Maldives Tourism and Travel Guide

A mosaic of aquamarine waters and shimmering white shores, the growing popularity of Maldives tourism has made it one of the most visited places in the world. Dotted with pristine beaches, a surreal landscape and a vibrant culture, Maldives takes you into another time. Made up of over 1100 islands, of which only 200 are habitable, Maldives should be your next vacation if you are looking for beauty with adventure mixed in. The coral islands of Maldives are enveloped by blue lagoons and towering palm trees. Grouped in a double chain of 27 atolls, Maldives is home to more than 105 resorts. Each sight in this gorgeous country is different from the last and a vacation in Maldives is almost like a dream. The laid-back vibe of Maldives is almost palpable and you’ll experience this calm throughout your trip. While Male shares a glimpse of local life, the island of Biyadhoo is perfect for deep diving and Maafushivaru, located in the South Ari Atoll is a favourite for romantic holidays. If you have ever wanted to tick off snorkelling, scuba diving or swimming with rare aquatic life from your ‘things to do’ list - there is no better opportunity. Sustained by the Indian Ocean, it’s known across the world as a haven for water sport enthusiasts and if the growing Maldives tourism is anything to go by, there isn’t a better place for underwater experiences. The diverse marine life shining in vibrant hues against unique corals in the stillness of deep waters is an experience you’ll never forget. Where you stay during your vacation greatly influences your experience and the resorts in Maldives don’t disappoint. Offering an astonishing array of choices, from water villas to luxurious resorts and backpacker hostels, there isn’t an experience Maldives tourism doesn’t provide. Travellers come from far and wide to experience the beauty that this country is and it’s said that you’ll almost always be back for more.
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Top Attractions In Maldives

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Best Luxury Hotels in Maldives

Enjoy relaxing spas, azul pools, massages, beach views, delicious dishes and the best of local hospitality at these handpicked luxury hotels in Maldives.

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Maldives

Comfortable stays, good food and ocean vistas, Tripoto's list of the best mid-range hotels will let you witness the charms of Maldives without having to spend a fortune.

Best Budget Hotels in Maldives

Maldives has a few budget options with incredible facilities that will make you say, "How can this be so cheap?" Find one from Tripoto's list of the best budget hotels in Maldives.

Best Time to Visit Maldives

With a tropical monsoon climate, the beautiful country of Maldives is sunny throughout the year. The average Maldives temperature is between 23ºC to 31ºC.

Considering popular activities such as scuba diving can be best enjoyed with minimum rainfall, the best time to go to the Maldives is during the dry season which falls between November and April.

Visa Information

Promising a vacation without visa hassles, Maldives has made it quite easy for tourists to travel stress-free. Boosting Maldives Tourism, the government has made it the visa process seamless and uncomplicated for tourists, as long as they have the required documents.

 

Free Visa On Arrival

 

When you reach Maldives, a 30-day visa on arrival is issued to Indians free of cost. The visa will be issued on the discretion of immigration officials, so ensure that all the information you provide is authentic.

 

There are three categories of visas which the government of Maldives permits to international visitors:

  • Tourist
  • Business
  • Family or Friend visit

 

To apply for a tourist visa on arrival, you will have to fill a tourist form and submit with supporting documents. There will be a short interview with the immigration officer after the submission of the form. After this last step, you’ll receive your 30-day visa for Maldives.

 

Documents Required

  • An official passport which should be valid for more than 6 months after the date of your journey.    
  • Two passport size coloured photographs which are 35mm in width and 44mm in length. Your face should be clear.     
  • Copies of your hotel or resort bookings for the duration of your trip.
  • A confirmed return or onward ticket from Maldives.  

 

You will also have to submit proof of your financial budget. The Maldives tourism authorities will examine and ensure that you have enough funds to cover the expenses of your stay. The estimated cost of which is Rs. 3450 per day.

