This blog is dedicated to everything you need to know for planning your trip to the Maldives!
The island nation is typically found at or near the top of everyone's Travel Bucket List. Famous for its beautiful ocean waters, luxury resorts, and over-water villas, the Maldives is a must visit for any traveler. This destination will somehow manage to exceed your already high expectations.
ABOUT THE MALDIVES
This country is like no other being home to 1,000+ different islands throughout the Indian Ocean. The islands are broken up into 26 different clusters of islands called atolls. Formed by coral reefs, each atoll has its own group of islands which consist of a large local island, smaller local islands, and multiple private islands owned by individuals or resorts.
TRAVELING TO THE MALDIVES
Getting to the Maldives will require flying into the capital of Male. The closest countries to the Maldives are Sri Lanka or India but you will typically only find flights from the hubs of airlines like Emirates (Dubai, UAE), Etihad (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Qatar (Doha, Qatar), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul, Turkey), or Singapore Airlines (Singapore). Coincidentally, these airlines are some of the best in the world. Check out my Booking Flights to the Maldives Blog to find out how to book your flight to the Maldives for free using airline miles or credit card points.
As you descend into Male you will start to pass many of the neighboring islands and will begin to spot those famous overwater villas and resorts. Male is not what you envision when you think of Maldives as it has densely packed buildings and is not home to any luxury resorts.
Once you clear customs, you will see a large check in with hundreds of kiosks for every hotel. From there, you will either go to the marina or be taken to the seaplane airport for transfer to your resort.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Seaplanes only fly during daylight hours so if you are arriving after 3PM and are staying at a hotel that requires a seaplane, you may have to stay over in Male. You will most likely not want to stay in Male so be sure to book a flight with a morning or early afternoon arrival. If you land later in the day, check out my Where to Stay in Male Blog.
INTERISLAND TRAVEL IN THE MALDIVES
BOAT: If you are staying at a resort in or neighboring Male, you may be fortunate to be able to take a short boat transfer to your resort. These are typically the cheapest ways to get to your resort.
PLANE: A few of the further Atolls have airports that you can fly to once you arrive in Male. From there you will still have to take a boat or a seaplane to arrive at your island resort.
SEAPLANE: Most of the resorts will require a seaplane booking to charter you between the capital and to your resort island. Trans Maldivian Airways is home to the largest fleet of seaplanes in the world. Although these transfers are expensive, these flights are surely unique for any aviation geek or vacationer. The seaport is a short drive from the airport where you can catch your transfer. Most resorts will have your itinerary and have you booked on a seaplane. Many luxury resorts have their own private lounge for you to relax and enjoy before your flight.
The seaplanes are expensive but they are the quickest way to get to an island. The cost of these flights are set between the hotel and the airline. Flight schedules are set the night prior. Your hotel will know your travel plans whether you are departing from Male or another island resort and will coordinate the travel on your behalf.
Flights are typically anywhere between 20-60 mins. You will commonly see the last flight of the day arrive just before sunset. The pilots actually stay on the resort overnight to offer a flight early the next morning.
The views alone make the price tag easier to swallow as you fly over hundreds of island resorts below. The planes have open cockpits so you have the luxury to watch what is going on in the front of the plane too. Watching the plane land on the water is a truly unique experience. Don’t worry, landing on the water is extremely smooth!
The wings and propellers will slightly disrupt the view so be sure to sit in the first row if possible. This will give you a slightly better view of the outside (for photos) and into the cockpit. These planes are not fun for taller or claustrophobic travelers but you will forget about it once you land in paradise.
STAYING AT MULTIPLE ISLANDS
This is a once in a lifetime destination for many travelers visiting the Maldives. Many people look to spend an extended amount of time in the country and look to visit multiple different properties on their stay. Transferring between islands is smooth but will require you to most likely go back to Male, meaning added time and seaplane expenses.
If you are staying more than 8 days I would consider splitting up your stay to get a change of scenery. You wont get island fever but it will certainly be nice to see multiple properties and enjoy different islands during your stay.
Visiting multiple resorts will increase your expenses as seaplane transfers can be more than $400+ per person. Plan to find properties in the same atoll if you want to minimize the seaplane transfer costs as you may be able to take a boat between islands instead.
WHEN TO GO TO THE MALDIVES
Is there ever a bad time to go to the Maldives? No.
Are there better times to go to the Maldives? Yes.
The rainy season in the Maldives could potentially bring rains and storms. Monsoon Season runs between May-October but these storms tend to pass quickly and bring cooler temperatures. The rainy season brings savings to you as the nightly rate will decrease tremendously. You may even get lucky to find 5 or 6 days of no rain!
The dry season is from November through April where you will typically find perfect island weather at around 80 degrees. Typically, January to March will have the least amount of precipitation but of course that doesn’t mean a quick storm can pass through.
I went at the end of November to early December and had ZERO rain during my entire 17 day stay.
WHO GOES TO THE MALDIVES
The Maldives is an ultimate Honeymoon or couples destination as it boasts a place to indulge in luxury while maintaining a high level of privacy. Do not be fooled, this destination is so much more than just a Honeymoon getaway. This can be a great place for a girls trip, a wellness retreat, a scuba diving excursion, or even for a surf trip. Travelers come from all over the world but the biggest groups of people tend to be the US, UK, and China.
