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The Maldives are an archipelago of over 1,000 islands, located south-southwest of India. Twenty-six coral atolls contain 80 islands with tourist resorts, as well as 200 inhabited islands. While the Maldives are relatively new to tourism, they are proving increasingly popular with island-lovers and water sports enthusiasts.

The tropical islands are home to many superb dive sites with an abundance of marine life and colourful coral reefs. Palm tree-lined beaches and blue lagoons make ideal spots to relax and enjoy an easy-going island lifestyle while other ocean-hugging locations provide a wide variety of adventurous and exciting water sports. Excursions are available on small island cruisers, offering cultural tours, dolphin cruises and snorkelling safaris.

The main attraction of a Maldivian holiday is the relaxed atmosphere and pace of life. Visitors find that they soon relax and enjoy time away from everyday stresses while the sun and healthy cuisine often leave tourists glowing with health.

Getting There

Hulhulé Island is home to Malé International Airport, which is served by regular flights from India, China, Dubai, and other major airports in South East Asia. An increasing number of charters from Europe also fly into Malé, and British Airways flies directly to the island from London Gatwick three times a week.

Entry Requirements

Anyone with a valid travel document, ample funds or confirmed resort reservation, and a ticket out of the Maldives will be eligible for a free 30-day visa. This visa may be extended to 90 days as long as proof of booked accommodation can be shown.

The Maldives in General

Languages - The official language is Maldivian Dhivehi. This is closely related to Sinhala, which is spoken in Sri Lanka, and it is also influenced by Hindu, Urdu, and Arabic. English is widely spoken on the islands, particularly by those working in tourism as well as government officials; it is taught at local schools as well. As the islands are very popular with German and Italian tourists, many resort workers speak fluent German and Italian too.

Religion - Most Maldivians are Sunni Muslim, and public observance of non-Muslim religions are forbidden on all inhabited islands. Maldivians do not drink alcohol or take drugs, and the eating of pork is banned. The resort islands are very relaxed about religion and visitors may buy alcohol when they wish.

Tele-communications - National telco 'Dhiraagu' supplies efficient telecommunications services to all inhabited islands in the Maldives. Tourist resort islands and the capital Mal are particularly well served, enhanced by submarine cables linked to Sri Lanka and India. Mobile options include 3G and 4G, and DSL-based broadband services are available. International phone cards are available from hotels and local shops. Most resorts supply free Wi-Fi to guests, and postal services are also available within most hotels as well as in towns and villages.
Currency - The local currency is the Maldivian rufiyaa, which is divided into 100 laari. Sometimes symbolised locally as 'Rf'', the international symbolism is 'MVR', placed before the amount (example: MVR 100). Many resorts price their services in US dollars and require payment by cash or credit card, so visitors will find that if they plan to remain within the resorts, there is no need to change money to the local currency.
Working Hours
The Maldives weekend runs from Friday to Saturday and many businesses from both the public and private sector are closed over this period. This does not usually affect opening times at the resorts, although as the locals observe Friday prayers, lunch times may be shifted to accommodate this. Maldives banks are open from Sunday to Thursday from 9am-1pm while local shops are open between 8am-11pm from Saturday to Thursday.

What to wear - With temperatures rarely falling below 25°C, even at night, visitors are advised to wear lightweight cotton clothing for maximum comfort. Swimwear is obviously acceptable on beaches and at swimming pools, but visitors should note that topless sunbathing and nudity are against the law. It is advisable to cover swimwear with a sarong when visiting public areas, although some resorts also insist that women's shoulders are covered. See-through clothing can be considered offensive to locals, along with very short skirts and vest tops. Evening dress codes can be rather relaxed on most of the islands, and most visitors adopt a 'smart-casual' approach. Men tend to wear smart shirts and lightweight trousers while women wear skirts, blouses or dresses. The main footwear required in the Maldives is low sandals or flip-flops. Many islands have sand pathways, making walking difficult for women wearing heels.

When to Travel to Maldives

The Maldives enjoy a tropical climate, with lots of sunshine and temperatures of around 30°C throughout the year. There can, however, be heavy rainfall during the period between April and October due to the south-west monsoon, particularly during June, July and August. Many visitors take advantage of the driest time in February and March, although this can also be the most expensive time to visit the islands.Diving is possible throughout the year, but the best time is between January and April when the sea is calm and visibility is good. Surfers will find that the best waves occur between June and August, with most of the recognised surf breaks in the Malé Atoll.

Places of Interest

Noteworthy attractions include the Grand Friday Mosque in Malé, the largest mosque in the Maldives and also one of the biggest in South Asia. Located within the Islamic Centre of the city, the Grand Friday Mosque can accommodate 5,000 people and is renowned for its magnificent golden dome. Inside, the walls are beautifully decorated with Arabic calligraphy and exquisite woodcarvings that enchant the mosque's many visitors.
Malé's National Museum is worth a visit for its captivating range of artefacts. Housed in a wonderful colonial edifice, the museum features traditional costumes, royal antiquities and a hand-written miniature of the Koran. The President's Palace is also a site of interest, and while it is not open to the public, visitors may photograph its exterior.
The Maldives Fish Market offers an authentic glimpse into the everyday lifestyle of Maldivian locals. The bustling and colourful market provides a spectacular assortment of familiar and not-so-familiar sea creatures and it also sells locally-grown fruit and vegetables.


Maldivian cuisine consists mainly of fruit, fish and spicy curries. Cafes in Malé are the best places to try traditional Maldivian snacks, made of rice, tuna, lentils and spices. Local drinks include 'raa', a fermented drink tapped from palm trees, and the local tea known as 'sai'.


Most resorts have lively bars while there are also some nightclubs in the larger resorts. Beach parties and barbecues are popular, and film showings can be found at some resorts..


Most hotels have shops from which holiday essentials such as sun creams and sarongs can be purchased. Outside the resorts, island shops sell colourful island fabrics, t-shirts, and stamps, and the locally-made 'kuna' mats are popular for their attractive geometric designs. Some duty-free shopping is available, and there are attractive food markets selling local produce.

Festivals and Holidays

Maldivians observe all Muslim festivals, with Ramadan being the best known. Thirty days of fasting are observed by locals and working hours for the government and private sector alter for the entire month. Eid-ul-Adha is also a traditional religious festival and a time of celebration and feasting.

Credit Cards
Most resorts accept all major credit cards, and ATMs can be found in all tourist areas.

There are no hire cars in the Maldives, so travel is restricted to local taxis or bicycles. The islands are very small, and most resorts use golf buggies or minivans to ferry passengers across the islands. Boats are the Maldivian equivalent of the car for locals while tourists travel between islands mainly by seaplane or private yacht.

220-240 volts with European, British and Indian primary socket types. Travellers are advised to take a travel plug adapter to ensure all appliances can be used.

There are no major problems with disease in the Maldives, and they are malaria-free. Some islands, however, do have mosquitoes, and it is possible to catch dengue fever.
Most health issues related to holidaying in the Maldives are either diving- or sun-related. Heat stroke and sunburn can cause problems, so visitors are advised to drink plenty of water and use appropriate sun creams and sunblock. Divers may be prone to overheating if spending hours on a boat in a wetsuit, and are advised to spend time in the shade when possible.
Malé has an excellent modern hospital, and most resorts have either a doctor or nurse to deal with any health problems.

A 10% service charge is usually added to the bill at many tourist restaurants. Although not obligatory, it is common to tip resort staff, especially the dive crew.

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