What to Bring
The Maldives is a place where you don’t require much in order to be comfortable. It is tropical, sunny and very relaxed, so you only really need to bring a few essentials:
- Valid passport – with at least 1 month left before expiry.
- Lightweight, casual, non-synthetic clothing (cotton and natural fibers are best) which appropriately cover the body, when in the company of the local communities. (Please understand local customs and religious requirements relating to dress codes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be respectful. Refer to notes on CLOTHING below).
- Cool footwear (flip flops/sandals are best).
- Swimwear – rash/t-shirts are recommended for snorkeling to avoid sunburn.
- Reef-friendly sunscreens, after-sun lotions, and personal hygiene products – Please adhere to 100ml restrictions for anything you wish to carry on hand luggage on flights. Check out our blog for more information on reef-friendly sunscreen.
- Insect/mosquito repellent – a must on local islands where ‘fogging’ is not always implemented.
- Prescription medications – please bring a supporting document from your doctor detailing your prescription.
- Sunglasses and hats.
- Dive certification card and logbook if you intend to participate in SCUBA diving.
- Reusable water bottle.
- Power adapter for phones, laptops, etc – The Maldives uses mostly UK 3 pin style sockets.
- Hair straighteners and electric razors for those who still like to keep up appearances during their holiday. Hairdryers are available at all properties either per room or available from reception upon request.
- Camera/Underwater camera – The Maldives above & below sea level are worth a few photos. For guests wishing to use a guesthouse or dive center underwater camera ensure you bring along a USB or memory card in order to transfer your memories.
- Earplugs, particularly if you are a light sleeper or are on board a boat and want to avoid the sound of fellow passengers at close quarters.
We often get asked; ‘Do I need to bring a snorkel, mask, and fins?’ Whilst we do provide equipment on all our tours where we are snorkeling and snorkeling equipment will also be available to rent at resorts and guesthouses, we would advise you to bring along your own mask and snorkel. Not only will you be assured the mask fits your face properly and is comfortable and less likely to have leakage, but it will also lower any health associated risks. We find that peace of mind goes a long way. A mask and snorkel are small and light and should take up very little space in your suitcase.
Fins which are the cumbersome part are available to rent or if you have booked a snorkeling tour with us will be included within the package. This means you won’t have to try and find room for them in your bag and leaves you space for other essentials!
Health & Vaccinations
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the countries you are visiting and where you are traveling from. We recommend you contact your GP or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. If you are arriving from an infected area then you must have an international certificate of inoculation against Yellow Fever or Cholera.
Normal recommendations for the Maldives are:
Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B, and Diphtheria
Please refer to our separate COVID Travel Guidelines in order to have access to the most up-to-date information and requirements.
Sensible precautions should be taken to avoid sunburn and dehydration. On arrival and when traveling in the Maldives, stick to bottled mineral water. Please ensure you have appropriate travel insurance, which includes health cover and covers for COVID-related issues such as quarantine. If you require prescription medicines, please bring them with you, and include the appropriate documentation.
There are 3 hospitals in Male, ADK, IGMH, and Dharumavantha Hospital. In Hulhumale there are 2 hospitals: Hulhumale Hospital and Tree Top Hospital which offer extensive private services and both with ER facilities. All resorts have in-house doctors or nurses. For divers, a decompression chamber is within easy reach of most resorts in case of emergency.
Guests who suffer from motion sickness may want to consider carrying motion sickness tablets or wristbands if traveling by speedboat or public ferry, especially during the period May – September. Consult your doctor or pharmacy for advice on selection. For guests staying on dive or cruise liveaboards, whilst we cannot predict the weather conditions our crew will ensure the vessel is anchored in the calmest waters available.