Top Islands In Maldives

It’s said that travelling can change perspectives and to some extent, people. And a vacation in Maldives gives you ample opportunity to experience this change. The places which make up Maldives tourism are numerous and each beach is different than the other. To make things slightly easier, we have listed down a few islands and attractions that will help exploring Maldives tourism.

 

Malé

In essence, the extremely small capital of Maldives offers a glimpse of the country’s local way of life. A centre point for all commercial activities, it’s a little bit removed from the country’s picturesque islands but offers a beautiful combination of history and architecture through its monuments. You’ll be greeted by closely-packed vibrant buildings and typical city chaos. Offering a memorable culinary experience for food lovers, it is lined with a number of small cafes serving the best local cuisine you’ll find in Maldives. A keeper of the country’s rich heritage and marvellous architectural gems, it is home to the oldest mosque in Maldives - Malé Friday Mosque, the National Museum and a bustling local market. If you’d like to experience the busy side of Maldives tourism and shop for some souvenirs, the capital city should definitely be on your Maldives tour package.

Must visit places in Malé: National Museum, Malé Fish Market, Malé Local Market

 

Banana Reef

Everything you have read, heard or seen about Banana Reef falls short in real life. One of the oldest reefs, it is the most popular spot among divers and one of the best places to visit in Maldives. Shaped like a banana, it’s a gateway or shall we say waterway to discover and interact with schools of Bannerfish, Grouper fish and the most popular, Black Snapper fish. With ideal conditions for diving, it is perfect for beginners as well as experts to dive into the deeper realm. Literally.

Keep an eye out for: Eagle Rays and the Whitetip Sharks

 

HulhuMalé

A popular choice for visitors either on the last day or their first, HulhuMalé is a popular, pristine island connected to the Maldives airport. Making way for a cleaner country, Maldives tourism has a strict policy against littering and also drives ecotourism with green architectural initiatives. Offering the perfect balance of urban luxuries and simple island life, it’s a great spot if you are looking for a relaxed day.

Must visit places in HulhuMalé: HulhuMalé beach, Central Park

 

Utheemu Island

What draws visitors to the beautiful Utheemu Island is its history. The island is home to the palace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu - a revered leader who was an active part of the war against Portuguese invaders. Known as Utheemu Ganduvaru, the wooden palace dates back 500 years but still stands tall with its alluring interiors and intricate carvings. Strolling through the royal palace, one realises how similar it is to walking back to a time when the palace was full of life and buzzing with activity. Kudos to Maldives tourism, which has done a great job in maintaining the beauty and grandeur of this palace.

We recommend: The captivating view of the setting sun in Utheemu Island is unlike any other in Maldives.

 

Maafushi Island

A beautiful testament to ‘beauty never dies’, Maafushi Island has slowly been re-building what was lost in the 2005 Tsunami. As you step into this idyllic island, you’ll be enraptured by its laidback charm and slow way of life. If you spot a huge number of locals on an island in Maldives, prepare yourself for warm hospitality, great conversations and a memorable experience. With its sun-kissed beach and blue waters, it’s a vast expanse of dreamlike beauty as far as your eyes can see. Dotted with gorgeous yet reasonably-priced guesthouses and homestays, you may want to include a couple of days here in your Maldives tourism package if you are looking at some scuba diving, catamaran rides and fishing opportunities.

We recommend: Spend a night here and experience the joy of night fishing.

 

Vaadhoo Island

The most popular part of the Raa Atoll is Vaadhoo Island. With less than 500 inhabitants, the quiet and peaceful abode is where you can admire the stunning Sea of Stars. An unmissable natural phenomenon, visitors from all over the world come to admire this beauty and Maldives tourism has made the experience more pleasurable with a garbage-free beach. Under the moonlight, the waters of Vaadhoo Island shine a bright blue and look like crashing stars. As the waves lap against the craggy rocks, it seems as if the whole island lights up in blue. Owing to the occurrence of various phytoplankton in the sea, it is a self-preservatory reflex for the fish. Although the sunset here is mesmerising, you must stay overnight to capture the Sea of Stars.

