This travel wiki page for the Maldives will guide travelers with quick and relevant information to consider when planning your holiday and visiting the country. It is difficult to find all the relevant information you need on culture, safety, things to do, and travel restrictions, so we summarize it all here. These data will be updated periodically, and if anything is stale or outdated, please reach out and let us know! So dive in and learn more high-level information for your Maldives travel!
Last updated September 12th of 2022.
Table of contents
National Information & Culture
The Maldives is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean located across the equator. It covers an area of approximately 90,000 square kilometers, but only 3% (298 square kilometers) of that is dry land. Out of 1,192 coral islands grouped into a double chain of 26 atolls, only 200 are inhabited. Few resorts occupy each atoll, while some are for industry and agriculture. What mesmerizes the visitors are the unique geography, coral reefs that offer bands of color, tiny islands with pristine white sand beaches, and crystal clear shallow waters that one can imagine.
The beauty of the Maldives is not only found in their powdery white sand beaches. The country is also considered the melting pot of people and cultures due to its location. Although the Maldives mainly consists of islands and beaches, visitors should dress “modestly” when going outside the resort. Avoid showing some skin, and wear loose clothes covering your shoulders, elbows, and knees. The consumption of alcohol in a public place is taboo. But you can do so, in moderation, inside your resort. Couples should also avoid public displays of affection. Family is essential in the Maldivian culture, and sometimes they condemn and even prosecute a premarital relationship. The Maldives is a Muslim-dominated country. Thus, visitors should be sensitive to religious and social traditions while traveling through the Maldives.
The Ministry of Tourism Website of the Maldives has helpful information, hints, tips, and recommendations and is worth reviewing before your trip.
Special Travel Considerations
Unforeseen events like flight cancellations, accidents, and emergencies can happen anytime. And we do not want to be in a difficult situation while on vacation. Although not required, getting reliable travel insurance that covers Covid-19 can be helpful in times like this.
As of March 13, 2022, fully vaccinated tourists can enter the country without an RT-PCR test. Unvaccinated need to secure a negative RT-PCR test result at least 96 hours from their first port of embarkation en route to the Maldives. However, those holding work permits must take the RT-PCR test within 3-5 days from arrival in the country. In addition, arriving passengers who show Covid-19 symptoms need to take the test. Also, expect periodic random testing from arrivals.
Wearing a face mask is mandatory inside health facilities and airports. It is also advisable to wear inside public vehicles, in enclosed spaces, and crowded places. Passengers traveling to/from the Maldives should also fill out the Traveller Health Declaration form within 24 hours of the flight.
These details may vary over time. Thus, checking out the advisories in the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 updates is highly recommended.
The government of Maldives grants FREE 30-day visas on arrival for all tourists, which can extend for long-staying visitors. However, tourists also need a confirmed reservation at a registered tourist facility (hotel and resort), an onward/return ticket, and sufficient funds for their stay.
Tourists can also enter the country with passport validity of at least one month from the expected departure date. But as a standard policy, it is highly recommended always to have at least a 6-months valid passport whenever you travel anywhere in the world.
The Maldives is relatively famous in the world of travel for its pristine white sand beaches. Popular attractions include water activities, a few natural attractions, and cultural interests.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and surfing are irresistible when you are in the Maldives. The crystal clear waters feel so inviting to dive and splurge. The North Male Atoll and Huvadhoo Atoll are must-visit for surfing for their excellent waves. Maldives dive sites are a paradise for divers and snorkelers. It is world-famous for its colorful coral, atolls, clear water, and tropical fish.
Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve
Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve is considered globally significant in terms of its biodiversity. It is a habitat that supports the atoll’s rich biodiversity, including coral reefs, islands, seagrass beds, and mangroves. Hanifaru Bay highlights Baa Atoll’s biodiversity, attracting numerous visitors every year. This tiny bay east of the atoll often witnesses the largest gathering of the manta rays anywhere in the world.
Addu Nature Park
The Addu Nature Park is in Addu Atoll and hosts the second-largest wetlands area in the Maldives. It encompasses the beautiful Eydhigali Kilhi wetlands and protected Koattey area in Hithadhoo Island. The park features a lovely pier extending out to the lakes and mangroves. It has scenic cycling routes through the lush vegetation of the wetlands. Tourists can take a guided nature tour through the park and observe the unique flora and fauna. Another activity in Addu Atoll is canoeing in the Bedhi bay area. This place is famous for beautiful red mangroves, baby stingrays, and shark sightings.
