Its only been months since our trip, but my Maldives Travel Guide is finally here! This gorgeous destination has become even more popular during these COVID times, as it is one of the few holiday destinations that currently accepts almost any travelers from all countries with a negative PCR test (of course things change, so make sure to stay updated over here).We visited Maldives in February for our belated honeymoon and it was AMAZING! We booked our holiday through The Holiday Factory and I cannot recommend them enough – they were so helpful and amazing with moving all of our travel dates around. You can check out my posts over here, with 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Visit The Maldives. Are you convinced yet? Well then lets go!
The Republic of Maldives, is a small archipelagic state in South Asia situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres from the Asian continent’s mainland. The archipelago is made up of more than a thousand tiny islands surrounded by crystal clear water and is probably one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world. Approximately 200 of these islands in the Maldives are inhabited, and another 200 islands are resort islands. Generally speaking every resort in Maldives is its own little island, and you can spot this as you fly into Male, the capital city.
I tired to compile as many helpful tips and questions as I can, so I hope that you find the below interesting and it will help with your trip! 😊
Getting to and from the Maldives
You don’t need a visa to enter the Maldives, but you will need a negative COVID-19 test that was taken with a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival. You will also need to fill out a declaration form on the site over here, 24 hours before arrival. Depending on your country of origin, you might also need a test coming back, so keep that in mind for your budget! COVID tests are expensive on the island and set us back 300$, plus the R850 each that we paid here. Overall, we spend almost R6000 on COVID tests getting there and back, so make sure to budget that cost in, while we are living through these times.
We flew via Qatar Airways, via 2 flights. I am quite used to it, as getting anywhere from South Africa into Europe, America or Asia will require 2 flights, but I do hear that Air Seychelles will be starting a direct flight to Male in July! Flight to Doha is 8 hours and then onto Male is another 3 and a half hours. After you land in Male you will need to take a speedboat or a seaplane to your resort, depending which resort you go with, so factor that time in as well. Overall, it took us a full day of travel from leaving our house to stepping onto the Meeru Island.
When to go?
Peak season is from early December to March due to spectacular weather. We went in February, as a Valentines Day treat to ourselves and we had hot and sunny weather throughout. Monsoon season runs from April to October, particularly from June to August, which is why this is a low peak season in the Maldives. Our original travel dates in 2020 were in May, and when I checked the weather it was raining the entire time. However, this year its been a lot drier and sunnier, with just afternoon storms from what I’ve heard. It’s a bit of a risk, but the prices in the low season are much better, so I would consider going either in May or September.
Where to stay?
Picking accommodation to stay at in the Maldives, is a whole exercise of its own. With close to 1000 accommodation options, how do you choose!? Maldives is home to 154 resorts, 12 hotels, 491 guesthouses and 145 safari vessels, so talk about being spoilt for choice. We knew that we wanted to stay in a resort, because we wanted to enjoy the “All Inclusive” vibe (honestly for me there is no other way to travel to resorts) so at least that cut the choice down to 154 😉. I like to kick back and relax and not think about how much I am drinking or eating, however if you do not drink alcohol then the “All Inclusive” package won’t make sense for you, and the “Full Board” option will work.
Once we knew we wanted to stay in a resort, next step was to pick which one! I looked at a variety of specials over multiple websites, which I recommend doing as well- after all, who doesn’t want to score a deal? There were 2 resorts that stood out the most to me, which were within our price range which were You and Me by Cocoon and Meeru Island Resort. What I liked about You and Me is that it is especially for couples, with no children or families allowed, so it is a great honeymoon destination. What I didn’t like is that we needed another seaplane to get to it, and I am not a great flyer. I anticipated that after 2 long flights, the last thing I would want is to get on a seaplane and fly for another hour, so we decided that going for a resort that used a boat would be best.
The reason we also liked Meeru is that it’s a big resort, so there is lots to do on there. While we were going on honeymoon, we are both still busy bodies in our daily lives, and we just knew that we wouldn’t be able to sit still for a full week without doing stuff. Meeru has everything from water sports to a putting green (which Steve wanted obviously), an entertainment center and down to mini soccer and cricket fields. There isn’t shortage of what to do, which was why we ended up settling on this choice.
Other things to consider when you are picking your accommodation is what kind of experience you are looking for. If you are looking for a more intimate vacation, then definitely pick a smaller resort where you might not even run into people at all. If you are looking for more of a personalized holiday, then there are plenty of resorts that offer a butler service and catered meals. There are also plenty of guesthouses and Air BnB options, if you are looking for a small villa holiday- the choices in Maldives are endless!