We recommend: You can enjoy kayaking and scuba diving on the island as well.

 

 

Activities and Things To Do in the Maldives

If you are a planner, you may already have countless lists of things to do in Maldives. From snorkelling to deep diving to kayaking - the country offers a number of activities. Visitors are spoilt for choice as Maldives tourism adds a plethora of experiences every year. Among the favourites, the shallow lagoon of Cocoa Island in the South Malé Atoll is a haven for snorkelling and kayaking enthusiasts. Let’s take a look at the most popular things to do:

 

Catamaran Sailing

Some beaches in Maldives are dotted with catamaran boats making their way through crystal clear waters. You can hire a boat from the resort you are residing in or from any island that offers this facility. A sailboat designed to give you a quiet and peaceful experience, it’s best enjoyed with a few friends or your partner.

Cost: Approximately Rs. 3500 per person

 

Fishing

If you have always wanted to try your hand at fishing, there is no better place than this stunning island in Maldives. The fishing tours here are mostly guided unless you know your routes very well and would like to head out alone. On some islands, you are allowed to keep the fish you catch and cook them at a specially-arranged bar-be-cue. A popular activity, it is a great booster for Maldives tourism, and in turn the local economy.

Cost: Approximately Rs. 4000 for an hour

 

Flyboarding

Get ready to fly across the clear waters of Maldives with flyboarding. Perfect for newbies, it’s a great activity introduced by Maldives tourism for those still getting used to water and are apprehensive of other immersive water sports. Using jet propulsion, a board is used to raise you a few inches above the water and swoosh you across the waves. Sounds exhilarating, doesn’t it?

Where can you try it: Maafushi Island

Cost: Approximately Rs.10,000 for a 30 to 60 minute ride

 

Kayaking

Become one with water as you traverse through gently rolling waves at your own luxurious pace. Kayaking has slowly become one of the most popular things to do and a big part of Maldives tour packages. It’s a great way to enjoy the slow, charming vibe of the island.

Cost: Approximately Rs.800 per person

 

Snorkelling

Quite a few islands offer snorkelling though it’s best to speak to your resort management to arrange a guided trip. The clear waters of most islands are ideal for snorkelling though if you have the time, take a boat into the waters before you dive in for a snorkelling tour.

 

 

Scuba Diving in Maldives

Experiencing Maldives tourism without scuba diving is unheard of and quite honestly very rare. Maldives tourism has seen an upward surge owing to a stream of scuba diving enthusiasts. One of the best places in the world to dive, the best islands in Maldives all offer customised scuba diving trips.

 

Where should I start?

Whether you are a novice or a professional, the best place to start is with information from your resort or the Maldives Tourism Board. Do a little research on the diving spots around you and the companies providing appropriate training and PADI certified instructors for your trip. Among the most popular scuba diving spots, Fish Head, Banana Reef and Manta Point stand out when you exploring Maldives tourism.


 

Liveaboards

Taking you across most of the 26 atolls over the course of a few days, liveaboards let you experience a scuba diver’s dream. With the opportunity to stop at the best diving spots, it’s a great option if you have time on your side. A little heavy on the pocket, liveaboards are a great option for professionals.

 

Best scuba diving spots:

 

Maaya Thila

Described as the ‘white-tip capital’, Maaya Thila is a spot on the route of a liveaboard. One of the best spots for an evening scuba dive, it gives you a chance to swim with sharks, barracudas and jackfish. This is the best spot if you are looking for a night dive.

 

HP Reef

HP Reef is in the North Malé Atoll and is also known as the Rainbow Reef owing to its vibrant corals. Since the reef sees a number of high currents, it’s recommended to arrange a tour with well-known instructors. Apart from the colourful variety of corals found here, a popular cave called ‘the chimney’ is the highlight of the tour.

 

Manta Point

Manta Rays are synonymous with scuba diving and Maldives tourism, especially when you are at Manta Point. Take a boat from your resort to the point and prepare yourself for a diving experience which will stay with you for a long time. If you are a novice, the training instructors will take your through scuba diving training before you dive in for the real thing. If you are lucky, you may come across other underwater beauties including turtles.

