Know before you go – The Maldives

Know before you go – The Maldives

With perfectly blue seas, swaying palm trees and white sandy beaches, the Maldives are the perfect exotic wonderland for families looking to escape into nature and a romantic backdrop for honeymooners and lovebirds. This oceanic wonder is made up of 26 coral atolls, comprising of around 1,200 islands, each a picture-perfect paradise ready to be explored by sail boat or seaplane.

To help you prepare for your island escape, we’ve created this guide to the Maldives with everything you need to know before you go, from currency info to culinary advice.

Club Med offers two picture perfect Resorts in the Maldives including Kani and The Exclusive Collection Finolhu Villas.

Weather

The Maldives have a sunny, tropical climate perfect for an island getaway. Temperatures in the Maldives are fairly consistent throughout the year at 25-31˚C, so you’ll enjoy warm weather any time you choose to go.

December to April are the driest months, making them the best time to go to the Maldives. May and the autumn-winter months are quieter, but get the most rainfall with about 15 rainy days out of the month with anywhere between 20-24cm of rain. However, no matter when you go the weather is rarely bad enough to disturb a holiday.

Getting there

A direct flight to the Maldives from London takes about 10-11 hours, whereas non-direct flights will take about 12 hours with a stopover in Dubai or Doha. All visitors to the Maldives fly in to Malé International Airport on Hulhulé island, right next to the island capital, Malé.

From here you’ll either catch a boat or a sea plane, known locally as an air taxi, to your resort. These tend not to run at night, so if you arrive late you may need to arrange a one night stay in Malé or at the Hulhulé airport hotel before traveling on to your destination. At Club Med, we’ll organise your transfer for you

Currency and Costs

The currency of the Maldives is the Rufiyaa (Rf) but most of the resorts prefer to use US dollars, so check with your accommodation to be certain. You’ll generally get about 20Rf to the pound and food and drink are fairly inexpensive. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Malé will cost about 366Rf or £18.

Food and drink

Maldivian cuisine is made up of rice, spicy coconut-flavoured curries and fish – particularly the tuna that live around the islands - with a mix of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan and Oriental influences. Head to the inhabited islands or to Malé to try an authentic Maldivian meal.

Typical Maldivian Food

Mas Huni – smoked fish shredded and served with grated coconuts and onions
Bambukeylu Hiti – breadfruit curry
Garudhiya – a clear fish broth made from locally caught tuna
Fihunu Mas – roasted whole fish coated in a spicy rub

Snacks - known as Hedhikaa or “short eats” & Dessert

Bajiya – fried samosas stuffed with fish, coconut and onions
Gulha – dumplings filled with tuna, onion, coconut and chili
Keemia – spring roll style pastries filled with smoked tuna, peas, garlic, ginger and chili
Kulhi Boakiba – spicy tuna cakes made with rice, coconut, garlic, lemon and ginger
Mas Roshi – pan-fried pastries filled with smoked tuna and coconut
Thelui Mas – spicy, fried squares of fresh tuna steak

Saagu – a creamy pudding made from starchy palm seeds and coconut milk, flavoured with a mix of cardamom, cinnamon, jasmine or rose.
Gabulhi Boakiba - sweet, tender coconut cakes flavoured with rose water

Drink

When staying at a Resort there will be a selection of alcoholic beverages for all, from exotic cocktails to your favourite beer or spirits. The Maldives does however have a strict no no-alcohol policy, so you won’t find any bars on Malé or any of the other inhabited islands. However, the resort islands and the airport hotel have special licenses to serve alcohol so you won’t have to go without.

Seagull Café House - Faradhee Magu, Malé

This sunny café is an old favourite on the island of Malé and is built around a large tree growing up through the middle of the building. With western and Maldivian cuisine on offer, visitors will find everything from southern fried chicken to reef fish curry. They also have wide selection of homemade ice cream with around 30 flavours including mango, tiramisu and pistachio.

Maldives culture

The Maldives has a warm, island culture with Indian, Sri Lankan, Arabic and African influences and conservative Muslim values. Island life is completely dominated by the sea, with many of the locals working as fishermen and whole island communities helping to bring in the day’s catch.

Etiquette

If you go on an excursion to the inhabited islands or spend some time on Malé, don’t go wearing just your swimsuit. Honeymooners will also want to save the passionate embraces for the resorts. A good rule of thumb is to treat the islands outside the resorts with the same respect you would show a Cathedral in Venice.

Music and dance

Bodu Beru - Very popular on the islands, Bodu Beru rhythms start slow then build up as dancers leap in time to the drums. Almost every inhabited island has a Bodu Beru troupe and onlookers are welcome to join in.

Bandiyaa Jehun - A Maldivian take on the Indian pot dance, young women sing and dance as they tap out a rhythm on metal pots.

Crafts

Lacquered wood - Called Laajehum in Dhivehi, this is one of the Maldives’ most popular crafts. Wooden boxes, bowls and vases are coated in layer upon layer of brightly-coloured lacquer and polished with coconut leaves to a high shine.

Thun’du Kunaa mats - These patterned, hand-woven mats are ubiquitous in the Maldives. The pattern on the mat lets you know what it should be used for, whether it’s sleeping, seating or praying.

What to do in the Maldives

Snorkelling

With its perfectly clear waters and vibrant sea life, it should come as no surprise that the Maldives is a diver’s dream. Swim with manta rays, explore a magical coral reef or make friends with sea turtles under the perfect turquoise waves. Some resorts will have a house reef that you can visit at your leisure, or you can take a snorkelling trip to visit some of the best snorkelling spots nearby.

Fishing

Get a taste of the island life and catch your own dinner with a fishing trip. The Indian Ocean is teeming with delicious fish from sea bream, red snappers and mackerel to big game fish such as marlin, dorado or tuna. Try sunset fishing for stunning views of the evening sky and a relaxing few hours watching the waves and waiting for a bite.

Dolphin Watching

Take a trip out to deeper water and you might spot one of the Maldives’ cheekier inhabitants. Dolphins are abundant in among these coral islands and you won’t have to sail for too long on a dolphin watching tour before you make your first sighting. Watch as they race alongside your boat, play in the turquoise water or make daring acrobatic leaps against the sunset sky.

Island hopping

With 1,200 Maldivian islands, how do you choose only one to visit? Travellers to the Maldives can now “island hop” by boat or seaplane to see more of this amazing island nation. Whether you want to try all the best restaurants across the resorts, dive in all the best reefs, or visit your nearest villages and share a home-cooked meal made with fish caught by the local fishermen, the choice is yours.

Relax and unwind

The peaceful surroundings also make the perfect backdrop for honeymoons, spending quality time with your loved ones, or simply reconnecting with yourself for the ultimate wellness retreat.

Local laws and restrictions

It is illegal to bring alcohol, pork or pornography into the country, so be careful you don’t pack any in your luggage or take any with you outside of the resorts.

It’s also illegal to take any sand, seashells or coral with you when you leave. This is to protect the precious natural environment of this beautiful island nation, so you may want to pick a different keepsake to take home with you to remember your trip.

Topless swimming and sunbathing is also illegal for women, even on the resorts.

For fun things to do with the kids, see our article showcasing 10 family-friendly activities in the Maldives.

Club Med Sun - The best all-inclusive sun holiday experience