Guide to Visiting the Maldives
Estimated reading time: 18 minutes
Here is our ultimate guide to visiting the Maldives. It covers some of your most frequently asked questions. This will hopefully help you with your ideas. We have a range of amazing hotels, unique experiences and itineraries that feature the Maldives. Whether you want to travel to the Maldives on a luxury honeymoon, an amazing family holiday, or simply want a slice of winter sun, we can certainly help you find a resort that perfectly matches your expectations, and no doubt, exceed them.
The Maldives is currently open for all tourists, subject to a negative PCR test 96 hours before travel.
Where is the Maldives
The Maldives is a collection of 1,190 small tropical ‘desert’ islands that covers a vast area of the Indian Ocean. They lie to the southwest of Sri Lanka and south of Indian Lakshadweep islands. Some islands are inhabited, and about 130 islands are dedicated island resorts. These are spread out over different atolls – which can be described as a group of islands. The main Male Atoll, close to the airport, is home to the bulk of the resorts, and you get to your resort by speedboat. A seaplane journey or domestic flight allows you to access the outer atolls.
If you have any questions about travelling to the Maldives, do drop us a line or an email and the answer will likely be at our fingertips..
Why visit the Maldives?
Quite simply, you won’t find a better picture-perfect beach destination anywhere in the world than the Maldives.
Here are some of the main reasons to visit:
- Each hotel is on its own private island, so you have complete exclusivity
- The turquoise lagoons and house-reefs are some of the best in the world
- Probably the best collection of over-water villas in the world
- Constant temperatures of about 31 degrees in the day, year-round
- Truly amazing diving
- Superb family options – two-bedroom villas and wonderful kid’s clubs and activities
What is the geography of the Maldives?
As each hotel is on its own island, you generally stay on the island for your entire time. These islands are usually surrounded by a turquoise blue lagoon which is about 5ft in depth leading out to a surrounding house reef. Many house-reefs are excellent, making for amazing snorkelling (do ask about the house-reef when selecting your island as they differ in quality, especially if you love to snorkel). Some islands are larger than others. Some take 30 minutes to walk around like Soneva Fushi and some about three minutes, like Drift. Some islands are closer to other islands, especially around the Male Atoll. There are indeed a few that are almost totally by themselves.
The ‘secret’ season in the Maldives is in September when the prices are lower and the weather is pretty good.
When is the best time to visit the Maldives?
The Maldives is an all-year-round destination, yet there are some better times to visit. Being so close to the equator, the temperatures are pretty constant with day-time temperatures from 29°C to 31°C degrees. January to April is when the Maldives is at its driest, and as a result, the most expensive. From May to September, you enter a wetter period. Don’t let this put you off – rain showers tend to wash over quite quickly. You find the best offers from May to July, and again in September. August tends to be busier with family holidays. The ‘secret’ season in the Maldives is September when the prices are low, and the weather is pretty good
How to get to the Maldives?
There are direct flights with British Airways from the UK during the winter months from October to March. You can also look at many options with Middle Eastern airlines – Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Qatar, Oman Air and Turkish Airlines. There are also direct flights from Europe with Air France and Lufthansa if you are coming from Australia, Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways fly to the Maldives.
Not many people know about the international airport in Gan – there are direct flights to Colombo (Sri Lanka) which makes it easier to reach southern resorts..
The Maldives also has an airport in the southern Gan Atoll, with flights to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airways.
What are the best combinations with the Maldives?
Sri Lanka is the natural twin-centre option, being only an hour’s flight away. As there are so many Middle Eastern carriers who connect to the Maldives, you can easily fit in a stop in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Oman. India is growing in popularity when combining the Maldives. There is a shorter flight from Kerala in southern India, and you can easily combine northern India (Mumbai or Delhi).
As you only stay on your own island, you are captive to the hotel’s restaurants. Opting for Half or Full Board makes sense, although many resorts don’t offer a dine-around option, restricting you to the main restaurant. We’ll talk through which resorts have the best plans.
