A sunny, breezy and crowd-free paradise–the Maldives is just a quick flight away without any visa hassles. But what they don’t tell you about the tropical island is that the transfer and layover time and the many additional hidden costs can make or break your holiday experience. These tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your time in the island nation:
1. Resorts close to Malé work best for weekend trips
Fixed timings for seaplane and boat transfers means you could end up spending anywhere between one to four hours at the airport, losing the day in transit. But, a host of hotels are just a quick zip from Malé. Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives, Pullman Maldives Maamutaa, Grand Park Kodhipparu, One&Only Reethi Rah, Varu by Atmosphere and Ozen Reserve Bolifushi are all between 15 to 40-minute boat rides from the city.
If you choose a hotel that is a seaplane ride away, check if they can schedule it according to your flight timings to avoid waiting for hours.
2. Not all resorts cover your seaplane/boat transfer cost
A seaplane transfer could cost anywhere from $270 (Rs19,669) to $450 (Rs32,782). Don’t forget to check if a complimentary ride seaplane or boat transfer is part of your deal.
3. The cost of your holiday depends greatly on the season
The best part about the Maldives is that you can look forward to balmy, tropical weather almost all year round, with a chance of rain between the months of May to October in the Maldives. Expect some of the best deals during these off-season months.
4. Consider an all-inclusive resort
When you’re in paradise, you can very quickly run a very high tab on those pinacoladas, which is why it’s best to choose a resort with an all-inclusive plan for meals and drinks. This would usually include a selection of spirits both at the bar and in your room (replenished once or twice a day) and all meals at the buffet and some of the speciality restaurants. Kudadoo Maldives Private Island, Ozen Reserve Bolifushi, Heritance Aarah Maldives and Centara Grand Island are just some of the many all-inclusive resorts here.
5. Some water sports may cost extra even at all-inclusive resorts
At many all-inclusive resorts, non-motorised sports such as paddle boating, kayaking, windsurfing and canoeing are inclusive of the plan. If you stay for three or four nights, they may also add snorkelling, dolphin spotting and a night of star-gazing into your deal. However, there are some resorts like the Kudadoo Maldives Private Island, where you won’t have to worry about giving your room number at any stage because everything is part of your package.
6. An extra day can come for less
Many resorts tend to add additional deals such as a spa, a snorkelling session, sunset or dolphin cruise, a movie night under the stars, a dinner at a speciality restaurant if you spend over three nights at the property.
7. Some resorts have their own time zone
Maldives (MVT) is 30 minutes behind Indian Standard Time. However, some resorts have their own time zone (to give their guests some more daylight hours). So, they add about an hour or 1.5 hours to MVT. Check with your hotel, so you can schedule your departure in time to catch your flight.
8. You need to get tested for COVID before you enter the Maldives
An RT-PCR test must be taken at least 96 hours prior to departure. Children below the age of one are exempted. Note: Your test must have your passport number (Labs tend to ask for your Aadhar Card details if they don’t know the purpose of your test, so don’t forget to inform them).
You will also have to present an RT-PCR test no more than 96 hours old on your return journey. Factor in a day to receive the results. So if you’re spending three nights in the Maldives, get tested on the second day. It’s advisable to book your appointment with the lab on the island the day you reach in that case.
9. There’s a bit of paperwork
Once you have received your test results, you are required to submit an online Traveller Health Declaration form within 24 hours prior to departure. The form includes some basic information, your flight details, health details, the countries you have travelled to in the past 15 days and a drive to upload your negative RT-PCR test. Once you’re done, you will receive a QR code. Keep a screenshot handy to present at Malé airport on arrival. The same declaration form needs to be filled on your return, along with an Air Suvidha form to reenter India.
10. You may have to quarantine for a day—for a good reason
Some properties like Soneva Fushi may request you to quarantine for 24 hours in your villa until you get your test results, so you might not want to schedule anything for that day.
11. When it comes to packing, less is more
You don’t need much to have a good time in the Maldives. A few swimsuits, kaftans and cover-ups, sunglasses, a beach bag, hat and sandals are more than enough. Of course, an SPF suntan lotion is the most important, but also add some aloe vera to cool your skin after a long day of beach bumming.
12. There are things you want to keep out of your bag…
The Maldives is an Islamic country. You are not allowed to bring idols of worship, religious books, pork and pork products, and alcohol.
13. Beach villas are just as good as water villas
Many people are often seduced by the idea of an overwater villa, but if you’re a beach person, and especially if you’re travelling with young children, a beach villa might be a better and safer option. Sand between your toes is a tangible luxury.
14. Not all resorts allow kids
Resorts such as Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, Hurawalhi Island Resort and Kudadoo Maldives are adults-only resorts. Other resorts may welcome kids but not at the overwater villas—for safety reasons. Be sure to check with your resort before you book.
15. But there are plenty of options for kids as well…
Yes, the Maldives is best known for honeymoons. But there are many resorts specially designed for parents to put their feet up and relax. Kid’s club with activities such as treasure hunts and pasta-making, and babysitting services, mean you can also slot in some spa time. When it comes to safety, most resorts are well-equipped with measures like railings and child-safety locks on the deck of the overwater villas. Families with young children, choose beach villas facing shallow island lagoons. Here are some great tips on travelling with your kids to the Maldives.
16. Some resorts are better for snorkelling than others
Check with the hotel on how far you need to go to spot marine life. Some islands in the Maldives are reclaimed, or artificial islands or have been affected by coral bleaching, and therefore offer a lower chance of spotting marine life. Some others, like The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, Dhigufaru Island Resort, Dusit Thani Maldives and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru are close to Hanifaru Bay, where the world’s largest congregation of manta rays takes place between June to October. The coral-clad reefs are healthy enough for you to just peep into the waters to spot fish.
17. If you plan to dive, factor in an extra day
It is recommended to wait for 12-24 hours before you get onto a plane after you have gone diving. This is because you could suffer from decompression sickness. For good order’s sake, avoid flying out the day after you dive.
18. And if you love diving, consider a liveaboard experience
If exploring Maldives’ coral reefs is topmost on your priority list, why not live on the waters itself. Orca Dive Club organises luxury liveaboard experiences, where a boat is your base to set out on diving expeditions.
19. The Maldives is disappearing—so pick a resort that follows sustainable practices
Climate change has put the Maldives at serious risk. But many of the country’s resorts are doing their bit to mitigate their impact on the environment. Soneva Fushi, Gili Lankanfushi, Kudadoo Maldives Private Island and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru employ several sustainable practices, from recycling plastic and glass onsite to using solar power and helping regenerate coral. Make the right choice—you want your kids to enjoy this paradise as well.