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Maldives - overwater bungalows - Jetta photo

Maldives - atolls - Elter photo

“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)

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“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)

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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.

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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.”



z.p. photo

Practicals

Transport

Travel between islands happens by boats or seaplanes. Their services are only available until sunset.

"Because of the distances between individual islands and archipelagos, there’s a chance that a seaplane will take you to your resort of choice. These planes are pretty loud (everyone gets earplugs before takeoff) and it's very hot in the cabin. The view as you fly over the atolls, though… breathtaking. I've read on forums that some people prefer to travel between the islands by boat. Well, I wouldn't have missed the experience of seeing the islands from a bird's eye view. "

Maldives - seaplane - w.m. photo

Maldives - attols - p.w. photo

Maldives - speedboat - m.i. photo

Accomodation

You need a prior arrangement, permission if you choose to stay on an island inhabited by locals. An exception is the island of Malé with the capital city, the international airport, and several nearby "resort islands."
Almost all vacationers choose one of the 87 so-called resort islands, where the locals are the resort's employees.

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In terms of how much you’ll enjoy the experience of visiting the Maldives, the quality of the accommodation plays a decisive role. Some argue that it is better to go to better quality, more expensive hotel, and cut your holiday shorter by a few days to make up the difference. Generally, it can be said that the price of Maldivian hotels faithfully reflects the degree to which you’ll be pampered, as well as the quality of services, care, environment, and rooms. The choice of room category is of great importance since the island experience is completely different if you’re in a villa right on the beach, in the first or in a second row, or in a less intimate and romantic setting.

Of course, it’s important for all travelers what creature comforts are important for them. Even the cheaper category of hotel islands can offer the same wonderful natural beauty as the more expensive ones. The difference is typically in the design, the choice and quality of the buffet meal, and the features of the accommodation. The bungalows built over the sea offer an extraordinary luxury experience, and through the glass floor, you can see the multitude of colorful, swimming fish. Not all hotels have such bungalows, however, and not all overwater bungalows have direct access to the sea. Nor is an over-water bungalow necessarily the best-quality experience, since a beachfront villa with its own small beach area, private sunbed, shady and sunny area, and cozy privacy can provide a more charming and memorable experience. To complicate matters still further, on some hotel islands the beachfront rooms or bungalows are not the optimal choice, since those in the second row are in a shadier, cooler location.
•    It is worth knowing that children under the age of twelve cannot stay in overwater bungalows, villas, and suites in the Maldives, even with parental supervision. For families, garden and beach bungalows are more suitable.
•    To repeat – the level of comfort strongly determines how special the experience will be, compared to the average. It is a good thing that better quality accommodation can be requested locally, with a more accurate knowledge of the differences between the categories, though of course, this depends on vacancies.
•    It does matter to some extent what side of what island you’re on, and what beaches are close by. Feedback shows guests are happy to give their opinions on different parts of the archipelago, in terms of wind, water quality, swimming, and shade.
•    The two most democratic services are the sea and the buffet service – neither make any allowances for room category. Typically, each island has a single hotel. If there are two, one has four stars and the other has five.
•    Most Maldivian hotels have 50-100 rooms. Fortunately, there are few hotels that offer unpleasantly large-scale hospitality. The only place you might face an annoying queue is at the buffet dinner (one possible solution: start with dessert…).
When choosing a hotel, study carefully which services are included in the price and which are not! This is because extra services paid for locally incur significant additional costs. It is important to understand that there are no clever little thrift alternatives outside the hotel – only the hotel's restaurants, bars, and shops. On the islands, staff members are typically very deferential and rarely will speak with confidence – at most with children. The most laid back is the bar staff. In general, they work quite slowly, and accuracy isn’t such a big deal for them either. Still, it’s true that the guest also has plenty of time, except during the stressful period of organizing arrival and departure. It is no coincidence that many experienced Western Europeans are employed to fill management positions in many hotels (many are Italians).


Maldives - overwater bungalows by night - Jetta photo

Maldives - Ada Ana Resort - Elter photo

Maldives - Hudhuran Fushi - Adaaran Ocean Villas - l.z. photo

Maldives - Adaaran Prestige Vadoo - l.z. photo

Food

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Maldives - resort restaurant on the beach - Jetta photo

Shopping

Alcoholic beverages are only available at resorts, but it is forbidden to take them out of their territory.

Fun

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Maldives - joy - Jetta photo

Maldives - Male - festival - s.v. photo

Health

Cleanliness and hygiene are perfectly fine. Resorts don't want to get complaints of indigestion.

The number of Dengue fever cases in the country is continuously increasing, so the use of mosquito repellents is highly recommended.

Others


It is strictly forbidden to bring into the Maldives: explosives, firearms, ammunition, pornography, any material contrary to the teachings of Islam (even the Bible), pork food, and any spirits.

All forms of drug possession, consumption, and trafficking are illegal, and punishments can include life imprisonment. Maldives ’anti-drug laws are one of the strictest in the world.

The export of tortoiseshell and coral is strictly forbidden.

The intimate relationship between the same sexes (understand: homosexuality and lesbianism), resp. making an offer to do so is illegal and can result even in a longer prison sentence.

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Tipping in the Maldives

“Upon arrival in the Maldives, it is not necessary to give a tip to the hotel representative (who will arrange the transfer for us) at the airport. Seaplane or fast-boat crews should be given $ 5-10, depending on how many people we wish to tip. At the hotel, tips are expected, though they are very discreet about it. It is appropriate to tip the bellboy, the permanent wait staff in the hotel, the bar staff, and especially the cleaner. It is not obligatory to give anything to the receptionists, even when paying the final bill. The hotel will charge a 10% service fee anyway, though it is not certain that the receptionists will receive anything from it. It is useful to bring many one-dollar bills to the Maldives because, being the smallest denomination of paper money, it is the most practical tip. €5 is the smallest euro bill, which is already quite a generous tip. In any case, dollars are preferred to euros in the Maldives.

