It had always been my dream to visit the Maldives, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that it would actually be so breathtaking.
We stayed in Maafushi in the South Male Atoll for 10 days in late October 2016 and it was truly the experience of a lifetime.
The climate was perfect! In my home, near the Black Sea, the summers get really hot sometimes, temperatures can go over 35 C. The sand gets really hot around noon and it’s a pain. In the Maldives, however, the yearly temperatures stay around 27-30 C and the sand is never hot! If it’s 27 C in the morning at 6 am, it’s 27 C at noon and it’s 27 C late at night. For a person like me that lives in a continental climate, this was just stunning!
The best time to visit the Maldives is usually between November and April. If you’re willing to risk just a little, visit in late October, as we did. Out of 10 days there, we only had 2 days with fairly bad weather. Bad whether, however, won’t keep you from snorkeling most of the time! Visiting out of high season can be really cost-efficient.
The tides are so subtle that you might not even pay attention to them at all.
It was really surprising for me to learn that the Maldivians are Muslim (so don’t expect pork to be on the menu). You can see a few mosques but the occasional call to prayer will usually be too subtle for you to notice. However, bear in mind that Muslim tradition requires that you are dressed properly, even as tourists. This means (hold onto something), no wearing bikini on the beach and no alcohol! Luckily, this rule is not valid for private islands (or island resorts). Maafushi, however, which is a public island, has a special bikini beach, where you can relax in the sun and tan properly! It is also fine to be in your bikini when snorkeling, although it is advisable to wear a T-shirt or a life vest in order to protect you from the sun.
3. Getting to the Maldives
There are many airlines that fly to Male (the capital city of the Maldives). We used Turkish Airlines and were delighted with their services. The flight from Istanbul to Male was 8 hours long. The airline provided dinner and breakfast, as well as blankets, cushions, and a small care package. Another famous airline you could use is Qatar Airways. However, if you’re looking to save some money, do be on the look for discounts! They sometimes even offer two tickets for the price of one. The plane ticket is usually the most expensive part of your trip, so it’s always a good idea to try to save a bit on this. I would recommend subscribing for their newsletters in order to always be in the loop for promotions. In addition, bear in mind that online check-in is not available from Male airport, so if you’d like to get a good seat on your long flight back home, do get there early. Or, you know, go snorkel one last time in this island paradise, as we did.
4. Local people
The local people are actually incredibly nice. Tourism is definitely the largest industry there, so most of the locals work at hotels, restaurants and diving schools. They usually get 1 day off a week if they’re lucky, so make sure you tip well, they will appreciate it!
5. Sun protection
The most dangerous thing in the Maldives are actually not the sharks or poisonous fish (provided that you don’t tease them intentionally, of course), it is the sun! These islands are close to the equator, so even if the sun doesn’t feel strong when you are in the water, the aftereffects can be pretty bad. I’d recommend using the strongest sunscreen you can find. If you are going in the water, however, please make sure you use a sunscreen that is free of chemicals that could harm the corals and marine life. A very good friend of mine who prepares all-natural cosmetics, HandmadeBeautyElixirs, was kind enough to prepare special marine-friendly sunscreen for me with high sun protection. So it wasn’t just me that was protected from the sun, the corals and fish were also protected from me. In addition, do wear a white T-shirt while swimming, it will save your back from burning (you’ll thank me later!).
Maldivian law prohibits for you to take back home any corals or seashells. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Maldives each year, if everyone took a piece of coral, it would mean tons of corals being taken away from this beautiful place. Climate change is really bad news for these islands, as water levels are rising; thus, by taking away parts of these islands, you are taking away the islands themselves.
If you think you might get away with it and take a piece of coral with you – think again! Even before you leave your bags at check-in at Male Airport, they are thoroughly scanned. So be careful!
7. Other tips
The electrical sockets there are English, and even though hotels can sell you adapters, you can be prepared and buy a few beforehand. In addition, it is a good idea to bring mosquito repellent. We always put on lots of it right before breakfast, as these little guys can give you nasty bites. The food in our hotel in Maafushi was excellent, they had rice, potatoes, chicken, veal, not that much marine food. The most important tip, however: please clean up after yourself! The amount of pollution from tourists is appalling, don’t be “that guy” and preserve the beauty of the islands, rather than destroying it.