Facts (You must know before you visit the Maldives)

Maldives Islands is a chain of 1200 small coral islands, 26 atolls. With turquoise blue waters, it is one of the most famous and photogenic tourist destinations in the world.

Before getting into a complete overview of a trip to Maldives, here are a few facts you must know before traveling there:

  • Alcohol: Do not carry Alcohol with you on your trip to Malvies as at the airport, they do not allow you to enter the country with any alcoholic drinks. However, most of the luxurious resorts do provide alcohol on their own for which you can check while booking if the hotel/resort you are booking does have alcohol.
  • If you are staying at one of the semi-residential islands, know that on Friday all shops open after 2:00 PM (It’s an Islamic country and they offer Friday prayers). However, the restaurants and cafes are serving throughout the day since early morning
  • A boat ride or Sea-plane: When you arrive at the airport ‘Velana International Airport’ in Male (which is by the sea) there are two ways to get to the islands. A speedboat or a sea-plane. Make sure while you book your trip you ask your hotel (or booking agent) to provide a seaplane transfer to the island as the boat ride during a stormy day can get really rough and takes up to an hour or so. However, if you are comfortable with a 30min (approx) boat ride and the weather is pleasant, it’s not such a bad option either to be cruising through turquoise blue waters. More details below…
  • Tap water: To be safe, do not use the tap water for rinsing your toothbrushes or boiling it for the tea. Go for bottled water.
  • Sunblock: Take the strongest sunblock you can. The sun in the Maldives (and similar island chains) can be really strong and you’ll get sunburnt (and tanned) in no time.
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Now a general walk-through of your trip to the Maldives

There are direct flights or some flight through Srilanka that you can take to the Maldives. If you fancy some time in Srilankan forests before reaching to the turquoise watered islands of Maldives, it’s a great idea too.

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You arrive at the Velana International Airport in the Maldives. If you have booked your trip with a travel agent and it includes transfers, you will be looking for a local guide, waiting with the card of your name or your hotel name looking for you. Always ask your travel agent to provide you the contact number of your transfers’ agent so in case you can’t find him you can make a phone call there.

Airport → Hotel → Airport transfers

There are two options for your airport to hotel transfer. Sea-plane or a motor-boat.

Boat transfers: for those who do not get sea sick and want to save some money on transfers. During rainy days, sea can be rough and this boat ride is not going to be like one of your fancy boat rides by the Marina. I saw some tourists getting sea sick of the ride, so choose this option only if you can take a rough boat ride. I have experienced it twice and I am alive it was fun for me (who likes adrenaline rush and take some photos). But if you take a boat, account for rain and dress accordingly. You’ll also be walking from the shore to the hotel (mostly 5 min walk) so wear shoes that work well in rainy weather on a sea shore.

Sea-plane transfers: For those who do not mind spending a little extra. I found sea-plane transfer the safe and smooth way to go. Some luxury hotels also might include it as complimentary. If not, ask your hotel (or agent) if they offer sea-plane transfers.

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You arrive at your hotel/resort, do take into account the fact that it might take some time for check-in. Some hotels on smaller islands are running on a pretty small staff. These are family-run businesses, when it gets busy, they can take longer for your check-in so please be patient. However, if you have booked a luxury resort from one of the big hotel chains, the check-in process might be faster, easier like in any other hotel around the world.

The Maldivian people are generally very friendly and very welcoming to tourists. Most of them speak English so communication will never be a problem.

Now that you are all checked in, showered after your journey, you can take a stroll to the beach (which most probably will be right in front of your hotel).

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The islands are very safe, the people are of no harm to the tourists so feel free to explore around the island, shops and enjoy the water activities many vendors offer there.

Code of conduct

One thing to keep in mind is that the residents/locals come from a conservative background in comparison to the western mindset, also it is a Muslim country. Avoid public display of affection or inappropriate behavior in public places and beaches. You are allowed to hold hands, to kiss but please don’t go EXTRA in public places, restaurants, etc, respect their culture. You are free to wear what you want of course at the beaches (swimwear etc).

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Photography is (of course) fully allowed there. There are no regulations on flying a drone, but avoid going to a very higher altitude especially in places where you know there might be a seaplane passing by 🙂

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Type of hotel / Island to book

The type of island you want to be staying on is completely dependant on the type of hotel you book. Each island has usually 3 – 8 hotels on there. The luxury resorts are on islands which are more touristy and flashy. It is completely up to you and the type of experience you are after. The fancy resorts and islands are perfect for a special occasion or holiday (like a honeymoon). Some of these hotels offer sea villas, with a staircase from your room straight to the sea. Most of the big hotel chains have their resorts in the Maldives, so finding those on any hotel booking website will be super easy.

Alternatively, there are smaller islands with smaller hotels. This is for someone who is after a more authentic Maldivian experience. I personally liked these not-so-flashy islands and hotels a lot more, because here you get to experience the authentic Maldivian restaurants, cafes, spas, souvenir shops, supermarkets and again the best authentic Maldivian food. You get to meet the local people who are super friendly and get to experience the real island life. These islands are equally beautiful with all their hotels facing the sea. You can also take a day tour from here to other islands if you wish to go see those as there are many local activities provides, offering island tours, water sports, scuba diving tours and so on.

Have a good time and let others have a good time

One request, keep it calm, try to not go extra loud, enjoy the serenity, soothing sea waves and let others have a peaceful time too.

Enjoy your time in the Maldives, for any questions feel free to comment below or write on my Instagram @mustafa_sheikh

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