Maldives Travel Guide

The Maldives archipelago possesses matchless tropical beauty, and is the perfect stage for the holiday of a lifetime. Stunning white-sand beaches, iridescent sunsets and dazzling reefs await those who escape to these blissful shores, which lie across around 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean.

Most of the inhabited islands are staunchly Islamic in character, yet the resort islands are allowed to exist in a kind of bubble where more typically western behaviour is tolerated. The overwhelming majority of visitors to the Maldives book all-inclusive holiday packages and play on their resort island of choice, soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches, learning to surf, or exploring the impressive coral reefs with a dive instructor.

The best resorts are Kuramathi (for family-friendliness), Banyan Tree (for elegance), and Baros (for luxury), though there are plenty to choose from and none are likely to disappoint. Travellers should also visit the colourful bazaars in the bustling capital, Male.

Best time to visit the Maldives

The archipelago has a humid tropical climate and its year-round high temperatures are tempered by cooling sea breezes. The best time to visit the Maldives is during the dry season (December to April), though this is also the high tourist season, meaning prices will be higher and accommodation might be scarce. The best months for diving are November and April; the best time for surfing is from March to May and then again from September to November.

What to see in the Maldives

-Get lost in the busy capital city of Male with its beautiful mosques, bustling bazaars and interesting museums.

-Visit the Huskuru Miskiiy (Friday Mosque): a magnificent 17th-century structure that is famous for its golden dome and coral engravings.

What do in the Maldives

-Plan a wedding or honeymoon at one of the exclusive resort islands.

-Learn to surf, do a diving course, or try any number of watersports.

-Head to Fuamulaku and go on a jungle hike to explore the island's great biodiversity.

Getting to the Maldives

Cheap flights to the Maldives are easy to find from the US and UK. Direct flights to Male International Airport are available from some major British airports, with the flight taking about 10 hours. Those flying from the United States will have to book a connecting flight. Some resort islands are accessible by air; others will require travel by boat from Male.


The Strode Venturer by Hammond Innes and Beach Babylon by Imogen Edward-Jones.


The Island President (2011)


Mas huni (shredded smoked fish served with grated coconut and onion), fihunu mas (barbecued fish basted with chilli and spices) and bambukeylu hiti (breadfruit, served in a variety of ways).

What to buy

The Maldives is not known as a shopping destination, and the range of souvenirs available is mainly limited to fridge magnets, t-shirts, postcards and shell necklaces.

What to pack

Lightweight clothing, insect repellent and sunscreen are necessary for a holiday in the Maldives. Visitors should not pack alcohol or pork products or pornography, as these items will land them in trouble with authorities on their way into the country.

What's on in the Maldives

Republic Day (11 November) is the most festive of the Maldives' national holidays. It celebrates the (second) abolishment of the monarchy that occurred in 1968.

Did you know?

-At an average of just 4'11" above sea level, the island-chain of the Maldives is the world's lowest country.

-Only 200 of the 1,192 islets that make up the Maldives are inhabited.

-Cowry shells were used as currency in the olden days and are still displayed on modern currency bills.

A final word

The great attraction of a holiday in the Maldives is that visitors know precisely what they're going to get: fancy all-inclusive resorts, clean white-sand beaches, gorgeous turquoise waters, and limitless diving opportunities.

View printable version Send a link to this travel guide