The Maldives is the dictionary definition of a bucket list destination. A string of islands floating in the Indian Ocean, the country is known for its aqua blue waters and luxury villas built on stilts over paradise lagoons. Not surprisingly, it’s also an ever-green favourite among honeymooners.
But how much do we really know about the Maldives beyond those stunning aqua blue photos popping up on our Instagram feeds? To make the most of your time in paradise, check out these fast facts about the Maldives that will help you understand the unique beauty of this remote island nation.
The Maldives is a melting pot of many different cultural influences. The local culture shares similarities with Indian, Sri Lankan, Arab and North African traditions, but is still very idiosyncratic. Visitors are charmed by local song and dance traditions, as well as the artistry of local crafts, which range from weaving to calligraphy. The country gained independence from the UK in 1965 and only opened up to mass tourism in 1972, when the first resort was opened.
The majority of Maldivians are Sunni Muslims, which is also the official religion of the Maldives. Following religious values, there is famously no alcohol in public areas within the capital of the Maldives. Not to worry though – wine, cocktails, beer and spirits are readily available at all the resorts.
The official language spoken in the Maldives is Dhivehi. The language is closely related to Sinhalese, the official language of Sri Lanka. Dhivehi uses its own script, which is derived from Arabic. English is also widely spoken and understood in the Maldives.
When it comes to applying for visa for the Maldives, it’s very simple – you don’t need one. The Maldives issues a 30-day visa on arrival for all nationalities, provided that you have…
- A valid passport
- At least 6 months validity left on your passport
- A valid exit ticket from the Maldives
- Enough funds to cover your expenses or a confirmed reservation at a resort or hotel
When travelling to a remote island nation such as the Maldives, logistics are everything. You’ll fly in at the in Male International Airport. Each resort occupies its own island and you’ll be greeted upon arrival by the resort’s representative, who will escort you to your transport (fast boat or seaplane).
Most people staying at a resort find little reason to venture beyond their own private island. If you are looking to explore further or are interested in independent travel beyond the resorts, you can hop between the main islands on a public ferry. If you want to visit one of the resort islands, you’ll need to catch a speedboat.
To put it roughly, the Maldives has two seasons:
- Dry season (northeast monsoon): January – April
- Wet season (southwest monsoon): May – November
The dry season is by far the most popular time to travel to the Maldives. But even during wet season, rain is usually short-lived and experiencing several days of rain is unlikely (though it does happen). And even if it’s raining, hey – at least you’re in the Maldives! It’s good to note that due to the country’s unique geography, each island has a micro climate all its own, so making rock solid weather forecasts is impossible.
It’s best to get it over with: travelling to the Maldives does come with a price tag. Most people travel here to enjoy the lavish luxury of the stunning resorts. Ministry of Villas offers luxury villas in the Maldives for the best price, guaranteed. Prices start at USD $1040 per night for a gorgeous one-bedroom villa.
In recent years, the local laws have changed to allow locals to open guest houses, meaning budget travellers can also explore the Maldives on their own terms. Prices for guest houses start at around USD $30 per night. Since backpacker style travel is still very new in the Maldives, figuring out where to stay and how to get around usually requires some serious research beforehand.