“In terms of service, there’s a huge difference between the inhabited islands and the resort islands. The service on resort islands is much, much better, so if that’s something you need, I’d 100% recommend only visiting a resort island. If you feel that way inclined, you can eat and drink all day long, practically without limit.
Another difference is that this being a Muslim country, alcohol is not available on any of the inhabited islands (though on Maafushi they’ve come up with an ingenious solution: a yacht is anchored just offshore from the harbor, and it operates as a bar, though the prices are as high as at the resorts). As for dining, you can eat well on the inhabited islands too, though of course the quality and range of options are higher on the resort islands. The main thing is that if the quality and range of food and drink don’t make or break a holiday for you, then you can have as much fun on an inhabited island as at a resort.” (2016)
“It is not necessary to be in the water in order to have fun since the environment – the improbably blue sea, dazzling white sand, and lush, dense vegetation – already ‘makes’ your day. With regard to the snow-white sand, incidentally, one theory maintains that it is so white because of the "feces" of parrotfish. These fish migrate in shoals to consume coral and produce 300 grams of sand-like feces per head per day.
The obligatory evening activity is watching the sunset. One summer, in Zadar, Dalmatia, I was told that the sunset there was officially the most beautiful in the world. Well, I have bad news for the people of Zadar – the sunset in the Maldives is definitely prettier 😊.” (2019)
Who is it recommended for?
“Holidaying in the Maldives is a particularly expensive pastime. There is nothing to force the hotels there to flood the market with discounts since demand is greater than supply. You’ll have to dig deep in your pockets to gift yourself such a premium experience. It’s for those who have been to a tropical country or two, and now really want to see the kind of beach and sea they have idealized in their imagination. For those who envision a romantic, idyllic setting, a lazy vacation in which a loving couple can enjoy private togetherness. It’s no coincidence that the majority of holidaymakers on this small island chain are engaged couples, honeymooners, eternal romantics, or simply the happily married. The Maldives are for people who want to get off the hamster wheel and travel to a point far off in the seemingly boundless ocean yet incompletely civilized comfort, safety, and with lots of pampering.
Who is it not recommended for?
Above all, the Maldives probably isn’t for you if you’re the sort of traveler who needs an itinerary packed with excursions and cultural discoveries. It is true that luxury hotels on the small islands offer plenty of activities to entertain guests, with many waters- and land-based sports outings and sea excursions, but all the same, a holiday in the Maldives is ultimately about the location. Since an island typically consists of a single hotel, there are not many activities on offer not organized by the hotel.
You’ll see families with children in the Maldives, but we suspect that a holiday of this sort could be boring for teenagers. It’s different with small children since they can spend a whole day having fun on the sandy beaches and in the shallow seas.
There are not many large groups of friends, since a holiday in the Maldives tends to have a more intimate, ‘coupley’ atmosphere. It is not by any means a shopping or partying destination. Typically, after dinner, everyone goes back to their own bungalow. Many hotels don’t even have TVs in the room, meaning people prefer to read in the evenings, or sit out on the porch and enjoy one another’s company. It is a fact that the more hyperactive type of person starts to get a little bored after 4-5 days. Then, after coming home, they start to wish they’d enjoyed that boredom just a little more…
What’s it really like?
The price range leads you to expect luxury, and that’s exactly what you’ll get, especially if you choose a particularly good five-star hotel. The success of your Maldives vacation depends largely on picking the right hotel. The sea around the Maldives is a shade of blue which is simply indescribable, and photographs simply don’t capture it. A seaplane trip over the atolls made up of coral reefs is sure to be one of the most beautiful sights you ever see as a traveler. The seawater surrounding the islands is transparent, clear, warm, and spectacularly beautiful. The sand at the beach is dazzlingly white, and the lush vegetation which fringes the beaches is also stunning. The islands also have a truly relaxed atmosphere, and it’s great to be able to go everywhere barefoot, savoring the absence of cars, noisy motorbikes, and crowds. At most, you might encounter a little bustle and bustle at restaurant breakfasts and dinners.
The Islands closest to the capital and the airport don’t really have the same Maldivian paradise feeling as those farther away!
Most holidaymakers in the Maldives accept that all locally paid food, drink, and services are going to be expensive. With the exception of nets and coconuts, everything has to be brought to each small island by boat, and that does increase costs. If you constantly purse your lips over the cost of things, you could end up ruining your vacation. Public safety is completely and universally excellent. The locals on the islands are all hotel staff. There are no dangerous animals or venomous snakes – the worst you’ll encounter are some harmless beetles and mosquitos. It is a fantastic advantage that here there is none of the sorts of holidaymakers who disturb the tranquility of those who want to relax.
The clientele is mostly cultured and grown-up. Of course, there are also drinkers here, but it is not typical. There are no young people partying, and the majority everywhere are in the upper-middle class, between the ages of 30 and 60. There are many French, Italians, Germans, and Northern Europeans, as well as Japanese and Korean honeymooners. Cleanliness and hygiene are perfectly fine. Expensive hotels cannot afford complaints about upset stomachs.
