Ultimate Maldives Travel Guide
Maldives is synonymous with luxury, romance and tropical bliss. Home to pristine beaches, turquoise waters, vibrant sunsets, stunning reefs, diverse marine life, and a plethora of award-winning resorts that are ever so eager to deliver the best luxury experience to you, Maldives has everything you wanted in a tropical island paradise. With almost every resort having its own private island offering you unparalled hospitality and barefoot luxury, it comes as no surprise that this destination is one of the top honeymoon spots in the world. We ourselves have visited it 3 times!
when to visit Maldives
Maldives is mostly hot and sunny all year round, averaging temperatures of 23ºC-31ºC. The best time to visit is from November to April, to avoid the monsoon season which runs from May to October and peaks around June. However, the high season in the Maldives is between December to March. This means busier resorts and higher prices, though the weather would be perfect for being outdoors. We love to visit places during their shoulder season for decent weather and prices. I’d suggest visiting the Maldives in November or March.
Being an island paradise, most of Maldive’s wildlife lies underwater. There are over 2,000 species of fish found in the waters surrounding the islands. Also watch out for manta rays, stingrays, sharks, dolpins, whales, turtles.
Maldives landscape is unique. This island country located in the Indian ocean is the smallest country in Asia. Consisting of ~1,192 islands grouped into 26 atolls, it spreads over an area of 90,000 sq km, making it one of the most disparate contries in the world.
The official language is Maldivian/Dhivehi, and the country has several dilects (Mulaku, Huvadhu, Maliku and Addu). As Maldives is booming in tourism, most people in the tourist industry are able to speak English.
Maldivian culture is rich and varied, influenced by the people of different ethnicities who have settled on these islands over the years. The state religion is Islam, and you can find influences from India, Sri Lanka and even African culture.
The cuisine of Maldives largely involves fish as its main source of protein. Second to tourism, fishing is the second biggest industry in the country. Traditional Maldivian cuisine (also known as Dhivehi cuisine) richly assembles traditional flavors with strong influences from Indian & Sri Lankan cuisine. That being said, the resorts tend to offer a variety of international cuisines, from Japanese to Italian.
Maldives Travel FAQ
Malé is the capital of Maldives. Malé International Airport / Velana International (MLE), is the gateway to Maldives. The airport located on Huhule Island in the North Male Atoll.
Airlines like Silkair, Singapore Airlines and Airasia fly direct to Malé International Airport. Scoot no longer flies to Malé as of Oct 2019.
To get to Malé from Huhule Island, you can take a 16-minute car ride. There is a new bridge that connects the airport to Malé, making it very convenient. Alternatively, you can take a 10-min ferry ride.
From Malé, you can transfer to your resort island, either by ferry, speedboat or sea plane.
Please note that seaplane transfers to resorts are expensive and are usually not included in the resort room rate. Hence, do check the rates before you book your stay. While there are a few seaplane operators, Trans-Maldivian Airways is the largest.
The flight duration for Singapore to Maldives is 4 hours 35 minutes.
You land at Malé International Airport on Huhule Island. It takes about 15 minutes to drive to the capital Malé, where then you need to accommodate your transfer duration to your resort or local island.
If you’re staying at one resort, 5 days is sufficient. But I’d say one week is perfect for a relaxing vacation.
Cater more time if you are into specific activities like fishing, deep sea diving or resort-hopping (I will share more about resort-hopping later!).
If you plan to stay at more than one resort, do cater an extra few days. That being said, if you plan to visit more than one resort, make sure they are located decently near to each other, otherwise transfer will be tedious and expensive.
There are two ways to enjoy Maldives, depending on your budget and activities. You can splurge to stay at a private resort island and indulge in their offerings, or stay on a local island and explore the areas around it. Both ways are equally fun in their own way. We have been to Maldives 3 times, and experienced both types.
If it is your honeymoon, I would suggest splurging a bit more to stay at a private resort island. After all, that is what Maldives is well-known for – luxury accommodation, full-board packages and personalised service. Most resorts will offer various types of accommodation, such as beach villas and overwater bungalows iconic to Maldives. On our latest visit, we stayed at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi in one of their Sunset Horizon Water Villas. The atmosphere was private, making it very ideal for an intimate vacation. This is a more relaxing and indulgent type of vacation, though you can also sign up for excursions via the resort.
