The Maldive Islands are a series of low-lying coral atolls built up from the crowns of a submerged ancient volcanic mountain range. The country maximum land elevation above sea level is only 6 feet (1.8 metres), the coral reefs being its only protection against waves, storms, and global ocean level rise. This is especially true during the  rainy season, from May to August, when the southwest monsoon brings moisture-filled air stream resulting in strong winds and heavy rain fall. The reverse phenomenon occurs from December to March, when dominant winds, dry and mild, flow from the Indian sub-continent in the northeas.  Average annual temperature is pretty stable, from 24 to 30 °C  (76 to 86 °F).

Maldives population was 344.000 at the last census (2014) and is estimated at 540.000 in 2020, its official language is Dhivehi,  a mix of Arabic, English, Hindi, Sinhalese and Urdu (English is widely spoken). The power supply network operates at 230V 50Hz, and the most common power plug is type G (three rectangular pins, english type).

iconc floating resot in Maldives
Iconic Maldives Resort Over the Ocean

Best Beaches In Maldives.

Where is Maldives located?

Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small archipelagic state in South Asia,  situated in the north-central Indian Ocean. It consists of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (of which around 200 are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls.
It lies right across the Equator, from 7 degrees north to 0.6 degrees south, southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres from the Asian continent’s mainland.

Do I need a visa to come to the Maldives?

The Maldives issues on arrival tourist visa. Any visitor with a valid passport may be granted a free 30 day visa upon arrival.

Do I need a vaccination for my stay?

The only vaccine requirement to enter  the Maldives is for travelers 9 months of age and older coming from – or having transited for more than 12 hours from – a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. You can consult the World Health Organization list of said countries online.

Public ferry arriving at one of its destinations between islands
Public ferry arriving at one of its destinations between islands

How much does it cost to travel the Maldives on a budget?

As low as $ 50 a day. We all know very well that the Maldives are very expensive, but for more than ten years there have been low cost accommodations. As a traveler on a budget, you could manage to spend $ 30 a day for a private room in a guest house, (Airbnb Maldives) $ 10 a day on food; and $ 10 per day in activities.

Seaplane, Maldives

How do I travel between islands in the Maldives?

By Ferry

inexpensive but slow and subject to sea conditions. No online booking. Price range: 5 usd.

By Speed Boat  

subject to sea conditions as well but way faster as the name suggests, they are everywhere, a 2 hours trip sets you back 50 usd.

By Plane

there are 17 domestic airports. Flights tend to fill up quickly so we recommend you book as early as possible, especially in high season. A typical one way trip range from 120 usd.

By Seaplane

they usually serve resorts, starting at 450 usd per trip. 

Private charters

the sky’s the limit, fast boats, seaplanes, yachts. We don’t have a clue what it costs, you tell us!

Can unmarried couples go to Maldives?

We couldn’t find any reference about unmarried couples sharing a room being unlawful in the Maldives despite a few isolated claims in some travel forums. True, the Maldives is very conservative and extramarital sex is against the law, but a hotel refusing an unmarried couple (of any kind) is unheard of, at least in the touristic areas. Couples, married or not, should show discretion outside the resorts as public displays of affection are frowned upon.  

arial view of a Maldivian resort Atoll
Maldives Resort with the epic rooms over the Ocean

Things to do in Maldives

Most activities in the Maldive are water-based,  unsurprisingly: 

Scuba Diving

is the big thing in the Maldives, with world class dive sites from easy to challenging.  Diving in Maldives is famous for its marine life, with lots of big pelagics such as manta & eagle rays, hammerhead, reef and of course whale sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, trevallies and a long etc…

You can go snorkeling

pretty much anywhere, from a beach to a house reef, from a boat to watch mantas and whale sharks, or in atoll lagoons to enjoy the thriving life around the thilas, rocky pinnacles that climb up very close to the surface.

Boat Safaris

operate everywhere, mainly to go mantas and whale sharks spotting and generally show high standards of conduct towards marine life & ecosystem, following government impulse on promoting better conservationism.

Surf

Malé Atoll is the main area but you can surf in all the Maldives land-based or boarding one of the many surf charters available.

Fishing Trips

Commercial fishing regulations (such as the ban of net and long-line fishing)  have ensure the sustainability of stocks in Maldivian waters. Game fish species include the Giant Trevally, Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna, Sailfish and Marlin, among others.

for commercial purposes has sustained the abundance of fisheries in the Maldives. 

You can also practice beach volley, rock climbing, bungee jumping, jet skiing, windsurfing, water skiing, sailing, parasailing, yoga, meditation or go to a spa, indulge in fine fusion dining concocted by eccentric chefs or…. go to a local market (if you happen to have some transit time to spend in Malé, visit the fish market) to witness the friendliness of the most often forgotten and unquoted asset of this marvelous country: its people.

Diving with Whale Shark
Diving with Whale Shark in Maldives.

What are the best months to dive with whale sharks in the Maldives?

The best months to see Whale Sharks in the Maldives are… all of them! The place to go is south Ari Atoll, let’s say Digurah from May till November and Maamigili from December to April, not a big deal: they are 10km/6miles away from one another. Any island within a 1 hour fast boat ride should make a good base camp.