The Maldives makes for a perfect honeymoon. Lazy days can be spent in your own overwater villa, with an indulgent private pool. Spend your evenings with a private table on the beach for dinner. Dip into the spa for dreamy spa treatments, or get active and try and spot of diving or snorkelling. Combine this with a little adventure and culture in say Sri Lanka, India or Oman and you have something even more wonderful.
The Maldives is quickly becoming an ideal destination for a family holiday. The weather is excellent for the Christmas holidays, February Half Term, Easter Holidays, Summer Holidays and October Half Term. Kid’s Clubs are widespread and thoughtfully run. They usually start for children aged 4 and above, although many offer excellent babysitting services for children under 4. Older children will love the opportunity to surf and will relish their own tropical playground.
All Inclusive v B&B
Each resort is on its own private island, and as such, you have to eat and drink on the island. Therefore, it makes sense to consider opting for Half Board (Breakfast and Dinner), Full Board (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) or All-Inclusive (All Meals and Drinks – possibly with some activities). The food in the Maldives is usually expensive – say $30 upwards for a main course, and at least the same for a bottle of wine. We can provide you with resort menus should you wish to peruse them, before deciding on a particular island.
All-inclusive is great in that you simply don’t have to worry about what the bill will be when you check-out.
That said, many all-inclusive resorts will offer meals in a buffet setting – with a credit for the more exclusive restaurants. The better all-inclusive resorts offer a ‘dine-around’ option, where you can try different restaurants. Adding on the drinks element – so from Full Board to All-Inclusive – should be carefully considered. If you only like an odd glass of wine, it might be better value to spend what you drink in the hotel. If you tend to enjoy a few bottles of wine when on holiday, it is worth considering all-inclusive. This means you won’t have to worry about the bill when you check out.
There are so many islands to choose from, which is best for me?
There are about 130 resorts in the Maldives. This means there is a lot of choice on offer. In many ways, if you haven’t been to the Maldives before, just the experience of being there is enough to put a smile on your face. There is an excellent range of four and five-star resorts to choose from. Even within the five-star range, there is a great deal of difference, especially in terms of price. We understand that you might have seen quite a few resorts online that all look stunning. There are, however, many unique differences that we can talk you through.
The advantage of calling someone like Millis Potter, is our knowledge of all of the resorts and our ability to listen to what you want and narrow down the choices to one or two that will perfectly suit your style and budget.
So how can you choose the perfect resort? The advantage of calling someone like Millis Potter is tapping into our knowledge of all of the resorts and our ability to listen to what you want and narrow down the choices to one or two that will perfectly suit your style and budget. There are many review sites that you can look at, but our ability is in being able to compare and contrast each resort. We will give you honest and objective advice.
When is the best time of year for diving in the Maldives?
You can dive all year in the Maldives, that said, between May and November the visibility is not so good. It is, however, a good time to see whale sharks and manta rays. The best visibility is between December and April, but do you know the prices in the Maldives tend to be higher. Water temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year at about 28° Celsius.
Over-water or Beach Villas?
This is the question that we tend to get asked all the time. To many of you, your idea of the Maldives is sitting in your picture-perfect over-water villa, overlooking a turquoise blue lagoon on your sundeck, reading a book before dipping into the sea for a swim. If you’re looking for the most romantic way of spending your time in the Maldives, then an over-water villa will be perfect.
The only downside to think about is that all the water villas are connected along a central jetty. This can mean that the other water villas are very close to each other. You don’t tend to get the same level of privacy that you get in a beach villa. You also don’t tend to get the space that you do in a beach villa, and they tend to be a little bit more expensive. Many over-water villas have their own private pools but do note these can be quite small and should be seen more like a plunge pool to cool off.
Why not get the best of both worlds? A few nights in a secluded beach villa followed by a grand finale in a water villa?
