All photos from the Maldives look like a picture from Paradise – a turquoise ocean, white beaches, and an incredibly beautiful underwater world. The Maldives is not a destination for activities and sightseeing. It is a destination for relaxation – for the body and the mind. But the islands have two different faces.
This post was first published on my previous blog When Woman Travels in 2019. The content was true at the time of first publishing and it is intended to be only a guidance. Please check if any new developments and changes had arisen before you book your trip.
Maldives dress code for women
If you go to an island out of the tourist path, you will see how the locals live. Their religion is Islam and tourists need to comply with this. Women and girls are not allowed to wear shorts, short dresses, and skirts. Most beaches are not for tourists with swimming suits. An exception to this is Maafushi Island where the locals are more tolerant to the clothes but still, within reasonable limits.
You don’t need a pre-approved tourist visa to enter Maldives. A thirty-day free visa is issued on arrival – you simply need to fill in a form with your passport data saying what is the purpose of your visit, where are you staying, for how long, etc. See FAQ for tourists for the latest regulations.
Like any other destination outside Europe, the phone calls to your home country are expensive. The best way is to buy a local SIM card with phone calls and internet included. You can do that at the airport when you arrive. The cheapest option is by the mobile operator called “Ooredo”. For activation, you need to present your passport.
Here the day is short – the sun rises around 5-6 a.m. and it gets dark around 6 p.m. Do have in mind that the sun in the Maldives is very intense. Do not underestimate this and take adequate sun protection with you.
The local currency is called Rufiyaa (MVR) but you can pay in US dollars almost everywhere. The resorts accept only USD. When exchanging dollars for the Maldives be sure to take only new banknotes and in good condition – otherwise, they won’t be accepted.
Maafushi Island is not a big one, but there is a choice of hotels here. The best choice at an affordable price is Arena Beach Hotel. It is a new one, has its own beach and the staff is very kind and helpful. If you book a room with a sea view you will wake up every day to the sound of the ocean. The hotel offers a buffet dinner.
The food in the resorts, depending on their category, is usually very varied and rich but also very expensive. A dinner can cost 100 USD and above per person unless you were lucky to find an offer for a stay with a free dinner included (depending on the resort and its policy).
Things to know
Fishing is widespread among the locals. If you want to eat fish, this is the place. Here you can also have bananas, mango, and of course, coconuts. On Maafushi and on the rest of the islands drinking alcohol is forbidden, even for tourists. However, you won’t have this problem if you are staying in a resort.
The local language is called Dhivehi but English is widely spoken.
Most of the citizens of the Maldives are Muslims. There are several mosques on Maafushi Island and you will hear them every day.
In the resorts, the staff is mainly from Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Nepal, etc. The resorts are usually owned by foreigners and not by the locals.
The resorts are like a whole different world – some of them even have their own 1-hour time difference.
The most interesting places to visit
Go and see the coral reefs! The Maldives are not only a beach destination – their beauty is the underwater world. Do some snorkeling or scuba diving (if you have a certificate) – you`ll see amazing colorful fishes, corals, animals like the sea cucumber, sea tortoises, reef sharks… Remember the movie “Finding Nemo”? You’ll find dozens of Nemo fishes here.
What is a sandbank? A raised area of sand below the surface of the sea. There are many sandbanks in the Maldives and they have the most amazing white sand I’ve ever seen. Most of the tours offered on Maafushi Island include a visit on a sandbank so you’ll probably have the chance to see one.
All those heavenly pictures you’ve seen from the Maldives are taken at resorts. I used to think that these places are only for wealthy people.
It turned out that if you plan your trip early enough and try to find the best solution for you, you can go and see what Paradise looks like.
There are two ways to get there – all tour agencies on Maafushi (such as iCom Tours, Maafushi Tours, Arena Beach Hotel, etc.) offer day tours to resorts close to Maafushi. You will spend one day with access to most of the facilities of the resorts. These tours are usually half-board and all-inclusive (alcohol is included). The second way I personally preferred was to book a water bungalow and live the dream.
Unlike the other islands with a local population, Maafushi has a bikini beach where tourists can wear swimming suits. The water of the Indian Ocean here is hot, crystal clear, and transparent.
There are moments when we travel that take our breath away and make us think the world is still a peaceful place, despite all the messy politics and worsening economy. The Maldives is one of the places where we can experience that. Let’s enjoy those moments and be grateful!