A Seascape Filled with Shallow Treasures
It is a destination that seems tailor made for snorkelers. Idyllic resorts nestle into palm groves on small islands scattered across reef-protected lagoons. White-sand beaches are lapped by clear waters where a menagerie of marine life thrives among coral gardens. This is the Maldives, a country that is more water than land, and one of the world's most spectacular marine environments. In-water adventures come in all sizes. There are easy explorations of house reefs that begin right at resort beaches; boat trips to formations where small finds await in the crevices; and dramatic walls and fish-filled channels where big animals pass by in the blue water.
- Best for: All travellers, luxury travellers, watersports and spa enthusiasts
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Sub-tropical, with two monsoon seasons – hot, humid and dry in northeast monsoon from November to March, with more rain during the southwest monsoon from June to October. The sun shines year round, with an average temperature around 84 to 90 degrees
Things to Do
Snorkeling in Maldives
The Maldives is a collection of 26 coral atolls that encompass almost 1,200 islands and a large number of coral-filled lagoons. Shallow, protected sites can be found right off the beach at many resorts, and a wide range of additional coral formations, tidal channels and forming reefs are never far away.
Snorkeling in Maldives Tips
The atolls of the Maldives are among the best places in the world to snorkel with manta rays. Individual rays may be seen at any time of the year, while migratory patterns bring dozens of rays together at one site. The most predictable encounters take place at cleaning stations, where mantas hover and allow small fish to nibble away at parasites.
Best Places for Snorkeling in Maldives
At Kuredu Caves green sea turtles wait at cleaning stations while stingrays, eagle rays and Napoleon wrasse cruise by in the open water. Komandoo's house reef delivers a vibrant mix of hand and soft corals, along with pulsating anemones and their attendant clownfish. The shallow reefs at Vilamendhoo begin close to shore and contain some of the densest growths of table corals in the Maldives.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Maldives
A waterproof fish ID slate to keep track of your finds. A water shirt or surfer's rash guard to prevent a sunburned back. A mesh bag to keep gear organized when walking to the beach or on the boat. Bring a bottle of mask defog to apply before entering the water.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport, that must have at least one blank page for entry stamp is required for entry into the Maldives. A visitor visa is available at the airport for stays up to 30 days for no additional cost.
Exit Requirements: All visitors departing the Republic of the Maldives must pay an airport departure tax of approximately $10.00 U.S.
No immunizations are required to enter the Maldives from the U.S. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel to Maldives at Traveler's Health CDC.
Culture and Customs
The country of the Maldives is 99 percent water and one percent land. This nation of islands has long been a maritime crossroads along the trading routes of the Indian Ocean. Traders and sailors from North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East brought elements of their own cultures that linger, but the Maldivians have long maintained their unique cultural identity. Family and community are of utmost importance to a way of life that is understandably shaped by the sea and the need for self-sufficiency within small island communities. So too is a tradition of hospitality, forged through centuries of interaction with maritime visitors. Maldivians are known for their inventiveness and intricate craftsmanship, which can be seen in handicrafts such as lacquer works, mat weaving, coir rope making and calligraphy. An iconic symbol of the Maldives is the traditional dhoni, a hand-crafted wooden boat similar to an Arab dhow. For centuries, these vessels served as the only connection between island communities and carried home bountiful catches. The Maldives also boasts a rich culture of music and dance, with influences drawn from three continents, but made their own. A traditional performance that is often staged for visitors is the Bodu Beru, where sarong-garbed dancers sway to rhythmic drumbeats and chants. Tourism has brought the modern world to the Maldives, but these changes are seen primarily at resorts, and in the capital city of Male, where shops and homes envelop every inch of the island with a vibrant pulse.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in the Maldives is 220-240 V, 50 Hz. The standard socket is the U.K. style with three pins, but there are some variations. An adapter with different pins is best. If your device only accepts 110 V input, a step down adapter may also be needed.
The international access code for the Maldives is +960. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001 for the United States). No city/area codes are required. Check with your cell phone provider for international plans which may include data, text and voice. Many hotels offer WiFi but there may be a charge for it.
Most of the population uses desalinated water while rural areas may use rainwater. Due to the differences in taste, most people prefer to use bottled water which is readily available for purchase.
Language & Currency
Dhivehi is the spoken language throughout the Maldives. It has a mix of English, Hindi and Arabic words. English was introduced as the medium of instruction in most schools in the 1960s, while Dhivehi is still the language used for the overall administration.
Maldives currency is called Maldivian Rufiyaa (MFR or MVR) and noted locally as Rf. The Rufiyaa is divided into 100 Laari or cents. Maldives Rufiyaa comes in different denominations of notes and coins. The notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 while the coins are available in denominations of 10, 25 and 50 Larees or 1 and 2 Rufiyaa.
Major currencies can be exchanged at banks, tourist resort islands, hotels and leading shops. Payments in hotels can be made in most hard currencies (particularly US Dollars) in cash or major credit cards. Most major island resorts, local and souvenir shops will accept American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Arrangements vary from island to island.
The time zone in the Maldives is Maldives Time or MVT, which is 5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+5 GMT). Maldives does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Location, Size and Population
The republic of Maldives is a chain of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean, located southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The islands are small and don't appear on some maps. The islands are 99% sea and 1% land comprised of 26 natural atolls of dual island chains.
Area: 298 sq. km. (115 sq. mi.), over 1,100 islands; twice the size of Washington, DC.
The total population of the Maldives is approximately 390,000.