When it was time for us to leave South Africa, we were sad to go; but, we were equally excited to experience the renowned beauty of the Maldives. For years, I’ve been captivated by the photos of this tropical paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with its turquoise waters, amazing aquatic life and over-water bungalows. In order to really experience it and “live the dream,” we knew we had to splurge on the budget to stay in one of the coveted water bungalows. That said, our 10 days in Maldives was one of the most expensive things we chose to do.
The 3 biggest things to consider when visiting the Maldives are Travel Time, Budget and Seasonality:
When deciding on the best resort to stay at while in Maldives, consider that the Maldivian nation is made up of about 1,200 small coral islands dispersed over 90,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean. Of the 1,200 islands, only 200 of them have actual residents and there are over 120 registered resorts in Maldives. The main airport is in Male, located on Hulhule Island in the North Male atoll. If you stay in a resort near Male, upon arrival at the airport, you will be shuttled via boat to your resort. The ride could be over an hour long. However, if you stay in one of the more remote islands, you will likely be shuttled to your resort via seaplane. Seaplanes are a great opportunity for aerial photographs but they also come at a hefty price. Make sure to consider this as part of your budget when traveling to Maldives.
We stayed at Adaaran Club Rannalhi which sits at the tip of the South Male atoll. The boat trip from the airport was 1 hour in length.
I just want to reiterate how isolated and remote ALL of the islands are. There are no cars, no towns, no roads while in Maldives, unless you are in Male. On most of the islands, it is a quick walk from one end of the island to the other end; so, you want to be certain you come prepared with all your travel necessities and have enough activities to keep busy. Granted, you can purchase sunscreen, toothpaste, razors or any typical goods at the shop(s) at your resort, but be prepared to pay premium pricing. For example, a bottle of sunscreen at our resort, Adaaran Club Rannalhi is $33 USD. It will be hard to find contact solution, mouthwash, a large variety of swimwear, sunhats, cough drops, etc. You will be very limited at your resorts so come prepared.
Bottom Line: when selecting your resort, make sure it has all the amenities you want because you won’t have easy access to them anywhere else during your stay. If you prefer to swim in a pool while gazing at the ocean, make sure your resort has a pool because ours did not. If you enjoy an early morning run on the treadmill, weightlifting or yoga classes, make sure your resort has a fitness center because ours did not. If you enjoy getting pampered with massages, facials and skin treatments, be sure your resort has a spa, but be prepared for the prices to be comparable to those in the USA as all the resorts deal in American dollars.
If you are a big “foodie,” you will want to look at the reviews for the restaurant(s) at your resort to make sure you will have an excellent experience. Our resort only had 1 restaurant, so we were forced to eat there everyday; however, the food was quite good with a lot of variety so we didn’t have any complaints. If you don’t mind buffet-style food, an all-inclusive option may work for you and it will keep the costs down. Keeping in mind that everything is imported in Maldives, that means alcohol and food are quite expensive. We were glad to have an all-inclusive package because if not, drinks ranged from $7-$12 per beer/cocktail. Make sure you know the dining options before you book your resort in the Maldives because those will be your ONLY options while on holiday. And don’t forget that being very close to India, the cuisine in your resort will likely have a dominant Indian flair.
And finally, before you book a resort, consider the type of holiday you are wanting. Is it your honeymoon? A family reunion? Or are you looking to party with friends? If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a small, intimate resort with private water bungalows might be the way to go. The best thing about our stay at Adaaran was the over-water bungalow. We just LOVED the experience of living in a house suspended above water! It was unforgettable and worth the additional cost.
If you’re traveling with a group and are looking for great entertainment, make sure your resort offers fun activities to keep you and your group busy during the day. Look into some of the tours they offer and see if anything appeals to you. No doubt you will have the opportunity to snorkel, kayak, paddle board, scuba dive and go fishing pretty much everyday on any of the islands; but, if you’re looking for MORE, you will need to find the right resort with a service-oriented staff and loads of activities. Our resort offered daily sunrise and sunset fishing, shark swimming tours, dolphin scouting, scuba lessons/diving and island hopping tours. Most of the activities were quite expensive except for snorkeling ($10 per day), kayaking ($50 for 2 hours), paddle boarding ($25 for 1 hour) and fishing ($50 per person). The motor sports were definitely out of our price range. For example, to ride a jet ski was $100 for 20 minutes and tubing was $40 for 10 minutes per person.
We very much preferred any activities involving the aquatic life because this unique nation offers the most beautiful, crystal clear waters we’ve ever seen with such abundant coral reef and sea creatures. You can easily snorkel twice a day for a week and never get bored with it!
Anyone who desires to go to the Maldives most definitely knows about the beautiful scenery, coral reefs and turquoise waters that span as far as the eye can see. But we venture to assume that you may not be aware of some of the facts, laws and cultural norms that exist in Maldives which could impact your vacation here. Here is a list of facts to keep in mind before and during your trip:
Just an average Tuesday night sunset in Maldives!
Another Maldivian Sunset from our patio...PARADISE!