Maldives Islands: A Guide to Tropical Paradise’s Best Kept Secrets

maldives island

As you set your sights on the Republic of Maldives, prepare to be captivated by its serene vistas and tropical allure. This chain of islands spread across the equator is a world-renowned haven for tranquility and natural splendor. From the ubiquitous stretches of silken sand to the mesmerizing hues of the ocean, the Maldives promises a getaway steeped in relaxation and beauty.

Navigating this archipelago state is key to unlocking its treasures, from the sun-kissed beaches to the diverse cultural experiences. Whether it’s your first visit or a return to familiar shores, understanding the local customs, climate, and practical travel particulars will enhance your journey. With Male as its bustling capital, the Maldives not only offers a retreat into paradise but also a glimpse into a republic vibrant with tourism and rich with tradition.

Geographic Overview

Location: Nestled in the Indian Ocean, south of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is an expansive archipelago that extends close to the equator.

  • Composition: Comprising 26 atolls which host over 1,000 coral islands, the country is renowned for its vibrant marine life and stunning sandy beaches.


  • Total Size: Roughly 90,000 square kilometers, predominantly oceanic.
  • Land Area: Approximately 300 square kilometers.

Topography: The nation’s islands are known for being extraordinarily flat, generally not exceeding 1.8 meters above sea level. Each island is typically embraced by a shimmering blue lagoon.

Key Locations:

  • Capital: Malé
  • Notable Atolls: Male, Kaafu, Baa, Laamu, and Addu
  • Inhabited Islands: Gan, Mulah, Fuvahmulah, and Hulhulé

The unique layout supports a singular island per resort policy, ensuring a secluded vacation experience on your own slice of paradise.

Climate & Weather

The Maldives is graced with a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by two significant periods:

  • Dry Period (Iruvai): Spanning from December to April, this time is marked by serene azure skies, gentle seas, and abundant sunlight. It’s the most desirable time for visitors looking for optimal beach conditions.
  • Rainy Period (Hulhangu): This time, ranging from May to November, typically sees intermittent rains and rare thunderstorms. The rainfall usually doesn’t last long, giving way to periods of clear weather.

While the Maldives appeals to visitors throughout the year, the dry stretch is particularly sought after for uninterrupted coastal recreation. If you don’t mind occasional showers and prefer a more serene environment, the rainy period could offer quieter moments and attractive rates.

You’ll find the climate welcoming whenever you decide to travel, with consistent warm temperatures between 26°C (79°F) and 31°C (88°F). The ocean offers a steady comfort too, with water temperatures around 28°C (82°F), even at depths of 30m.

Arriving to the Maldives Islands

Arriving from Abroad

Upon landing at Velana International Airport, situated on Hulhulé Island near the capital city of Malé, you’ll find yourself at the central hub for international travelers. Numerous airlines, including major carriers such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad, offer routes through key hubs like Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, respectively. Flights from global cities like London, Singapore, Frankfurt, Istanbul, and Mumbai also touch down here on either regular or seasonal schedules.

Flights Within the Maldives

From Velana International Airport, continue your adventure via domestic air services to various atolls within the archipelago.

Smaller airports across the Maldives accommodate these short-haul flights and serve as junctures before a final sea transfer to your destination.

Seaplane Transfers

For an iconic Maldivian experience, opt for a seaplane transfer. Seaplane journeys are a daylight affair, carving a picturesque path through the sky and providing a stunning aerial view of the coral atolls and shimmering lagoons. This mode of transportation is especially charming for reaching far-flung resorts.

Reaching your Island Resort

Ultimately, how you proceed to your resort or local atoll is depends on the distance and preference. For locations close to Malé, speedboats are a quick choice, cutting through the waves and providing spectacular sea-level vistas. If your resort is nestled on a more distant atoll, a domestic flight might be your starting point, followed by a speedboat transfer.

