If there is one spot in the entire world that everyone HAS to visit at least once, it is the Maldives. Now I might be biased because we spent our honeymoon there, but take a look for yourself to see why we left our hearts in these || G O R G E O U S || islands. From the complete seclusion to the kindness of the staff, we spent one blissful week completely unplugged from the happenings of the rest of the world. The white sand beaches and the over-water bungalow we indulged in are forever stamped in my memory. I learned how to swim in the wild ocean, we basked in the pure sunshine from sunrise to sunset, and danced with dolphins deep in the ocean. Below are a few of the hundreds of pictures we took. Till next time, Maldives ♡
History of the Maldives
The capital of the Maldives, Male, is located in the Indian Ocean, just hours away from the tip of Southern India where we got married. The Maldives (country) is made up of 26 atolls (you can think of them like states), each comprised of hundreds of coral islands (similar to cities).
In our research, we found that not much is known about the original history of the Maldives. It is speculated that people first settled these islands around 5th century BC; they were largely sea-faring peoples from nearby India and Sri Lanka. Historians believe that Arab tradesmen stopped at the Maldives on their way to the “Far East” and over time converted the people to Islam. One of our hotel guides told us that those in the Maldives are a very peaceful and friendly peoples, largely because they are all part of the same religious faction.
A little known fact about the Maldives is that prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, they were ruled by 8 sultan dynasties, with over 80 sultans in all! Lastly, if you’d like even more information, we found this post on TripAdvisor to be a helpful overview of Maldives + provide valuable general information.
Visa & Logistical Information
Sunscreen: I’m putting this first because it is SO important: please bring reef-safe sunscreen if you plan to get anywhere near the water. There are so many harmful chemical ingredients in “regular” sunscreen that it kills the coral reefs that are so vital to our planet. We all can make this one small, and inexpensive, switch to do our part to save the oceans ♡ Please please please visit Travel+Leisure’s page on the best reef-safe sunscreens to adopt!
Visa: As of date of this post, you don’t need to apply for a visa beforehand if you are a US citizen. You will be issued a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. (Pro-tip: bring a pen and fill out the paperwork once you receive it on the plane! You’ll be ahead of 80% of the crowd this way, and are able to clear immigration quicker). That being said, requirements may change & we aren’t sure when you’ll be reading this post so please always check the State Department’s website for the most up-to-date information as you plan your trip!
Transportation: You’ll likely fly into the main capital of Male in the Maldives. Most of the resorts are on their own separate island, so unless you plan to stay on the main island, transfer costs from the Male airport to each resort island are extra. Some are close enough that you can take a speedboat, but others (like ours) require a sea-plane ride. These costs are extra so be sure to call your resort ahead of time to find out the details and factor that into your travel plans.
Currency: Most places on the island accept either credit card or US dollars. To be considerate of tipping and souvenir purchases, we exchanged a few dollars for local currency, but we found that this wasn’t absolutely necessary.
Where We Stayed
We chose to stay at the Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa resort (meaning "reef above water") in the Meemu Atoll, which is about 90 miles south of the capital city. Getting to the island required hopping on a sea plane - an unforgettable experience in and of itself, flying over the hundreds of islands laying so pristine in the ocean below.
Choose the resort you want to stay at wisely. We ran across the phrase "one resort, one island" in our research which was spot-on. Basically, this means that each resort takes up an island so if you aren't happy with the (lack of) things to do/amenities, then you are out of luck.
We usually offer suggestions for splurge, mid-range, and budget friendly hotels. Because there are just so many options & the “one resort, one island” mantra to keep in mind, we opted instead to present some of the sites we went to while doing our research.
Conde Naste Traveller (splurge + mid range hotel suggestions)
Oyster (all-inclusive hotel suggestions)
We loved staying in the over-water bungalow & would highly recommend it if you are going to the Maldives. Our bungalow had a sitting area with a glass bottom floor so we could see the fishes (or Brandon) swim by :)
Where to Eat
Places to eat are going to be entirely dependent on what resort you choose for your stay. That being said, there are a few notable restaurants that have made a big splash (no pun intended) on the Maldivian scene. The most famous of these is the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant located inside the Conrad. Not underwater dining, but Muraka Restaurant has great views and plenty of five star reviews.
Something to keep in mind is the difference between full-board and half-board. Half board usually only includes a few meals + snacks, whereas full board includes all of your meals. Drink packages are usually a little extra, and if you’re big on boozing it up, we recommend adding drinks to your package. We chose to go with the full board/all-inclusive package at our resort, otherwise food/drinks would have added up pretty quickly.
At Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura, meals were served buffet style for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were so many options / cuisines that we felt glutinous trying it all! We also recommend chatting with the staff! I made friends with one of the chefs, who was from the same part of India as my family. As a result, he made us special meals (on top of the buffet) for the entirety of our stay. It was sooooooooooooooooooo sweet and thoughtful - all done because he appreciated that I took time to get to know him and because he appreciated having someone to talk to for a little bit!
What to Do
Again, this bit depends on your island but we imagine most of the resorts to have similar options. Keep in mind that most excursions offered by the hotel will cost extra!
Beach + Read: one of the things we absolutely enjoyed was the chance to do absolutely nothing. We laid in our own little cove on beach chairs that the resort had laid out. We were so lucky to have chosen an island with limited capacity - I cannot imagine enjoying seclusion in a large resort setting! The white sand beaches and the calm, shallow waters were exactly what we both needed.
Dolphin Watch: One of my most favorite excursions was going dolphin watching! We loaded up onto a “dhoni” (pictured above) and set off towards deep waters. (PSST: take sea-sick pills! I didn’t and instantly regretted it). We got to see numerous pods of dolphins ride alongside our boat and even learned how to attract them! (You clap + whistle loudly!)
Snorkel + Dive: Our resort gave us snorkel gear for free and also arranged snorkel trips twice each day to do deep-sea snorkeling. While deep sea snorkeling was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I preferred snorkeling in the shallow waters by our over-water bungalow and along the docks. Our resort also offered deep sea diving with guides, which sounded amazing!
Visit Neighboring Islands: We loved this excursion to learn more about the people of the Maldives, their culture, their way of life, and to support local artisans. If you are imagining a lively, bustling culture….well you may be disappointed. BUT we enjoyed interacting with locals and seeing first hand how welcoming everyone was!
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