Crystal clear seas, powdery white sand and indulgence beyond measure are three things that come to mind whenever the Maldives is mentioned. Whilst the country is famous for its unique beauty and extravagant resorts, it is not solely dedicated to the wealthy tourist – it offers various accommodation options catering to a diverse range of preferences. These facilities are broadly categorized into four types; resorts, hotels, guest houses and liveaboards.
Ever since the relaxation of tourism rules which were restricting all tourism to resorts on uninhabited islands, the guest house industry has boomed in Maldives. Since then, many guest houses have been developed in inhabited islands, with the greater Malé region being the main hub.
The styles of guest houses range from budget to boutique to bed and breakfast inns and more. The amenities, service and luxury vary from that of resorts but guests have access to similar types of activities that resorts offer. Opportunities for excursions to nearby islands and sandbanks, watersports, snorkeling and diving are available. Most of the islands with guest houses also have watersports and diving centers.
By staying at a guest house, tourists will have the prospect of experiencing the rich culture of the country like a true local; make new friends, discover the history of the island by visiting accessible historical hotspots or even partake in day-to-day activities. For the budget traveler, the backpacker or the knowledge-seeker, the stay will surely reap benefits to last a lifetime.
The biggest difference one may notice is that while resorts adhere to the one-island-one-resort concept, guest houses do not. This means that tourists must bear in mind to be respectful of the local community, its customs and traditions. As Maldives is a Muslim country, women are expected to dress more modestly on the islands than in resorts. The consumption of alcohol and pork, while not forbidden for tourists, is also usually frowned upon, but this is offset by the many other wonderful opportunities islands have to offer. Witness kids as they play in their own imaginative worlds, play a game of football in the evening, hang out on the beaches while sipping on a cup of tea and eating hedhikaa (short eats), or simply join in the chit-chat amongst the locals.
Currently, guest houses are closed due to the ongoing COVID0-19 pandemic. They are set to open from 1st August 2020, whilst resorts will restart operations from 15th July 2020 onwards.