If I ask anyone about the Maldives, I discover that it almost always conjures up images of white sand beaches, turquoise blue ocean and honeymooning couples walking hand in hand towards the sunset, and it’s true.
One of the reasons this island nation is so sought after and special is because it’s unique to almost anywhere else in the world. I travelled a few years ago with my family, my sisters and my two nieces. I was nervous at first, did I need to be in a couple to enjoy such a place? Would people look at me funny if I decided to have a cocktail or a drink alone whilst my sisters did their own thing?
I needn’t have worried, no one looks at me funny. People come here to escape, relax and get away from the rest of the world, they are too busy soaking up views of paradise to even notice what anyone else is doing.
That being said, I thought I would offer some nuggets of information for any of you planning to visit the Maldives for yourselves!
Tip 1: You don’t have to stay in an overwater villa.
I used to work as a travel consultant at a tour operator specialising in once in a life time trips to the Indian Ocean. One of the most common requests I had was clients wanting to stay in a water villa. For those of you unfamiliar, water villas spread out into the ocean from a jetty, standing on stilts and offering a direct ladder into the ocean from your room.
They are very special and unique, and if you can easily afford one, then go for it and enjoy the experience. However, if you have a strict budget and trying to cut down on days so you can pay for a water villa, then don’t. Instead, consider splitting your time. For example, if you have 6 days, spend 3 in a beach villa and 3 in a water villa.
Or quite simply, just stick to a beach villa. They are just as beautiful and special, nothing beats walking up in the morning, walking outside your back door and sinking your toes into the sand!
Tip 2: Consider visiting more than one island
Lots of people worry about being bored in the Maldives, they think all you do is sip cocktails and lay on the beach all day. Whilst that’s no hardship to me, it is actually a big misconception. There is a huge array of islands and hotels, around 132 to be exact, all offering an individual experience.
Have a think about combining two resorts into your stay to keep things exciting. Some have incredible snorkelling opportunities, others offer water sports such as surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and jet skiing, Some islands have a big focus on food, boasting multiple restaurants, whilst other islands want you to experience a complete desert island experience with very minimal amenities and facilities.
Tip 3: If there is an opportunity to take a seaplane, do it
Depending on the location of an island, guests are usually offered a speedboat or seaplane, or both. If you have the option of both, take the seaplane! There is no feeling like whooshing through the ocean before taking off, flying over countless tropical islands and admiring all the different shades of blue below. If you haven’t chosen you island yet, perhaps consider ones that offer the seaplane transfer.
Tip 4: Book an appropriate flight
Seeing as I just told you a seaplane ride is a must, it’s important to note that they only fly in daylight hours. This means you need to book your flights carefully, most tour operators or travel agents will make sure this is done, but mistakes can be made, especially if you are booking everything yourself.
You want to avoid flying in after 3pm wherever possible, I am aware that Emirates changed their flight schedule and now land at 3:30pm which just scrapes through the possibility of taking a seaplane, but don’t leave it any later than that!
This is the same for flying home, don’t book a flight out of Male at 6 o’clock in the morning, you can’t get a seaplane at 4am! And don’t book a flight that leaves at 11pm or you will be transferred to the airport verrrry early!
Tip 5: Remember reef-safe suncream
The Maldives is at huge risk of environmental changes and has an extremely delicate ecosystem. Their reefs are what helps make the country so unique and exciting as diving and snorkelling opportunities here are unmatched.
The key is to find an SPF that uses physical UVA and UVB filters as other creams full of chemicals can cause corrosion to the coral. Not sure whether yours is reef safe? Flip over your bottle and check the ingredients, they need to contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Tip 6: Consider going all-inclusive
I’m not an all-inclusive kind of gal but this situation is different. Unless you’re staying on a local island, you can’t just pop out to the shops or to a different island to find a different restaurant. When you are on a resort island, you are on it for your whole duration (unless you go on an excursion).
Food and drink prices are expensive, some of the most expensive I have ever seen, as everything is imported into the Maldives, and then imported again to the islands, it isn’t cheap! You are in the Maldives to relax and it’s much easier to do that when you are not counting the pennies 24/7 or deciding whether to treat yourself to a dinner time cocktail.
Tip 7: Consider what time of year to travel
The Maldives has a fairly distinct wet and dry season. The best weather is from December-March, which means this is the most expensive time too.
If you are jetting off in search of sunshine, then ideally you need to go during these times. However, if budget plays a big factor into whether you can or cannot go, you absolutely will not have a bad time going in rainy season. You can be lucky or unlucky, sometimes you can turn up in summer and be totally covered by cloud for a week, or you can be treated to a week’s worth of sunshine.
Even the ‘dry season’ can’t promise to be dry 100% of the time, especially with a rapidly changing climate that is effecting the seasons globally.
Tip 8: Some resorts have their own time zones
Island time is a real thing in the Maldives, it might be 1 o’clock in one and 3 o’clock in the other. This is because many islands want to make the most of daylight hours so switch their times accordingly, despite this not remaining in keeping with their national time zone.
Because of this you need to be mindful about flight times and when you are booking transfers!
Tip 9: You don’t need shoes
Read it again. I’m being serious. Even the most exclusive resorts offer barefoot luxury, and they take it literally. I recently told my friend who was travelling for her honeymoon to leave the heels at home, you don’t need heels in the sand, trust me!
Bare feet is fine, even in most restaurants. I tend to take a pair of flip flops and maybe some sandals, absolutely nothing more than that.
Tip 10: Capture your memories
Some people are lucky enough to visit the Maldives over and over again, but for most, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would highly recommend capturing the small moments and printing off a CEWE photobook when you get home.
Physical photos can’t be lost during a technology malfunction (RIP to my hard drive) and photobooks and albums can be easily shared with your loved ones over a cup of tea and some cake when you are back home!
Printed here in England, the photo quality is second to none, and it gives you something to do on the plane too or if you are stuck in an airport!
You can create and order your own CEWE photobook here.