 

How much will it cost me?

A single dive can cost you anywhere between Rs. 4000 to 8000 depending on the season and diving point.

A Guide to Overwater Villas

From extravagant to slightly reasonable, the water villas are greatly contributing to Maldives tourism and it’s no surprise since the villas are picture perfect. A favourite with couples on holiday or newlyweds, it’s an experience you must try.

 

Luxury Water Villas

Baros Resort

Huvafen Fushi

One & Only Reethi Rah

 

Mid-range Over-Water Villas

Vakarufalhi Island Resort

Kihaad

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas

Centara Grand Island Resort

 

Budget Over-Water Villas

Meeru Island Resort

Kuredu Island Resort

Veligandu Island Resort

Honeymoon in Maldives

 If you have been searching for the perfect honeymoon destination and Maldives is your first option - go for it with your eyes closed. Honeymoon travellers are a big contributor to Maldives tourism and resorts have customised packages to make Maldives memorable for newly-weds. You can also dive into a plethora of unique experiences such as:

 

  • Spend an evening with the dolphins
  • Island hopping
  • Explore the coral reef together
  • Take a stroll along the Sea of Stars
  • Try a helicopter ride over the country’s most beautiful islands

 

Resorts in Maldives

 

What is unique and perhaps the most fascinating fact in Maldives is that each island is home to either a single resort or only a handful. One of the most significant contributors to growing Maldives tourism, resorts in Maldives is the highlight of any Maldives vacation. What also stands out is that despite a slew of visitors, resorts promise you a quiet, peaceful and private experience.

 

Luxury Resorts in Maldives

The most stunning resorts in Maldives strike the perfect balance between luxury and comfort. From private beach villas to theme-based restaurants, luxury resorts in Maldives are designed to give you the vacation of your dreams. Here are some luxury resorts in Maldives:

 

  • Joali Maldives
  • Kandima
  • Soneva Jani
  • Constance Moofushi

 

Mid-range Resorts in Maldives

Maldives mid-range resorts promise a splendid vacation with warm hospitality and a wide range of experiences which are all part of your vacation package. Take a look at some of the mid-range resorts in Maldives:

 

  • Kuredu Island and Spa
  • Paradise Island Resort and Spa
  • Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives

 

Budget Resorts in Maldives

All resorts in Maldives promise comfort and surreal views of the sea. So, if you are looking to save money on your accommodation and add a few more diving trips, a budget resort is a great idea. Here’s a list to save you some time:

 

  • Sun Island Resort and Spa
  • Medhufushi Island Resort
  • Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Cuisine & Best Places to Eat in Maldives

 Historically, food has been said to play an important part in the evolution of a country’s culture. The same holds true for Maldives tourism. Today, a simple cuisine of local fruits and seafood in Maldives has made way for international cuisines to cater to the tastes of its visitors. Yet, a big part of the country’s original cuisine beautifully seeps into the menus of even high-end restaurants.

 

Influenced by Indian flavours, the local cuisine is spicy with an exciting play of flavours. There are innumerable restaurants which add to the charm of Maldives with their intriguing concoctions as well as charming ambience.

 

Must-try Dishes in Maldives

 

Mas Huni

A mix of tuna, onion and grated coconut best enjoyed with the local bread.

 

Bis Keemiya

Resembling a samosa, it’s a popular snack which has hard-boiled egg or tuna as a filling.

 

Gulha

Small, round shaped balls which may look like a dumpling. Stuffed with tuna, onions, coconut and chilli.

 

Aluvi Boakibaa

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss this melt-in-the-mouth treat.

 

Must-visit Restaurants in Maldives

 

  • Sala Thai
  • Seagull Cafe House
  • The Sea House
  • Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
  • Minus Six Meters

 

Typical Costs in Maldives

 

In the last decade, Maldives tourism has witnessed an unexpected surge. The country has always been a favourite with luxury travellers, however in recent years, Maldives tourism has opened its shores for budget travellers as well.

