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When we think of a holiday in the Maldives, we often imagine expanses of white sandbanks in the middle of a heavenly sea, luxury resorts, palm trees and coconuts! The Maldives are often the destination of honeymooners and it is thought that a trip to these beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean is very expensive.

But is it possible to organise a Maldives DIY travel? Our answer is absolutely yes! In this article, you will find lots of useful tips for travelling to Maldives DIY!

Is a Maldives DIY travel possible? YES!

Our holidays are always about DIY travel and we wondered if a DIY trip to the Maldives is possible. We don’t usually opt for luxury resorts because we need to feel ‘free’ and because we want to use our trips to get to know the culture of a place, its customs and its people. We thus discovered that the Maldives are not just atolls with luxury resorts, but are also islands inhabited by the local population and have so much to offer!

After a bit of research, we booked a 9-day Maldives DIY travel, opting for an inhabited island that offered incredible experiences to be had: Dhigurah. We will soon publish an article on this beautiful island, so stay tuned with us!
In this article, we share with you some useful tips for travelling to Maldives DIY.

Maldives travel tips: some facts about the Maldives

The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1000 coral islands located in the Indian Ocean, south of Sri Lanka. The Maldives has been a presidential republic since 1968, after gaining independence from the United Kingdom, and until the early 2000s experienced some politically tense times.

These islands have a history of immigration from the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka and India, but also from North Africa and Arab countries. This is reflected in a mixture of languages (Maldivian is the official language) such that different languages are spoken on the various islands.

The capital of the Maldives is Malé, located on the Malé atoll, where one third of the Maldivian population is concentrated.

The famous white sand, characteristic of the Maldivian islands, is the result of erosion of the coral reef by the weather, but also of certain types of fish that eat the corals and expel them as sand.

Entry requirements for a Maldives DIY travel

In order to travel to the Maldives, you need a passport that is valid for at least another 30 days. The 30-day tourist visa is granted directly at the airport upon arrival, so you do not have to apply for it in advance and it is free of charge. You may extend this visa for a further 60 days.

In addition, you must complete the Traveller Declaration via this link no later than 96 hours before your arrival in the Maldives and also no later than 96 hours before your return journey.

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - vista dall'alto sugli atolli delle Maldive - Maldives diy travel

Maldives DIY travel: view of the Maldives atolls from the plane

Maldives tips: What is the best time for a travelling to Maldives?

Our Maldives DIY travel took place at the end of April, a transition period between the dry and rainy season. We took this ‘risk’ both to save money but also to take advantage of the Italian holidays. The result was that during our holiday we experienced 3-4 afternoon or evening thunderstorms lasting a few minutes and only one day was cloudy, while the remaining days were always sunny. The temperature is around 30 °C and the humidity is very high, so it is very hot (in the middle hours of the day being in the sun is challenging!) and the water is very warm.

In general, the best time for DIY Maldives travel coincides with the winter months, with small differences between the south and north of the archipelago:

On the northern islands and central atolls, the dry season is from January to April, while the heaviest rainfall occurs from May to October;
In the southern atolls, the climate is equatorial, with an undefined dry season, but, in general, February and March are the rainiest months.

The sea water temperature is always high, varying between 28 and 30 °C.

Maldives DIY Travel: How to get there

If you are planning a Maldives DIY travel, you should be aware that flights from Europe and Asia to the Maldives are operated by various airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airlines and Neos. If your departure airport is in America, you will need to fly to Europe, such as Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and buy a ticket from one of these companies. Similarly, if you are coming from Australia, you will need to fly to an Asian airport served by these airlines, such as Kuala Lumpur.

With the exception of Neos, which offers a direct Milan-Malé flight (which is usually more expensive), all the other airlines have a stopover.

In the case of our DIY trip to the Maldives, we opted for our trusty airline, Qatar Airways, with a stopover in Doha, Qatar. This airline offers excellent service, very friendly staff and generally punctuality. Excluding the stopover at Doha airport, the journey took just over 10 hours, 6 for the Milan-Doha leg and 4 for the Doha-Malé leg, and cost around €700 per person (booked well in advance).

