The Maldives Travel Guide by Nomadic Matt

The Maldives Travel Guide by Nomadic Matt

The Maldives are the perfect place for honeymoons and couples looking for a luxury island vacation. This country of 1,000 islands has everything a person could want in a tropical island – clear water, white sand beaches, palm trees, warm sunny days, and lots of great diving. It’s as close to heaven as you can get. You can even sleep in bungalows right over the water.

Typical Costs

Accommodation – The Maldives are not a cheap destination, and the country has no real budget accommodation. Aside from the capital, there are no hotels in the Maldives, only resorts. The cheaper resorts usually start at around 750 MVR per day per person in the low season. At most resorts, a double room will cost at least 1,500 MVR per day.

Food – All your meals and drinks are included when you are at the resorts. On the main island of Male, you can find local markets and restaurants. Meals typically cost around 80 MVR.

Transportation – Your resort takes care of all your transportation needs.

Activities – Diving costs vary but are around 5,375 MVR per week.

Money Saving Tips

Fly from the Middle East or Asia – Even getting to the Maldives by plane can be incredibly expensive. Luckily, regional airlines like Air Asia and Sri Lankan Airlines and have begun offering cheaper airfare to get there. Be sure to try to book a flight from either Asia or the Middle East to save on flying.

Use ferries – Getting around the different islands in the Maldives can be costly if you don’t use the ferry system. Be sure to check the ferry timetables and to plan your trip accordingly if you don’t want to be stuck on the wrong island or have to pay for a domestic flight.

Stay with the locals – The Maldives has recently allowed locals to lodge travelers in their homes and this accommodation option is by far the cheapest. Using sites, like Airbnb, to find these guesthouses are a good choice. The only alternative to this option, since there are a sparse number of hostels in the area, is to spend the night at an expensive resort. Learn more of the local culture and save a ton of money by staying in guesthouses.

Don’t eat at resorts – Resorts are not the only option for eating in the Maldives. Eating at local restaurants or the included meals at guesthouses can save you a large amount of money and be delicious at the same time. The traditional diet of incredibly fresh fish, a type of flatbread similar to a roti, and rice is sure to appeal to any seafood lover.

Go on the included excursions – Many guesthouses have planned excursions that you can go on any time you wish. Due to the private nature of staying at a guesthouse, often it will be you and your host enjoying scuba diving or snorkeling privately, and for however long you wish. Not only is this cheaper, but it means that you don’t have to deal with the massive quantities of people waiting for you to finish in resort excursions. It is also a smart idea to ask around the local towns to see if they know of any special activities to do.

Top Things to See and Do in the Maldives

Explore Malé – This relatively small city happens to be the capital city of the Maldives. Despite its size, it is host to many interesting mosques, museums, and other various things to do. The Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as the Old Friday Mosque, is the oldest in the country, dating back to 1656. It is one of the more popular visitor hotspots. Some other interesting places to check out are the National Art Gallery, the National Stadium, and Sultan’s Park.

Dive the Banana Reef – This is a protected marine area that is known internationally for its beauty and incredible diving and snorkeling. The numerous caves, overhangs, and dramatic cliff lines result in stunning photos with every shot you snap. The brilliant coral growth attracts a huge range of sea life, including groper, barracuda, morays, jackfish, snapper, and more.

Eat out – The food here is beyond delicious and incredibly fresh. Most of the restaurants in Male offer outdoor dining areas. Some of the more popular places to go include The Seagull Café, Symphony, Royal Garden Café, and Irudhashu Hotaa (for quick meals).

Ride the Whale Submarine – This popular excursion takes you along the ocean reef. This is perfect for children and those that aren’t into diving. There are several boats that can take you to the launch point – The Whale House. It is best to set up a reservation in advance, even though there are several departures daily.

Go fishing – Fishing is really popular here, so for those of you that are into it, this is a real treat. There is plenty of big game to go after, and you can spend days doing it. Many of the hotels offer package deals and will set you up with any necessary equipment and bait. Night fishing is also included.

Retreat to Bathala Island – This is a beautiful island in the north Ari Atoll. It is just 90 minutes by speedboat from the airport or 20 by seaplane. The beaches here are covered in soft, white sand and there is a lot of natural overgrowth. The island is small and intimate — it only takes 10 minutes to walk to perimeter — but there is something private and humbling about it.

Dive the Wreck of the Maldive Victory – This is a dive that is best suited for the more experienced and comfortable. There is a heightened challenge, due to the potential for strong currents. At the deepest point, the ship (which originally sunk in 1981), sits at 115 feet. The structure is almost entirely intact and it is now home to a rich growth of sponges, coral, tubastrea, and a variety of fish.

Have a spa day – When you spend the time and money to travel all the way to a place like this, it is almost a must to spend at least a few hours at the spa. The best thing about being here is that it is easy to unwind, relax, and do something great for your body. Massages, detoxes, soaks, wraps, and facials are some of the few things to consider.

Explore the Fish Head – Also known as Mushimasmingali Thila, this is another world-famous dive sight among the Maldives. The biggest attraction here is the number of grey reef sharks that can be seen—but you will also see many fish, including Napoleons, fusiliers, and even barracuda. The walls run deep into the ocean depths and run like multi-level ledges, covered in anemones, sea fans, and black corals.

Do some watersports – When you are ready to get wet somewhere other than the hotel swimming pool or in the numerous turquoise lagoons, check out one of the many water sports available throughout the Maldives. The water here is great for a ride, whether it’s via a banana boat, parasailing, water skiing, or any other number of things. You are sure to have a thrilling time.

Go surfing – If you are in the Maldives any time between March and October, then you are pretty much guaranteed some primo surfing time — with June through August holding the promise of the biggest waves. The Atoll of Male is a popular place to go, but there are tons of great spots to check out.

Have a snack attack – Maldivian food is super tasty—especially if you are fond of fish. Snacking , known commonly as hedhikaa, is surprisingly popular here, with entire menus dedicated to it. There are all kinds of different pastry stuffed treats and fried fishy rolls. Snacking has never been so tempting.

Check out the nightlife – Locally, alcohol is banned amongst the population —which means a very limited nighttime scene. Most of the hotels and resorts have bars, but you are not likely to find them anywhere else. You’ll have to search around if you want to check out some live music.

Shop at the STO Trade Center – Located in Male, this is the city’s largest supermarket. Picking up stuff here can save you a little extra money, especially if you are staying somewhere with a kitchen. There is a great assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some interesting local favorites.

Visit the National Museum – Located in Male, this small museum can be found in Sultan’s Park. First opened in 1952, this museum is host to a valuable collection, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and history of the country. Many of the items here once belonged to kings and queens.

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