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Your essential Maldives travel guide // The closest you can get to paradise

Everything you need to know before you travel to Maldives post COVID-19

Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a chain of 1,900 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls southwest of Sri Lanka and India. Unrivaled luxury, stunning white-sand beaches, and an amazing underwater world make Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.

Here is all the information you need to plan your upcoming trip to Maldives.

⚠️ COVID-19 Update ⚠️

Maldives has reopened to international visitors since July 15 with no restrictions, according to its Ministry of Tourism. Visitors will only be welcomed on resort islands and live-aboard boats for the first couple of weeks. Other inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen their guesthouses and hotels on August 1.

Travelers will not have to show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival or pay a fee for a 30-day tourist visa. Travelers who don’t have symptoms will not be required to quarantine. They will need to fill out a health declaration card once they land, wear masks and sanitize their hands at the airport, and practice social distancing. All visitors to the Maldives will also undergo thermal screening to check for potential fevers when they arrive.

Currency

The Maldivian Rufiyaa is the official currency of Maldives.

USD 1 = 15.41 Maldivian Rufiyaa (as of 27 July 2020)

While the Maldivian rufiyaa is the main currency of the Maldives, the US dollar is widely accepted. However, if you arrive in the Maldives with any of the other major international currencies (the pound, euro, etc.), these can be exchanged in the arrival hall at the Bank of Maldives Foreign Exchange counter.

Language

The country’s primary language is Dhivehi. Interestingly enough, Dhivehi is a unique mixture of Arabic, English, Hindi, Sinhalese, and Urdu.

Since tourism is a major industry in the country, almost all popular international languages are such as English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese are widely spoken, especially at hotels and resorts. Most travelers will easily find someone who can communicate with them fluently.

Food

Roasted whole fish – Fihunu mas

Since Maldives is almost 99% sea, it is not surprising that fish (mainly tuna) is the most important staple of the Maldivian diet. The cuisine found in the island nation is a mix of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Oriental influences. Coconuts are another major part of many dishes in Maldives.

If you do have the opportunity to try ‘local’ food, here are some Maldives specialties worth sampling:

Garudhiya: a fish broth served with rice, lime, chili, and onions.

Mas huni: shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions. This is considered the most popular breakfast food in the country.

Fihunu mas: barbecued fish that has been basted with chili.

Best time to visit

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The Maldives are hot and sunny all year round, with average temperatures of 23ºC-31ºC.

The best weather – and the best time to visit the Maldives – is between November and April. The high season falls between December and March. The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking around June.

How to get to Malé, Maldives

From Abu Dhabi:

Etihad has resumed passenger flights to Malé, Maldives (MLE) since July 16, 2020.

Flight duration: 4h 10m (AUH-MLE), 4h (MLE-AUH)
Ticket price: AED 4,500 ($1,270) onwards for a round-trip in economy class, AED 12,099 ($3,300) onwards for a round-trip in business class

Etihad Business Class Lounge facilities

The Etihad Business Class lounge in Terminal 3 is located right after the duty-free shopping in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). It is located close to Gate 31 and is fairly easy to spot.

The lounge is open 24 hours. The following passengers are allowed to visit the Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi:

  • Passengers in Business Class and upwards
  • Passengers with at least the Etihad Gold Status (depending on availability)
  • Guests that pay an entrance fee (depending on availability, prices start at 100 USD for 2 hours)

The Etihad Business Class lounge is massive. There are multiple facilities in the lounge, such as a variety of multi-cuisine buffets, spa, business center, and a smoker’s lounge.

This is a popular place to spend time before your flight, so make sure to account for a couple of hours to spend here when you fly with Etihad.

From Dubai:

Emirates has resumed passenger flights to Malé, Maldives (MLE) since July 16, 2020. There are five weekly flights between Malé and Dubai every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Flight duration: 4h 10m (DXB-MLE), 4h (MLE-DXB)
Ticket price: AED 3,625 ($990) onwards for a round-trip in economy class

Logistics from Malé to your final destination

Map - Maldives | Centre for Intercultural Learning

Before booking your resort, it is advised to check the location of the resort on the map to further plan out your logistics. It’s advised to stick to one resort for your entire stay instead of jumping islands, which is not recommended neither is it allowed post COVID-19. 

Resorts that are close to the international airport can be accessed by a short speedboat ride or a seaplane ride, whereas resorts further away might require you to book a domestic flight. Additional transportational costs are usually not included in the room rate.

Visit the resort’s website for more information on how to reach the island from the international airport.

Visa information

Tourist visa is granted for all nationalities on arrival to Maldives. As such, a foreigner traveling to Maldives as a tourist does not require pre-approval for the visa.

