Maldives: Before you go!
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Before heading to a new country, we always find it invaluable to do some homework and understand the people, places, and culture. So we are going to give you a quick little history lesson and share with you some up-to-date information on what you can expect once you touch it down. If you are wondering what to pack or when to go the Maldives or a looking for information about getting to the Maldives, you can check our other travel guides for more information.
To give you an overview, the Maldives is a tropical archipelago of 26 natural atolls. The atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs that encircle a lagoon and can consist of any number of islands and sandbanks. The Atolls in the Maldives contain 1,194 different islands which are made up of around 185 locally inhabited islands and a further 130 resort islands, the rest are uninhabited. All of these islands in the Maldives can be travelled with friends, as a couple, or as a Solo Traveller. During our stay, we will be based on some of the best local islands which allows us to experience the Whale Sharks, Manta Ray and visit the resorts for an affordable price.
History of the Maldives
In the fifth century B.C, Tamil and Sinhalese mariners from Sri Lanka and Southern India traveled to the Maldives and settled in this little patch of paradise. They lived in the area and practiced Buddhism for over a millennia until around 1153 AD when Arab seafarers brought Islam to the islands, where the Sultan converted and declared The Maldives a Muslim nation.
As colonial powers, engulfed much of the trade routes in the Indian Ocean after the Middle Ages, various European powers controlled The Maldives. First the Portuguese in the 16th century when they had control over Goa in India, tried to bring Christianity to the Islands but were expelled after a local revolt. Then the Dutch had control of Sri Lanka, which extended to the Maldives. They allow the locals to live their life without any day-to-day interference but under their protection. This exchange of power was however brought to an end when the Maldives became a British Protectorate in the 19th century. This was in fact a joint agreement between Britain and The Maldives, where the Maldivian monarchs were allowed to self-govern all of their internal politics and local laws without interference from a European country.
The country had gained independence and tried to create a republic, sultanate, and constitutional monarchy at various stages in the twentieth century, 1932, 1965, 1968, and 1976 to name a few dates but although independent, the country finally agreed on construction in 2008. The 2008 constitution established Islam as the official state religion. Non-Muslims cannot become citizens, and the People’s Majlis is prohibited from making any law that contravenes the tenets of Islam.
Languages in the Maldives
Dhivehi is the Maldivian language that is closely related to Sinhalese which is spoken in Sri Lanka. Being part of the Arabian trade route connecting all of the countries from Zanzibar and Madagascar to Malaysia and Indonesia, the Maldives also has a strong Arabic influence over their language. For example "Thank you" in Arabic is Shukran and in The Maldives (Dhivehi) is Shukuriyyaa. The Dhivehi language also includes fragments of Persian, Portuguese, Hindi, French, and English.
Although Dhivehi is the local language of the Maldives, English is spoken in nearly every corner, even the local islands. You will even have no problem finding German, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Chinese, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Hindi translators in the resorts. All menus in the country are in English and have prices listed in USD, so you will not have to worry about that if you are reading this page!
Culture of the Maldives
The Maldives, a stunning slither of paradise in the Indian Ocean, is an enthralling location. Maldivians are exceptionally lovely, pleasant, and inviting people who will go above and beyond to ensure that your vacation is genuinely fabulous. The people on the local islands are extremely relaxed and slow-paced. You will find an abundance of hammocks littering the shaded spots, where locals come and just watch the clouds or have a quick nap during the day.
Although the resorts do have Maldivian staff, most of the employees with be foreigners from so you will not have the same chance to connect with the authentic Maldivian customs.
Religion in the Maldives
Islam is the religion of the Maldives. This is most visible with an abundance of magnificent mosques on the main island of Malé, the absence of alcohol and pork on the local islands, and in the streets with many local women wearing the hijab. The countries ferry system shuts down every Friday, prayer time is a priority and can cause delays, and you will find the restaurants bare in the holy month of Ramadan, However, have no fear; the economy thrives off tourism and the government has found ways to balance their customs with the demand for tourism.
Although prohibited on local islands, Resorts and Liveaboard boats have special permission to serve Alcohol in the Maldives, which allows you to enjoy cocktails and beachfront beverages in a tropical paradise. You can also wear a bikini in nearly all areas of the resort where rules are relaxed and you can enjoy your holiday as if you were in Bali, Thailand or Europe.