The seawater in the Maldives may be crystal clear but it can be full of plankton which can get into your ears and cause infections and may stop you from snorkeling and diving for a few days. In extreme cases, a visit to the doctor may be needed for antibiotics. As a precaution whenever you get out of the water flush/rinse your ears well with fresh water and then dry thoroughly. Products such as ‘Swimear’ also assist in this process.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our multi-day tours. Through our partner World Nomads, you can buy an insurance package to suit you and your travel plans, allowing you to depart on your holiday confident that you are covered. If you plan to arrange any adventure activities during your tour eg. Scuba diving, you should check the small print in the policy to make sure these are covered. You need to be covered for medical expenses abroad and any emergency repatriation that may be required due to illness/injury. We also recommend that you take out cancellation cover and baggage cover.
Local insurance provided Allied Insurance offers inbound travel insurance designed to cover the costs related to testing positive to COVID-19 during your stay in the Maldives or the requirement to quarantine due to contact tracing. Further information can be found here(opens in a new tab).
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number, issuing company details, and emergency telephone number) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour/holiday. If you haven’t told us already, please let us know the details when you can.
Know Before You Go
We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws, and customs.
Prior to your arrival or even during your stay, we are happy to provide up-to-date and on-the-spot local advice or information.
Please refer to our separate COVID Travel Guidelines (opens in a new tab)to get access to the most up-to-date information and requirements.
Local Currency and Banking in the Maldives
The Maldives has a non-convertible currency – Maldivian Rufiyaa – this cannot be purchased beforehand. One Rufiyaa is 100 Laari and is available in 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 Rufiyaa notes.
One US Dollar is equivalent to 15.42 Rufiyaa. The following international currencies can be changed easily to local currency at the airport on arrival: USD/GBP/Canadian Dollar/Euro/Danish Krone/Hong Kong Dollar/Japanese Yen/Norwegian Krone/Singapore Dollar/Swiss Franc/Swedish Krone.
It is not possible to exchange currency to USD only to MVR.
MVR can only be exchanged back to the original currency prior to your departure if you have a receipt for an arrival exchange from the airport Bank of Maldives exchange counter.
It is advised not to exchange currency in Male where bank queues are common and waiting time lengthy. The US Dollar is accepted as legal tender. All major credit cards can be used (and are preferred) at resorts, hotels, shops, etc. On local islands, it is usually only hotels, guesthouses, shops, and larger restaurants that accept credit cards, and cash is generally preferred. Small restaurants, cafes, and activity providers will generally request payment in cash. Most restaurants and shops will accept USD$ in payment providing a change in local currency.
The national bank, Bank of Maldives has several branches in Male’ as well as other major population hubs such as the Male’ International Airport, Maafushi, and Hulhumale. Several other regional banks also operate in the central city, Malé, including the State Bank of India, Bank of Ceylon, and HSBC. There are no banks on resort islands however there are now an increasing number of branches or agents of The Bank of Maldives on local islands.
ATMs: Most banks represented in Malé provide automatic teller machine (ATM) services and credit card services at several key points in Malé and Hulhumale. Only local currency MVR will be dispensed. Whilst there is an ATM at the Airport and Male branch of the Bank of Maldives dispensing USD$, it only dispenses to Bank of Maldives cardholders. There are no ATMs on resort islands and whilst there are ATMs on many local islands note that international bank charges may apply depending on your own bank account terms and conditions.
Bank Notes: The banks in the Maldives are very particular about the condition of banknotes and will refuse deposits of old-style USD$, even though still an active currency, damaged notes, badly creased, defaced or well-worn notes will also be rejected. Therefore, if presenting such a note as a form of payment you may be requested to change to a note of better condition. Please do not take offense, it is purely that the note will have no worth to the individual to whom you are paying. Also, note that small bills .i.e. $1 and $5 have a lower exchange value, as the Bank of Maldives charges for small notes to be deposited.
New MVR notes were introduced in January 2016. The new Ran Dhihafaheh notes can be distinguished as they are made of more robust material with a clear seal watermark and raised ‘braille’ like markings. It is also important to highlight that these new notes will not be accepted by banks if they have a fold or crease through them.
Spending money and budgeting:
It is impossible to say exactly what you will need during your local island visit as this varies depending on personal preferences, the number of extra optional activities, and souvenirs you may like to purchase.
