To many, a Male Maldives holiday is literally the dream. It’s the beach holidays of all beach holidays and is one of the most romantic places on earth. In many aspects, that is certainly very true.
But if you are heading there for the first time, here are 9 things you must know before you go about booking your Maldives Holiday as our Singapore Travel Blogging team have learnt during our recent trip there:
1) When planning for Male Maldives, do not just plan for the air-fare, but also take into account Ferry price
Unlike many other holiday destinations where we usually just plan for the air ticket cause the cost of getting from the airport to your hotel can be pretty negligible, getting to Maldives airport is just one piece of a gigantic puzzle. Once you arrive at Male Maldives airport (they have only one international airport that is open to non-locals), you would still have to figure out a way to get to whichever island your hotel/villa is on. Private ferry charters are available and we personally paid USD300 (almost the same price as our air fare) for a to and fro ferry trip from the main island to our island which was about 45mins away (check out the 1 min mark in our above video). The good thing is that the price is a fixed charter price and it would be cheaper if you had more people traveling with you.
As a general guide, it is always good to get your hotel/villa to book your private ferry for you as it might be cheaper if they are also expecting guest from your particular flight and you would be able to split the cost.
Do also note that depending on what Villa/Hotel you are staying at, certain villas are so far away from the main island that you would have to take a separate seaplane from Maldives airport to your island villa. Those seaplanes cost around USD1200 and above.
2) No public ferries in Male Maldives on Friday
When we tell most of the people about the cost of chartering a ferry, the most common response we get is if there are any public transport/ferries instead. Well there is, but the issue is that there’s only one public ferry a day and the timing is usually pretty early! So depending on what time you reach, you might not be able to make it in time for the public ferry. Do also note that there are no public ferries on Friday!
Use this knowledge to your advantage by booking your flight into/out of Male Maldives on Fridays if you are already set on taking a private ferry/plane, as airfares might be slightly cheaper then.
3) People in Maldives use USD but have their own currency
Chances are that when you are looking to change currencies in your home country, your money changer probably doesn’t carry any Maldivian Rufiyaa and would recommend you using USD in Maldives instead. While that is true, we still recommend people to change some Rufiyaa at the Money Changer located at Male Maldives airport after you land.
Reason being that:
i) USD comes in 1s and has a much higher denomination. This means that you would often have to pay more than what a product actually cost due to the lack of denomination. I.e 1USD = 15 Rufiyaa. Item Cost 25rufiyaa, you would have to give them 2USD which is worth 30 Rufiyaa instead.
ii) You are subjected to the shop’s exchange rate. Non-ethical shop owners would charge you an above average exchange rate when you use USD to pay for goods. Other times, because there isn’t any money charger on the island and the main island is far away, they have to charge you a higher exchange rate for the cost (points to point 1 about how much it cost to travel between islands)
iii) Certain shops might not have enough USD change for you. I.e You purchase a souvenir for US$20 but only have with you a US$100 note. The shop might not have enough US$80 notes of change for you.
iv) VERY IMPORTANT: Certain Islands are very strict with the USD they accept. Notes that are slightly torn, folded or has marks on them are all rejected. We personally had more than a couple of encounters where we had only US$100 notes with us but felt poor cause no shops were willing to accept our US$100 notes and we didn’t even dared to dine properly. Shop owners/restaurants are extremely strict and wanted the note to be brand new without any marks. We questioned them why and they say that it isn’t their fault, cause most of the time, it’s the Maldivian banks who are the strict ones and do not allow them to cash in if the notes are even slightly “injured”.
4) Male Maldives consist of many Islands
During most other beach holidays, it is just generally just one main island and you get around by foot, bus, trains, taxi etc, but there’s none of those in Maldives as Maldives is basically just made up of many many different islands.
Unless you choose to get around by ferry, you are pretty much confined within the island of your choice. When we spoke to most of the locals, they do not recommend us moving hotels/villas between the islands as ferries are pretty expensive and considering how far the islands are in between, very time consuming and you would in fact be wasting your holiday.
5) Most of the activities in Maldives revolve around water
As one would have probably been able to guess by now, Maldives is an island resort with activities primarily revolving around the water & sea, activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, diving etc. It is hence strongly encouraged that you bring an underwater camera such as the GoPro, if you intend to capture beautiful memories of your Maldives holiday. Us for one, brought our DSLR along for our recent Maldives trip and at the end of it, only took 20 pictures and resorted to using our rented GoPro from RentSomethingLeh.com for most of the trip just because of it’s sheer convenience, ease to bring around, water proof capabilities etc.
And you don’t even have to worry about buying one just for Maldives because like us, you can just rent one from RentSomethingLeh.com for just SGD8 a day. If you don’t have one, you can also rent mounts such as the GoPro stick (which has been extremely useful throughout our trip) or even drones so you can take one of those spectacular HD aerial views of your villa!
6 ) Maldives is very conservative (No Bikini in Public)
Maldives is the sunshine paradise of Bikini land. It is where most of us head to with the sole intention of relaxing by the beach as we watch our skin tone darken by a shade or two. But before you rush and pack only your swimwear and bikinis in your luggage, you have to know that Maldivians are still conservative and it is against their culture to be seen walking around the island in just your swimwear/ bikini.
When we were there, despite our hotel being less than 100ms from the beach, we were told to put on our clothes and only take them off after we reach the beach. We were only allowed to strip down to our swimwear at designated places on the island.
So on top of all you bikinis, do bring along a couple of sun dress or singlets for you to put on when you are walking about on main land too.
7) No Alcohol on Maldives Island
If you are staying on an island, do note that as mentioned in point 6, Maldivians are conservative and Alcohol consumption is not available/allowed on main lands.
We were told that if we wanted to drink, we had to take a short boat trip out to their floating bar (a small alcohol cruise ship). If you are however staying on a sea villa, I do believe that this rule does not apply as you are technically out at sea.
8) The whole of Male Maldives lead a slow paced life
Based on our personal experience, Maldivians are generally pretty laid back and life on the island is relatively slow paced. So do expect things to go rather slow and food for example, might take awhile to come (our worst experience was waiting 45mins for a glass of juice). So don’t wait till you are absolutely famished before you go about ordering your food as it might be alittle bit too late then.
9) There’s a limited amount of things to do in Male Maldives
Again, as mentioned time and time again, Maldives is made up of several islands and whatever island you decide to reside on for your holiday, would probably determine how fun your trip would be as there would only be a limited amount of things you can do around the island. So while there is cheaper options such as Airbnb etc, we usually recommend our friends and family to opt for a better hotel/villa if their budget is flexible cause you would most likely spend a lot of time in your villa/hotel.
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