How To Get the Most Out of Your Maldives Vacation

POV: You’ve booked your once in a lifetime vacation to the Maldives. A week-long trip to the most serene place in the world with white sandy beaches, bright blue sunny skies and a vast array of marine life for you to be in awe at. But sometimes we know how quickly those plans we made can flip upside down. Here are some helpful tips that I wish I knew before visiting the Maldives. Keep in mind that some of these can be deal breakers for certain individuals. 

The Resort and Location

Photo taken from ShutterStock.

This is probably the most obvious one to the virgin traveler to the Maldives, and I would like to emphasize that it can either make or break your vacation. To keep this concise, I will not be discussing how to find a perfect resort for you on different types of budgets and lifestyles as there is just too much to unpack in this article.

Travelers researching for places to stay usually look at the hotel’s website and to see whether it’s a place they like based off of pictures and videos marketed by the Resort themselves, but this is not sufficient.

Tip #1: Read the TripAdvisor reviews before booking. Check for:

  • Location
  • Presence of Marine Life
  • Convenience to and from Valena International Airport (MLE)

You are not just looking for your typical indicators of whether it’s a good hotel such as level of service, cleanliness of room, and value for money. You also need to read about its convenience of getting to the Resort. There are two methods of travelling to your resort from Valena International Airport (MLE Airport), the main international airport for Male the capital city of the country. These are by speedboat or by sea plane. Most resorts can be located anywhere from a 15-minute speedboat ride to a 1-hour sea plane flight directly to your resort island.  A mix-up and improper planning could lead to you being stranded as your vacation begins.

You also need to be weary and read reviews for whether the resort has a good presence of marine life. I know, it sounds like an oddity to consider when you’re surrounded by the ocean. However, this is a very real once-in-a-lifetime make or break factor. Due to the growing demand for resorts over the last two decades, most resorts are now built on reclaimed islands which means that these resort’s reefs for guest’s are extremely sparse (corals take decades and centuries to grow lusciously). Your resort can have stunning over water bungalows but take a snorkel in the ocean and you could be disappointed with very few fish in sight. Corals could be dead, dying, and sparsely littered around the resort. Always check reviews to see how the experiences of recent guests compare with other resorts.


Photo taken from ShutterStock.

Contrary to popular belief, it does rain in the Maldives, though at most times not long in duration during the dry months. The wet monsoon months can see some of the heaviest rainfall for the country, at times even seeing tropical systems come through the archipelago.

Especially with climate change, the effects in the Maldives over the last one and a half decades to me is scarily noticeable. After a recent 5-day trip at Patina in the North Male Atoll in December (the peak season and second month of the dry season), we only had one and a half days of sunshine and no rain. The remaining days were stormy the entire day with waves too rough to enter the water, and wind too strong to be outside on the deck of the water bungalow.

One thing I have learned in the Maldives is that the weather is extremely dynamic and can change drastically from hour to hour. So, it’s a good idea to always be prepared for ANY type of weather.

Tip #2: Always mentally and physically prepare for wet weather in the Maldives. Seasons are no longer reliable and may overlap with increasing climate change.

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When you pay top dollar for a resort, you expect top dollar for your food. That logic is true everywhere else but the Maldives. On many occasions, food has been decent or underwhelming at several resorts that I have visited before. I was perplexed that they all similarly struggled to get something so crucial in the wider resort experience correct, often serving guests subpar food. It is uncommon to find a good dish, most being just decent, while the price you pay is astonishingly high. For a main course in a 5-star luxury resort, it can easily start from $35+ USD, commonly going up to $50-$60+USD for the more premium items.

The high prices and subpar standards have sometimes left my family and I usually finding comfort in a cup of instant noodle or a pack of biscuits late in the night to satisfy our hunger. There are no issues with Maldivian customs bringing these types of foods into the country, but everything is done best in moderation.

Tip #3: Cup noodles and snacks are your best friends, particularly if you’re on a budget. Some might also prefer bringing Milo or Horlicks to drink which is a good idea!

However, there is something to look forward to! International breakfast buffets at Maldivian Resorts usually see a much more varied spread than your average hotel. Most times, the fruits and breakfast items are freshly made and delicious. Breakfast is also usually included in most basic resort rates but check with your resort if you are unsure about this.

Tip #4: Lower your expectations of the food standards and you will be pleasantly surprised!

Things I wish I Brought on my First Trip

Here are a list of essential items that will make your vacation even better:

  1. Beach shoes – This is a must as corals litter the beaches and seafloor especially in the lagoons and shallow snorkeling areas of the atoll.
  2. A waterproof lanyard case for your phone – For those who love to take pictures in the water or by the pool, it’s the perfect place to whip it out.
  3. Antifog lens wipe – For perfect vision while carrying out any water sports be it diving, snorkeling or just swimming.
  4. Windbreaker/light jacket – In case of rainy weather, being in the middle of the open ocean, it tends to get chilly at night.
  5. Snacks – Need I explain more?
  6. Powered goggles – Great solution for underwater perfect vision for those who wear glasses and don’t wear contacts.
  7. Go Pro Camera – I’m confident many would like to capture their underwater adventures to take back and show family and friends and this fits the bill.

Tip #5: Plan your schedule and pack your bags in advance to give you enough time to make amends if necessary and so that you don’t forget anything important!

All these items are recommended in addition to your usual packing list for a beach resort vacation. Remember to be flexible with everything as that is how you will be able to have a great, memory filled vacation.

Tip #6: Flexibility is key in the Maldives to fully enjoy your vacation and make life-long memories!

Tip #7: Remember to relax and enjoy your well earned vacation!

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