Our streets and shops have been filled with Christmas lights and decorations since the first leaves of autumn. Why this insane rush to see winter coming? All it brings are long nights and bitter cold. It makes no sense! What is assured is that travelling is the only way to escape from the Christmas frenzy and winter temperatures. How? Going to the Maldives, of course! Yes, our wintertime is the best period to visit the Maldives. First of all, being an Islamic country, Christmas is not celebrated. I’m referring to you, little Grinch, who pretends to be sick on December 25th, so you needn’t show up for family lunch. The other main reason to choose winter is the Maldives’ climate: constantly warm and with little rain. In short, the perfect combination to enjoy an unforgettable holiday.
Although you may be set on crystal clear seas and white beaches, there are quite a few other places to visit in the Maldives. Firstly, let’s make it clear, you will find a crystalline sea and white beaches. Yes, I’ll say it again for clarity’s sake: the Maldives are a true earthly paradise. This beautiful Indian Ocean archipelago is enchanted by its extraordinary nature. You can snorkel on Baa Atoll and see the manta rays in Madivaru. Or, dive into the blue waters of Rasdhoo and swim alongside hammerhead sharks. Malé island will be a real discovery of Maldivian traditions. Starting from the cosy tea shops, which you will find walking through the homonymous capital. Until you visit the crowded markets and colourful homes.
What are the best places to visit in the Maldives? Let’s find out together! Meanwhile, start relaxing and thinking about where your next well-deserved trip might be.
Among the things to do in the Maldives, you can’t help but include a charming tour of its capital Malé. Originally founded by the Portuguese, the city is now considered a small metropolis. Here you can get up close and personal with real Maldivian life, with its astonishing, crowded markets, meeting locals and visiting delightful places. You can learn about the history of the Maldives by visiting the National Museum or stopping at the famous tea shops: restaurants serving short eats, or delicious tastings and bites of typical Maldivian cuisine. They’re on the list of places to visit in the Maldives!
Malé’s peculiarity lies in the fact that it stands out from the other islands, where there are only luxury resorts. This island is for independent travellers who want to experience the ‘real’ Maldives. In the atoll’s various islands, farther from the chaotic capital, numerous guest houses have nothing to envy to the most luxurious structures, in terms of crystal clear sea and dream beaches. Staying in these ‘guest houses’ is a unique experience. These facilities are often managed by the families of the island’s inhabitants, who involve visitors in their daily activities, as well as being perfect guests.
You can try their traditional cuisine, snorkel and fish on some remote islands with the Maldivians. A holiday really different from the others!
Let’s say that this island isn’t exactly just around the corner. To get to the South Malé atoll, you will have to tackle a one-hour ferry trip, departing from the capital. What you don’t know yet, is that this feature makes Maafushi even more appealing.
Given the distance from Malé, this small island is only inhabited by a thousand people. This makes it quiet but, at the same time, one of the most popular with tourists. Maafushi was one of the first inhabited islands to become an important tourist attraction. This was possible thanks to the opening of about thirty facilities, including guest houses and hotels.
Maafushi is a very affordable alternative, compared to many other islands where prices are higher. As we have already said, if you can save something yet still have a wonderful holiday. Who are we to not try doing so? Maafushi has therefore become a dynamic and cosmopolitan island, so much so that you will find a bikini beach, just to meet the needs of tourists, whilst respecting the locals. Maafushi is perfect for diving and discovering the Maldives’ seabed while spending a few days with other tourists.
What can you do in the evenings in the Maldives? You will need to forget about alcohol and detox for a few days. (This might also be good, you never know). As in all Islamic countries, alcohol is forbidden in the Maldives, except for some facilities dedicated to tourists. Take it easy though, because after a day of snorkelling, swimming and hiking, I’m sure watching the stars on a distant island will be more relaxing than sipping a spritz in the city!
If you are wondering what are the best places to visit in the Maldives, here is another destination that will not disappoint you in terms of adventure: Baa Atoll.
I’m always of the opinion that a little healthy relaxation doesn’t hurt anyone, especially if you’re in the Maldives, but this time I’ll make an exception. Yes, because this atoll really deserves to be explored. There are 75 islands, 13 of which are inhabited and included in the UNESCO sites list as a World Biosphere Reserve. So we’re on the most famous snorkelling site in the Maldives, what can we do if we don’t visit it?
Tourism here has focused on one of the most unique and exciting activities in the world. Swimming with a whale shark. That’s right, in the renowned Hanifaru Bay, this giant marine beast is properly present. Imagine the thrill of snorkelling next to such a majestic creature. Pure goose bumps, surely one of the things to see in the Maldives.
Another beautiful thing to see in the Maldives is the production of feyli. These are the hallmark two-tone pareos worn in the Maldives, which are still packaged by numerous workers. Let’s just say if swimming with a 5 to 10-metre-long giant doesn’t make you feel comfortable, then this is your great alternative. And of course, there are also countless resorts and facilities in Baa that will enchant you with their marvellous beaches.
Rasdhoo and Madivaru
Every day, dozens of seaplanes depart from Malé International Airport, allowing tourists to hop between the various atolls and practice one of the most beautiful sports in the Maldives: diving. In short, why would there be so many flying taxis (let’s call them that), if there wasn’t something extraordinary to see? Let’s discover some of the most beautiful places to visit in the Maldives if you love diving.