Should you prefer a more economical approach or simply seek to immerse yourself in local culture, public ferries and traditional dhonis travel between the islands, offering a leisurely journey with the serene surroundings of the Maldives.

Visas & Entry Requirements

Upon your arrival in the Maldives, you will be granted a 30-day visa free of charge. To qualify, ensure:

  • Your passport is current.
  • You have proof of a confirmed accommodation booking.
  • You possess a return ticket or proof of onward travel.

It is critical to confirm current visa regulations before your trip. Presently, there are no COVID-19 related entry stipulations for the Maldives.

Resorts Islands in the Maldives

In the vast turquoise expanse of the Indian Ocean lies the Maldives, an archipelagic nation renowned for its luxurious island resorts. Each of these resorts provides a unique experience tailored to your personal vision of a tropical paradise.

  • Private Island Indulgence: Exclusive islands like Ithaafushi allow you to bask in seclusion, surrounded by the natural elegance of a private island. You can take pleasure in intimate settings, with every need catered to by attentive staff.
  • Integrated Resort Experiences: Several islands offer a ‘resort within a resort’ concept, such as the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Here, you can enjoy innovative accommodations like underwater suites that offer a new perspective on marine life.
Resort TypeKey Features
Private Island ResortsExclusive access, privacy, personalized services
All-Inclusive ResortsFixed pricing for all amenities, extensive dining and activity options
Eco-friendly ResortsSustainable practices, nature-focused activities
  • All-Inclusive Options: Opt for all-inclusive resorts if you prefer a carefree holiday with a predetermined budget. These resorts typically include meals, drinks, and various activities, allowing you to indulge without the worry of additional costs.

Remember, when selecting your island destination, to consider the proximity to Malé International Airport, especially if you favor a quicker transfer by speedboat. Alternatively, some resorts are accessible by a scenic seaplane flight, adding another layer to your adventure in the Maldives.

Activities to Explore


Explore the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives where you can swim with manta rays, turtles, and a myriad of tropical fish. Resorts provide the necessary gear and guided snorkeling expeditions to ensure a safe and enchanting experience.


Submerge into the depths to witness the diverse ecosystems of the sea. The Maldives is renowned for its extraordinary dive spots, offering encounters with whale sharks and vibrant coral reefs.


Catch the waves in the Maldivian seas, where the wet season brings perfect conditions for surfers of all levels. The thrill of riding the swells here is a must for adventure seekers.

Water Sports

Experience a wide range of sea activities: jet-ski over the waves, try paddleboarding, or enjoy the tranquility of sailing and canoeing. There’s a water sport for every preference and skill level.


Day Trips and Hopping Between Isles

Set off on excursions to inhabited islands like Huraa, Maafushi, or Villingili. Discover the Maldivian lifestyle and authentic local cuisine while mingling with the island communities.

Evening Voyages

Take a cruise at dusk to enjoy a breathtaking sunset with the sky transforming into a vista of reds and pinks, a perfect accompaniment to an evening cocktail.

Wildlife Encounters

Join in on a safari to see dolphins playfully racing the boat, or swim close to turtles and manta rays at renowned spots such as Dhigurah.

Spa Experience

Indulge in spa treatments that offer tranquility and stunning views. Participate in yoga classes on serene beaches, rejuvenating both mind and body amid the soothing sounds of the ocean.

Dining Underwater Restaurent

Savor gourmet fare in unique underwater restaurants that offer a view of the sea’s bounty, providing a feast for both the eyes and palate.

Dining at the Beach

Experience an intimate beachfront meal under the stars—a memorable feast for couples or families looking to celebrate or simply enjoy the splendor of the Maldivian nights.

Local Traditions

Visit the vibrant city of Malé to soak in the local history at the Malé Friday Mosque and learn about the nation’s culture at the Sultan Park. Experience Bodu Beru, the traditional dance and drumming of the Maldives, and immerse in the festive atmosphere as rhythms and movements tell tales of the islands.