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - l'aeroporto internazionale di Malé - Maldives diy travel

DIY Maldives travel tips: Malé international airport

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - il porto di Malé - Maldives diy travel

DIY Maldives travel tips: Malé harbour

Tips for travelling to the Maldives DIY: How to move between islands

If you are planning a Maldives DIY travel, you may want to travel between islands, or at least from Malé to your destination island.

There are basically 3 ways to travel within the archipelago: by boat, by internal flight or by seaplane.

We have tried both the internal flight and the speedboat and if the destination of your Maldives do-it-yourself trip is close enough to Malé, we recommend the speedboat which, as the name suggests, is both faster and cheaper than the other two options. In our case, it took us an hour and a half to get to the southern part of Ari Atoll and we spent around €60 per person. You can consult the map and buy your ticket at this LINK.

There is also the option of using a private speedboat via the same website, or you can ask if your chosen establishment offers this type of service. Be aware that the price is definitely higher in this case, and depending on the number of passengers and the distance to be travelled, can easily exceed €1,000.

Alternatively, you can book an internal airline flight to get around during your Maldives DIY travel. In the Maldives archipelago, there are 14 other airports in addition to Malé airport. If your destination is on an island served by an airport or is located nearby, the travel time will certainly be shorter (we took half an hour) but you still have to take into account the time needed for check-in. The cost of our internal flight and a 10-minute fast boat ride to our island was around €150 each.

There are 3 airlines operating internal flights: Maldivian (which covers most of the routes), Flyme and Manta Air. You can check timetables and book directly from the airlines’ official websites, or you can ask the hotel where you are staying to take care of the transfer.

The last option, and certainly the most scenic, is the seaplane. Usually, this service is offered by the resorts and costs up to €1,000 per person.

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - aereo domestico per i voli interni alle Maldive - Maldives diy travel

DIY Maldives travel tips: Plane for internal flights in the Maldives

What language to speak on a DIY trip to the Maldives

In the Maldives, the official language is Maldivian, but all people working in the tourism industry speak English. You may come across someone who does not speak English, especially in the villages, and in this case you will have to rely on a smartphone translator.

Crime and points of attention on a DIY Maldives trip

If you decide to embark on a DIY trip to the Maldives, you can rest assured that crime is absent on the islands. Being a Muslim state, alcohol and drugs are forbidden as well as severely punished (with years in prison).
The only area where you have to be careful is the city of Malé, with the exception of the airport area, which is safe and well guarded. Theft and mugging are frequent in Malé and there are also occasional incidents of gang violence.

Maldives DIY travel: currency and payments

The official currency in the Maldives is the rufiyaa, also known as the rupee, with an exchange rate of about 1 € = 16 rufyiaa.

Practically all accommodation and restaurants accept credit cards and dollars (in some cases also euros), but we recommend that you take a small amount of cash with you as small shops and supermarkets only accept cash payments.

Also, before leaving, check whether there is an ATM on your chosen island and, in any case, plan to make a withdrawal when you arrive at the airport in Malé as it happens that ATMs on the islands are out of order for a few days as money runs out.

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - sand bank di sabbia bianca nel mare azzurro delle Maldive - Maldives diy travel

Maldives DIY travel tips: Sand Bank of white sand in the Maldives

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - alba sul mare alle Maldive - Maldives diy travel

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te: Alba sul mare delle Maldive

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - il cielo azzurro delle Maldive incorniciato dalle palme - Maldives diy travel

Maldives DIY travel tips: Sand Bank of white sand in the Maldives: The sky of the Maldives

Healthcare: an important topic for a Maldives DIY travel

Here is some useful tips for travelling to Maldives on the subject of healthcare to take into consideration, especially if you opt for a Maldives DIY travel:

