If there is one country in the whole wild world that promises you an unparalleled string of palm-fringed beaches, an extensive range of pristine coral reefs, luminous lagoons, water bodies brimming with underwater creatures and utter luxury catering to everyone , then it's Maldives. The country sprawls in the jewel-toned waters of Indian Ocean comprising of 26 ring-shaped atolls with more than a thousand coral islands. The islanders are cordial, the consistent weather is a dream come true for a vacationer and food is finger-licking good and cheap. Let the briny sea breeze wash over you as you begin exploring the gorgeous tropical nation.
There are 1,192 coral islands in Maldives to be exact, and each island is completely unique. Most of the islands are geared towards hopeless romantics and honeymooners with serene vibes, water bungalows and deluxe services where couples can enjoy each other’s company surrounded by tranquility. Scuba diving and snorkeling are extremely popular thanks to thriving coral reef and warm waters with excellent clarity. Surf enthusiasts are also slowly making their way to the uncrowded beaches that offer perfect swells and waves. The following destinations are not to missed when you are in Maldives:
Male is your one chance to experience the real culture of Maldives. Unlike tourists' beaches, it is devoid of a never-ending string of luxurious resorts and secluded beaches. Maldives' capital is the largest and densely populated city with hundreds of multicolored buildings, ornate mosques, lively open markets, and a sense of contagious exuberance that will soon overtake you.
Go to Maldives National Museum but don't be fooled by its rundown facade. The building contains an amazing collection historic artefacts and awe-inspiring marine relics including a massive skeleton of rare whale which hasn't been sighted alive. Head towards to Old Friday Mosque that dates back to the 16th century. The mosque features intricate coral details and religious scripts. Surrounding the mosque is munnaaru, a 16th century minaret, and a number of beautifully-carved tombstones. Grand Friday Mosque is the main highlight of the city. It is an elaborately detailed masjid with golden tombs and pearl-white exterior.
Villingili is a small town on the western shores of Male with vividly-colored cottages and a laid-back atmosphere. It houses plenty of restaurants, stores, and cafes. Also add Muleeaage & Medhu Ziyaarath to your list, the presidential palace built in the early 20th century.
Maafushi is an isle in Kaafu Atoll which is widely known for its modern amenities and availability of alcoholic drinks. While it is one of the most crowded isles with average beaches, the affordable hotels, and resorts along with a bikini beach make it an appealing option to the foreigners.
Hanifaru Bay in Baa Ato is a heaven for snorkelers. Take a dip into the crystal-clear water and you will come across sharks, whales, and some of the friendliest and curious lots of manta rays. Note that the area is strictly regulated and only 80 snorkelers are allowed at a time. May to November offer the best times to witness manta rays while whales and sharks can be sighted all year around. Diving is banned here.
Rasdhoo Madivaru, also known as Hammerhead Point, is where you can plunge deep into the sea and mingle with a plethora of hammerhead sharks among other marine creatures. It is best to go scuba diving early in the morning, just around dawn, to come across sea animals.
Ari Atoll is one of the largest atolls in Maldives featuring a range of upscale resorts, flourishing reef systems and awesome diving points. There is Dhigurah, a small local isle with cozy guesthouses and a long stretch of white-sand beaches including a bikini beach. To the north lies Ukulhas, an island where backpackers and beach bums flock. In Mahibadhoo, there are no bikini beaches, but it is a beautiful island with superb beaches and beautiful buildings.
Locally known as Dhivehi cuisine, Maldivian dishes are heavily influenced from South Indian and Sri Lankan culture. The staples are fish, rice, and coconut, and you will these three ingredients in almost every dish. Vegetables and other kinds of meat are rarely used. Local cafes and restaurants are very affordable. However, imported food items can be more expensive. Go to cafes to indulge in some hedhikaa (snacks) with a piping hot cup of tea. Most of these snacks are fish-based. For lunch and dinner, have some curry which is either fish or chicken-based along with rice and roti. In resorts and guesthouses, there is at least one restaurant which serve international cuisine and alcoholic drinks.
Maldives is an Islamic nation and alcoholic beverages are banned at most places. However, in many resorts and hotels, drinks are available if you are of legal age which is 18. Nonalcoholic beer, soft drinks and sweet milk-based tea are rather popular all over the country, particularly in Male. In almost every resort, there are traditional bodu beru drum players whose performance must be seen at least once. Other than that, bands and DJs often perform in the hotels.
There are about 120 resort islands in Maldives with their own villas, activities, and meals. When you go there, staying in a fancy Instagram-worthy water bungalow is automatically added to your to-do list. But watch out, they are not cheap. Don't despair though. There are plenty of mid-budget resorts and guesthouses to choose from. Male's hotels are ideal for short term and business stays. It doesn't hurt that they are extremely easy on the pocket. Safari boats, or liveaboards, take you throughout the country and include many activities and stopovers.
High seasons lasts from December to February during which the weather is most pleasant with little to no rain. As expected, prices are sky high, especially during New Year. March till October is the best season to surf the waves, however, it gets quite hot in April and May. In summer months, thunderstorms and rain are common, but resorts are cheap.
Almost all international visitors land in Malé International Airport situated on Hulhulé Island which is about 2 km from the capital. In Addu, Gan Airport receives flights from Colombia. There are no other ways to get to Maldives.
Once you are in the country, you can go from island to another through air taxis, public or private ferries, private yachts, and speedboats. Within the bigger islands, cycling is also great option to travel.
Maldives' official currency is Maldivian rufiyaa (Rf). Note that due to a law, resorts charge prices in USD who accept credit cards. In Male and some other atolls, it is good to have some local cash and coins on you.
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.