The alternative way of experiencing Maldives can be done on a budget. You can opt to stay on one of their local islands (I suggest Maafushi at Kaafu Atoll) and book a room at one of the hotels. The experience will be vastly different from that of a private resort island (no butler service for sure), but you can find decent rooms at decent prices. Maafushi is increasingly catering to tourism, so you will find many tour vendors offering excursions such as fishing trips, dolphin cruises and island hopping. Water-sports are also aplenty here. At Maafushi, you can also do resort-hopping – a day excursion to visit a resort and spend the day there. It costs about ~$150 – $200 depending on the resort and how many sign up and usually includes a meal. It’s a cheaper way to experience 5-star resorts.
Many put off visiting the Maldives thinking that it is insanely expensive to get to. While this might be true, there are increasingly more ways of visiting Maldives on a budget. It’s possible to budget $300/day or $1,000 a day in Maldives. You just need to get creative about it and likely be residing on a local island.
The main mode of transport around In Malé is via taxi. Trips are standard at US$5.
It’s not easy to travel around Maldives, meaning island to island. You will have to take speed boat or sea plane. The public ferry is another option, though you are subjected to the schedule timing and there are limited ferries each day.
Apart from beautiful beaches and panoramic sea views, here are some things to expect.
Language: Maldives’s official language is Maldivian/Dhivehi. The country has several dilects (Mulaku, Huvadhu, Maliku and Addu). As Maldives is booming in tourism, most people in the tourist industry are able to speak English.
Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) is the local currency, though USD is widely accepted. As of time of writing, SGD 1 = MVR 11
Payment: Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards are widely accepted in resorts. However on local islands, please use either USD or local currency.
Plugs: Some plugs in Maldives are different from Singapore. They are type D and G. Singapore is type G.
But the voltage and frequency are same as Singapore at 230 V and 50Hz.
Safety: Maldives is generally safe. On private resort islands, you can expect it to be even safer. That being said, always practice common sense when traveling.
Local culture: Maldives is an Islamic country, so be respectful of their customs. On local islands, you are not allowed to drink, and make sure to dress conservatively Bikinis are fine in resort areas, but nude or topless sunbathing is not allowed even on resorts.
1. Go snorkelling
Most resorts in Maldives have their own house reef, and will offer you free rental for snorkeling gear. Grab them, put on some sunscreen and wade out to the crystal clear waters to explore! Resorts that have beautiful house reefs include Robinson Club Maldives, Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon, and Anantara Kihavan Maldives Villas. You can also take a excursion out to snorkeling sites to discover more marine life.
2. Learn Scuba Diving
Maldives is one of the best places to learn diving. You can take up a discovery dive if you are not certified at the PADI dive centres. Many resorts also have their own dive centre and certified divers. Maldives is best known for sea turtles, stingrays and whale sharks. Getting up close and personal with these creatures sure makes for an incredible experience.
3. Go on a dolphin cruise
On our first trip to Maldives, we took a boat out to see wild dolphins. It was amazing as we saw so many of them! These active and playful dolphins will swim really close to your boat, and some even twirl and flip out of the water!
4. Spot whale sharks
The South Ari Atoll is frequently visited by Whale Sharks throughout the year, and here you can not only spot whale sharks but even swim with them if you are lucky! Resorts to stay at include LUX* South Ari Atoll, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, and Vilamednhoo Island Rsort & Spa.
5. Go surfing
Maldives has plenty of world-class surf spots. Though waves are not super powerful (the swell normally reaches shoulder to head high), there are plenty of chances for barrels and long fun waves. Cinnamon Dhonveli is one of the resorts where many top surfers flock to for a surf break.
6. Experience the spa
When it comes to relaxing, a good spa is hard to beat. Most resorts have their own in-house spa offering therapeutic treatments, body scrubs and more. Resorts with great spas include COMO Maalifushi, Huvafen Fushi and Jumeirah Vittaveli.
7. Experience underwater dining
Level up your gastronomic journey by dining underwater at some of these stunning underwater restaurants. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, SEA restaurant at the Anantara Kihavah, and 5.8 at Hurawalhi Island Resort.
8. Partake in eco-tourism
Lately, slowly but surely, sustainable tourism has been of increasing focus. Many resorts are embarking on go-green intiatives, with some taking the extra step to sustain, preserve and enrich the natural environment around them. Do your part and support these resorts, or take an extra step and get involved in some of their intiatives, for it can be really fun. You can take part in rescuing baby turtles at Four Seasons Kuda Haraa.
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