Dressing like a local
The Maldives is a highly conservative Muslim country, with a large portion of the population still dressing in some form of traditional garb. Males wear sarongs and white cotton shirts, while females can be seen wearing a hijab and even some with the traditional libaa, a long dress embroidered with gold and silver thread. Most locals will be dressed with their knees and shoulders covers, even when at the beach and swimming. Additionally, guests must be wholly clothed while swimming at the local island beaches unless they are at a designated bikini beach area.
Food in the Maldives
After tourism, the fishing sector is the Maldives' primary source of revenue. You may anticipate eating a lot of fresh tuna, snapper, and lobster at your resort, in addition to a variety of other international cuisines. Numerous resorts also offer all-inclusive vacation packages, which allow you to leave your wallet at home and savor a variety of cuisines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although you will have some traditional Maldivian Cuisine available in the resorts, the local island is where it! You will find it hot and spicy, with various curries, soups, and rice-based dishes. Coconuts, yams, mangoes, and pineapples are also cultivated locally and are highly delectable.
Money in the Maldives
The local currency of The Maldives is The Maldivian Rufiyaa although the USD is widely used and accepted. In most cases, prices will be advertised to you in USD, especially in resorts and the more popular local islands. You can pay for most things on Credit Card, although we do recommend bringing over some USD in cash if you are travelling through the local islands, plus it is always nice to have some cash for tips. If you don't bring cash over and would like to withdraw or exchange, there are ATMs at the airport and on some of the bigger and more popular local islands.
Staying Connected in the Maldives
Once you land in the Maldives, you can purchase a prepaid sim card from the airport. There are a number of providers to choose from, and all offer similar products for a similar price. Dhiraagu and Vodafone are the most popular and offer 7 and 14-day packages for around $35 for 17 GB or $50 for 30 GB of data.
We recommend buying the SIM card at the airport, as there will be limited places for you to purchase one after this. Wifi is available all over the Maldives, in both resorts and on local islands, but it can get slow depending now on which island you are staying on. We also recommend bringing over a Type G British adapter, which is the connection that is used in the Maldives.
The Maldives is an archipelago of over a thousand islands strewn across the beautiful Indian Ocean. And just a tiny percentage of them are inhabited. However, inhabited islands can be classified into luxury resort islands and islands wholly occupied by hotels. And local islands, where the indigenous people dwell and daily life take place. Which island is the finest pick for your holiday, and where will you gain the most impressions?
Previously, the Maldives were reserved for the wealthy. There were just fashionable resorts in the Maldives, and they were all located on resort islands. And tourists have nowhere to stay on the islands where the inhabitants dwell. As a result, the Maldives remained a somewhat closed resort for wealthy travelers until 2008. However, the country's rules have changed, and citizens of the Maldives are now permitted to operate their tourism businesses on the country's islands. This is how hotels and guesthouses began to sprout on uninhabited islands, lowering the cost of living in the Maldives and allowing budget travellers to explore the area. Before booking your holiday, check out our guide for the Best Local Islands in the Maldives.
Arriving in the Maldives
The Maldives offer a visa on arrival to all nationalities, pending a few minor conditions. This entitles tourists to a 30-day stay and most are confirming that you will have sufficient funds and that you actually plan on leaving the country. Before arrival and departure to and from the Maldives, you will be required to complete an electronic traveller declaration form. The customs officials with ask to see a copy of the completed form, so please save, print or screenshot when arriving and departing.
All international flights to the Maldives arrive at the Velana International Airport (MLE) on Hulhumalé, which is connected to the countries Capital, Malé via a bridge. Once you have landed and cleared passport control you will enter the open-air terminal and you will have the following options: Domestic Airline Flight, Sea Plane, Private Resort Speed Boat, Local Speed Boat, Local Ferry, or a Bus or Taxi to your hotel in Male. You can find more information on flight connections, boat transfers, and visas on our Getting to the Maldives, and be sure to also be up to date with the latest Covid Restrictions in the Maldives.
Things to do!
Do we bet that you thought that you will have to wait until your honeymoon to go to the Maldives? Well, we have some good news for you! There are so many Cool Things to do in the Maldives that we had to start taking people there on our Maldive Islands Hopping tours! Whether you want to go scuba diving, drink cocktails, swim with the Whale Sharks, or snorkel through a shipwreck, this little patch of paradise has it all!
Also Read: Best things to do in the Maldives