Five Things First Time Travellers To Maldives Should Know
- WiFi is not always free in the Maldives. Check with your resort before you arrive to see if it's included. Otherwise, you'll have to fork out for expensive internet packages that cost USD 150 per week.
- Check your arrival times. If your international flight arrives after 4:00 p.m. you'll need to spend a night on Male or at a hotel on Airport Island.
- The Maldives is one of two countries in the world with a 100% Muslim population. Keep this in mind if you're visiting during Ramadan and cover up when visiting important religious sites.
- There are a few rules you have to follow while on the inhabited islands. Public displays of affection are against the law, pork and alcohol are not for sale, and revealing clothing is discouraged. But the good news is that once you're on the resort islands, the above doesn't apply.
- For cheap flights, fly from Asia or the Middle East. It's no secret that airfare to the Maldives can be expensive. To get around this, book your trip with Air Asia or Sri Lankan Airlines to save big on your ticket price.
Best Time To Visit Maldives
The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate with two dominating seasons. Deciding when to visit depends on what you'll like to do as both have their pros and cons.
If you want to escape the crowds, the best time to visit the Maldives is from May to November. While there is some rain, the storms move quickly and won't ruin an entire day. This period is also low season for the islands. Prices at resorts will be at their lowest and crowds to a minimum.
It's also a great time of year for divers and surfers. You'll be able to catch the best waves, and the reefs are teeming with a variety of marine life. The colder water temperatures also attract good numbers of hammerhead and reef sharks.
High season falls from December to April. The Maldives is drier during this time with less humidity and warmer temperatures. It's ideal weather for spending the day at the beach and soaking up the sun. But it's also the most expensive time of year to visit the islands, and while visibility is clearer the marine life is less plentiful.
It's also important to keep in mind that the Maldives is an Islamic country. During Ramadan, shops closer earlier and you won't be able to drink or eat in public on the inhabited islands.
Male is one of the smallest capital cities in the world. Only one square mile, it's home to interesting museums, ancient mosques and historic buildings.
It is one of the few inhabited islands and the best place to experience the real Maldives outside of the opulent resorts.
Spend a few hours strolling around and visit the National Art Gallery, Sultan's Park, the Old Friday Mosque and the National Stadium.
Hulhumale Island is another pint-sized metropolis. Located across from Male, the island is just as busy and more buildings are springing up all the time.
It's also home to the Maldives main international airport, Velana, making it the gateway to exploring this tropical paradise.
But don't be too quick to leave. This island boasts its own intriguing sights. Visit its gorgeous artificial beach, explore the leafy neighbourhoods and dine at one of the many international restaurants.
Once a former airbase for the British in WWII, today Gan is one of the most popular spots in the Addu Atoll.
It boasts the Maldives second-largest airport, beautiful empty beaches and delicious seafood restaurants. Much of the military infrastructure remains intact from the war, giving the island a unique atmosphere and a strong sense of nostalgia.
Top Attractions in Maldives
The Banana Reef is a protected marine area known around the world for its incredible diving and snorkelling. It's considered one of the best dive sites in the Maldives, and it's an excellent spot to get your scuba qualification.
The site gets its name from its unique shape. The reef looks like a banana, and it extends for 300m from north to south.
Its coral reefs attract a huge variety of marine life. During your dive, you can expect to see the Napoleon Wrasse, Moray Eels, barracuda, reef sharks and the rare Bannerfish.
Besides the diving, there are many caves to explore and countless stunning photo opportunities.
Located in the former Sultan's Palace on Male island, lies the Maldives National Museum. Established in 1952, the building is home to priceless relics that depict the island's rich history.
History buffs will love exploring the displays of royal thrones, ornate jewellery, old coins and extravagant clothes. There are also artefacts from the Maldives pre-Islamic era that are more than a thousand years old.
Ticket prices cost only MVR 50, making it one of the cheapest things you can do on the islands. The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday.
Another popular dive site in the Maldives is Manta Point. It's one of the best places in the world to get up close with large numbers of manta rays.
Attracted by the wrasses, these creatures circle large coral rocks waiting for their turn to be cleaned while feeding on the plankton.
The best time to visit Manta Point is from May to November. The plankton is concentrated during this time, driving up the number of mantas that visit the lagoon.
While you're in the water, it's important not to chase or harass the mantas. It is easy to frighten them and as a result, make the mantas less inclined to return in the future.
Old Friday Mosque
The Old Friday Mosque is the oldest in the Maldives. Built in 1656, it's made from coral stone that's been inscribed with scripture from the Quran.
If you'd like to go inside, admission is free, but you'll need permission from an official of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. You'll also need to make sure you are well-dressed and respectful of Islamic customs.
Visiting hours to the mosque are not the clearest. But your best bet is to go from Sunday to Thursday as Friday and Saturday are reserved for religious services.
Utheemu Ganduvaru is the childhood home of a national hero. In 1573, Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu and his brothers overthrew the Portuguese after 15 years of occupation. Afterwards, he became Sultan of the Maldives and established the Utheemu dynasty.
Visitors to the island can visit the wooden palace where the sultan spent his childhood. Despite the interiors being 500 years old, the property is well-maintained and reflects its affluent lifestyle. Inside you'll find swing beds used to keep cool, coco palm oil lamps, beautiful wooden carvings and a palm-thatched shed used as a guest room.
Major International Airports in the Maldives
- Gan International Airport
- Hanimaadhoo International Airport
- Velana International Airport
- Villa International Airport