Maldives : As you already know, this beautiful country is located in the Indian Ocean and is a cluster of around 1200 islands categorized into 26 atolls derived from the Maldivian word "atholhu"meaning dual island chains. The Capital of this country is Male.
Things to know before you go to Maldives:
1. Maldives is an Islamic dominated country and hence one should respectfully follow the rules of the country which includes dressing moderately (knees and hands covered) when outside the tourist spots and no indulgence in any kind of alcohol (except the private luxury resorts which have the license to serve. )
2. Language : Dhivehi is the local language of the Maldivians, however English is widely spoken being a popular tourist country.
3. Locals : Maldivians are very hospitable, friendly and caring people and we are sure you will love to strike a conversation with them and make friends for a lifetime.
4.. Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) is the actual currency of Maldives however USD is used across all the islands. But we would suggest you to keep some MVR handy in case of any local grocery shopping/eating.
5. ATM's: Most of the ATM's are available only in Male, Hulhumale and Maafushi being the most popular and commercial ones.
6. Visa : Visa on Arrival process is quite quick in Maldives. It hardly took us 10 mins to finish the process. An immigration form is provided to you on most of the flights so you can fill it up and keep it ready in advance. Visa on Arrival facility is available to all Indians. Be sure to carry the following, (a) photocopy of your return flight tickets, (b) photocopy of all the hotel bookings and (c) photocopies of your 6 months bank statement and of course your passport ;)
7. Sim Cards: There are two popular mobile carriers Oreedu and Dhirragu. We picked up a 7 day sim card for $15 USD from Oreedu which included 4 GB of data and unlimited local calls. Well you can opt not taking a sim card as well if your going for less than 5 days as most of the hotels and restaurants have free WiFi available.
8. Food : Maldivian food mostly consists of seafood especially tuna however you will get both veg and non veg options on all of the islands.
9. Medicines: Since you will be transporting only through ferry boats or speedboats while moving to and fro between islands and airport, please carry your medicines if you suffer from motion sickness.
10. Forex Exchange : USD is the the preferred currency to carry while visiting Maldives hence we exchanged Forex from local agencies in Mumbai itself. Also you can carry a travel Forex card if available. We used Weizmann for Forex exchange who gave us a good exchange value.
Best Time to Visit:
November to April would be the ideal time to visit Maldives being the dry season and the weather is also bearable however it is the peak season so expect the peak pricing in all tariffs too. May to October is considered the wet season and the influx of tourist is less too but you if your ready to bear the sun and stronger winds and rain, then this would be the best non peak time with low prices everywhere. This experience narrated by us is during the peak season. That means during the off peak season one may travel here for less than 35000 INR.
How to book you Flight:
We booked our return flights for both for Rs. 30000 from Indigo airlines through Yatra mobile app. We generally prefer booking our flights atleast 45 days in advance however since Maldives was a last minute decision we ended up booking it just 15 days prior and still ended up getting a good deal. We suggest checking your flight trends on Skyscanner to help you book the cheapest flight.
How to choose your Hotel :
Maldives is a huge island country comprising of 26 atolls and for a first timer it can be quite overwhelming and intimidating as to which island to choose. Well since we were going for 7 days we decided to choose 2 islands, Rasdhoo - a remote secluded island and Maafushi - a popular commercial island. Well, you can choose just one island if your going for less than a week, however if you planning to do water activities in any remote islands, then you may end up paying more than the popular ones. So choose wisely where you stay as your entire budget revolves around the location you are eventually going to be put up at. We suggest to choose from Dhiffushi, Thulusdhoo, Fulidhoo and Rasdhoo among the less crowded remote islands and combine it with Maafushi being the popular commercial one as staying in Maafushi was the cheapest till now. We generally prefer booking from Agoda, Booking or Expedia when travelling overseas.
Links to our Hotels: Bookings made from Agoda.com
1. Hulhumale Island Near Airport : Koamas Lodge for one night stay including breakfast (Rs. 3276 per night)
2. Rasdhoo Island : Banana Residence for 1 night stay (Rs. 3072 per night)
3. Maafushi Island : Ciritorno View Guesthouse 3 night stay (Rs. 2526 per night)
4. Maafushi Island : Arora Inn 1 night (Rs. 3749 per night) booked last minute
The only mode of transportation in Maldives are public ferry, speed boats, and sea plane where the latter being the most expensive. We spent around $250 USD only in public speedboat which ate up most of our budget however it was a faster option. You can opt to take the public ferries which cost around $2-3 USD per person however do check their availability in advance. I have attached the latest public ferries image for your reference. Also remember that public ferries don't fly on Fridays as being a public holiday.
ICOM Tours Speedboat and Ferry Service : $20 USD from Male to Maafushi per person one way
Coral Speedboat Maldives: $35 USD per person one way from Male Jetty No 6 to Rasdhoo
Our Budget Breakup Table for the Entire Trip