We visited two different resorts, in opposite ends of the Maldives, so here is an extended guide to everything you need to know from our own personal perspective. If you want a quick guide scroll to the end to see a list of my top tips not to be missed! See where we stayed here and here. You can also see my travels on Instagram by searching #NualaTravels
Why visit the Maldives?
The Maldives is renowned for being a tropical paradise, and of course a top honeymoon destination. I think many people, particularly in Ireland, feel like they can’t go unless it’s on their honeymoon and I think that is so silly! The Maldives is an amazing destination and having been there I can assure you – it’s not all honeymoon go-ers, in fact, the majority aren’t honeymoon go-ers! You’ll find young couples, middle-aged couple, families, small groups of friends – just as you would any other holiday destination. I know loads of people who have been, and most weren’t on their honeymoon. So first and foremost for this article, do not let that put you off going!
The Maldives islands are some of the most beautiful exotic islands that will ever experience. The Maldives was the first place I’ve ever visited that I can say, with 100% honesty, looks just like it does in the pictures. The sand really is that white, the water really is that blue, the reefs really are that cool, and the island really is that quiet and secluded. It is the most beautiful and relaxing place I’ve ever been.
Why visit the Maldives over other destinations in Asia?
Asia is full of beautiful and exotic islands, many of which are far cheaper than the Maldives. So why are the Maldives worth it? The Maldives offer two things – safety and complete luxury. The luxury we experience in the Maldives was unlike anything we had ever experienced and we were so well taken care of. From the moment you step off your international flight you are being looked after by a representative from your resort until you step back on to return flight home. The staff are amazing, so helpful and so friendly. Even though we travelled to two different resorts which meant we had a lot of internal transfers (more on this further down), the entire trip was completely stress-free because you are so well looked after. Even when we left one resort in the early hours before sunrise, the staff member who was bringing us to the jetty from our room went into our room after we left to ensure we hadn’t forgotten anything. When we arrived at the jetty we were handed a takeaway breakfast bag since we were leaving before breakfast had begun.
Another luxury that the Maldives offer is that most resorts actually fumigate the entire island every other morning meaning there are literally no mosquitos! I tend to suffer from bad bites when I go away so I was so happy with this, and it really is something you wouldn’t find in many exotic travel destinations.
We felt completely stress-free, relaxed and safe throughout our entire trip – a luxury in itself.
We explored the option of using a Travel Counsellor as we thought it would be hassle free but it was working out as more expensive. Instead we booked the resorts directly and used Sky Scanner and ebookers to search for the best flight deals. Websites such as these offer a multi-way option whereby you can add flights which is perfect when booking the Maldives, especially if you’re booking a stopover. We used Sky Scanner to find the best deal which redirected us to eDreams.com where we found the best deal and easily booked Dublin to Male, Male to Dubai and finally, Dubai to Dublin via Emirates. The entire booking, check-in and travel experience was stress-free – despite our experience in Dubai which you’ll know about if you follow me on Snapchat whereby we were delayed without luggage for our trip but that was due to an unfortunate incident.
Emirates and Ethiad both fly to the Maldives from Dublin but we found Emirates offered the best deals. Ethiad stopover in Abu Dhabi only whereas Emirates stop in Dubai so having a stopover in mind will probably determine who you travel with. Turkish Airlines also travel Dublin to the Maldives with a stopover in Istanbul. If you wish to fly to London first, you’ve more options again but you’ll have an additional flight and believe me – it’s a long enough haul as it is. My best tip would be to book early. We first looked at flights in January and the best deal we got was €740 with only one stopover which is a really good deal. We didn’t book it and ended paying almost €900 a few months later. So book early! We could have gotten cheaper flights if we booked an additional stopover but I was happy enough to pay extra rather than having to get yet another flight, but the option is there. Just remember, once you land in Male, the capital of the Maldives, you’ll need either a sea plane, an internal flight or a boat (or even both) to your resort so keep that in mind when booking you international travel. We used ebookers and sky scanner when searching flights and paid close attention to the overall travel time when choosing. See packing and luggage information below.