Water Villa or Beach Villa?
For me personally, there was no point of going all the way to the Maldives, and then not staying in the dreamy over-water villa! This is an experience of its own, so I knew I wanted to try it, but it does come with a cost. We decided to split it 50/50 and spend 3 nights in a Beach Villa and 3 nights in a Water Villa. Most resorts will not let you stay anything less than 3 nights in the water villa by the way, I enquired with a few resorts while we were busy looking.
Was it worth it? 100 times yes! While the Beach Villa was lovely and I loved that we had the ocean so close, the experience of a Water Villa is next level. Being able to snorkel right from our deck, watching the sun set, enjoying a breakfast while overlooking the ocean and still in my robe, was an experience that I will never forget. The Meeru Water Villas also come with a jacuzzi, which you know, is just a nice addition.
Most of the bigger resorts will also have more room options, for example Meeru also had a Beach Jacuzzi Villa and a Garden Villa as options. The 5-star hotels will take the Water Villa vibe one step up with little splash pools in the rooms, so the choice is yours.
I cannot recommend enough that you stay in a water villa at least half the time- it is an experience in itself!
What to eat
Just thinking about the food that we had in the Maldives makes me salivate! While most of the resorts will offer a buffet, believe me, you are spoilt for choice within it! Because Maldives is in Asia, a lot of the food has the Asian influence on it, which I loved. Stir fries, dumplings and potstickers are just some of delicious options that were on offer daily at the buffet. Of course, it all depends on your hotel, but Meeru offered anything and everything starting from sushi, down to spaghetti Bolognese. Steve especially enjoyed their different variations of potatoes at every meal (hash browns, mash, baked, chips), you really can take the Irish man out of Ireland, but for sure cant take the Irish out of the man.
Most resorts will also offer a few a-la-carte restaurants, of which we tried the Asian Wok on the island. Sea food is unbelievable in the Maldives and we enjoyed fresh tiger king prawns, sashimi and grilled scallops at our a-la-cart dinner. Steve is also still talking about a spicy pumpkin soup with dumplings and the fried aubergine that we had. The food was sublime, and the best I’ve ever had at a resort.
What to do?
Well firstly, relax and enjoy your vacation of course! 😊 But once you’re done with that, depending on your resort, there is quite a bit to do. Snorkelling is always a favourite thing of mine, and the marine life in the Maldives is amazing. We snorkelled with manta rays and little sharks, and don’t worry, they won’t eat you! 😉 We also did a bit of water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and for the diving enthusiast, Maldives is the perfect spot. Meeru also offered daily excursions to swim with the turtles and other marine life, which you could easily booked over an app. We did a lovely sunset cruise where we spotted some dolphins while enjoying a drink and a gorgeous sunset.
Of course, the spa was a must-try for me because I LOVE spas. It was rather pricey (a 1-hour massage was around 150$) but it was worth it. While overlooking the ocean and with the fish swimming right underneat, I enjoyed a blissful hour of a hot-stone massage. The customer service was also on point, and I just wish I had more cash because I would have spent it all in that spa, ha-ha 😊
How much does it cost?
We booked our holiday at the end of 2019 and the full payment was due in March 2020, as in, right when the pandemic hit. We decided to pay it off then so we could have our flight and hotel confirmations(incase the travel agency ceased to exist with all of our cash), but because the rand was plummeting, we decided to downgrade to 5 nights, a beach villa with full board, and that cost us R30 000 each(including flights and transfers). When we eventually travelled, we wanted to experience the water villa for half our time, so we upgraded to that, upgraded to all-inclusive AND we travelled in peak time(originally we were travelling in the low peak month of May). That set us back an additional R7000 each.
Due to the pandemic, the prices have dropped so we managed to travel in peak time and on an all-inclusive package with a water villa, for R37 000 each. Pre-pandemic this would have cost us close to R50 000, so we were chuffed. In general, nowadays, you can travel off-peak (May-October) on a full board basis for 7 nights from about R25 000. If you start adding a water villa, all-inclusive etc, it will go up to around R35 000 per person. During peak times, it goes up to about R43000-R45 000 for a 4-star hotel. But honestly as I said, the weather in the Maldives is generally good all year around, so if you don’t mind the occasional morning rain, then go ahead and book in the off-peak season.
We had the most amazing time in the Maldives, the price was totally worth it and I am dreaming about going back there soon!