Most of the people go to the Maldives to have a pleasant stay in a luxury resort and they don‘t have any idea about the country itself. They just fly to a resort island, relax there, get some tan, eat a lot of western food, and fly away back to their countries. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing bad in doing that since I’m also the kind of person that loves to get spoiled from time to time.
Most people don‘t see the real Maldivian life. You need to live among locals in order to understand their culture, their way of life.
Before you visit the Maldives you should know some things:
1. It’s Made Up of Almost 1200 Small Islands
The Maldives is made up of around 1,190 individual islands, peppered across the Indian Ocean. Some are so small that even won’t appear on the maps.
2. Not All of the Islands Are Inhabited
Out of the nearly 2,000 islands within 26 different atolls, only about 200 are actually inhabited. There are islands with permanent populations- local islands, resorts islands and uninhabited islands that are used for farm land or industry, or as “picnic” islands for resorts, which tourists can visit for private, romantic meals.
3. It Has a 100% Islamic Population
This is good to know when planning your trip. You should know that the rules are strict when it comes to female clothing. Women have to cover their shoulders and knees. For men it is easier, sometime shorts and T-shirts will do. On local islands the beach is for locals, this means that you will have to cover yourself. Maldivians use to swim with their clothes on. Some local islands have so called “Bikini beaches” where tourists can wear bikinis. That is the local culture and religion and we have to have respect for it. Instead, on resort islands it doesn’t matter what you wear or where you wear it, everything is permitted. The resorts islands do not have to follow the local religious traditions.
The weekend is Friday and Saturday. Most places are closed on Friday until after prayer. No public ferry operates on Friday, except for those operating in the capital area between Male, Hulhumale and Villingili. These ferries also stop between 11:30 and 13:30 for Friday prayers.
4. Alcohol, Bathing Suits, and Public Displays of Affection Are Illegal
Since the Maldives is a Muslim country, there are a few extremely important rules that you may not know exist. For example, there is no alcohol available (except resort islands). Women are barred from wearing bikini or revealing clothing (except on a bikini beach), there are no pork products, and public displays of affection, even just quick kisses, are against the law.
5. Every Resort Is on Its Own Private Island
Every resort is on its own island. This also means that most of the islands are extremely small, so you’ll be around the same people all the time, and unless you take a day trip, you’re on the same small square of sand for the entirety of your vacation. There are no malls, movie theaters, or food, drink, and entertainment options outside of your resort, so be sure to research your digs well. It might be boring.
6. Flights and speed boats to Resort Islands May Double the Cost of Your Trip Transportation
Your flight from Male airport to your resort island may only be 15 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be cheap. Seaplane can cost you between 800 to 1000 USD per person. Speed boats can also cost about 500 USD person per way. So it is better to take under calculation all the details when you choose your accommodation.
7. Local Ferries Run Infrequently
If you want to visit several islands while you’re in the Maldives, the ferries will be your biggest barrier. Ferries don’t run on Fridays, and typically run every other day to the main island of each atoll. There are also inter-atoll ferries, but the timetables aren’t online, and I’m not sure of their frequency.
8. Airbnb in Maldives
Yes, it is correct. There are Airbnb apartments in Maldives. In 2009, the Maldives started allowing locals to start their own guesthouses. This opened the door for several affordable and locally owned establishments to welcome guests on the local islands. Though there are still no hostel or dorm options in the country, private rooms can be found for as little as 40 USD per night.
9. Maldives are the flattest country in the world
The maximal island height is 2.4 m above sea level. There aren’t any hill or river.
10. Climate in Maldives
Maldives has a tropical climate all year round. There are two dominating seasons: a dry season and a wet season. The dry season has little rain and lower humidity; it lasts from December-April. The wet season is wetter, characterized by stronger winds and rain; it lasts from May-November.
The humidity is usually around 75%-80%.
You don’t need any vaccination for Maldives. They are not obligatory, nor recommended.
12. Visa for Maldives
Maldives grants 30 days visa-free or visa-on-arrival status to all nations of the world except Indian and Bruneian citizens.
13. Local currency
The local currency is Rufiyaa (MVR) but you can pay everything in US dollars. 1 USD = 15 Ruffiya (MSR). Great attention to dollars bills, because they are extremely strict. The bills have to look like new, otherwise, won’t be accepted. However, it’s still a good idea to bring some extra cash. Banks or ATMs do not exist in some islands. Payment with the card can be made at the hotel, but it is not recommended. They charge a 3.5%-5% commission.
14. Watch out for hidden fees and taxes
In Maldives, fees are charged for all services: restaurant, water sports fees are about 22%
15. Use high protections cream
Since the Maldives is located so close to the equator, it is possible to burn even on a cloudy day. So you need high-factor cream.
16. Imported food
Most of the food is imported from other countries. Very few local ingredients are produced here, like coconuts, watermelons, papaya and banana, so the food in Maldives is not excellent
17. Annoying problems with crows
There are many crows around Maldivians islands. They can be very noisy especially during sunrise and sunset. Hopefully you won’t find them in front of your windows.
18. There are a lot of things to do in Maldives than just relax
If you are staying at a luxury resort, they will offer you many activities but at very high prices. Instead on the local island the prices are very low and different activities can be found from adventure sports, snorkeling, dolphin watching, picnic islands, resort islands…
19. Island time
In order to have more daylight, some resort island use to have different time, which is 1 hour ahead of Male. So you have to check the local time.
20. The Maldivians have the highest literacy percentage in the world
98% of the Maldivians can read and write, so they have the highest literacy in the world. They have a British educational system