Here are what we believe to be the fundamentals that need be ticked prior to traveling to the Maldives. If we were to make an educated guess on how many travelers leave the Maldives completely charmed and delighted, it would score somewhere between 85 to 100 per cent. This is most probably due to the fact that the Maldives offer something we cannot take for granted. Regardless, taking that well deserved, long haul, premium trip to the Maldives requires a bit of “getting to know the destination” before actually making the trip. Hope the below is of use.
- Be clear on what you seek – Be a hundred per cent sure of what you seek from the Maldives. Yes, dwelling deeper on the obvious factors such as resort, beach, snorkeling, etc. we find a whole range of supplementary, subtle yet experience-changing elements such as the size of the island, number of rooms (which can indicate how private an island can be), the atoll, the underwater wildlife that inhabit the neighborhood, mode of getting there (seaplane or speed boat), etc.
- Arriving at the Maldives later than 1530 hours means you will be required to overnight at an airport hotel or nearby city – This is only applicable for those who have booked resorts that are located further away from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport that require a seaplane transfer. The neighboring city of Hulhumale’ offer plenty of good hotels to spend a night on the budget. Due to government restrictions, the seaplanes are in operation only during daylight times and therefore taking off any later than 1600 hours is not an option. Any resort located outside of Kaafu Atoll (where Male’ city and airport are located) cannot be reached via speed boat and would require a seaplane or domestic flight transfer. The Maldivian Domestic Flights are in operation until late evening. Therefore, resorts that book the domestic flight option for their guests will not face this issue. Read more on transfers.
- Know what is included in the resort / hotel booking – Unlike most other parts of the world, a resort / hotel booking usually entitles one to daily breakfast, accommodation and return speed boat, seaplane or domestic flight transfers in the Maldives. The return transfers will almost always be handled by the resort / hotel reservations and require no interference at all. However, extras such as snorkeling excursions, diving, surfing, spa treatments, city tours, and any other activities on offer at that particular resort / hotel will be chargeable unless stated otherwise in the booking confirmation. Activities and excursions although possible to book prior to arrival, we suggest booking such extras upon arrival as activities such as Romantic Sailing, Big Game Fishing, Snorkeling, etc. are subject to weather conditions.
- Length of stay – Ideally a total of 4 to 7 nights given one’s need to spend lazy days unwinding along with time to indulge in activities such as diving, snorkeling, surfing or spa would seem sufficient. A bare minimum of 3 nights is a must as anything less can rob one of the true purpose of visiting a serene place such as the Maldives. Highly desirable is the option of staying 4 nights in a resort and 1 night in the city. The additional 1 night in the city can be either upon arrival to the Maldives or upon check-out from the resort which will enable one to take time and explore the tiny city as well, and delight oneself in local delicacies, buy some dried tuna at the market and simply live like a local.
- Choosing a meal plan – All resort / hotels in the Maldives offer multiple meal plan options that include: (BB – Bed & Breakfast – Daily breakfast only), (HB – Half Board – Daily breakfast and dinner), (FB – Full Board – Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner), (AI – All Inclusive – Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner along with unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages). As daily breakfast is almost always included in the room rate, the upgrade begins from HB, and unless you are devoted food lovers and would not skip a full course meal for a snack at the bar at times, the HB option is the way to go. Similarly wanting the option to have drinks at the bar and restaurant freely without having to worry about the bill at check-out, the AI option would seem like the optimum choice. Although the AI option offers free flowing alcoholic beverages, there are certain limits such as having to pay extra for selected fine wines, cocktails and sprits. More and more resorts of late have been incorporating activities and excursions in to their AI plans and a closer look at what exactly is included may prove wise when deciding on a particular resort.
- The 2 + 2 option – Chances are the resort you will be staying at will be home to both Beach Villas and Over-Water Villas and in some cases Garden Bungalows. While the majority of visitors opt to stay in over-water villas, suites and pavilions, staying in a beach villa with direct access to your very own patch of white sandy beach has it’s moments and a large number of tourist prefer this over the over-water setting as well. The experience differ vastly and choosing to stay 2 nights in beach plus 2 nights in an over-water setting has proved to be a no brainer.
- Snorkeling and diving – Home to some of the best dive sites around the world along with vibrant reefs teeming with colorful fish and corals encompassing the islands, it is safe to say that regardless of the region / atoll one chooses to stay at, stunning underwater experiences are guaranteed. That said, if swimming with whale sharks and manta rays are what you desire, perhaps a closer look at the regions that inhabit the gentle giants prior to booking a resort / hotel could prove worthwhile. While hammerhead sharks frequent the western side of the archipelago, Baa atoll has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for housing one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.
- The words Maldives and splurge are synonymous – Unless being city bound in Male’ or visiting local islands to witness their culture is what you seek, without loosening those purse strings a bit, the Maldives we all dream about will not be the same. The Maldives are an exclusive retreat and offer luxurious accommodation and world class cuisines in a Robinson Crusoe setting and it costs a bit more than the average trip and it is well worth it. What we are saying is that rather than choosing to stay 7 nights in one of the few 3 star resorts in the Maldives, go for 4 or even 3 nights in one of the 5 star luxury ones and be forever in love with the Maldives.
- Type G plugs and sockets (230v) – Similar to the plugs and sockets used in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia, the Maldives uses the Type G plugs and sockets with an electricity voltage of 230v. It would be wise for travelers from countries such as India, Europe, Russia, United States, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, etc. to carry compatible adapters to the Maldives should you wish to use laptops, tablets and phones. Any 110v devices (mostly used in above mentioned countries and regions) if plugged in to a 230v socket, the power drawn quadruples, blowing out the heaters, the lights and motors of the device after a brief moment of hyper operation. Voltage converters the size of phone chargers are available and is a must carry when traveling to the Maldives.
- No visa required; visit Maldives – A thirty day free visa is issued on arrival for all Nationalities. All travelers should posses a valid passport with Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) and should have at least 6 months validity and should possess a valid ticket to continue the journey out of Maldive and have enough funds to cover the expenses for duration of the stay in Maldives or a confirmation of reservation in a Tourist Resort or a Hotel.
I hope the above tips prove to be of worth to those interested in traveling to the Maldives. Keep in touch and keep exploring.