What do you need to know before visiting the Maldives? This popular archipelago ranked 6th on the world’s bucket-list destinations in 2019, and it’s easy to see why with its postcard-perfect sandy beaches, overwater luxurious bungalows, and world-class snorkeling. Not only is it a popular choice for couples and honeymooners, but also a perfect getaway for a girls’ trip. You won’t find many backpackers staying at one of the resort islands in the Maldives, though, since backpackers tend to flock to hostels and the local islands.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I found a roundtrip flight from Bahrain to the Maldives for just $274. After sharing my airfare find with a friend, we decided to turn it into a girl’s trip. While I’m always extolling the virtues of solo travel, I’m really glad I went on this trip with friends instead of on my own. If you’re looking for a sunny, post-Covid destination, read this quick list of what you need to know before you visit the Maldives.
1. There are two different types of islands
Of the 1190 islands in the Maldives, only 185 are inhabited. These 185 islands can be categorized in one of two ways: resort islands and local islands. What is the main difference between resort islands and local islands? When you are visiting the Maldives, the main difference between the two types of islands boils down to two things: Will there be alcohol? Yes, see #5. Is there a dress code? Yes and no. See #4. You won’t get to really experience the local culture if you only stay at your resort, however, there are certain things to keep in mind before you go to a local island. I loved the small island-hopping tour we went on where we had the chance to visit two different islands. Our first stop was at a local island so small that you could stand in the middle of it and see the ocean at either end of the street. Our second stop was the aptly named Paradise Island Resort.
2. Airport transportation must be arranged before you arrive in the Maldives
How do I get from Velana International Airport to my resort? Your transportation from the Male airport MUST be booked before arriving in the Maldives. This is one time where you cannot fly by the seat of your pants or you might end up stranded at the airport if seats are filled up on the outgoing speedboats. You have three transportation options: speedboat, seaplane, or in some cases, a domestic flight depending on what island your resort is on.
3. Airport transportation can be up to half of the cost for your trip
Airport transportation is an additional cost that must be factored into your budget when you are planning your trip to the Maldives. The priciest option would be a seaplane. The prices can range from $270-450 per person (roundtrip) for most resorts. For the ultra-fancy resorts, expect to pay $900 roundtrip per person. You can also rent a private speedboat for $95-$1600. If it’s in your budget, go for it.
Travel tip: You can cut your transportation cost by choosing a shared speedboat. Taking a shared speedboat means you might have to wait until seats fill up, but at only $45-195, it’s worth the wait if you’re on a budget. Our resort offered their own speedboat transfer service for only an additional $93.65.
4. The Maldives is a Muslim country
The official religion of the Maldives is Islam, and therefore visitors should be aware and respectful of the local customs pertaining to the religion. You are free to dress like you would at home while you’re at your resort. Keep in mind that it will be very humid, so wear clothing with breathable fabric. While it may be tempting to be in beachwear all day, you should be mindful that there is a certain dress code to adhere to if you find yourself at a local island (for example, if you go on an island hopping tour). Bikinis and revealing outfits are banned on local islands. Out of courtesy and to avoid an uncomfortable situation, you should wear clothing that covers your arms and shoulders (men and women).
5. Alcohol is only available on resort islands
Do they sell alcohol in the Maldives? Yes, alcohol is available in the Maldives, but only if you’re staying at a resort. You cannot take alcohol into the Maldives. Most resorts have the all-inclusive option which includes unlimited beer, wine, spirits, etc. You can purchase alcohol at Duty-Free at the airport, but only when you are departing the Maldives.
6. Visiting the Maldives for the first time? Here are some factors to weigh before choosing where to stay.
What is the best island to stay in? You’ll want to factor in if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, your budget, the additional transportation cost, resort amenities, and whether you’re visiting a local island or a resort island. We chose to stay at Bandos, a resort located just five miles from the airport. We were at our resort in less than twenty minutes, and it was about $90 roundtrip for the speedboat per person.
7. The Maldives could disappear by 2100
Did you know the Maldives could disappear underwater by 2100? And that the coral reefs in the Maldives might be nonexistent by 2045? Global warming, pollution, and single-use plastic are all contributing to the death of our beloved corals and marine life. While we may not see the Maldives disappear in our lifetime, 2045 is not too far away. It’s important that we do our part to prevent or even reverse any further damage so that we can continue to enjoy the Maldives.
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