Islands are typically barely 150-500 meters long and 100-150 meters wide. The bigger ones can be walked around in an hour, the smaller ones in 15-25 minutes on foot. One-kilometer-long islands are already considered large.
Compared to Mauritius, Seychelles, and French Polynesia, the landscape is quite monotonous – there are no rivers or mountains. All excursions and walks are limited to the hotel island, and though you can visit other local islands, you don't see anything different there either. The highest point in the Maldives is 2.4 meters above sea level. The experience isn’t as exciting as a holiday in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Cuba. However, people who have traveled to many places say that only perhaps French Polynesia and a few Caribbean, Malay and Thai islands can rival the Maldives in terms of the beauties of the marine experience there. In any case, a holiday in the Maldives is so unique that it can’t really be compared to anything else.”
I am not a beach person, so much not that I only spent 5 hours on the beach during my 10-day trip to Cuba, and altogether 7 hours during the trip to Seychelles. I love active travel, walking, and discovering destinations. I have therefore surprised myself that I really, but really enjoyed the Maldives.
The Maldives is mainly about beaching. Of course, you can be active, but almost all activities are the usual resort programs. There are plenty of things you can do there, mostly if you are in a bigger resort, such as Sun Island or an inhabited island. You can go fishing, snorkeling, diving, do most of watersports and land sports, bike, but even farm and coral farm, learn to cook local food, take a course of local handcrafting, learn to make a bonfire, spend a night on an isolated island, and so on, and so forth. I brought a book with me to read when I get bored and haven’t opened it at all.
What I loved the most is the colors, the smell, and nature – I sat in one place on the beach for hours, and things were just happening around me: sea and sand changed their color during the day, different animals passed around (and over) me, stopped by to check me out, like harmless sharks and fish in the shallow waters of atolls, crabs, bugs, lizards, birds, bats (and being me, I named them all). Air changed its smell, sounds were different at any moment of the day! And the blue, millions of shades of incredible blue – the belasý I mentioned. That one! Plus food: I got oversaturated by fish, mostly tuna, and different sea monsters they make in a perfect way.
Maldivians are really cute. Quite a tropical mentality (but really, what is there to rush and worry about under the Maldivian sun? 🙂 ), very friendly with a great, lilbit blackey humor. They love their country (no Maldivian we talked to would like to live anywhere else), they do not accept the fact they have only 100 years left until they sink (“Why should we worry? You are at a bigger risk with all those nuclear weapons around you”), they do take ecology seriously (most of the species are law-protected, there are many ongoing eco projects, they do serious developments to make their infrastructure sustainable, but most of the shit happening to them is out of their reach – acute warming of seas killing their coral reefs and rising ocean level), they protect their citizens and local workers (minimum wage + obligation to give locals jobs), and though sharia is the legal system, women have their rights (which are limited by strict traditions, not the law). Of course, there is the corruption and tax evasion assistance + protection of Russian bucks and yachts (took photos of at least 5 of the most famous ones which are anchored around Male), but these make you feel at home 😃
Earlier I thought only rich and beautiful people go to the Maldives and that I would not fit in, but most of the visitors in places we visited are just usual people, and I have not really seen anyone clothed or behaving really expensive. Just imagine your grandfather, in sandals, bermudas, and Hawaiian shirt, Britons in British fashion, Frenches in H&M and beach slippers, teenagers in their best creations, people with bellies and bums and bald heads, you can see all common tourists there. Of course, you can find super luxurious resorts where a night costs super extra money (there is a Czech-owned (!) resort where a night costs 10 to 20 000 USD) and where there is a face check, I guess, but you do not have to feel excluded if you are not a botox-mouthed influencer. So, you are inclusive in the Maldives, whoever you are, yet still, the setting, accommodation, food, local hospitality makes you feel exclusive.
It is not cheap, but it is affordable. Price-wise, it is comparable to other tropical destinations and even to our countries, where paying 150-200 EUR for accommodation per night and 30-50 EUR per person for a dinner is not unusual anymore. Airfare is priced similarly to any other remote destination, so if you are considering exotics, and you really want just to relax your spirit and body and get some vitamin sea, I can recommend the Maldives with a clear conscience, as there is nothing to disrupt you there. Dolce far niente!
As it usually is, this trip was a valuable lesson for me about myself as well – not only because I realized, that I can be a beach person, but I also learned and reconfirmed my values, what is important to me, who I am, and what I want. I was sad the day I was leaving, running around nervously and trying to suck in the atmosphere, and even forcing myself to relax on the beach the one last time (so me…), but when I landed at home, I was satisfied, as I knew where my place is, where I belong and where I could do miracles wasn’t it for my lazy bum, correction: which I am about to do now. (Stay tuned for the Annaic project I am to start soon 🙂 )
And would I go back to the Maldives? Indeed! With my boys, of course, I know they would love it, too. But not yet, now I need a few years to rest and start missing traveling again and to lower my carbon footprint (which skyrocketed by just a few flights these weeks) to my usual deep-under-the-EU-average levels.(Anna, 2022)