Maldives – All you need to know

It’s the holiday of dreams for many, but if you’re only living out that dream once it’s certainly one to get right!

The Maldives is made up of SO many islands – almost all of the luxury hotels you’d visit take up an island of their own – that it can be confusing where to start. So here’s a very brief and hopefully beginner’s guide to all things Maldivian….

THE TRANSFER
No resorts are a drive from the airport. Male is not an island on which you holiday! It’s the 3rd most densely populated city in the world so it’s never featured on Instagram, that’s for sure.
You take one or two of 3 methods to get from the international airport to your hotel – a speedboat, a seaplane or a domestic flight (plus another short transfer from there in some instances).

The basics:
A speedboat is super easy and definitely a good option for those who really dread the travel, and you can be on your sunbed with a pina colada within an hour of landing. BUT the situation of your island is unlikely to be without views of other islands including less glamorous, busier local islands. I’ve been to both and would definitely not rule out a speedboat island but it’s important to choose carefully.
A seaplane gets you further away from the capital, into more paradise-like horizon vistas and those views from the flight are what you’ve been waiting to capture and spam Facebook with! BUT the transfer after a long flight can be stressful for some and the Maldivian seaplane companies can be a law unto themselves. This can mean a few hours in the (admittedly very lovely) seaplane lounges before you get to your destination.
And finally a domestic flight gets you to the very edges of the 1000s of islands so you really can do the Robinson Crusoe thing. BUT this can make for a very long journey and if the Maldives is your one-stop option so you’re coming in off a 10 1/2 hr flight from Europe, it’s worth being well aware how long it’ll take.

THE PACKING
Barefoot luxury is exactly what this place is about. Guests dine in restaurants without shoes. The heat of the walkways from the sun is the only reason you’ll need a pair of flipflops! And ladies, don’t take heels, they’ll just weigh down your case.
And even a casual maxi dress is hugely dressy in the Maldives. You can get away with the lightest of packing and still have too much! Just fill the cases with SPF50 and do yourselves a favour.

CHOOSING YOUR ISLAND
Without stating the obvious, the island for you will totally depend on your holiday style and the people you’re taking.
FAMILIES Vs. ADULTS
Having just recently stayed back-to-back on an adults-focused island and then one with families, I can see the draw to an adult-only island. Not because I don’t like children, just because there’s a different style in holidaying. The 16+ resorts are generally smaller and each room only has 2 people in it, not 4.
If an island has a Kids Club, it will have kids. So don’t complain.
But, equally, if an island says it’s Family Friendly, ensure you look carefully at what is available for YOUR age kids. Usually this means under 12s as Kids Clubs are a big deal and are easy for a resort to cater for. But this does not mean there’s anything for the teens.
What will your teens end up doing on an island where there’s no activities for them? Screen, screen and more screen.
And it’s very worthwhile looking at what the activities listed for teens entail as very often these will be extra supplements. A lot of marine activities come with extra charges so you’ll need to budget accordingly.
HALF BOARD Vs. ALL INCLUSIVE
Don’t rule out Half Board or Full Board. Yes, All Inclusive is reassuring to your wallet and peace of mind BUT by only looking at All Inclusive you will miss out so many simply amazing islands. The cost by the end will not necessarily be more so please keep options open. Many islands will include SUPs and snorkels, padel and yoga anyway.
LOCATION
As I mention in transfers above, the location is important to your decision if the idea of that day’s travel weighs on your mind. But also consider what you like to do and whether you can. For example, it’s a fabulous place for surfing but this can only happen from a few islands. Even some who say it’s possible to surf won’t quite be telling the truth so if there’s a specialist activity like this you rather fancy, do please research (or ask me!)

TOP TIPS:

  • Take a change of clothes in hand luggage for what can be a very hot and sticky seaplane transfer. You will not want to wear the thick trousers that were suitable for BA’s OTT air-con!
  • It is well worth taking enough in your hand luggage to kit you out for the first day on arrival at resort IN CASE your luggage doesn’t come on the same sea plane as you. Swimmers and a change of clothes.
  • Equally, I recommend you take items in your hand luggage that you couldn’t get on an island (contact lenses are my definite) and anything that would be too expensive in the one resort shop that gives Harrods’ price tags a run for their money.
  • A plea from me and the turtles…. If you are going to Maldives, please give a moment’s thought to their refuse system (I know this sounds boring but think for a moment and it makes perfect sense). There is one island in the Maldives called Trash Island that is literally ALL the country’s rubbish. And it’s the highest point in the country. There’s nowhere else for the rubbish to go, and they can’t do recycling. If you just pack a couple of carrier bags and bring home with you any plastics, used bottles, in fact everything, it’s no pain to you but a lot less pain to the marine life. Thank you x

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