Let’s turn to beach villas. They tend to be built into the vegetation, giving you more privacy from the adjacent villa. Often, they have lovely gardens in front of the villa that leads directly to the beach. Many have private outdoor gardens or bathrooms at the rear of the villa, which certainly promotes the sense of space and privacy.
What some guests do is to spend three or four days in a water villa and then three or four days in a beach villa, so you get the best best of both worlds. Another way is to spend one week in a resort in a beach villa and one week in another resort in a water villa. Do note that the beach villas and water villas come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s best to speak to us about the type of amenities you were looking for, and we can then suggest the perfect result for you.
Seaplane or Speedboat?
An important factor in choosing your Maldivian Island is whether you want to take a seaplane or a speedboat to get to your resort. The main international airport in the Maldives is located in Male. These islands are located in the north, and south Male Atolls and are accessed by speedboat.
When you arrive into Male Airport, you are met by the resort staff and taken the short walk to the speedboat jetty and whisked to your resort. The resorts tend to have a speedboat waiting for all arrival flights. Do you note that you will share the transfer with other passengers from the same flight. The advantage is that you can be sipping your first G&T very quickly without having to wait around for yet another flight. Speedboats can also be done at any time of the day or night.
Seaplane and Domestic Flight transfers generally mean you are heading to a more unspoilt corner of the Maldives.
If you are opting for an island on one of the outer atolls, you will need to take a seaplane. This means you need to be escorted to the adjacent seaplane terminal. At the terminal, most resorts have their own lounge where you can freshen up. The flight then departs between one and three hours after your international flight has arrived. Also, note that the seaplane transfer might well land at other resorts before getting to your resort.
The average time of the seaplane transfer is about 30 minutes. We love taking the seaplane transfers as you get an aerial view of the Maldivian Atolls. The planes are modern (De Havilland Twin Otters) yet quite noisy when you take off. They usually seat about 15 passengers and your luggage allowance is 20kg for the hold and 5kg for the cabin.
Do note that the seaplane transfers only operate during daylight hours. This means that your arrival flight should not land any later than about 4 o’clock, and your departure flight from the Maldives should be no earlier than about eight in the morning. You can book a later flight back from the Maldives, and just fly down to Male on the last flight of the day (say 5 pm) and wait in the lounge until your international flight is ready for check-in.
The final way of transferring to your resort is by domestic flight. These flights are generally to get to the furthest islands from the main International Airport. You can wait for anything from 1 to 3 hours to connect onto a domestic flight, and the resort staff will be there to help you at the airport. On arrival, you will then likely have a speedboat transfer to your resort.
Do I need a visa to visit Maldives?
Currently, all nationalities arriving into the Maldives are given a visa on arrival for 30 days. This is free of charge. We suggest that your passport has a validity of at least six months.
What is the Covid situation like in the Maldives?
The Maldives is currently open. Visitors need to show a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of the departure of their flight. Case numbers and deaths in the Maldives due to coronavirus are relatively low. As you are taken directly from the airport to your resort, you don’t come into contact with the local population. The main capital in the Maldives is on a different island from the airport. The UK also has the Maldives on a safe corridor list, meaning there is no need to quarantine when you arrive back home.
The Maldives is currently one of the few countries in the world allowing tourists to enter, subject to a negative PCR Test.
What vaccinations do I need?
There are no vaccinations that are required to enter the Maldives. That said, make sure all your primary courses and boosters are up-to-date as recommended for life in the country where you live. Courses or boosters that are usually advised include tetanus other vaccines to consider are hepatitis B and typhoid.
Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required for travellers age 8 months or over arriving from countries at risk from yellow fever transmission. Malaria is not usually present in the Maldives. There is also a slight chance of dengue fever, so ensure that you have adequate mosquito repellent. Many of the islands are sprayed daily to control the mosquitos. The Maldives has also been categorised as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.
Things to know about the Maldives before you travel
- You cannot bring in any alcohol from duty-free into the country as this will be taken off you at the airport.