Hukuru Miskiy & Munnaaru
Hukuru Miskiy & Munnaaru, also known as the Old Friday Mosque in Malé City, are two cultural hotspots adjacent. The Hukuru Miskiiy (1658) and the minaret (1675) adjacent to the mosque are the oldest structure in Malé. Hukuru Miskiiy has been the most revered center of worship for centuries. It is also of great cultural and historical significance and shows the skills of Maldivian artisans of the time. The mosque has interlocking coral blocks adorned with intricate coral carvings, a vaulted roof with cut corals, and decorative ceilings. Its interiors contain masterpieces of traditional Maldivian woodcarving and lacquer artwork.
Muleeaage in Malé City is the official residence/palace of the president and a must-see on any Malé tour. The Palace was built from 1914 to 1919 and was the ancestral home of former Sultans and royalty. However, Muleeaage is said to be never served as a Sultan’s Palace.
Utheemu Ganduvaru is the birthplace and home of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu. He is Maldives national Hero who overthrew Portuguese occupants from the country in 1573. Utheemu Ganduvaru, or Utheemu Palace, is located in Utheemu in Haa Alifu Atoll, in the northernmost extremes of the Maldives.
Kaashidhoo Island is the site of Kuruhinna Tharaagandu, the ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery. It was believed to be used in the pre-Islamic period during the 12th century. It is also one of the most significant archaeological sites showing the Buddhist past. The excavation between 1996 and 1998 revealed the ruins of what would have been a sprawling monastery complex with multiple structures. The excavated site is around 1900 square kilometers showing more than sixty coral stone structures. Archeologists believe it is a part of the whole complex nine hundred years ago.
Isdhoo Old Mosque & Isdhoo Loamaafaanu
The Isdhoo Old Mosque is a historical site of great significance. It is where they found the Isdhoo Loamaafaanu containing the oldest records of the Maldives. The Loamaafaanu is the oldest copper-plate book in the Maldives to date. The book was written in AD 1194 (590 AH) in the Evēla Dhivehi script, an old Dhivehi script that is no longer in use. The Isdhoo Old mosque, built in 1701 CE during the reign of Sultan Ali VII, continues its use as a mosque today. It is one of the finest surviving examples of a small coral stone mosque. Maldivians believe the mosque was built from excessive materials left over after making the Malé Hukuru Miskiiy.
Primary Spoken Language(s)
The Maldivian language is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language with its origins in Sanskrit. However, tourists do not have to worry, as the locals widely speak English. The country even uses English as the medium of instruction at secondary and tertiary education levels.
Only 3% of the country is dry land, while the remaining 97% is water. The sea around the Maldives can sometimes be dangerous due to strong tidal currents. Thus, guests should always take local advice before entering the sea, as several drownings occur yearly.
Like any other country, drug-related and gang-related crime does occur in the Maldives. In addition, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft happen, especially in public areas such as the beach. Therefore, be mindful of your surroundings and look after your belongings.
Political demonstrations and protests also occur in the Maldives, especially in the capital city of Male. If this happens, exercise caution. Avoid protest areas, monitor developments through the local news, and follow instructions of the authorities.
It also helps if you check the travel advisory released by your country for the Maldives before your trip. You may also consider the US Travel Advisory for the Maldives.
All types of travelers can visit the Maldives. Budget travelers can explore this beautiful island nation for as low as 50 USD per day while staying in guesthouses. High-end resorts offer as high as 4,000USD per night in an all-inclusive villa to as high as renting a private island for 1 million USD per night. A two-week trip to the country needs at least 700USD for a budget traveler and 4,000USD for an average tourist. Do the math for a two-week luxury holiday!
Daily expenditures can vary according to your activities and meal preferences. Therefore, these figures only serve as your guide in planning your trip.
Customs And Import Restrictions
The country restricts the importation of alcohol, pork, and its by-products to the Maldives. They also prohibit bringing idols for worship and religious materials offensive to Islam. For the complete list of prohibited & restricted items for import, check here.
Maldives’ geographical location around the equator gives the country a year-round temperature hot tropical climate. The average high temperature is 31.5 degree Celsius, while the average low temperature is 26.4 degree Celsius. The Southwest monsoon from May to October brings rain, and the Northeast monsoon from November to April is generally sunny, which makes it the best time to visit.
Thus, clothes made of cotton suit well with the hot tropical climate of the Maldives. But always dress and behave modestly when visiting or staying on inhabited islands or outside your resort.
Primary Transportation Options
There are three main ways to travel between islands: domestic flight, seaplane, or boat. The country has several daily flights around 18 domestic and international airports, with Malé International Airport, also known as Velana International Airport, as the gateway to the Maldives. Resorts nearby the International Airport uses speedboat transfer, while other resorts offer seaplane flights directly to the resort island jetty for their guests. There are also taxis from the airport that will take you to the capital city of Male, but road vehicles are not always a good option. Scheduled ferries also operate from Malé to many of the atolls in the country. They run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and leave almost every 10 minutes. Traveling by ferry is cheaper than speedboats and seaplanes, but it does take more time.