The Maldives is a picture-perfect archipelago, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and home to 1,190+ tiny coral islands. The country is famous for the beauty it carries and is celebrated as one of the best travel destinations in the world. Now that it is reopening its borders and commencing safe tourism for international tourists on 15th July 2020, why not make the best of it?
For first-timers, traveling to the country will be very exciting but at the same time, there is so much more to look forward to and understand beyond the exotic lifestyles.
For example, did you know that the Maldives is a Muslim country? The religion is often overlooked by first-timers but it is important to know this beforehand and pay attention to adhering to the norms. While bikinis and bathing suits are allowed in resorts, they are not acceptable whilst staying in local islands, unless there is a specific “Bikini Beach” for the purpose. Public display of affection is also a serious matter – it is recommended that you keep it to a minimum in the local islands.
Maldives has its own language, Dhivehi, but the good news is that the country also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. This means that the majority of the people have a good command of English which makes it easier for communication.
The country also carries its own currency, the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). Other forms of currency such as US dollars and Euros are accepted in most places and you can also pay using your card. There are card machines and ATMs available in most islands and resorts but it is advisable to carry cash if you are on a local island, just to be on the safe side. The current exchange rate for US dollars to Maldivian Rufiyaa is 15.42 (MVR 15.42 for $1).
For many of us, obtaining a pre-arrival visa seems to be a hassle especially when you have to travel abroad to obtain it. In Maldives, it is not required; a 30-day visa is issued on arrival for all nationalities but make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity remaining and that you have a valid ticket to return home. However, with current safety precautions in place, a health declaration card will be required as per the procedure.
Alcohol and pork are served at resorts and liveaboards; this is where the rules are a bit more relaxed and there will be plenty to choose from. However, owing to the fact that Maldives is a Muslim country, they are prohibited on local islands.
There are a lot of accommodation options to choose from since the country is filled with gorgeous resorts, hotels, guest houses and liveaboards catering to a variety of travelers. The best thing to do is research, save up and book in advance. Choosing a place can get tricky but it all boils down to your budget and preference.
You can also travel at affordable prices and still get to live the ultimate beach-life dream by staying at a guest house or boutique hotel on a local island. This ensures an opportunity to experience the island lifestyle whilst experiencing the Maldivian culture and heritage. The islanders are hospitable and will be more than happy to have you over for meal times and other activities.
What is there to do besides lazing on the beach and getting your Vitamin D in check, you may ask. There are several options to choose from. You see, you can enjoy every water activity imaginable here; from snorkeling to diving to jet-skiing to wind-surfing to kite-surfing and on. Moreover, there are excursions, fishing trips and even dolphin watching. You can also visit nearby lagoons and sandbanks for a magical dose of serenity and privacy. The possibilities are endless.
Sea-travel is not the only thing that exists in the country but that is about half of the reality. The transportation from the main airport, Velana International Airport, to your desired local island or resort is either done by speed boat or seaplane. The speed boat is used to transit tourists to islands in close proximity whereas a seaplane is used for far and remotely located islands and resorts. Traveling by a seaplane is a unique experience by itself – you can see islands and atolls as a whole and take lots of lovely pictures on the way! Most of the time, you can always get a resort representative to escort you – this makes things a lot easier. Everything can be easy if you do your research and plan well.