The basic entry requirements are as follows;

  1. A passport or a travel document with Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) with at least 6 months validity.
  2. A pre-paid hotel booking/accommodation.
  3. Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Maldives.
  4. Confirmed onward/return tickets to home country or to country of residence.
  5. Entry facilities to their onward destinations; for example, the visa.
  6. Completed Disembarkation Card.
  7. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if applicable.

The maximum number of days granted on arrival would be 30 days.

Note: This is a rapidly evolving topic. Contact your airline and travel agent prior to planning your trip. For more information, visit the Maldives Immigration website by clicking here.

Resort recommendations

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Every resort in Maldives is its own private island, and with over 100 resorts to choose from, the only problem is selecting where you want to stay.

At the top end, the world’s most exclusive hotel brands compete with each other to attain ever-greater heights of luxury, from personal butlers and private lap pools to in-room massages and pillow menus.

It’s not surprising that honeymooners and those seeking a glamorous tropical getaway have long had the country at the very top of their wish lists.

1) Grand Park Kodhipparu

Island: Kodhipparu, North Male Atoll, Kuda Vattaru
Malé to Grand Park Kodhipparu: 20 minutes speedboat ride from the international airport
Average room rate for 2 (August 2020): $500 onwards
Activities: Private dining on the beach, Extensive water activities, Spa
Ideal for: Couples, families
What I liked the most about this resort: Close proximity to the airport, Bohemian-themed rooms, Food variety, Spa services, Infiniti pool

Grand Park Kodhipparu is a luxurious one-island-one resort, just a 20-minutes speedboat ride from the airport. The resort has been designed by an award-winning hospitality firm, and its the epitome of tranquility and luxury.

A signature service from Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, is a lifestyle host. This host is the welcoming face that greets you upon arrival and anticipates your needs throughout the stay. The Lifestyle Host team is available 24-hours to ensure you get the most out of your time in the Maldives.

2) Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa – Deluxe All Inclusive

Island: Fasmendhoo Island, Fasmendhoo, Raa Atoll
Malé to Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa: 45-minutes seaplane from the international airport
Average room rate for 2 (August 2020): $800 onwards
Activities: Spa, excursions, water sports
Ideal for:
Families, couples
What I liked the most about this resort: All-inclusive resort, extra-large rooms, spa and jacuzzi facilities

This luxury, all-inclusive resort is the perfect choice for families and couples who want to experience luxurious accommodation with an all-inclusive package – mini bar included!

The rooms are extraordinarily large and comfortable with a total area of 176 sqm for the water villas. The spa is also worth a visit – The Emerald Spa offers Balinese and Thai treatments in the total privacy of 10 air-conditioned bungalows, an Indonesian style pool and a relax area with jacuzzi, sauna, and Turkish baths.

3) The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

Island: Baa Atoll
Malé to The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort: 30 minutes seaplane / 20-minute domestic flight, 20-minute speedboat
Average room rate for 2 (October 2020): $800 onwards
Activities: Heavenly Spa by Westin, Fine dining
Ideal for: 
Couples
What I liked the most about this resort: Modern minimalist design, excellent food

The Westin has always been the hotel of choice for travelers seeking a wellness experience, and what better than experiencing the brand in a place like Maldives.

Designed by award-winning architects, the spacious villas all have private decks and ocean views. The resort also boasts a luxury Heavenly Spa by Westin, built overwater with a glass floor to enhance the sense of calm the water brings.

The resort is located in the Baa Atoll that was crowned with UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in 2011 for its marine diversity.

Alternate accommodation in Maldives

  • Liveaboard

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There are plenty of liveaboards in the waters of Maldives. These accommodations are ideal for guests who enjoy water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

All meals are provided with both indoor and outdoor dining areas, and what better way to enjoy a meal than having a stunning sunrise or sunset of Maldives as a backdrop.

Most have outdoor and indoor relaxing areas most with padded sundecks and many provide indoor entertainment with reading areas and television rooms.

  • Guest House

Many islands in various atolls of Maldives have developed a concept of guest houses. These guest houses are accommodations for tourists which are located on inhabited islands by locals.

While some guesthouses are similar to hotels which are all inclusive, others are more like bed and breakfast inns. The luxury amenities, facilities and services are not similar to a resort however, guests have the opportunity for watersports, diving and other activities like night fishing and excursions to uninhabited islands and sandbanks through local dive and watersports providers in the islands.

The main difference between guesthouses and resorts are that guesthouses do not own their own island, which means guests will have to be respectful of the local community, will need to be more mindful of local customs, in particular, women will need to dress much more modestly than on a resort.

It also means guests can make use of the public transportation in place for the locals, saving one of the exorbitant costs a tourist who comes to a resort spends on seaplane transfers and speed boats to reach the particular resort from the international airport. By staying in a guest house, the guests will also have the opportunity to experience the real Maldivian life on an island and meet and interact with the locals in a more friendly atmosphere.

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