COST OF THE MALDIVES
The Maldives are in the middle of the ocean and have luxury resorts like no other. All food, materials, and supplies are shipped in for the staff and guests so the price reflects those added costs.
Getting to Male can be expensive. Flights from the US can be $1,000+ in Economy alone. Business Class or First Class flights can be well over $5,000 per person. Booking with points is a great way to help you save for other expenses (accomodations,food, activities). This can be even better if you have enough points for premium seats on those world class airlines like Emirates, Qatar, or Singapore. The comfort and service of these airlines are 10x better than your typical US Airline products. Check out my experience Flying Emirates or Flying Qatar to the Maldives.
There are multiple ways to do the maldives;
$ Book a Guest House on a local island
$$ Book a 3 or 4 star hotel
$$$ Book a 5 Star luxury resort
If you are worried about budgeting, consider booking an All Inclusive resort. Food and drink can be very expensive and you don’t want to be worrying when in paradise.
The hotel rooms on the islands typically all have direct or private beach access. These luxury rooms, or villas, can range from $300-$2000+ per night for a standard beach or over-water villa. Eliminate some of the cost and book a Maldives Villa for Free with Hotel or Credit Card points.
Seaplane costs are included with your Hotel bill. These trips can easily be over $500 per person. Unfortunately, the Seaplane costs can not be done on points but since they are booked as a hotel charge, you will be able to earn lots of hotel points if using a hotel branded credit card for your stay!
On Island Costs:
Food and drinks are very expensive as all ingredients are shipped into these remote islands and made fresh. Many resorts also charge for bottles of water at meals which can be costly. All rooms will have replenished free bottles of water daily.
Massages and water activities (jet ski, snorkeling, powersailing, etc) are pricey but not much more than you would find at a typical luxury resort elsewhere.
Tipping in the Maldives
Tipping is not customary but it is recommended especially to show gratitude for good service. Many resorts are priced with ++ meaning they already include the local tax and service gratuity.
TYPES OF ROOMS IN THE MALDIVES
There are typically two types of rooms at the resorts; The Beach Villas and the Overwater Villas. Many people associate the Overwater Villas with the Maldives and it certainly lives up to the hype. Check out some of my favorite Beach Villas and Overwater Villas.
Beach Villas are great because you have direct and private beach access. They feel bigger because you have more of the outside area to utilize for lounging compared to the Over Water Villas. They also are closer to the restaurants and facilities as they are on the island and not out in the water.
Overwater Villas are a must because they are so unique. Many of them have plunge pools and lounge space but the ability to jump off your deck and into the water is truly special. They typically don’t have as much outside lounge space as the Beach Villas but those special features like glass floors or water slides into the ocean are surely hard to beat.
If you are staying more than 5 days I would recommend splitting your stay between both room types. If you have never stayed in an Overwater Villa then you should certainly look to book that room type.
WHAT TO DO IN THE MALDIVES
Indulge in paradise with endless privacy. The islands are naturally private and many guests will utilize their own beach or pool access. The island can have full occupancy and you may only find people at meals.
The main resort pools are certainly quieter than your typical resort pool but this can be a great place if you are looking to socialize with guests. Happy Hours, sunsets, or adventure excursions are other ways to socialize with the other guests.
Take care of your body and treat yourself to a spa treatment. Enjoy a morning workout to start the day or just sleep in.
The ocean waters are your backyard so be sure to experience the beautiful House Reefs which feature hundreds of different types of sea creatures and coral reefs. You will find some of the best snorkeling just off the beach. Many of the resorts have in house diving experts that can get you certified for Scuba Diving (i.e. deeper reefs, whales, sharks, etc.) Of course, you can find jet skis, paddle boards, and even parasailing for all your adrenaline needs.
After a nice dinner be sure to enjoy the night sky above and watch all of the stars above. With very limited light pollution, you will be able to see the stars and milky way galaxy with your own eyes.
FOOD IN THE MALDIVES
Many resorts feature large breakfast buffets to keep you filled through dinner which is a great way to not need to buy lunch daily. It is recommended to find a resort that has multiple dining options if you are spending an extended period of time.
Between villa dining, buffets, and fine dining, there are endless options for having great meals. Seafood is a must so be sure to enjoy the fresh reef fish or other sea favorites. You will also find a lot of influence from India and Asia. Don’t worry, you will also find things like steak to pizza too.
THINGS TO BRING
First and foremost, do NOT bring alcohol. The Maldives are a very conservative muslim country so you can not bring in any alcohol to the local islands. The resort islands don't abide by those rules and will be able to serve alcohol.
Snacks! Food is expensive and bringing your favorite snacks for the day or even dessert treats are a great idea.
Sun Screen! The sun is very strong in the Maldives with its location to the equator. A lot of resorts will have sunscreen but it is a good idea to bring plenty as it will be expensive to buy once you are there. Be sure to bring reef safe products.
Bug Screen! Most of the islands are jungles and you may get some mosquito bites.
Rash Guards/Sun Shirts!
Underwater Cameras! You will find yourself snorkeling and swimming every day. You will see some of the most beautiful reefs and fish so be sure to capture the memories.