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Maldives | The Ultimate Travel Guide

When to go, where to stay and what to do in this idyllic island paradise.

Updated

Maldives overwater bungalows

Located in South Asia, Maldives is the kind of destination you have to pinch yourself to convince is real.

Here, crystal clear waters hiding colourful coral meet palm tree-fringed soft sands - and staying in an overwater bungalow is not a maybe, it's a must.

Once considered an expensive honeymoon destination, thanks to budget airlines such as AirAsia flying into the capital city of Malé, paradise is now within reach for holidaymakers on a budget.

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Getting around in the Maldives

For immediate transport around the island you are staying on, walking is your best option as most islands are small and easily explored on foot. To get to and from any other islands, you may need to take either a seaplane, a ferry, a yacht or a speedboat.

These are most commonly organised by your resort and may be included in the price of your accommodation. Car rentals are not available in the Maldives.

Public transport in the Maldives

  • Types of transport: On MalĂ©, the MTCC provides buses around the island and ferries to other neighbouring islands.
  • Paying for transport: Bus fares can be paid for in cash to the driver. The cost is MVR3.00. The public ferry runs from MalĂ© City and HulhumalĂ© for MVR5.50 and takes 20 minutes. Ferries to other islands from MalĂ© cost around MVR22.00 depending on the island you are travelling to.
  • Getting to and from the airport: To get to your resort you will need to take either a seaplane, speedboat or ferry from Velena International Airport. The public bus can be taken from the airport to HulhumalĂ© for MVR16.00 and takes 10 minutes.
  • Best apps for getting around: There are currently no apps for transport around the Maldives.

Taxis and rideshare

Taxis: Taxis can be hailed from the side of the road or called for a pick-up.

Rideshare: There is currently no service from Uber or other rideshare companies operating in the Maldives.

Airport transfers in the Maldives

The Maldives' international airport is located in Malé, while many of the resorts are located on other islands. Airport transfers are organised through your accommodation with vessels arriving daily for pick-up from the airport.

Alternatively, you can organise a direct pick-up from the airport yourself through Atoll Transfer.

Frequently asked questions about the Maldives

Is the Maldives expensive compared to Australia?

If you compare the prices in Australia with those in the Maldives, overall expenses in the Maldives are significantly lower. Let's look at some of the examples of pricing difference for a better perspective.

In Australia we'd usually pay about $80 for a three-course meal for 2 people, whereas in the Maldives you'd be looking at something like $28.77 for the equivalent. However, if you're staying at a resort (most are located on isolated islands) you may be looking at higher costs.

Draught beer is less expensive, as it would usually be in the region of $7 in Australia whereas in the Maldives prices are more like $3.49 (averaged out).

Coffee is cheaper too. We'd usually pay in the region of $4, and in the Maldives you'd be more likely to pay around $3.13.

Generally, public transportation and taxi services are a lot cheaper than back home too.

There are some areas of expenditure where you'll notice a price hike. Groceries like bananas, lettuce and especially bottles of wine are all much higher in price in the Maldives. Even at McDonald's, Aussies are used to paying in the region of $10 for their McMeals. In the Maldives you'd be more likely to pay closer to $15.

Which of the Maldives islands is best?

All of the Maldives islands are picturesque and idyllic. It really depends on what you are looking for in your holiday experience.

  • If you're looking for action, adventure and diving, then Biyadhoo is the haven for you.
  • If you're looking for variety and choices in terms of activities, dining and accommodation, you'll be wanting to stay on Meeru island.
  • If you're hoping for a couples' retreat that offers privacy and intimacy then opt for Veligandu island.

Which of the Maldives' islands is best for snorkelling?

You can snorkel anywhere in the Maldives, but Biyadhoo probably boasts the best opportunities. The laid-back atmosphere and the breathtaking snorkeling on the house reef are exactly what you've been looking for. The dive center also presents great opportunities.

It's multilingual staff offer lots of help and individual attention to beginners. The equipment is well-maintained and they'll recommend an expansive choice of dives suited to every level from beginner to advanced dives.

Is the Maldives safe?

The Maldives are overall quite safe for tourists and despite recent political turmoil, the tourist and islander lifestyles have had very little impact. As with anywhere new there are a few things Aussies should consider when travelling to the Maldives.

  • Sun. The Maldives is set on the equator so it has some of the strongest rays the world has to offer. Cover up and use sunscreen. Take note that sunscreen alone is not protection enough if you're in the water. Make sure you're fully protected from serious sun damage by wearing a t-shirt when swimming.
  • Customs. The strict laws of customs on the Maldives prohibit the importation of pornographic material (even semi nude magazines), alcohol and illegal drugs into the country. Exports of coral, shells and any other object removed from the sea is illegal too. Alcohol use is completely banned in the capital Male and getting caught will result in serious punishment. The alcohol regulations aren't applied to the resorts so stick to drinking there.
  • Sealife threats. Be on the lookout for sharks, stingrays and stonefish. Also watch out for triggerfish. The giant triggerfish grows to 30-40cm and is known to be very aggressive. Keep your distance if you spot one.
  • Coral. Watch out for broken bits of coral when walking on beaches. They can be razor sharp and can easily cause infections if they break your skin.
  • Petty Crime. Please ensure you take the usual precautions to safeguard yourself and your personal possessions as petty crime against tourists does happen.

Is the Maldives gay-friendly?

Whilst the holding of hands would not create issues, out of respect for their culture and religious beliefs, it may be best to refrain from any public displays of affection. PDAs won't get you deported but they might elicit unwelcome frowns.

Can you drink alcohol in the Maldives?

Alcohol is not available in towns as it's banned in Sunni Muslim culture. However, you can get drinks at most resorts catered for international tourists.

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