 

Maldives tourism has been encouraging and makes it simple for budget travellers to travel easily and have a great time without missing out on its best experiences. Let’s take a look at typical costs for luxury, mid-range and budget travel in Maldives.

 

Luxury travel

 

If your flights to Maldives have been booked at a fairly reasonable price, chances are that the major chunk of your money will be spent on your accommodation. Luxury resorts in Bali start at Rs. 35000 a night and go up to Rs. 2,00,000 a night. The resorts mostly provide an all-inclusive trip to explore Maldives tourism so airport transfers, snorkelling, diving and spa is covered within this amount.

 

Typical per day cost to explore Maldives tourism for luxury travellers: Rs. 8000 to Rs. 15,000

 

Mid-range travel

 

A great way to travel while saving your money for activities is to choose an all-inclusive Maldives tourism vacation package. Cursory research will tell you which resorts offer the best activities and also the best places to visit in Maldives tourism. Save your travel cost by using shared speed boats or sticking to a schedule provided by the Maldives tourism board.

 

Typical per day cost to explore Maldives tourism for Mid-range travellers: Rs. 4000 to Rs. 7000

 

Budget travel

 

Budget travellers need to research a bit more about Maldives tourism before booking flights and resorts. If you are looking to spend most of your money on activities, you can choose homestays and guesthouses with breakfast included. For travel within Maldives, we suggest using the local ferries as far as possible. You can also combine your activities with other budget travellers to save money on group activities which otherwise would cost quite a bit.

 

Typical per day cost to explore Maldives tourism for budget travellers: Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3000

 

How to travel within Maldives?

 

If you will be staying on a single island for the entire duration of your trip to enjoy Maldives tourism, the best way to get around is on foot. It’s easy, reasonable and keeps you fit while  you enjoy the delicious food of Maldives guilt-free!

 

Yacht

If you are in the mood for a luxurious ride, you can hire a yacht for a peaceful tour of remote islands or lesser known coral reefs. While all resorts have their private dock, you can also charter one from another resort.

 

Seaplane

Offering a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous islands is the sleek seaplane. Chances are that your resort’s plane will pick you up from the airport; you can even hire one for a long, uninterrupted tour of the nearby islands.

 

Ferry

The local ferry is a great, reasonable mode of conveyance to get around in Maldives. Maldives tourism has been making sincere efforts to streamline ferry timings and routes. However, if you have your itinerary planned out, it may not be the most reliable option.

 

Speedboat

A super quick way to get around, speedboats are a favourite with tourists. Your resort can easily arrange one or you may book it from a transportation agency separately.

 

Taxi

When all else fails, you call for a taxi! Should you be stuck in a thunderstorm or need to travel within the island, you can ask your resort to book you a taxi or call one yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Maldives currency?
The local currency is known as Rufiyaa (Rf). However, to contribute to Maldives tourism, all local places accept and prefer US dollars. It’s wise to always keep a few extra US dollars with you at all times.

What does a typical Maldives honeymoon package cost?
A typical honeymoon package to Maldives can cost anywhere between Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. Since honeymooners are the biggest supporters of Maldives tourism, the country ensures it’s a welcome abode for them.

 
Are there any flights operating between India to Maldives?
To promote Maldives tourism, Air India offers a direct flight from Bangalore to Malé. This is currently the only direct flight from India to Maldives.

 
What is the name of Maldives capital?
The name of Maldives capital city is Malé.

 
What is Maldives time zone?
The time zone for Maldives is GMT+5.

 
Where is Maldives airport?
Known as Malé International Airport, it is the main international airport in the country. It is located on Hulhule Island in the North Malé Atoll.
 

How is Maldives weather?
The weather is a big reason for growing popularity of Maldives tourism. If you are planning a trip to Maldives, make sure it’s during the dry season of November to April. The weather of Maldives is mostly sunny with a few months of rain during the wet season.
 

