Welcome to my new Wanderlust series, on The Purple Pumpkin Blog, where I write about the places in the world that I would love to visit. First up is my Guide to the Maldives which is not only famous for being a luxury romantic destination; but also has much to offer families too. Whether you want to relax in this tropical paradise, experience the culture, or do something adventurous, it can all be done in the Maldives!
A Guide to The Maldives
Our Dream Maldives Holiday
Before I delve deeper into the Maldives as a holiday destination, let me tell you what our dream holiday would look like!
A Maldives holiday would definitely be one that we would splash the cash on! Having done split stay holidays in the past, I think we would do the same here. It would give us a chance to see different island resorts, and potentially make our budget go a bit further.
I am immediately drawn to one resort where the villas are made from natural materials, and sandwiched between the jungle and the beach. Each villa has its own private butler – talk about indulgence! My husband would definitely make his way up into the observatory, and I like the idea of watching a movie at the open air cinema! I know both my husband and I would love to enjoy breakfast and watch the sunrise from a private sandbank. There is nothing quite like watching the sunrise over the ocean, it is one of the most breathtaking sights we’ve ever witnessed.
We would also take this holiday as an opportunity to really relax, so treatments at a spa would definitely be on our to-do list – remember that underwater spa I mentioned? I would have to make sure I booked us at Huvafen Fushi, Nakachcchaafushi so that we could experience a spa treatment (or two or three!) surrounded by the fishes swimming in and around the coral.
Without doubt we would make sure we visited Malé, as we love to explore local culture by visiting historical monuments and museums. Plus I would have to do a bit of shopping to bring back some mementos of our trip, as well as souvenirs for the family. I also think a trip to Malé would give us the chance to eat some traditional Maldivian foods, we really enjoy eating local when on holiday.
Given its remote location and gorgeous surroundings, the Maldives is just perfect for getting away from it all. I can imagine that we would spend the majority of our time though just chilling out on the beach, and swimming/snorkelling in the azure blue ocean – heaven!
Where In The World?
With year round sunshine, white sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters, coral reefs, lush vegetation, and swaying palm trees, the Maldives can only be described as a tropical paradise. The country is comprised of more than 1000 islands, in a chain of 26 atolls, and located in the Indian Ocean, south west of India.
Of these islands, 185 are inhabited by people and just over 100, are resorts – yes, each resort is on it’s own private island! Some of the uninhabited islands are “picnic” islands for resorts, where you can truly get away from it all on a day trip – you can see why it is a hot spot for romantic getaways!
Wish You Were Here?
Transfers to resorts (make sure you book in advance) are by domestic flight, speedboat or seaplane – much more exciting that a coach or taxi!
Where To Stay
With over 100 resort islands, choosing one can be overwhelming. The resorts vary in size, offer different dining options, nightlife, facilities and experiences, so you need to bear this in mind too. The top factor for many, will be budget, so it’s the best place to start when narrowing down your decision. I try to only look at resorts that will fit within ours, and then have a sneaky peek at the more expensive resorts to see if we can (maybe!) find the budget.
You will also want to consider the type of board, e.g., bed and breakfast, half board, full board, or all inclusive. As well as the type of accommodation, e.g., a bungalow over the water, a room in a block, or a beach-front villa. Do not forget the transfer costs as these may or may not be included when you book your resort. Seaplanes are the most expensive choice, but the view of the islands from above, I think would justify it for me!
As a couple you may want an adult only resort, with an infinity pool and spa facilities. As a family, you might want to stay at one of the larger islands where there is a swimming pool, kids club and family friendly activities. You might want to splurge completely and stay at a resort with a private butler service; or you might want to check out a few islands, and hop to different resorts during your stay. Research your options well, as accommodation, I think, can make or break a vacation!
Things To Do
With all that surrounding ocean, activities involving the water are plentiful – fishing, water skiing, surfing, paddle boarding, and diving to name but a few.
The Maldives has an amazing diversity of sea life, and is renowned for its incredible diving opportunities. The shallow lagoons are perfect for snorkelling, while more experienced divers can head out to one of the reefs. The Maldives is home to over 2000 species of fish, including manta rays, and whale sharks – these gentle giants are the world’s largest fish. If diving isn’t for you, there are glass bottom boat tours so that you can view the sea life too. Snorkelling would be up high on my “Maldives to-do list”!