If you’re flying from Dublin, Dubai is probably the best stopover. My first choice was Singapore but it would have required an additional flight and it was working out as more expensive.
Firstly, the Maldives is huge! Because the countries is literally a accumulation of thousands of tiny islands that you can’t even see on a map – I did not realise just how big the Maldives are and how far north to south they extend. There are nearly 1,200 islands and 900 resorts! So you really do have a huge selection. I would advise looking into how far from Male, the countries capital and where you’ll arrive into from an international flight, the resort is. Some are a quick sea plane away from Male whereas others are an international flight and a boat trip away. The sea plane was a huge highlight for me so if you love the idea of flying over the Maldives in a sea plane be sure to chose a resort that is accessible via sea plane as not all of them are so you may miss out. The sea plane journey is an experience in itself, but certainly not fro everyone.
Although they are the most expensive villas, I would highly recommend staying in a water villa to get the true Maldivian and a once in a lifetime experience. However, I would recommend asking your resort for a water villa for two nights and then move to a beach villa for the remainder of your trip. That way you get to experience the water villa and it’s more affordable if you only stay there a couple of nights. Our water villa in Sun Siyam was the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed, and probably will ever stay. The room was beautiful, we had the utmost privacy, our own private infinity pool and we could literally jump into the Indian ocean from our very own terrace, only a few steps from our bed!
The beach villas are also beautiful and if you are someone who likes to hide in the shade, a beach villa will offer you more shade than a water villa. You’ll also likely have your own private access to the beach and many resorts offer beach villas with or without private pools, the latter being the more affordable option of course. The one thing I will say about the beach villa is expect to see quite a few lizards and bugs, whereas you won’t have any of these if you’re in a water villas.
When to go?
So here’s the important part – the Maldives has a wet season which is from May-November and a dry season, from December to April. But, in reality, the Maldives is the same temperature year-round, with the low season having slightly more wind and some tropical showers and storms. There really isn’t a bad time to go to the Maldives and you could pay extra to go in high season and there could be a storm so you really don’t know. I checked the weather the day before we went and it was promised stormy all week – the reality was it was cloudy with two tropical showers on out first day and there were a couple of storms during the night while we were there. The weather was beautiful, very hot and sunny, with very warm water temperatures for the entire week, despite the “storm”. I would suggest avoiding December to January as this is the most expensive time to visit.
If you’re reading this post and thinking of travelling to the Maldives, you’ll know it’s expensive. I’ll discuss more about this and why I think it’s worth it below but my top tip would be to shop around for the best deals of course, but to also ensure you’re getting the most of your trip. A trip to the Maldives is a once in a lifetime trip for many of us so be sure to make the most of it and choose a resort that has everything you want on offer rather than just the most affordable – because the reality is, you’re still going to be spending a lot of money so make sure your resort can offer you everything you want. Room and travel aside, staying in the Maldives is pricey – expect to pay $7 for a bottle of water during your inclusive dinner, $16 for the cheapest glass of wine and $22 for sun cream- bring your own and enough sun cream!
One of my biggest tips would be to pack with your sea plane or internal transfer luggage allowance in mind rather than that of Emirates or whichever airline you fly there with. This is my top tip because I got stung! My check-in bag was nearly 10KG under the Emirates allowance. I also had a small carry on (which I always have for my laptop and cameras) and my handbag which was a tote bag. When we arrived at the sea plane check in, they actually weighed by check-in luggage, carry-on and handbag, and the combined weight was over my allowance for the seaplane so I was required to pay $160 there and then. Keep the combined weight of your luggage under 25KG to avoid this (this won’t be hard, read below in my ‘what to bring’ section), and for more information on the sea plane see here.
What to bring
Leave your heels at home. The reality is, you’ll be staying on a sand island and you really don’t need heels. I wore wedges one night and ended up taking them off and carrying them. The sunsets in the Maldives are beautiful so we would often walk the beach and watch the sunset before dinner so flat sandals that are easy to take on and off are best. You’ll also spend almost every day in a bikini so there’s no point in bringing too much daytime clothes. I would advise lots of bikinis / swimsuits, a few kaftans or beach dresses to throw over bikinis, rubber flip flops that are comfortable and easily to slip on and off, and a couple of nice outfits for the evenings.