Cultural & Traditions

Heritage & Traditions of the Maldives

The Maldives is steeped in history, influenced by the passage of sea traders over thousands of years. Although historically tied to Buddhism, for almost a millennium, Islam has significantly shaped the archipelago’s societal structure and daily life.

Artistry such as lacquer work, mat weaving, and the construction of the traditional Dhoni vessel is a window into the Maldivian spirit and ingenuity. Meanwhile, Dhivehi, the local language, is emblematic of the country’s unique identity, though English is commonly spoken in tourism.

Behavior & Interaction Guidelines

Adherence to local customs is essential in the Islamic context of the Maldives. Here, behavioral norms differ between the local islands, where tradition is preserved, and the private resort islands, where regulations are adapted for international visitors.

  • Appropriate Attire: Wear clothes covering the knees and shoulders when on populated islands or visiting the capital city, Malé.
  • Swimming Gear: Only use swimwear on specified tourist beaches and resort areas.
  • Public Conduct: Reserve intimate gestures like hugging or kissing for private moments, particularly on local islands.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Purchase and consume alcohol solely on resort islands or cruises, as it’s restricted on local islands and within Maldivian airspace.
  • Respect for Islamic Practices: Be mindful during Islamic events and the fasting month of Ramadan; public consumption of food, beverages, and smoking is best avoided during daylight on local islands.

Bringing a small present when visiting a Maldivian home, like unique gifts from your homeland or sweets, is a thoughtful act.

Environmental conscientiousness is crucial; be mindful to preserve coral reefs and marine life. Small acts to protect the environment ensure the beauty of the Maldives remains for future visitors.

Rewarding Service

Tipping, though not obligatory, is a gesture of appreciation for good service. While a service charge is often included at resorts:

  • For one-time services like transport or luggage handling, a few dollars per service is courteous.
  • For regular services from staff like waitstaff or housekeeping, considering tipping $10-20 at the end of your stay is generous.

Ultimately, tipping is at your discretion and should align with your level of satisfaction with the service provided.

Maldivian Cuisine

Maldivian cuisine mirrors the archipelago’s cultural diversity and bountiful oceans. It is distinguished by its use of tuna, coconuts in varying forms, staples like rice and roshi (flatbread), and local chili variants like Giltheyo Mirus, which supply heat to its flavor-rich dishes.

Sampling local flavors is often a highlight at resorts, with a small, yet significant representation within a vast selection of international cuisine.

To truly engage with Maldivian food, consider cooking classes or dining with local families—an authentic way to experience Maldivian hospitality and cuisine.

Traveler Essentials


You’ll function on Maldives Time which operates at UTC+5. Expect some resorts to adjust their clocks to maximize your daytime hours, often one hour forwards or backwards.


Your transactions will primarily use the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR), with the US Dollar prevalently accepted in tourist areas. Major resorts accept currencies such as the Euro and Swiss Franc for settling accounts.


Though Dhivehi is the native tongue, your interactions, especially in tourist zones, will predominantly be in English. Resort staff are often multilingual, catering to a global clientele.


Anticipate a tropical climate, with year-round warmth. December through April marks the drier months, with calm seas perfect for leisure. May to November brings the rainy season, offering advantages for water sport aficionados and lower pricing.

Health Precautions

While no specific immunizations are mandated for entry, maintaining current routine vaccinations is prudent for your well-being.


Prepare for a Goods and Services Tax in the tourism industry set at 16%, alongside a mandatory 10% service charge aiding local employees. Costs are often presented pre-tax, so scrutinize listings to understand the full pricing.

Safety in the Maldives

Understanding Local Political Dynamics

While the Maldives is typically peaceful, there are occasional political demonstrations, primarily concentrated in the capital, Malé. It’s prudent to steer clear of protests or large public gatherings. Always stay informed with the latest travel advisories for current developments.

Mitigating Petty Crime Risks

Although resorts are considered very secure, with minimal crime, taking precautions with personal belongings is wise. Ensure you secure your valuables, use room locks, and employ available safety deposit facilities. When exploring local islands, maintain awareness of your personal items at all times.