- When you arrive into the Maldives, you land on a different island (Hulhele) from the main capital. Although there are some islands which offer visits to local islands, most guests stay on their island resort for the time they are in the Maldives. This means it is not a great destination to see local life and culture.
- Some resorts have excellent house reefs and some don’t. It’s best to have a chat with us about what your main priorities are when choosing a resort, and we will then select the perfect one for you.
- The peak season in terms of pricing in the Maldives is from December to April there are some months when the weather is equally as good, but the rates aren’t so well such as September. The peak season lasts until mid-January, so it might be worth waiting until then for a slice of winter sun.
- Many of the islands have their own time, also known as island time is about an hour behind the official time, which leaves me more time to do things before sunset and dinner.
How much is a Maldives holiday?
We offer a wide range of resorts in the Maldives but tend to focus on the more top-end resorts. This means that our selection tends to start from about £2000 per person per week upwards. This would include international flights from the UK. Should you not want to include international flights and use Airmiles we can certainly just organise the arrangements in the Maldives. The prices then go up as you opt for a more luxurious resort. Water Villas tend to be more expensive than beach Villas. You also pay a little bit more should you want to opt for half-board, full board or all-inclusive packages.
For something seriously special, we can arrange private islands, luxury yachts, and barbecues on deserted islands.
Prices range quite a bit in the Maldives. In some of the cheaper resorts, in low season, could spend about £1,750 per person per week, including flights. Some of the top-end resorts will be upwards of £5,000 per person per week in High Season.
How long is the flight to Maldives from UK?
A direct flight to the Maldives from the UK takes about 10.5 hours. Should you want to choose a connecting flight via the Middle East, then you can expect the total travelling time to be between 13 and 14 hours. Usually, the outbound flight is an overnight flight, and the return flight is a day flight.
Maldives v Mauritius?
The Maldives is probably the most exclusive Indian Ocean destination. Mauritius is one large island, and the hotels tend to be larger with more spacious grounds and gardens. It also probably offers a more diverse set of experiences as you can head inland see a little bit of wildlife and go on longer walks. When you’re in the Maldives you’re very much on the island and you don’t leave until you have to take the flight back home.
In terms of diving, the Maldives is almost certainly better especially when you go to some of the outer atolls. Although the hotels in Mauritius are of an exceptional five-star category, the resorts in the Maldives tend to be just a little bit above in terms of service and style. For family holidays, Mauritius tends to have better kids clubs especially for children on the four should you have older children is the Maldives has some exceptional kids clubs and activities.
Which resorts does Millis Potter offer?
We can offer a huge mix of resorts, and we just have our favourites featured on the website. Here they are:
- Milaidhoo – top-end, barefoot.
- Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – Sophisticated, good for families.
- Soneva Fushi – top-end, luxury barefoot. Excellent 2,3 and 4 bedroom villas.
- Anantara Kihavah – stylish, top-end, excellent diving
- Naladhu – Colonial, boutique, yet with facilities of nearby resorts
- Drift – Well-priced, back-to-basics barefoot resort.
- Heritance Aarah – well-priced luxury all-inclusive resort
- Huvafen Fushi – Stylish, adults-only and top-end
- Six Senses Laamu – Barefoot luxury, top-end
- Baros – Stylish, classic and sophisticated
- Velassaru – Entry-level, better for young at heart
Table of contents
- Where is the Maldives
- Why visit the Maldives?
- What is the geography of the Maldives?
- When is the best time to visit the Maldives?
- How to get to the Maldives?
- What are the best combinations with the Maldives?
- Family Holidays
- All Inclusive v B&B
- There are so many islands to choose from, which is best for me?
- When is the best time of year for diving in the Maldives?
- Over-water or Beach Villas?
- Seaplane or Speedboat?
- Do I need a visa to visit Maldives?
- What is the Covid situation like in the Maldives?
- What vaccinations do I need?
- Things to know about the Maldives before you travel
- How much is a Maldives holiday?
- How long is the flight to Maldives from UK?
- Maldives v Mauritius?
- Which resorts does Millis Potter offer?