While on the local islands, approximate prices are as follows:
- Snack lunch – $5 to $10
- Evening meal in guesthouse or local restaurant – $10 to $25
- Tea / Coffee – $1 for Nescafe to $5 for barrister style coffee
- Soft drinks – $1.50
- Water 1.5l – $0.50
- General excursions – from $25 per person – $100 per person
- Watersports – from $10 per person for a 60-minute non-motorized rental
You should expect prices in tourist hotels and on resort islands to be considerably more expensive than this.
Be sure to check that 10% service charge and 12% GST have been included in the rates offered.
Tipping & Haggling
If you are happy with the services provided by your local tour leader, a tip – though not compulsory – is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels and inspires excellent service. The amount to tip is always subject to your satisfaction with the service provided, and your budget. As a rough guide, we recommend you budget $10 – $20 a day extra for the duration of the holiday which you can use as tipping money at your discretion.
Haggling is not customary in the Maldives. All service industry purchases (for example cafes, diving, and excursions) which are not part of your holiday package will attract a 10% service charge on top of the published price. Service charge has to be distributed equally by law between all employees including employees who are directly and indirectly involved in the provision of the services. A further 12% Government Tourist Tax is also added to purchases.
Passports & Visas
Arrival at Male airport, Customs, and Immigration
No prior visa arrangements are required. Tourists are issued a 30-day visa on arrival. A passport is valid for 1 month and travel documents (flight tickets) are necessary. You will need to present the QR code provided once you have completed the online IMUGA Health Declaration form. To obtain immigration clearance it is a requirement to provide an address of the place of your stay or proof that you have a booking for a tour or at a resort, guest house, or safari boat. Without pre-booked accommodation, you may be refused entry. Immigration will assist with the booking of your first night’s stay and you can expect to pay considerably more than the standard room rate.
As of 29th January 2016 in accordance with ICAO, all passengers arriving in the Maldives must be in the possession of a machine-readable passport in order to be allowed entry.
Please refer to our separate COVID Travel Guideline(opens in a new tab)s in order to have access to the most up-to-date information and requirements.
Importing goods such as alcohol, pork items, pornography (very broadly defined), religious materials offensive to Islam, idols of worship, narcotics and psychotropic substances, explosives, and weapons into the Maldives is strictly forbidden. Alcohol and pork products under a special license are available in resort islands. On the way out, note that exporting sand, turtle shells, seashells, and a range of marine products is also forbidden.
As your plane breaks through the clouds revealing the emerald islands below, prepare for one of the most exciting flying experiences. The runway of Hulhulé airport runs parallel to the shore creating a (rather safe, of course) adrenalin rush for a second when it makes you think that the plane is landing on water. Velana International Airport (MLE) is just fifteen minutes from Male’. The airport is small, but well-equipped with souvenir and duty-free shops, restaurants, medical facilities, and provides banking, telecommunication, and postal services.
On arrival please proceed through immigration, security, and customs before passing through automatic sliding doors into the main arrival area, here lookout for your representative who will be positioned holding a Secret Paradise signboard. You will then be transferred by vehicle to guesthouses based in Greater Male, by speedboat or flight to your resort or local island, or by dhoni to your liveaboard. Details of your specific personal arrival information will be emailed to you upon receipt of full payment along with your tour or accommodation voucher.
Transfers to Hulhumale guesthouses as with resorts need to be booked prior to arrival. There are only a limited number of vehicles authorized to provide transfer services from Male airport to Hulhumale. Very occasionally if some flights have been delayed there may be a knock-on delay to your transfer timing. If this is the case, our representative will remain with you at Male airport and will make this wait as pleasant as possible for you.
Note that if no flight information has been received your transfer is unlikely to have been arranged prior to your arrival and you should be prepared for a delay. In the event of no seats being available particularly onboard domestic flights and seaplanes during high season, you may well have to spend a night in the capital at your own expense.