alcohol is forbidden and so are any other substances and drugs, there are no pigs since they don't eat their meat and dress code for women and men are more strict -no visible women body shape, at least short sleeves and covered until knee length for men and women-. If you visit local islands or you stay in one of them, get ready for taking a swim being dressed, since no bikinis or western swimsuits are allowed unless it is specified that is a beach where it is allowed.
Same story for alcohol, in resorts you will be able to drink as much alcohol as you would like, in resorts that they own the full island, is where they rule. But outside of them you will have no access to alcohol, in resorts bikinis are the norm, so do not worry about that.
Transport in the Maldives
The transport in the Maldives is limited to three options: the seaplane that will take you to the islands that are too far to be accessible by boat, so used for long distances. We actually took a seaplane for Kuredu and Vilamendhoo. Seaplanes only operate in daylight, after 6pm no seaplanes will leave the airport nor the resorts, so this means that your plane arrival time needs to be carefully planned otherwise you will have to stay in Male for a night. The same happens if there are delays in your arrival by plane to the airport.
When there are bad weather conditions seaplanes might not fly either, the same story for boats, this does not happen often but it is good to know it if you are in a tight schedule.
The boat is also one of the means of transport, we used it to get to Meeru island, that is near Malé, the capital. The seaplane and the boats are private means of transport so they are expensive in general, since are the only option to move around and get to your resort. Take into account that any resort reservation will have a compulsory charge of the seaplane or boat to take you to your destination and prices go around 200 to 400 dollars per person.
Locals move around with ferries, but those only take you to local islands, if you are staying in a local island is the only public transport you will get, schedules are not very regular and there are days of the week that they don't run, so plan ahead if you need to use them.
How to book your holiday to the Maldives
Maldives might be a bit different than other destinations since planning is essential. If you don't like your island or it is not what you wanted it is not Paris, that you have thousands of hotels right in the corner. Logistics and transport in the Maldives is more complicated than that and I explained you the different means of transport.
Mainly there are two different ways to book your holiday to the Maldives:
Through an agency or tour operator: A tour operator creates packages, so you will buy a full package of flight, hotel and all inclusive most likely. They will take care of the planning for you and if any unexpected situation arises they will arrange the changes or details in most of the occasions. As everything in life, you pay for what you get so if this is your option check out the best tour operators to work with. A lot of people choose to do it through an agency since they spent a big sum of money and they want to have assurance that they will be taken care of if something happens.
Through the hotel or otas: you can book directly with the property or through an ota, but as any trip organized on your own, if there are bad weather conditions or you can't make it to the hotel this is on you. It is not a bad thing, organizing the trip for yourself gives you freedom and it will save you some money. You need to look for offers in accommodation and flights, flights from Europe to the Maldives start as little as 400 euros return and accommodation per room per day with all inclusive at 200 dollars so you can get a trip organized fro 1500 euros per person for a week. Stay tuned for our next post about budget for a holiday to Maldives.