Plugs & Sockets
This varies between resorts but the two we stayed in had three pin Irish / UK sockets – which I didn’t expect seen as the currency is USD. Check with your resort before travelling just incase you need to pack an adapter but it’s likely to be a three pin socket.
The food in both the resorts we visited was really good. The most important thing I would advise is to not only look at the amount of restaurants the resort has to offer but look at the restaurants and menus that are on offer for all-inclusive or half-board guests, because if you’re paying for dinner, it’s likely to be very expensive! We ate from inclusive menu’s the entire time and still racked up a bill when you include bottles of water and wine with dinner. The first resort we stayed in, the Sun Siyam had loads of restaurants and each restaurant had items which were and items which weren’t included in inclusive deals. Each menu had a really good selection of all-inclusive offers which was brilliant, especially as non-inclusive items were quite pricey. The second resort we stayed in, the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa had one restaurant that was all inclusive and one that wasn’t, so basically if you’re staying for a week and don’t want to pay extra, you’ll be eating in the same place every night which won’t appeal to everyone. Having said that, it was a really good restaurant! So I would highly advise to look into all of this on the resorts website before booking – especially if you’re a big foodie like me! Alcohol is quite expensive within the resorts and it is illegal to bring any alcohol into the Maldives.
Things to do – Activities & Excursions
A lot of people who have never been seem to think there is very little to do in the Maldives. That is true, to an extent in that the island is likely to be so small you’ll have the entire island walked within the hour, or within 20 minutes of you’re staying in the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. However, if you love the water, snorkelling, boat trips swimming and water-sports, you’ll have plenty to do! The spas on both island we visited were both amazing too and there’s loads of other activities such a table tennis etc. There are loads of excursions you can do like diving, swimming with whale sharks, turtles and even hammer head sharks so if you wanted to do something like this be sure to look into it before booking your resort as some resorts are better for snorkelling and diving that others. See my travel posts from each resort to see more on this – here and here.
Nearly all resorts use US Dollars and you won’t need cash as everything can be charged to your room. The local currency is Rufiyaa but the only place you may need this in the airport upon departure. Upon arrival / awaiting transfers you’ll likely be in a lounge which will offer complimentary food and drink.
Local laws, dress code and etiquette
As the resorts are all on individuals islands, local laws and cultural etiquette does not apply. A lot of the resorts will offer boat trips to local islands so that you can experience how the locals live and it is recommended that you dress modestly if you’re going on one of these trips.
You don’t need a visa when entering the Maldives from Ireland as a tourist for less than 30 days. This is the case for most countries however some nationalities will need a visa to if you are unsure check this before you arrive. You do however need a minimum of six months left on your passport before it expires.
Summary of my Top Tips when visiting the Maldives..
If you want to experience a sea plane be sure to check that the resort is accessible via sea plane from Male before booking as not all of them are.
Don’t pack with your flight baggage allowance in mind – pack with your sea plane / transfer baggage allowance in mind!
Check how far away from Male the resort it as it could add hours onto your travel time.
Make sure to take a look at the restaurants and menus available within your all inclusive deal because unless you have a lot of cash to splash while you’re there, you won’t be ordering off the menus that aren’t all inclusive.
Make sure to check out the excursions and activities a resort has to offer before you book – there are so many amazing things to do in the Maldives so be sure the resort you choose has a good selection.
Book your flights early to get the best deal and opt for two stopovers if you’re on a tight budget, but bear in mind you’ll have a lengthy journey if you opt for two stopovers.
If you check the weather before you’re trip and it’s promised bad – don’t worry and stay positive! The week we were there was promised stormy and we had beautiful and hot weather for the entire 8 days, with only a couple of tropical showers that pass really quickly!
Any questions don’t hesitate to tweet, Snap or DM / PM me on any of my social channels!
Until next time,