Marive Life and Safety Precautions

The inviting waters of the Maldives do come with natural risks such as varying tides and currents. To swim safely:

  • Consult the dive center at your resort for local swimming conditions.
  • Use recommended safety and snorkeling gear.
  • Stay informed about the safest times and locations for swimming.

When interacting with the marine environment, exercise caution:

  • Do not touch sea creatures to avoid harm to both them and yourself.
  • Keep a respectful distance from potentially dangerous species like stonefish and lionfish, which possess venomous spines.

Essential Items for Your Trip to the Maldives

Apparel and Personal Items

  • Beach Essentials: Pack swimwear, sarongs, and light cover-ups for those sunny beach outings. To safeguard against the sun’s glare, consider a rash vest.
  • Resort Apparel: Include lightweight dresses, shorts, t-shirts, and sandals for casual resort living or finer dining experiences.
  • Conservative Options: For excursions to local islands or the capital city Malé, include clothing like long skirts, trousers, and shoulder-covering tops in your luggage.
  • Varied Footwear: Bring along flip-flops, water shoes for reef adventures, and comfortable sandals. Athletic shoes might be required for any on-site gym facilities.

Electrical Compatibility and Connectivity

  • Adapters and Converters: The Maldives typically uses Type G electrical sockets, so a British-style three-pin adapter may be necessary.
  • Charging Devices: Don’t forget chargers for your electronic devices and consider a portable charger for convenience during outdoor activities.
  • Specialized Equipment: A waterproof camera for aquatic adventures and your own snorkeling or diving gear, though many local places offer rental options.
  • Environmental Consciousness: Carrying a reusable water bottle contributes to staying hydrated and reducing plastic use.

Regulations on Restricted Goods

  • Protecting Local Culture: Be mindful not to bring materials that conflict with Islamic beliefs, including texts and symbols from other religions.
  • Importation Bans: Alcohol and pork products are not allowed on local islands, but resort islands cater to tourist preferences and provide these items.
  • Strict Drug Policy: Abide by the Maldives’ stringent drug laws; ensure you carry a prescription for any required medication and consult with Maldivian authorities if necessary.
  • Environmental Considerations: Avoid bringing single-use plastics and other environmentally damaging materials. Also, refrain from removing shells or sand from the islands.
  • Vigilance with Technology: Drones are usually prohibited at resorts unless you have explicit permission from the resort management.

Environment & Sustainability

In the Maldives, delicate marine life and the stability of its islands are under direct threat from the effects of climate change and human activities. As tourism is a mainstay of the economy, it’s imperative that visitors contribute positively to the ecological well-being of this archipelago.

To help ensure the continuity of this picturesque environment, here are several actionable guidelines:

  • Select Reef-Friendly Sunscreen: Traditional sun lotions may contain substances detrimental to coral life. Choose sunscreens that are biodegradable and friendly to marine ecosystems.
  • Respect Coral Life: Corals, which might take centuries to mature, should not be touched or trodden upon to prevent damage. Even small disruptions can have long-term effects.
  • Water Use: Moderation in water use is essential as it’s a scarce resource here. Act responsibly to conserve water whenever possible.
  • Sustainable Resort Choices: Opt for accommodation that practices environmental responsibility, like effective waste management, conserving water, and utilizing energy-saving technologies.
  • Support Conservation Efforts: Engage with resorts offering programs focused on marine life preservation, such as coral rehabilitation or turtle protection projects.
  • Waste Reduction: Simple actions like rejecting single-use products and minimizing food waste contribute significantly to waste reduction, considering everything needs to be imported to and exported from the island resorts.
  • Plastic Use Minimization: Aim to minimize plastic consumption, especially by avoiding items meant for single use.

Adopting these practices in the Maldives ensures your visit not only allows you to savor the beauty of this unique destination but also helps to safeguard its natural splendor for future generations.