Visiting the Maldives: What You Should Know

Maldives

The Maldives was definitely on my bucket list. Dreaming of the overwater bungalows, white sand beaches, and seaplanes gave me life. It was my idea of the perfect honeymoon destination.

However, the Maldives is not just a destination for honeymooners. It is fast becoming a destination you can visit on a budget and explore on your own. With the Maldivian government’s intervention to allow locals open up guesthouses on their islands, this finally provided an alternative to the expensive resorts.

Arriving the Maldives

I arrived in the Maldives Island via Emirates Airlines. The Maldives is a visa-free destination for all nationalities for a maximum of 30days. The 30-day tourist visa can be extended for up to 60 extra days at a fee.

Getting to the Hotel

When arriving in the Maldives, it is best to arrange your airport pick up service through your hotel especially if you’re arriving late. Seaplane transfers are also available. There is a public ferry that is inexpensive and departs at specific times.

FROM MALE CITY TO AIRPORT
Every 10 minutes from morning 06:00 AM to 02:30 AM

Every 30 minutes from morning 02:30 AM to 04:00 AM

Every 15 minutes from morning 04:00 AM to 06:00 AM

FROM AIRPORT TO MALE CITY
Every 10 minutes from morning 06:00 AM to 02:30 AM

Every 30 minutes from morning 02:30 AM to 04:00 AM

Every 15 minutes from morning 04:00 AM to 06:00 AM

On Fridays ferries operate every 10 minutes from morning 06:00 AM to 00:00 AM.

Where to stay in the Maldives

I stayed in Maafushi, one of the local tourist islands in the Maldives. Maafushi has affordable tour packages, hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants. Visiting the Maldives doesn’t have to be expensive; you can have a much deeper experience on the local islands compared to staying at the resorts.

Even if you are staying on the local island, take some time to explore the resorts and stay there for a night or two if you can afford it. The experience is truly rewarding. The resorts are expensive as they have a monopoly on their services. For mid-range resorts, you can spend up to $1000 per week per couple for meals, drinks, and excursions, exclusive of accommodation and flights. Rooms will cost between $300 – $1,000 a night while boat transfers may cost between $175-$300. You can arrange a cheaper transfer (as low as $35) at the local resort if departing from the local resort.

Eat

Maldivian cuisine is basically comprised of fish, coconut, and rice. You can also find a wide range of European cuisines with a Maldivian twist to it. Because the Maldives is a Muslim country, alcohol is prohibited on the local islands. However, this is not the case at the resorts.

My favorite was this seafood pizza, it was memorable
Chilli Octopus served with rice
Best meal I had. Loved how tasty the sauce was.

 

 

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Things to do in the Maldives

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1. Go Sunset Fishing

I experienced the Maldivian way of catching deepwater reef fish. It was my first attempt at fishing and I absolutely loved it. We caught enough fishes for dinner which was served with rice. It was phenomenal.

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2. Explore Male City

You can explore Male City in hours. This small densely populated capital of the Maldives is not the ideal choice for a vacation. It is crowded, the streets are narrow and dirty and some locals are not particularly honest when dealing with tourists.

In Male city, visit the fish and vegetable market, see the presidential villa, Male Friday Mosque and spend time learning at the National Museum. Don’t miss the Police Museum at the Maldives National Museum while you are there.

Male Friday Mosque

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3. Explore other islands

I visited Hulhumale, a reclaimed local island in the Maldives, with road access from the airport. Most travelers who arrive in the Maldives after sunset, transit here. Hulhumale has lovely beaches, restaurants, stores, parks and bus services within the island.

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4. Excursions

There are numerous water sports activities you can engage in at the Maldives such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing, swimming with dolphins etc.

I did the half-day trip where I snorkeled at Biyadhoo Reef, saw the sea turtles at Turtle Reef and spent time at Sandbank where we had lunch. I paid $30 for this service. I also went jetskiing and explored the resorts. These activities are cheaper on the local islands and range from $15-$175.

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Tips before you go:

  • The locals are welcoming but you should respect the strict Muslim norms such as dressing modest and avoiding show of affection in public areas. Follow the rules, respect the culture.
  • When making your bookings, always read the fine prints- which will include 10% “service charge and 6% GST. Tips are also expected.
  • When in Male, exercise caution. Most taxis, locals are dishonest, especially when dealing with tourists.
  • Nothing is accessible without taking a ferry or additional domestic flight.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreens

Have you been to the Maldives? Tell us about your experience.

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