  • Hospitals and medical centres: the main hospitals are located on the larger islands and in popular tourist areas. The main hospital is in Malé. On the more remote or less developed islands, medical facilities of a certain standard are not guaranteed. However, there are 24-hour emergency clinics.
  • Health insurance: it is essential to have adequate health insurance before travelling to the Maldives. This insurance should cover on-site medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation if necessary;
  • Vaccinations and prophylaxis: at present there are no compulsory vaccinations for travelling to the Maldives. However, before setting off on your DIY trip to the Maldives consult your doctor and check if there are any recommended vaccinations or prophylaxis against diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid, malaria or other tropical diseases
  • Health precautions: while travelling, follow the usual rules of hygiene and take precautions to avoid illnesses, such as drinking water in sealed bottles, avoiding raw or undercooked food, using insect repellents (there are many mosquitoes on some islands) and protecting yourself from the sun.
  • Pharmacies and medicines: in the more developed tourist areas, you will find well-stocked pharmacies. However, we recommend that you carry a small first aid kit with common medicines such as painkillers, anti-diarrhoeics, anti-emetics and dressings.

Maldives travel tips: Religion

The Maldives is a state where the official religion is Muslim. It is important to take this into account because, if you opt for an island where there is a local village for your Maldives DIY travel, you will have to follow some specific rules.

In particular, the consumption of alcohol is forbidden and in the villages and on some beaches you cannot wear a bikini. For example, on the island where we stayed, there were some beaches specifically for tourists while on others you could not stay in a swimming costume.

Obviously, the matter is completely different if you decide to stay in a resort, where there are no such rules.

This choice has to be made consciously and you have to leave aware of the rules you have to follow on an inhabited island and adapt to the customs of the place. For us, this was not a problem, despite being fond of aperitifs at sunset, a cold beer on the beach and a bottle of wine at dinner.

Tips for travelling to Maldives DIY: Where to sleep

You have three accommodation options at your disposal for your Maldives DIY travel, which are very different: resorts, hotels and guest houses.

As we have already mentioned, in the resorts you do not have to follow the rules of the Muslim religion and you will have a whole range of impeccable facilities that you will not have in a guest house. Of course, staying in a resort involves a much higher financial outlay, but more about that in the next paragraph!

A guest house is the equivalent of our B&B, usually small establishments with a few rooms, which offer breakfast service. Various facilities of this type can be found of a very good standard. The guest house where we stayed consisted of 6 bungalows on the beach, a restaurant for breakfast and possibly also for lunch and dinner and a reception. Our bungalow was cleaned twice a day and the guest house booked all the excursions we wanted to go on, as well as helping us with the various tranfers.

The hotels are somewhere between guest houses and resorts. They usually provide bed and breakfast and cost more than guest houses but certainly much less than resorts.
In our personal experience and for our taste, the guest house was the perfect solution for our DIY trip to the Maldives!

Viaggio alle Maldive fai da te - Guest house alle Maldive - Maldives diy travel

Maldives DIY travel: our guest house in Maldives

Maldives tips: Where and what to eat

As far as meals are concerned, during the day we opted for a light lunch in one of the restaurants on the island.

For the dinners on our Maldives DIY travel, we opted for the various restaurants on the island.

Maldivian cuisine includes dishes mainly based on fish, which is the most common raw material on the island. Fish is mainly cooked on the grill or sautéed with vegetables. As for meat, you will obviously not find pork, but chicken and beef abound, accompanied by salad and vegetables.

All dishes are typically accompanied by a portion of white rice.

Costs on Maldives DIY travel

If you are planning a DIY trip to the Maldives, you should know that life in the Maldives is comparable in cost to European costs, here are some examples:

  • A light lunch: €10 to €20 per person
  • Eating in a mid-range restaurant: around 20 euros per person
  • Eating in a high-end restaurant: 50 to 100 euros per person
  • Cost of a small non-alcoholic beer: approximately 4 euros
  • Cost of a small bottle of water: approximately 1 euro
  • Cost of a snorkelling excursion for the whole day: about 100-150 euro

As far as accommodation options are concerned, prices are around € 100-150 per night for a room in a guest house and from € 800-1000 per night for a resort, a figure that rises dramatically if you opt for an overwater bungalow, for example.

Want to know more about these fantastic islands? Stay connected with us via the newsletter so that you will be notified when we publish a new article on the Maldives! We hope you found this article useful when planning your DIY trip to the Maldives! Stay in touch with us via social channels and above all… trip to try!

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