Rasdhoo Atoll, in addition to having wonderful islands, also boasts one of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives, called ‘Hammerhead point’. It is 60 kilometres from the capital Malé and, as its name suggests, it is an ideal spot for hammerhead sharks. You usually dive at dawn, until you reach 30 metres to spot a full shiver of hammerhead sharks looking for food if you are lucky. A scene straight from a nature documentary!
Another really suggestive diving site is Madivaru. This time, we find ourselves in Ari’s atoll and the attraction is no longer the hammerhead shark, but the manta ray. In certain months of the year, you can spot these magnificent creatures moving in groups. This sighting is a real thrill because it feels like they’re gliding in the transparent water.
Of course, diving is not something that everyone does, but you can take courses and start getting familiar with this fascinating sport. Many advise experts to bring their own equipment with them, although you can still rent everything you need directly on the island.
Not travelling too far, rather staying in Ari’s atoll, but further north, to find one of the best places to visit in the Maldives. That is the island of Ukulhas, a mere 1 kilometre by 300 metres wonder.
This tiny Maldivian ‘pearl’ is just over an hour from Malé and is the second most touristy atoll. And it’s no big challenge to understand why. Imagine this scenario: a ring of white sand surrounding the entire island, creating a circle around the green vegetation. In short, a proper paradise, considering the splendour and colours of its waters and the fact that its entire beach is accessible to tourists.
Ukulhas was born as a fishermen’s island but is now devoted to tourism while remaining true to itself. On this island, you can chat with the Maldivians and do water sports and even work out in the gym, or continue to ignore your diet by binging in restaurants and bars. There are also about thirty guest houses that, unlike those of the other islands, have drinking water directly in the room.
What can you do if you visit the Maldives? If it’s still not clear, the best activity to do here is diving. Specifically, in Ukulhas you can spot reef sharks. In some cases, without having to go too deep, you can see some specimens directly from the long jetty of the island’s port. Consider that towards evening, when the sun begins to go down, shark pups enter the bay to look for food. A show that will blow your mind.
Haa Alifu Atoll
Looking for peace, relaxation, solitude and unspoilt nature? Haa Alifu Atoll is one of the places you need to visit in the Maldives.
However, please be aware of the distances you will have to travel to get here. The atoll is located north of the entire Maldives archipelago, approximately two hours from the capital and its airport. Let’s say that after spending many hours of flight, with an adjoining stopover, you may not have much desire to do other hours on a ferry. But I can assure you that it is worth it!
Haa Alifu islands will allow you to relax like never before. It is also the perfect place to learn about local customs and traditions. For example, there is a monument dedicated to Mohammed Thakurufaanu on Utheemu Island, the leader of the war of liberation from Portugal. People remember his deeds as those of a real national hero. Among the things to visit in the Maldives, we must simply recommend an excursion to Utheemu.
Also on this island, you can relax on a beautiful ‘bikini beach’ dedicated to tourists and end the day with a tradition: Maldivian tea. Everyone sits together with the elderly members of the family to enjoy this typical drink: simply unique.
Some information about the Maldives
After noting the places to visit in the Maldives, you should do some inquiring before leaving. Don’t worry, this won’t become a sermon on what to do or what to refrain from (we are all grown-ups here, come on).
We have already mentioned that the best time to visit the Maldives is winter, so from December to April. These are the peak season months for tourism, so you might incur higher fares. Try to avoid the days around Christmas and New Year’s Eve and we are confident that you will still find a bargain flight. From May to November, prices are lower, but the climate in the Maldives changes. It is still warm, but rainfall is more frequent.
Once you understand when to go to the Maldives, you’ll need a little more information to be ready to depart. First, make sure you have your passport with a remaining validity of at least six months and a return airline ticket. You will be able to get your visa at the airport once you arrive. The official currency is the Maldivian rupee, the Rufiyaa, but you will only need this when shopping in the markets. Indeed, you can use your credit card in the facilities. If you want to leave with cash, I recommend you have some small denomination US dollars, so you can easily convert them.
The last thing to know, out of respect for the local religion, is that you should avoid succinct clothes. Islamic tradition does not allow women to show their bodies. For this reason, on some beaches, you can not wear a classic bikini. Do not worry: there are no restrictions inside the hotel facilities. Plus there are numerous places, called bikini beaches, where you can flaunt your swimwear. In short, the buzzword is respect.
Speaking of Maldives, we often consider it a trip for couples, perhaps a honeymoon, (given the high cost of getting here). The reality is that you can stay in wonderful guest houses. In some ways, this can make you appreciate Maldivian culture even more and offer the same natural spectacle of a more luxurious resort.
Savouring moments of real life with guests and visiting villages, discovering traditions and cultures, is the reason why we travel. And so you go solo, with friends, with mom, with whoever you want and go snorkelling in Hanifaru Bay or swimming with whale sharks. Or visit the capital Malé and then head to Rasdhoo to dive among the hammerhead sharks. Relax on the beach with your virgin cocktail and spend a few days of your winter in the sun to tan on a beach that would make Leonardo di Caprio jealous. I don’t know about you, but I’m already stuffing my piggy bank.
A holiday in the Maldives is an experience that is worth indulging in at least once in your life, so take note now of the places to visit in the Maldives. Your next trip awaits!
Do you love Asia? Then also read our article on the best places to see in Bali!