Landing in to the Maldives is exactly what you would expect during the day. Beautiful all encompassing waters, pretty shaped islands, and tropical weather. As soon as you exit the airport you’re basically on a beach.
Whether you route directly to the islands or have an overnight stay in adjacent city blocks, hotels are quite organised. However, that’s the beginning and end of what you would expect getting into your trip here.
Here are 10 things you don’t know about the Maldives:
- Hulhumale and Male city are not Maldives. Hulhumale is a three star budding piece of land ten minutes from the airport. It has rampant construction everywhere and what seems to be a very ill planned manmade island that goes dark past sunset. Male city is a claustrophobic persons worst nightmare. There are buildings, cars and people packed everywhere and no sense of direction in the way the city moves. People are generally nice, however it can be challenging for women as there are mostly men outdoors – especially during night hours.
- No alcohol in Maldives except for the airport hotel and the island resorts. It’s a muslim country with strict laws on liquor consumption.
- The Hulhumale bikini beach is not safe after 6pm as the private security team goes off duty and themselves suggest to avoid the area due to the local population.
- Male city shuts off during the evening between 6 – 8 pm for prayers. If you do want to go see the city it’s better to be out during the day or for a quick dinner after 8pm.
- The street names in Male city are illegible and in arabic script.
- There are three distinct cuisines in Male outside of the local foods: Indian, Thai, and Sri Lankan. Check out our review of Sala Thai here.
- Dollar inflation. Most things in the Maldives come as one without many substitutes whether it’s The Coffee Club at the airport serving dishwater for coffee at international prices, or $40 meals at Burger King. This becomes most apparent when organising water transport. Just for perspective, a forty minute round trip of Prisoner’s Island in Zanzibar including snorkelling and turtle feeding was $25/person. Our round trip speedboat transfer was $202/person, one hour each way.
- Dress code. As a woman, if you are not on the islands, it’s considered respectful to keep your legs and arms covered.
- The ferry is a cheap mode of transport between Hulhumale and Male city (as well as some of the adjacent islands). However, be ready to be in a jam packed room for twenty minutes with no sign of an AC.
- Don’t step on the corals. Okay, you already knew that.. but no seriously. (I’m talking to you girl in pink bikini who snorkels on her feet.)