Maldives – A trip to Paradise
The Maldives is a country in the Indian Ocean, made up of 1,192 coral islands.
Those islands are grouped into 26 coral atolls, which vary in landscape and usage.
200 of the islands are inhabited by Maldives natives, while a further 80 have become tourist resorts.
Tourism is responsible for a large part of the country’s economy, thanks to the country’s beautiful beaches and lagoons, and its suitability for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkelling.
Capital City of Maldives
The capital city of the Maldives is Malé, located on the North Malé Atoll. It is a small yet highly populated island and acts as the business and financial centre of the country. The main airport in the Maldives, Male International Airport, is located on the neighbouring island, Hulhule.
Most tourists prefer to stay on one of the resort islands, which are more relaxing and capture the natural beauty of the Maldives better than the capital. Some of the most popular resort islands in the Maldives include Kuredu, Kuramathi and Komandoo.
Language of the Maldives
In the Maldives, the official and most commonly spoken language is Maldivian Dhivehi. It is closely related to Sinhala, the language of nearby Sri Lanka. In writing, it looks more similar to Arabic. Due to the importance of tourism in the country, many people can speak English, especially those working in government and the tourism industry.
Currency of the Maldives
by Numismatic Coins & History
The currency of the Maldives is the Rufiyaa. This is sometimes symbolised locally as Rf, while the international currency code is MVR. In the tourist resorts, it is possible to pay for goods and services in US dollars, and many holiday-makers find that they don’t need to use the local currency at all during their trip.
Read on to enjoy our Maldives holiday travel guide and find out everything you need to know to plan the perfect holiday on this unique and beautiful country in the Indian Ocean.
Climate of the Maldives
The Maldives has a tropical climate, which means it is warm and sunny all year round, but has a dry season and a rainy season.
The temperature in the Maldives tends to peak in April, with an average high of 31.5°C, while the lowest temperature typically comes in September, when the average low is 27.1°C. However, the temperature is remarkably consistent throughout the year and throughout recorded history. The highest temperature ever recorded in the country was 35°C, while the lowest was 25°C.
The rainy season in the Maldives coincides with the south-west monsoon, while the dry season occurs at the time of the north-east monsoon. The months between January and April see significantly less rainfall than the rest of the year, and are therefore the most popular times to visit.
The timing of the dry season means the Maldives is an ideal holiday destination for tourists from places such as the US and Europe where it coincides with the cold, wind and rain of winter at home. However, with even the rainiest month of September only seeing on average 15.8 days with more than 1mm of rainfall, a visit during the rainy season can still be very pleasant.
Getting around the Maldives generally
Almost everyone who travels to the Maldives arrives at Malé International Airport, on the island of Hulhule, also known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Other than flights to Malé, there are a few flights per week from Milan, Italy, to Gan Airport on the Addu Atoll. There are no regular passenger boats travelling to the Maldives, and international yachts also tend to avoid the area, due to the difficulties in sailing around the coral reefs and the expensive permits required.
From Malé International Airport, the rest of the Maldives is accessible by plane or air taxi. Domestic flights take 90 minutes at most, and are used by holiday-makers to reach tourist-friendly islands such as Dharavandhoo, a popular place for diving and observing marine life, and Fuvahmulah, the southern-most island in the Maldives and the one considered by locals to be the most beautiful.
Visitors to the Maldives usually take in a few different islands and atolls during their stay, to make the most of the variety of environments, attractions and activities available. Tourists can take trips around the islands on private yachts and sea taxis, while the most common way for the locals to travel is by boat. Travellers on a budget, such as backpackers, sometimes choose to travel by public ferry or cargo boat.
As air taxis and boats prefer not to travel between islands after dark, visitors who arrive at Malé International Airport at night often choose to stay their first night on Hulhule island. However, private transfers to resort islands are available to be booked at a higher price, of around 500-800 US dollars, for night-time arrivals.
What to do in the Maldives?
1. Rest & Relax
The Maldives is a wonderful place to get away from the stresses of every day life, as it has a tranquil atmosphere and serenely beautiful scenery. For a quiet beach holiday, choose one of the more secluded and less tourist-orientated islands, such as Reethi, Kuerdu or Komandoo.
2. Scuba Dive in the Maldives
The Maldives is one of the best countries in the world for scuba diving as it is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. Some island resorts are more suitable and have better facilities for scuba diving, such as Rangali and Iru-fushi. The water is clear and divers can witness marine life including fish, turtles and sharks.
3. Snorkelling in Maldives
The Maldives is an ideal holiday destination for those who love snorkelling. Some of the best islands for snorkelling include Athuruga, Ellaidhoo and Biyadhoo. Snorkelling is less complicated than scuba diving but still allows participants to experience underwater life in a natural setting.
4. Parasailing in Maldives
Parasailing is one of the many water sports available in the Maldives, although it is not available everywhere due to the risk of damaging the coral reefs. The activity is offered on some of the island resorts, such as Bandos, Reethi and Angsana.