It is appropriate to leave a $1 bill on the pillow every day for the cleaner and a $5 bill on the last day. If someone prefers to be tipped all at once, you could give perhaps $10-15 for a week’s cleaning. On arrival and departure, it is normal to give the bellboy $2-3, or, if there are two, $2 apiece. Or we can calculate the tip as about $2 per suitcase. It is certainly unnecessary to give more than $10. In the hotel restaurant, a table is typically set for the duration of our stay, and as a rule, drinks are served by the same waiter. Since a tab is generally kept, there is no need to give a tip every time. It is enough to give a single tip with the last meal. $10-15 or €10 is sufficient for stays of no more than 7 nights.
•    If you frequent a particular bar, $10-20 may be a reasonable tip
•    A small proportion of guests prefer to tip daily, others weekly, while it’s possible to wait and give your tip on the last day of your stay.
•    In five-star accommodation where guests are provided with a permanent butler, it is best not to tip on an ad-hoc basis, but rather in a single lump sum at the end of your visit.

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This is a tropical country, so the bungalows are not insulated. The windows are not perfectly fitted, so ants, geckos, and other harmless animals can easily slip through the 2-3-inch gaps. Getting hysterical doesn’t help, so it’s best to make friends with them from the start. The most dangerous thing here is a mosquito bite, which is nothing to fear. Geckos are harmless, in addition to killing mosquitoes, and even in the bathrooms of luxury hotels, the ants that crawl in don’t bite. The staff wage war on cockroaches, mostly with success.



Maldives - plug - m.s. photo

Background

Maldives - Male - Republique Square - national flag - s.v. photo

Maldives - a resort island from above - y.m. photo

Destination in brief

The Maldives consists of 26 atolls, made up of 1192 islands, of which about 200 are inhabited, and 87 are so-called ‘resort islands’.

Size of dry land: 297.8 km² (115 mi²)

Population (in 2020): 538,000

The foreign vacationers, while staying at resorts, experience nothing about the everyday life of the country.

Most islands are typically barely 150-500 meters long and 100-150 meters wide. The bigger ones can be walked around in an hour, and the smaller ones in 15-25 minutes. The one-kilometer-long islands are considered very big.

Geography

The landscape is monotonously flat compared to Mauritius, Seychelles, and the French Polynesian islands; there are no rivers or mountains.

The highest altitude in the Maldives is 2.4 meters (78 feet).

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“Staff can provide information on the corals of the Maldives, and there are several coral reefs, but it is the duty of every traveler not to damage the corals, so do not to step on them! In many places, we can only find dead corals that have completely lost their vibrant colors. Recently, however, there have been tentative signs of new coral formation. Staff can provide information on dangerous fish (e.g. lionfish) and other unpleasant species – several species of biting fish can be a problem – as well as information about tides. Fortunately, incidents involving swimmers are very rare. For those who are afraid of snakes, we are told that while diving, long eels are sometimes wrongly taken to be snakes.”

Maldives - atolls - y.m. photo

History

In a country where cultural tourism has almost no significance, the discussion of history deserves only fleeting attention. The natives of the archipelago were originally Dravidians from South India, but may also be partly Sinhalese. In terms of religion, the inhabitants first practiced Hinduism, then syncretized it with Buddhism. Phoenician, Greek, and Chinese sailors also traveled around the islands on their way to other destinations. Since the 12th century, the islands have been completely dominated by Islam. In the 14th century, a famous Arab traveler and Islamic theologian lived here for two years.

In the 15th century, the Portuguese colonized the islands, but a century later they were expelled by the forces of the sultan at that time, with the support of South Indians. This sultan (Muhammad Thakurufaan) is considered the national hero of the Maldivian people, and his dynasty ruled the islands for centuries. The rulers succeeded in complex diplomatic maneuvers for a time, to avoid being colonized by foreign powers. During the 19th century, the British gradually took control of the islands. Like the Portuguese and other outside powers, the British wanted to own the archipelago primarily for reasons of maritime trade and to serve their military-strategic interests.

Nowadays

The uninhabited islands have palm trees. The inhabited ones have fishing villages that are as poor as in many underdeveloped countries. The resort islands have vacationers and the employees who serve them.

Maldives - Male - y.m. photo

Maldives - Suni Islam is the state religion - y.m. photo

People

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Maldives - local musicians playing boduberu, traditional Maldivian music - m.a. photo

Maldives - Male - school girls - y.m. photo

Maldives - locals - y.m. photo

Maldives - Male - guys - s.v. photo

Tourist etiquette

1. Nudism and topless is strictly forbidden in the Maldives, including resorts!

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“The fact is, foreign vacationers rarely have much real interaction with the country. Sure, a tiny proportion of tourists take a quick look around the capital, but otherwise, their stay is limited to a tiny world where the overall situation of the country is neither here nor there – at least as long as there are no problems at the airport, or with the internal seaplane and boat traffic. At the beaches by the hotel islands, many ladies appear in monokinis, or bikinis with swimsuit underwear, and engage in a lot of handwringing about whether or not the Muslim staff considers this immoral.

Hotels need the guest’s money and, and so rarely give foreigners a moral education. Many say, however, that guests should show some tact in a country where there are very conservative rules regarding dress. Incidentally, the staff in the hotels are not just locals – there are many Asian guest workers in the Maldives, and the majority of managers and diving instructors are Europeans. Maldivian authorities have apparently banned the country’s citizens (all Muslims) from serving in hotel bars, or to have anything to do with the sale of alcohol, which is of course forbidden in their religion.”

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