The Maldives is a destination that’s on most peoples bucket list. The bluest waters, the endless sun, and the exoticness of being on an island are all part of the draw. Having finally checked this one off our list, I thought it would be helpful to share tips if you’re planning to visit! Here is my Maldives Travel Guide!
Matt and I had wanted to go to the Maldives on our honeymoon but given the limited time off work we could take, it wasn’t possible. So 2 years later when we made it happen, both of us were so excited leading up to this trip! We also learned a lot though. Some things turned out really well and other things didn’t!
Maldives Travel Guide – Getting to the Maldives.
The flights are long if you’re coming from anywhere except the Middle East. Just accept that in advance. It’s going to take at least 1 full day of travel time and that is if your layovers are perfectly timed, nothing is delayed, and you’re staying really close to the Malé airport (the main airport in the Maldives). That is a lot of chance! It will likely take you between 1 and 2 days of travel to and from. Mentally prepare for that up front!
If you notice the flights from where you live have a layover in a big city, try breaking up the trip. From Chicago, Emirates flies through Dubai to the Maldives. I only wanted one layover – at least before getting to Malé (keep reading to see why I say that). We spent 4 nights in Dubai since Dubai was also on our bucket list to break up the travel. It worked out really well and meant we got to rest up and adjust to the time difference. Then, we only had a 4 hour flight to Malé a few days later.
Maldives Travel Guide – Transferring to your resort.
Chances are, you’re going to have another flight after Malé. To get to your resort, you will either be taken by inter-Maldivian airlines, a seaplane, or by boat. Reach out to your resort in advance to help arrange your transfer. They are more than willing to do that and it’s almost assumed they will do that for you. Both resorts we stayed at seemed very accustomed to this and extremely knowledgeable.
That sounds great in theory but be prepared because you will likely have to pay for the transfer. It wasn’t included in our rate for either resort which was a little bit of a bummer once we arrived at the hotels. They just kind of hit you with the bill. The most frustrating part was that we had no visibility into these flight times or fees in advance. You have no control! They will put you on whatever works for them. You just get to Malé and they tell you what is happening. Kind of. They’re very vague and don’t give you much info in advance. And all of these flights are usually delayed!
In all honesty, our transfer from our first resort to second resort went pretty terribly because of these factors. We left our first resort at 10AM and didn’t get to the next resort until 6PM. We wasted a full day sitting in the airport! Both our first flight (seaplane) back to Malé and the second inter-Maldivian flight were delayed leaving us to sit in the Malé airport for 4 hours. Apparently they don’t arrange all the transfers until the day prior but this was poor planning on the second resort’s part.
Maldives Travel Guide – Where to stay.
After a day or two of travel, the last thing anyone wants to do is travel more. No matter how gorgeous a resort may seem, I’d recommend staying as close to the Malé airport as fits with your budget and liking. You really can’t go wrong with the beautiful blue water, sunshine and some R&R!
Baa Atoll is a 45 minute seaplane ride away and is much easier than taking the inter-Maldivian airline. It’s way less formal, it’s quicker, and it’s more unique than boarding a regular aircraft. Our first resort, Milaidhoo, was located in Baa Atoll. Even though we didn’t expect to have another flight after landing in Malé, it was a really cool experience. While staying close is highly recommended, I’d advise you to reach out to resorts in advance to see what the transfer from Malé entails and how long/expensive it will be. This was one of the best places we’ve stayed.
Our second resort was called Ayada and it was really far south. The terrible transfer started us off on a sour note with the resort. While the hotel was nice, it was still very expensive and I wouldn’t recommend staying there. It’s not worth it. It took another 1 hour flight (on a regular plane – Maldivian Air) from Malé plus an hour and ten minute choppy boat ride just to reach the resort. While being remote might seem to be appealing, all the islands will have this sense of privacy!
Once we got to Ayada everything was extremely overpriced (food, extracurricular activities, water). They also tried to upsell you into experiences like the spa or scuba diving incessantly (which were also overpriced). While everyone was super nice to us and courteous, it just didn’t offset the underwhelming aspects of the resort. You also get a personal butler who was really helpful in setting up reservations but other than that, we didn’t find that amenity to be very useful. Our butler would also take us to our meals/wherever if needed but we ended up walking ourselves most of the time. The food was average but nothing like our first resort (Milaidhoo). The ceiling in our villa was also falling. It fell on Matt’s head while he was brushing his teeth! While we did get a bunch of great photos and it’s still one of the top 20 hotels in the Maldives on TripAdvisor, it was a disappointment. It was not worth the money or the travel time! It also felt a bit gimmicky/touristy with the nightly entertainment which isn’t really our thing (but it’s totally okay if it’s yours).
Maldives Travel Guide – Stay in the same resort for at least 4 nights.
After the long travel, you need at least 4 nights to unwind. Next time, we would probably extend our stay to 5 nights at one resort. Or maybe even 4 nights at one and 4 nights at another. Trust me, you won’t get tired of being in the Maldives!
Maldives Travel Guide – The weather is unpredictable.
Unpredictable weather isn’t new for us. After all, we live in Chicago! However, the weather app on our phones showed one thing the night before and in the morning, it would be completely different. There would be periods of severe thunderstorms and 5 minutes later there would be sun! Apparently we had some fluke weather because it rained quite a bit even though wet season had just ended. We definitely got some sun and our tans improved but it wasn’t ideal. This brings me to my next point!
Maldives Travel Guide – When to Go.
Go between Christmas and Easter!
If you’re traveling that far and spending that much money, you want good weather. Go during the dry months so even if it may be hot, you will be sure not to get rained on. Another tip to avoid a vacation full of rain is to extend it to at least a week. That way you’ll get some good weather in there as the storm passes! It’s worth it to pay a little more so you don’t end up sitting inside for most of the day watching the rain. Although the rain is warm, it’s still kind of a downer!
If you want to gamble and go during their winter, you might just get lucky. Apparently they had 20 days of straight sun this October!
If the Maldives is on your list, I hope these tips help! I definitely want everyone to learn from our challenges so you can have the perfect vacation! As always, email me here with questions or recommendation requests!