Maldives officially the Republic of Maldives; also known as The Maldives, is a tropical national in the Indian Ocean forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls, which are made up of hundreds of islands. Traditionally called the ‘King Island’, Male is the capital and the largest city. Originally followers of Buddhism, which was introduced to the island from the neighboring Sri Lanka, Maldivians began to embrace Islam. Today, the Maldives is a Muslim-majority country. The economy is dominated by tourism and fishing industry. Maldives is destination for beach lovers: lush white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, colorful coral reefs, warm weather, the Maldivian coconut palm trees, and most importantly the friendly and hospitable Maldivian people ensures to lure every beach lover to take a trip to Maldives.
This information has been compiled for your reference in good faith but please use this only as a general guide. We advise you to check with relevant authorities with regard to the latest requirement for passport, visa, travel advisory, entry restrictions, health requirements, local currency etc as these are subjected to change without prior notice and our information given below may not be as updated.
Best time to go: The climate in Maldives is tropical, which mean hot, humid and dry weather. Dominated by the monsoon, the islands get rainfall from July to August due to southwest monsoon and from November to March due to northeast monsoons.
If you are looking to soak up sun and extra hours of fun in the sun then visit Maldives during the months of December to April, which are dry season. The winter season is pleasant with sunny weather and cool ambience. The best time for divers and snorkel-lovers to visit Maldives is between May and November, when the sky remains cloudy, humidity remains high and there is increased water clarity and better visibility for divers.
Visa: New Zealand citizens travelling on a New Zealand passport do not need a visa to visit Maldives for tourism purpose. Based on the immigration requirements, free 30 days Visa is granted upon arrival. For information on non-tourist visas and travel on non-New Zealand passport contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your responsibility to make sure you have the correct documentation and all advice here is given in good faith.
Currency: The local currency is the Maldivian rufiyaa. The currency code for rufiyaa is Rf, placed before or after the amount and divided into 100 laari. The Rufiyaa comes in notes denominations of 500, 100, 50, 20, and 10. Five and two rufiyaa are uncommon. The coins are in denominations of one rufiyaa, and 50, 20, and 10 larees. If you are spending all your time at the resort, there is no need to change money since by law resorts price services in US dollars and require payment in hard currency or credit card. Nevertheless, if visitors would like to exchange money, Male International Airport and banks in the capital can be found.
Health: It is advisable to consult a health care provider or visit a health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel. Since medical facilities are limited. In Male, there are two hospitals that can provide adequate service for routine medical problems. In an event of an emergency, medical evacuation is often necessary and medical transport is very experience and payment is often done up front.
Although most resort islands are within easy reach of a doctor, many resorts are several hours travel away from the medical facilities. It is recommended to have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover any medical treatment cost. Dial 102, should you require any medical attention during your trip and ask for an ambulance.
Food and Drinks: To avoid any food position or upset tummy, reduce your risk by eating food that is cooked and served hot, ensure fruits and vegetables are clean and washed as unclean food and water can cause traveler’s diarrhea and other diseases. Maldives is almost 99% sea; therefore it is not surprising the consumption of fish is high. Tuna is the most important staple of the Maldivian diet. Another major part of many dishes in Maldives are coconuts, served in grated form, as milk or as coconut oil which is used to deep fry food.
The cuisine is a mx of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan and Oriental influences. The resorts scattered throughout the island host diverse international menus as well as traditional Maldivian dishes. The popular dishes include: Garudhiya, which is a fish broth served with rice, lime, chili and onions. Mas huni, considered the most popular breakfast food has shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions. Another popular dish is Fihunu mas, which is barbecued fish that has been basted with chili.
It is recommended to stick with bottled water as this is a safer option. As the islands are an Islamic nation, the population does not drink alcohol, however it is available at most resorts. Instead locals prefer to drink sai or tea. The closest any Maldivian gets to alcohol is Raa, the traditional drink is toddy tapped from palm trees, sometimes left to ferment.