5. Surfing the Maldives
Surfing is a popular water sport in the Maldives. The best time to surf is between March and October, when storms cause strong waves. The biggest waves usually occur from June to August. The best place to go surfing is around the central or northern atolls.
6. Fishing in the Maldives
For those who enjoy a more relaxing activity, fishing is a great option during a Maldives holiday. Fishing is one of the main industries in the country, so there are strict regulations. The best places to fish without breaking the rules are the uninhabited and non-resort islands.
7. Maldives Kayaking
Kayaking is a fun activity to enjoy in the Maldives. The strong currents mean it may be best for the inexperienced to go kayaking with an instructor. The sport is popular at resorts such as Vilamendhoo, Niyama and Velassaru, where kayaks can be hired easily.
8. 5 Star Massage/Spa in the Maldives
One way to relax in the Maldives is to visit a spa, which is available at many of the resorts at a variety of price ranges. Resorts with spas include Shangri-La’s on Villingilli Island, and the W Retreat and Spa on Fesdu Island. Services include massages and local speciality treatments.
Resorts & hotel accommodation in the Maldives
Top five highly recommended accommodation by TripAdvisor
1. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
Gili Lankanfushi is rated 5/5 by TripAdvisor users. It has a unique design of overwater villas and is known for its great hospitality and delicious food and drink. The villas have rustic furnishings and private sundecks, and the resort is home to the largest overwater villa in the world, with its own cinema and water shoot.
2. Kurumba Maldives
Kurumba resort on Vihamanafushi Island is often described as a “paradise” by visitors. Staff are always on hand to ensure guests are comfortable, and caring for the environment is also a priority. It is easy to reach Kurumba from Malé Airport. The popular facilities include the spa and huge swimming pool.
3. Kuredu Island Resort & Spa
Kuredu is an upscale resort island, which TripAdvisor users say is most suitable for couples. The resort has a welcoming atmosphere, with lively bars and restaurants. Accommodation includes bungalows and water villas, while the white sandy beaches are relaxing and clean. Activities include free diving and golf lessons.
4. LUX* Maldives
LUX* Maldives is a beautiful and friendly resort on Dhidhoofinolhu Island. TripAdvisor reviewers rave about the food and drink, and the Senses bar, especially at sunset. The resort is most suitable for couples and families. The white sandy beaches and turquoise waters make for a picturesque holiday destination.
5. Cocoa Island by COMO
Cocoa Island is a popular Maldives tourist resort. There are various choices of accommodation, including shared and private villas. The resort has a friendly atmosphere and helpful staff. Some villas even have their own private butler. The spa is a highlight for many visitors, and the tranquil, boutique feel is often complimented.
Eating and food options
Each resort has its own restaurant and bar, with the larger resorts offering a variety of eating options. The menus usually consist of international food, so the dishes will be familiar to tourists. All the food is imported, except for the seafood, which is caught locally. Ice cream is very popular in the Maldives due to the warm weather.
Traditional Maldivian food is available in the capital city, Malé. Some of the local specialities include chicken or beef curry, exotic seafood such as swordfish and octopus, and kavaabu, a deep fried snack made from tuna, coconut, rice, lentils and spices.
Popular Maldivian drinks include Sai tea and Raa, a toddy made from palm trees. Alcohol is only allowed to be sold at the resorts, due to the religious beliefs of the Hindus, who make up the majority of the population of the Maldives. Coffee and juice are also widely available across all the islands.
According to TripAdvisor, the best restaurants in the Maldives are Thila on Vihamanafushi and True Beijing Cafe on Malé. The Family Room coffee shop on Hulhule, the airport island, is also well-loved. Service charges are usually added to the bill at resort restaurants, therefore extra tipping is not expected.
Getting from Singapore to Maldives
Singapore Changi Airport is one of many international airports offering direct flights to the Maldives. Singapore Airlines flies to and from Malé Airport twice a day. The journey time varies from 4 hours 25 minutes to 4 hours 45 minutes. If arriving after dark, remember it will be necessary to book accommodation on Hulhule Island for that night, or private transport to the location of your holiday stay.
In addition to the direct flights, there are further flights available between Singapore and the Maldives which make one or two stops along the way. Due to the additional stops, the journey time is longer, lasting 6 hours and 50 minutes at least. Airlines offering indirect flights include Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Prices for flights to the Maldives from Singapore vary depending on the time of year and demand due to weather conditions. The most expensive time to visit is during the high season, between January and April, so travellers can save money by making a trip outside of those months.
The Maldives in summary
The Maldives is one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations, because it offers delights for visitors of all ages and interests. There is truly something for everyone in the Maldives, and each island resort offers a different experience. A holiday to the Maldives can be quiet and relaxing or action-packed and full of adventure.
The consistent temperatures in the Maldives mean that a holiday in the islands will be enjoyable at any time of year, but different conditions are more suitable for different visitors’ needs. It’s a good idea to research the resorts and activities available to work out a general plan for the holiday, and choose the time to visit accordingly. Make sure to look through our Maldives holiday travel guide before booking to get the full picture of everything the island paradise has to offer.