A little tip: whale sharks tend to be seen more frequently at high tide so get yourself a chart, will you?  

Manta Ray in Maldives
Manta Ray

When can I go diving with Manta Rays in the Maldives?

They can be seen all year round! Just as their cousins the whale sharks (they both belong to the sub-class Elasmobranchii, from the ancient greek  elasmo – ‘plate’ – and branchia – ‘gill’ – , as they both have broad, flatten gills) manta rays are residents of the Maldives, they barely migrate seasonally between the east and west side of the atolls following the plankton which in turn move to the tune of the 2 monsoons.

 

Do you have to travel by seaplane in the Maldives?

No, you don’t. But if you can afford it, the experience is unique. The incredible scenery will more than make up for the noise and the bumpy ride. Safety records are excellent too.

People waiting to board the Seaplane on the sand of the beach in Maldives
People waiting to board the Seaplane on the sand of the beach in Maldives

How much does a seaplane cost in the Maldives?

It depends on the route, count  usd 300/400 for a 20 minute journey.

Are bikinis allowed in Maldives?

Not on public beaches, by law. You can wear bikini in all the beach resorts (topless is verboten) and since 2009 in special beaches in the ‘local islands’ called, straightforwardly, Bikini Beaches. They consist of black-tarped areas with a tourists-only entrance policy where western-style swimwear is authorized.

Nowadays, most islands with tourist facilities have a bikini beach, just make a simple internet search to confirm it. 

What is the dress code in the Maldives?

There are two separate worlds with their respective dress code in the Maldives:

Inside the resorts the western dress code is totally accepted, in the vast majority of cases: bikinis and bikini thongs on the beach, women can go bared shoulders or with legs uncovered above knee.

Outside the resorts, you must cover up, no bare shoulders or legs for women and no bare chest for men, including if you choose to go to a local beach.  Flip flops are ok though.

Maldives map, 17th century Portuguese drawing of the fortress of Maldives and the archipelago.In Antonio Bocarro book of fortress (1632)
17th century Portuguese drawing of the fortress of Maldives and the archipelago.In Antonio Bocarro book of fortress (1632)

The Maldives is an old nation, well over 2,500 years old according to legends of the southern atolls.  History of the Maldives § Early Age

Maldives Currency.

Maldivian Rufiyaa. Symbol Rf, MRf, MVR.  Code, MVR.

The name “rufiyaa” is derived from the Sanskrit रूप्य (rūpya, forged silver).

Historical background:

Cowrie shells.
The earliest form of currency used in the Maldives was the cowrie seashells (Cypraea moneta), locally called Boli.

Dhigu Lāari.
Originated in the Persian city of Lar in the Persian Gulf, the Dhigu Lāari or Larin was a strip of silver about 8cm (3 inches) long and became a standard currency around the 16th century all around the Indian Ocean. The Maldivian traders started to exchange this new form of currency for cowrie shells and started coining their own.

Loa Lāari.
Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar I (1648-1687) was the first to mint the Loa Lāari, the first known coins in the Maldives. These roughly shaped coins were minted in pure silver.

Sultan Mohamed Imaadhudheen IV (1900-1904) introduced the first coin-minting machine.

Banknotes

In 1945, the Parliament of the Maldives passed the bill on the “Maldivian Banknote”.
Rufiyaa banknotes were first printed and put into circulation on September 5, 1948.

1000 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2015. Green marine turtle swimming in a coral reef, Blue Color
1000 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2015. Green marine turtle swimming in a coral reef
1000 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2015. Whale Shark. Blue Color
1000 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2015. Whale Shark.
20 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2015. Fisherman with two fish on the front side, along with an airport control tower and plane. Purpel Color
20 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2015. Fisherman with two fish on the front side, along with an airport control tower and plane.
20 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2015. Traditional Maldivian sailing boat, Dhoni. Purple color
20 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2015. Traditional Maldivian sailing boat, Dhoni.
5 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2017. Tribute to Football. Gray color
5 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Obverse. 2017. Tribute to Football.
5 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2017. Mollusca Seashell. Gray color
5 Maldivian Rufiyaa, Reverse. 2017. Mollusca Seashell.

What currency should I bring to the Maldives?

Hotels accept and exchange US dollars, British pounds, euros, or the Maldivian rufiyaa.

Can I buy alcohol in Maldives?

Not easily nor cheaply. Government regulations do not allow the sale of alcohol in the inhabited islands of the Maldives and it is forbidden to consume alcohol on the local islands. Resorts and liveaboards can sell alcohol (a tiny tiny minority won’t), expect to pay anywhere from 6 to 12 usd per beer (add 22% taxes on top of this). If you are staying outside of those and want to down a few, you will have to get some transport to the nearest resort island with the subsequent cost: better to contact them before hand and forming a group. Or if a liveaboard happens to pass by they will happily let you onboard, some even call the guesthouses to let their presence known, especially in the far-away islands. 

Note: it is illegal to bring alcohol with you outside the resorts or into the country, bags are routinely scanned at the airport.

Banned Items.

Alcohol (except on resort islands and safari cruise boats), drugs, pork, pornographic material, worship idols and spear guns are not allowed inside the country.

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