A call from the tropical island, Maldives, is hard to miss! 2016 came with many unplanned adventures and the trip to Maldives was one of them. I always wanted to visit the tropics and chill on some cozy little island, tucked away from the hustle-bustle of metros. But I’d not really imagined that Maldives would be where I’d find such bliss.
It’s not like I haven’t been to beaches before or was new to the resort lifestyle. But the Maldives Island surprised me since it is so much more than your typical beach holiday destination. There is so much to see, so much to learn, above all, so much to experience. Take a look at this concise Maldives guide that might come handy when planning your trip to the tropics.
I think that at some level, the trip was just meant to be. For nothing had been planned till like a month before we set out. But thankfully for us, Maldives is a place where such last-minute decisions don’t pose so much of a problem. That’s because tourists are given visa on arrival and don’t need to apply beforehand. The limit is up to 30 days which is more than enough time to explore its many delights.
It is important for the citizens to hold a valid visa for the period of their stay. Apart from this, travelers should have 1 colored photograph attached with the form, confirmed hotel reservation vouchers, and a confirmed return ticket. Visas get issued on arrival itself.
Airport And Transfers
Malé International Airport receives the maximum number of international flights in all of Maldives.
Once you arrive, you can either take air taxis or boats to get to Male, but these usually don’t operate in night. Some private services do offer night-time transfers too but their charges are very high – staying the night at the Airport hotel is a better option.
One may consider using the public ferries or cargo boats too. We had already booked a package with the Olhuveli Beach and Spa Resort, and our boat transfers were included in the package itself. Well, the charges for boat transfer (round trip) for an adult for Olhuveli are $277 and for a child are $138.
The first morning in Maldives was spent settling into the lovely little accommodation that had been booked. I was originally quite keen to book a beach villa but then decided that’s more appropriate if you’re a large group of people. I finally settled on with a water villa (though it definitely was over my budget I had initially planned for). But staying in an overwater bungalow in Maldives was definitely on my ‘lust list’ and thankfully I am done with it!
There are plenty of other options available and depending on your budget, you’re sure to find something suitable if you book in advance. I was particularly mesmerized by the Presidential Suites at the Olhuveli Beach Resort as they had a pool and Jacuzzi facility facing the see, which was just enthralling. But then there’s no end to desires and as much as you can raise the bar, you’ll get the better accommodations.
A night in overwater bungalow would definitely cost you the double of a beachside villa and for a 4 or 5-star resort the prices can start easily from $500 per night.
Taxes And Extras
I also realized that if you’re going with people, renting a villa may turn out to be more economical. While there are all kinds of hotels here – small inns, budget motels and luxury resorts – the local taxes tend to make the whole deal pretty steep. Even when you book rooms through online portals, the prices are inclusive of VAT and Service Tax but a separate local tax is levied on-site.
8 % Goods and Services Tax.
10% service charge. So whether you want to use the spa, access Wi-Fi or indulge in some activities, you’ll have to pay the additional charge.
While the extra taxation is mentioned at some places, some people hear the first of it when they reach Maldives. Even if you book through a travel agent, I would recommend going over the hotel booking and prices carefully. I made sure I was aware of every penny I’d be spending before I got there. You see, unforeseen expenditure is not the kind of surprise I enjoy.
Another thing that adds to costs during hotel stay is the Wi-Fi connectivity. When we’re at home, we take those kinds of conveniences for granted. It’s when on vacation here is Maldives that I realized how much I use the internet on a daily basis. So most hotels here offer free Wi-Fi in the lobby area (ours did not) and the bigger ones may even have it at their bars or poolside. But mostly, the connectivity is sluggish and poor; it may be virtually impossible to browse if the number of guests is high!
A lot of hotels offer Wi-Fi in the rooms too, but that comes at a daily premium which tends to be quite high. Either be prepared to shell out the big bucks for Wi-Fi in your room, or just make-do with whatever glimpses you get off the virtual world in the lobby. We had to pay around $10 (inclusive of taxes) for one day access to Wi-Fi. Our suggestion – Get your Wi-Fi charges included while booking your package itself.
In the past few years, the concept of booking all inclusive Maldives resorts has become popular. Different resorts in Maldives have different packages at offer. Depending on the resort and their packages, the overall rate of your package will differ. While booking an all-inclusive package, ask the booking partner or resort, these following questions:
- Is the package inclusive of espressos and cappuccinos?
- What all activities are included in the package? Whether equipment for snorkeling and other excursions will be inclusive or not?
- Inquire about the dine-in options at the A-La-Carte restaurants, if such packages make you eligible for some special discount.
- Have clarity on the drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) included in the package.
- Last but not the least, ask about the inclusion of the mini-bar facility.
Snorkeling in The Maldives
Another aspect of the Maldives holidays when booking a resort is to consider its location. See if it’s ideal for snorkeling or not. As Maldives is a paradise for snorkeling lovers, it is best to choose the resort that is close-by-reef. Usually, for most Maldives resorts, fishes, and coral lives can be pretty much seen after a short swim from the villa – it depends on the swimmer’s ability nonetheless.
A trip to the snorkeling point has to be booked in case the reef is out of reach in resorts. It is best for snorkelers (both amateurs and professionals) to inquire about the rate of snorkeling gear before booking the package. In most of the resorts, including Olhuveli, it is around $8 (fins, mask, and snorkel). However, when booking the all inclusive package in Maldives, generally the rentals are included).
There are a few other surprises that the Maldives Island has in store for ill-informed tourists. The most appalling to some people is the fact that you can neither bring alcohol into the country nor purchase it in the towns. The only way to access your poison is at resorts, hotels, and restaurant; though you can rest assured that almost all kind of such establishments do serve it freely.
Personally, I didn’t mind Maldives’ strict alcohol policy. I could get a drink when I wanted it. And honestly, there was so much to do and see, drinking was my last priority! However, I would like to inform that we had taken a full-board package and not an all inclusive holiday package in Maldives. This was the reason why we had to pay for the drinks. And a pint of beer cost us approximately $33 (inclusive of taxes). Even in the all-inclusive packages, when we enquired, only some drinks were included, and some had to be paid for.
I have to say, though, the weather was part rainy and part sunny and depending on what you look for in a holiday, you may or may not be okay with that. Though at most times the temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius and the sun shines bright, rains are common during the April to October period.
They fall most frequently in June, July, and August though hardly torrential in nature. I enjoyed the weather because, for me, alternating sunshine and rainfall are simply divine. I love watching the stormy sea as much as I like sunbathing on a sultry morning. But not everyone likes to be cooped up inside due to rainy weather on holidays. Our advise is to avoid Maldives from June-August.
Having said that, Maldives Island is beautiful at all times of the year. The combination of natural beauty and its unique culture make it an ideal vacation spot where you can relax your overwrought senses. This trip will go down as one of my fondest vacation memories till the day I die. And that is really saying something!
If you are planning a trip to Maldives Island, you should read our Maldives Summer Story and get some quick tips to plan your holiday.