Turquoise lagoons, sugar-white beaches, and over-water bungalows are just a few of the reasons why the Maldives is truly a vacation of a lifetime. Though a trip to this Indian Ocean oasis is undoubtedly enticing, you’ll need to understand how the country works to get the most out of your visit. From when to go to how to best spend your time while there, be sure to properly prep for your date with paradise with our practical guide.
There are approximately 1,192 coral islands in the country, more than 100 of which are inhabitable. The main language in the Maldives is Dhivehi, but English is widely spoken, which makes it an extremely effortless country to navigate for tourists. When it comes to visas, the Maldives requires that all international visitors show a valid passport in order to be granted a 30-day tourist visa, which can be obtained upon arrival at the airport.
How to Get There
Currently there are no direct flights from the States to the Maldives. Since the airfare tends to be very expensive, to make the most of your trip consider pairing your Maldives vacation with a layover in the Middle East (where you can catch a direct flight to Male). Emirates offers an excellent stopover package, which will allow you to spend a few days exploring Dubai before your onward flight. From desert tours to a visit to the tallest building in the world, choosing this route will make you feel as if you’re getting two holidays in one.
No matter where you end up deciding to connect, nearly every visitor to the Maldives will arrive to the same place: Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, on the island of Hulhule, across the water from the capital island, Male. If you’re there to experience one of the island resorts (which is the main draw of a visit here), expect to be transferred to your property via seaplane or speedboat, which you should arrange with your resort prior to landing.
Where to Stay
The Maldives can be divided into the north and south atolls (a ring-shaped reef, island, or chain of islands formed of coral), with both areas boasting beautiful resorts. In short, the best way to differentiate these areas is to go north if it’s snorkeling you’re after and south if you’ve come to experience the diving. Apart from location, other things to consider when choosing accommodation include price, activities, and access to offshore excursions.
With that said, there truly are a limitless number of luxurious lairs throughout the Maldives, with most of the properties offering the same turquoise-fringed, white sanded backdrop you pictured when deciding to book your rip. To help you narrow it down, we’ve listed three of our favorite properties, below.
Opened in 2005, what continues to set the One&Only Reethi Ray apart from its competitors is the size of the island it sits on, which allows this elegant resort to boast twelve sugar-white beaches, a 100,000-square-foot E’Spa with overwater treatment rooms, a PADI dive center, and six restaurants. We especially love the hotel’s new Botanica dining concept, an outdoor organic restaurant nestled beneath a towering Banyan tree which serves garden-to-fork dishes.
This 45-villa property is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH (owners of Louis Vuitton, Dior, etc.), which means everything here is supremely chic, whether it’s the rooms (which are all a minimum of 1,400 square feet) or the Guerlain spa. To give you a little context, Cheval Blanc Randheli was Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s resort of choice when they visited the Maldives in 2014.
Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
With an onsite Ayurvedic retreat nestled within a peaceful herb garden, Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is the property to go to for a holistic, wellness-oriented Maldives escape. If you’re truly looking to detox, choose from one of their seven or fourteen day immersion programs, which includes spa treatments, consultations with Ayurvedic physicians, private yoga classes, and more.
What to Do
Whether you decide to spend your days snorkeling, diving, or surfing, it’s safe to say the best way to experience the Maldives is from the water. Especially now, considering over the past few years many of the country’s wildlife reefs have begun to become threatened due to coral bleaching, a devastating condition that occurs when coral sits in water that is too warm for too long. This fragile underwater beauty won’t be around forever, so be sure to get a glimpse of the magic while you still can. Go a step further and challenge yourself to really explore the country by trying to spot all of the marine life on the Maldives ‘big five’ list, which includes manta and eagle rays, sea turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks.
When to Go
Throughout the year the temperature remains fairly consistent, ranging from the low to mid-eighties (Fahrenheit), however the best weather is between November and April, with the high season falling between December and March.