Experience the history and culture of the Maldives, by visiting the Old Friday Mosque (the oldest mosque in the country, dating from 1656), viewing the exhibits at the National Museum, exploring one of the bustling markets, or visiting a local island.
If relaxation is at the top of your list, then spa treatments, yoga, and meditation will be for you – there are over 100 spas across the island resorts, including an underwater spa at a resort in the North Malé Atoll – that would be the ultimate in relaxation for me!
Food & Drink
Speaking of underwater, there are also some resorts that have under the sea restaurants. We’ve dined before in a restaurant next to a huge aquarium, which was awesome; but actually under the sea? Wow!
As you can imagine, a lot of Maldivian food contains seafood like tuna, mahi-mahi, octopus, lobster, and swordfish; with flavours from the spices of southern India and Sri Lanka. Think creamy or spicy curries with rice and roshi (an unleavened bread), or just-caught grilled fish. You will also want to try hedhikaa, which are snack foods like kulhi boakiba – spicy fish cakes, and bajiya – pastries stuffed with fish, coconut, and onions.
When we travel we like to eat local cuisine if we can, but if you’re not as keen to try, resorts do seem to offer different international cuisines. There are also different dining experiences to enjoy (depending on your resort) such as a private beach picnic, or a meal under a blanket of stars on a secluded sandbank. Magical!
Know Before You Go
The timezone in the Maldives is GMT+5 hours. However, there is such a thing as Island Time, which many resorts adopt, so that guests can enjoy things just a little bit longer. So not only are you away from it all on an island in the middle of the ocean, but you’re lost in time as well… I like the sound of that!
Maldivian Rufiyaa is a non-convertible currency, so you will not be able to exchange it outside of the country. It is unlikely you will need much local currency as US Dollars are widely accepted, and preferred. Since resort purchases are charged to your room, you are likely to pay with credit card at the end of your stay.
Tipping is not compulsory, as a 10% service charge is added to almost everything; but you won’t cause offence if you decide to leave a tip for services – porters, waiters, etc.
Dhivehi is the national language, but English is spoken in the resorts.
The temperature of The Maldives doesn’t change much, thanks to it straddling the equator, so expect balmy 25-32°C all the year round. Low Season (May to November) will bring slightly more rain than High Season (December to April), and this is reflected in price and availability of holidays.
Water in the Maldives is desalinated and purified giving it a strong processed taste. It is okay to drink (and to brush your teeth with!) but you will probably prefer to drink bottled water.
The Maldives is a Muslim country, and as such you need to be mindful and respectful of their traditions. Some of the things you should note:
- You cannot bring alcohol into the country (so don’t bother with Duty Free). Alcohol is available on resort islands.
- During the holy month of Ramadan (August/September), Muslims are required to fast between sunrise and sunset. Resort island visitors aren’t likely to be affected, but you might find meal times are altered to accommodate religious observance.
- If visiting Malé or a local island, you should dress appropriately – shoulders and legs should be covered. Swimwear is fine for resorts, but you must cover up when going into a restaurant or public area – a sarong is fine, but see-through garments could cause offence. Some resorts have their own dress code, so check before you pack.
- Show sensitivity to public displays of affection – especially on Malé or a local island. Nude and topless sunbathing is against the law.
My Wanderlust series was born out of my increasing desire to travel – I’ve got a long list of countries, and places I would love to be able to visit one day! I have always loved researching things, and writing these guides adds to the excitement as I discover more about the places we will (hopefully) on day be visiting. I know I couldn’t possible write about everything the Maldives has to offer, so I do advise that you do your own additional research before booking a trip.
There are also a few other things I do when planning a holiday:
- I read through the local tourist board website as they are often a good starting point to find out about things to do.
- I check out the airport website so that I’m aware in advance of how to navigate our way through it.
- I look at a map as it provides an idea of the lay of the land, distance between locations (e.g., airport and resort), and also, I’m a map geek and love looking at them!
Have you been to the Maldives? I would love to hear about your trip – talk to me in the comments section below!
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