Are there many flights to Maldives from India?
India has been one of the largest contributors to the growing popularity of Maldives tourism. There are numerous flights to Maldives from India by known carriers like Air India and Indigo. Flight tickets cost anywhere between Rs. 14,000 to Rs. 70,000 for a round trip depending on the time you book and season.
 

Can I bring alcohol to Maldives?
According to the laws of the country, it is illegal to bring alcohol. However, to ensure Maldives tourism doesn’t suffer, resorts have special permits to serve alcoholic beverages.
 
What are the credit cards that are accepted in Maldives?
Owing to the efforts of Maldives tourism, all major credit cards are accepted in resorts. The accepted credit cards are American Express, Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, JCB and Euro Card.

Is English spoken in Maldives?
Yes, English is widely spoken in Maldives. In an effort to boost Maldives tourism, locals can also communicate in English freely.

Is a visa needed to visit Maldives? How can I get a Maldives visa?
You will receive a visa-on-arrival if you're planning a trip for less than 30 days. Maldives Tourism allows for an extension of up to 60 days (taking the total stay in Maldives to 90 days).

Why is Maldives popular?
Maldives tourism is growing by leaps and bounds. Contributing to this growth is a number of factors including Maldives beaches, beautiful coral reefs, its many opportunities for diving and the luxurious experience that the country offers.
 

Is there vegetarian food in Maldives?
The country welcomes all kinds of travellers and the increasing Maldives tourism has ensured that Maldives resorts have cuisines from across the world keeping in mind non-vegetarian, vegetarian and vegan options.

Are there banks and ATMS?
Owing to the development of Maldives tourism, efforts are being made to increase the number of banks and ATMs throughout the islands. Currently, there are ATMs in Malé as well as the airport.

 

Which are the best Maldives hotels?

The best resorts which contribute to Maldives tourism are Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, Dusit Thani Maldives, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and Six Sense Laamu.

 
Which are the best places to stay for budget travellers?
Popular to contrary opinion, Maldives tourism has made it easier for travellers to explore Maldives on a budget. Starting at Rs. 3000 a night, you can find beautiful rooms with basic facilities. We recommend Water Breeze Guesthouse, Coral Heaven Guesthouse and Gangehi Island Resort.
 

Do I need to learn diving before I go for a trip to the corals?
Yes, you will need a basic course in diving before you head for a diving trip to the coral reefs. Maldives tourism encourages instructors and companies to follow all guidelines thoroughly during the course of a diving trip. Ensure that your instructor is PADI certified.
 

What are the best places to eat in Maldives?
If you would like to explore Maldives local cuisine, head to the capital city of Malé. From street food to local restaurants, there is lots to discover. The surge in Maldives tourism has encouraged restaurateurs to experiment with the ambience and cuisine. Some of the best are Lemongrass Fifth, Family Room Cafe, Symphony Solo, Island BBQ.
 

What are the best things to do during the day in Maldives?
There are countless ways to spend your time in Maldives. Suitable for all kinds of travellers, Maldives tourism has been making consistent efforts to ensure tourists have a great time here. From diving to island hopping to water sports like banana boat ride, water ski to stand-up paddle boating, you can try a variety of experiences.
 

Should I get a Maldives package or create my own?
Tourists throng Maldives throughout the year thus increase Maldives tourism. This has led Maldives tourism to create customised packages and offer huge discounts. You have the flexibility of getting a customised package or creating one using services from multiple operators. Ideally Maldives holiday packages are all inclusive which drastically brings down costs. However, if you find discounts on various activities and accommodation separately, it’s a good deal.
 

How many islands make up the main Maldives island?
Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1100 islands.
 

How much does a Maldives water villa cost?
Water villas in Maldives are crowd pullers which boost Maldives tourism. The water villas cost anywhere between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 80,000 a night.

 

Written by Kirat Sodhi, an in-house Tripoto writer. Kirat is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans. Follow her to ignite your wanderlust.