If you’re daydreaming about pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and overwater bungalows, you’re in the right place! The Maldives, located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, is a tropical paradise where your vacation and honeymoon dreams come true. It is the world’s flattest country, and arguably the most beautiful. Stretching across 26 atolls are 1200 islands, 200 of which are inhabited by locals and another 100 with resorts for tourists.
In this post, I’ll be sharing my top tips for planning a Maldives vacation!
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Capital – Male’
Time – GMT +5
Currency – Rufiyaa (1 USD = ~15 MRF)
Religion – Muslim (so no alcohol or PDA in public areas except on resort islands!)
Our vacation month – November
Best time to visit – November through April, as May through October is monsoon season
1) Factor in seaplane costs!
You will most likely fly into the capital Malé international airport, and depending on which island your resort is, you will need to take either a boat or a seaplane to your resort. Boats are bumpy and the option is only given to those resorts within 1.5 hours from Male, which are very few. Most people will have to purchase a roundtrip seaplane ticket, which can cost anywhere from $300-$1,000 USD per person! Seaplanes are basically airplane taxis with AMAZING views. It will be worth it! Also note that seaplanes cannot fly after 4pm, so if your flight to Male’ lands at night, you will need to stay in the capital and board the seaplane the next morning.
2) The concept of “island hopping” does not exist on the Maldives!
If you’re a fan of island-hopping, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. In the Maldives, there’s no such thing as hopping from one island to another. Each resort essentially owns its own private island, so you’ll be focusing on one place. Choose your resort carefully based on your interests and preferences. You basically book one resort hotel on one island, and you stay there the entire time. Choose one with a couple varieties of restaurants, and preferably its own house reef so you can swim with fish right outside your doorstep!
3) All-inclusive or half-board? Over water bungalow or beachfront?
We stayed at Reethi Beach Resort in Ba’a Atoll, and our 20-minute seaplane transfers cost around $450 per person. Staying at an over water bungalow in the Maldives was worth splurging for me and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. We did not choose the all inclusive option at our resort; there was a breakfast buffet and it was cheaper of us to order a la carte for dinner. If you opt for an all-inclusive, make sure you note exactly what’s included and what’s not! At some resorts alcohol, water sports etc. are all extra.
4) Pack one bikini a day… and then pack 3 more.
Ladies, listen up! When you’re packing for the Maldives, you’ll want to remember this one thing: more bikinis. You’ll be spending most of your time in the water, and having a fresh swimsuit every day is a luxury you’ll appreciate. But seriously. Your resort will most likely be the only one on the island, and you’ll want to have lots of options!
5) Bring snorkeling gear!
Snorkeling equipment is expensive to rent on the island so I highly recommend bringing your own since you’ll probably be using it every day in the clearest blue water! We both packed a Full Face Snorkeling Mask and it was the best decision ever. I never used to enjoy snorkeling because my goggles would get foggy, water would get in my pipe, and I had to constantly bite down. With this full-face mask I was able to see all the fish underwater (magnified!) and could breathe normally through my nose AND mouth!
6) Take underwater pictures!
One mistake I made was bringing one of those waterproof zip pouches for your phone that you wear around your neck for taking pictures, but so much air was trapped and I couldn’t use the touch screen properly underwater for pictures. My boyfriend brought a GoPro which captured some amazing shots like the one above! I’d also recommend lifetime waterproof cases as they remove the hassle of switching cases for your phone.
Have you been to the Maldives before? Please share in the comments any tips you have for the first time traveller!