Travel Tips for the Maldives
Money Saving tips for Maldives.
Maldives is a challenging place to save money so non-resort travel is completely new to the country. Here are just a few things you can do to reduce your budget:
Bring lots of cash – although the Maldives has its own currency (MVR), US dollars are widely accepted – and you often get a better price if you pay in USD. This varies from one restaurant or store to another, so carry both and pay with the one that gives you the best rate. There are only ATMs in Male.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle – The tap water here is not safe to drink so make sure you have a reusable bottle with you. To be safe, bring a water filter like the LifeStraw to make sure your water is clean and free of bacteria. You will save money on buying bottled water and also save the environment!
Island Hop by Ferry - The islands of the Maldives are served by a series of ferries from Male. They run on opposite days (for Maafushi on Monday, back to Male on Tuesday) and rarely on Fridays (this is the Muslim Sabbath). You can jump from Male to the capital island of an atoll and then to smaller, adjacent islands in the chain. Ferries will cost between 77-154 MVR ($5-10 USD), depending on the distance. Plan ahead and research ferries in advance so you can avoid paying for a private speedboat.
Consider all-inclusive packages – taxes and import duties on food and drink mean you really don't have many restaurants to choose from. Some hotels offer great rates that include food, drinks, and even premium amenities such as watersports, free yoga classes or spa treatments.
How to get around Maldives?
Boats - The incredible but reasonably priced public ferry is a no-brainer for independent travelers with ferries costing 77-154 MVR ($5-10 USD) depending on the route. If you want to visit an island off Male, you will need to do some island hopping via the ferry system. For this you may have to stay overnight on an island on the way as ferries do not run regularly. Most ferries also do not operate on weekends.
Many of the further islands can only be reached by private boat or plane. Check the ferry schedule well in advance and plan accordingly (I didn't and it put my itinerary off).
The island ferry program can be found here.
Private speedboats cost around 385-540 MVR ($25-35 USD) per person.
Air - Flying here is incredibly expensive. Flights from Male to the surrounding islands cost up to 7,000 MVR ($350 USD) each way. Quit flying if you want to stay on budget!
When to Visit Maldives?
Maldives is a year-round destination, with temperatures ranging between 23-31ºC (74-89 °F). High season runs from December to April, when airfare and hotel prices increase dramatically (especially around Christmas, New Year's, Chinese New Year, and Easter). Book in advance if you wish to travel during this period.
Don't be too nervous about booking during the monsoon period that runs from May to October. You can enjoy less congestion, better rates, and somewhat sunny days in the middle of the rainy season.
Diving is great all year round. For other watersports like surfing, you'll find the best breaks from mid-February to November.
How to stay safe in Maldives?
Maldives is an incredibly safe destination for tourists. Keep an eye on your belongings in public areas in Male where petty crimes are more likely to occur (albeit at a very low level). However, on other islands, especially resort ones, it is highly, highly unlikely that anything is going to happen to you or your belongings.
With the exception of the 2004 tsunami, large-scale natural disasters are rare. However, climate change has led to an increase in rainfall, increased storm surge and minor coastal flooding.
Respect Muslim customs by following a dress code, especially in the capital, where resort wear is not common. Do not drink alcohol outside your resort. Fines are possible.
As always, if you wouldn't do it at home, don't do it in the Maldives!