Safety and Security: Like in any other part of the world, a few precautions need to be taken to avoid any problem. Please do not leave your bags unattended at any time. Please use safe deposit in your hotel room or reception to keep your money or valuables including passport. When you leave the room, it is recommended that you lock your suitcase. It is also recommended to carry a copy of your passport including the visa page.
Clothing: Be sure to pack lightweight cottons and linens to combat the heat. Casual clothing is widely accepted throughout the islands of Maldives. Shorts, skits and T-shirts are the best option to stay cool. It is recommended to carry sandals or flip-flops as you would be walking on sand most of the time, therefore avoid heals. Thighs and shoulders should be covered when visiting some of the lesser inhabited local islands. For ladies, bikinis are not permitted on beaches, but can be worn in resorts and tourist areas.
Smart casual clothing is generally enough for Male and for most resorts, however some of the more up-market resorts, may require guests to dress for dinner. Since the weather is warm all year around, hats and sunglasses are recommended. Also, it is recommended to purchase sun block and after sun lotions with high SPF as they are expensive in the Maldives.
Language: The national language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, a dialect of Sinhala (spoken by the majority of Sri Lankans), while the script is derived from Arabic. Other languages spoken in Maldives include English, which is recognized as the second main language and first language in most resorts. Initially, Dhivehi was used as the medium of teaching in schools but the need to promote higher education led to the conversion of syllabus in English. As a result, English is widely spoken by Maldivians. Apart from English, variety of languages is spoken by the staff at many resorts including German, French, Italian and Japanese.
Gratuities: Although service tax of 10-12.5% is added to nearly everything, people serving you personally will often expect something. Tipping is very common along travelers visiting the Maldives. Even if you don’t tip, you will not be discriminated against, as tipping is not compulsory.
Tipping is very common among travelers visiting the Maldives. However, tipping is not compulsory therefore even if you don’t tip you will not be discriminated against. A service tax of 10-12.5% is generally added to almost everything. However, if you find the service good, you can acknowledge the person’s effort by giving a tip.
Airport Tax: Departure tax is normally included in ticket price. If the tax is not paid beforehand, you may need to pay USD 12 at the airport.
Internet: Most resorts, hotels and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi service to their guests.
Telephone: The country code for Maldives is +960. This is followed by the local area code and the telephone number. While calling New Zealand from Lebanon, the dialing code is +64. There are two major private telecommunications and internet providers, Dhiraagu and Wataniya. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card from these providers to make international calls and cheap local calls. Pre-paid internet cards are also available and offer data packages that can be utilized in 3G or 4G networks in most parts of the country.
Time Difference: The Maldives is 7 hours behind New Zealand from April to September and 8 hours from October to March
Photography: Do not photograph official buildings without permission. Equally, avoid sensitive sites or pictures that include members of police or armed forces.
Electricity: Electric current is 230-240 Volts. Additionally, the utility frequency of the power supplied is 50 Hz. A standard three-pin rectangular plug is used in AC power plugs and sockets.
Religion: The customs and behavior of the Maldivians have been greatly influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the Maldives while crossing through the trading routes of the central Indian Ocean. As a result, the Maldivian culture is rich and infusion of various other cultural elements. Nevertheless, Maldivians have built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity. Maldivians use a language of their own, called Dhivehi.
The Maldivians boats of a rich culture of music and dance. These are regularly performed at resorts to entertain their guests. Similarly, during festivals islanders perform traditional music and dance items. The Maldivians are also known for being avid craftsmen. The popular tourist attraction - Friday Mosque in Male showcases intricate stone carvings, which is an example of Maldivian craftsmanship.
Cities of Interest
Male is the capital of the Maldives and also the financial and commercial capital of the country. Different from other island in the country, Male is a city with high buildings and paved roads. There are old bazaar areas and shopping is the favorite activity for the locals especially in the evenings, when the temperature is cooler. The Majeedhee Magu, which is the main road on the island, has along its sides various shops selling almost everything you could think of. All shops are open till 11pm, except during prayer times, when shops are closed for 15minutes. Apart from shopping, the Republic Square, Islamic Centre, Friday Mosque, Medhu Ziyaarai Shrine, Sultan Park, National Museum and Tsunami Monument are major tourist attractions.