Planning a Maldives holiday

Making your Maldives getaway happen

Most people have the impression that the Maldives is an expensive destination. Sure, it’s not Bali or Thailand but you get what you pay for in terms of service, seclusion and most importantly (for me!) marine life.

In the past five years, I’ve scuba dived multiple sites in Borneo, Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve visited the Maldives twice and this tiny country’s has many sites that definitely trump our very own undersea national treasure.

A pair of pouty Oriental Sweetlips.

So how do you go about planning your holiday to this idyllic Indian ocean archipelago?

Pro tip #1: Make a decision on what exactly you want out of your holiday. Some islands have surf, others are just pure luxury while there are others still, perfectly placed to view whale sharks or manta rays. It’s hard to find a single island where you can do all of that! 

A juvenile whale shark.
It’s still unknown where these majestic fish breed, but the Maldives has a great number of juvenile whale sharks.

The tricky part: there are hundreds of islands and about as many resorts. The price of accommodation will probably be a major factor, but you should also consider if the location will save you in the long run.

Boat trips to reach reefs and whale sharks don’t come cheap. Neither does the seaplane or domestic flight chartered to get you in and out of your resort.

The good news is that with the proliferation of resorts – there are new ones popping up each year – prices have come down somewhat. The advent of low-cost carriers such as Air Asia also means that the Maldives is no longer completely out of reach.

If you can time your travel during shoulder season, you might save a bit as well. Many resorts in the Maldives have seasonal pricing, with peak prices around Dec-Mar. The shoulder season falls around June and October, while Jul-Sep sees the lowest demand due to the monsoon. In the wetter months, some resorts don’t open at all.

Keep in mind flight times as well – some places work out more expensive simply because you have to spend a night on either side in transit. Sometimes, on arrival in Male, you can charter a floatplane to your resort, but these planes can only land in broad daylight – at night, you’ll have to travel by speedboat.

A typical floatplane in the Maldives.
Floatplanes leave from a separate terminal on the Maldives’ main airport island.

Pro tip #2: New resorts might be cheap or have nicer rooms and facilities, but construction destroys coral. Bear this in mind when you’re searching for a resort with a good house reef.

Having a thriving reef at my villa doorstep is important to me – it gives me something to do when I’m not diving. The colourful marine life also provides all-day entertainment when you’re sitting on the jetty or having breakfast on the beach.

A healthy reef is an interesting reef.

Should you go all-inclusive? I don’t drink much so I wouldn’t bother subsidising somebody else’s liquor. However, it pays to have meals included – the cost of a la carte meals can be astronomical at the island restaurants. And you don’t get the choice, variety and quantity a buffet spread provides.

Bring chocolate, nuts and any other snacks such as muesli bars as most resorts don’t provide food between meals (if you’re a snacker). Confectionery is also very expensive and pretty hard to come by (chocaholics be warned!).

Pro tip #3: Maybe don’t spend all your time in the Maldives – you can always make a holiday out of a stopover in Singapore or Malaysia or Sri Lanka.

See you in the Maldives!

To read about our experience of Vilamendhoo Island Resort, visit this page:

Vilamendhoo Island, Maldives

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