The Maldives is hot throughout the year. Light, summer cotton and linen wear is ideal. Pack lots of tee shirts, beachwear, light skirts, cotton shirts, slacks and shorts. At the resorts where you’ll have to walk on soft sand most of the time, going barefoot may be ideal for some. However on visits to inhabited islands, where most of the streets are of compact sand, or Male’ where most of the streets are paved, casual shoes or sandals are easy to walk on.
Regulations and norms
It must be said that official regulations do not allow public nudity anywhere in the Maldives. Even at the beach on your resort or swimming or snorkeling around your cruise boat. At least bikinis or swimming trunks is a must. Most resorts do not allow swimwear inside the restaurants, to avoid offending fellow holidaymakers. At the in-house bars or restaurants casual cotton tropical wear is highly recommended.
Visiting inhabited islands or Male’ the capital requires paying a little attention to what you wear. Most resorts would advice you on this before you leave on excursions. Please be sensitive to local norms, culture and traditions. On such visits it is important to be clad in a decent garment, which covers one’s body from the shoulders to the knees. If you envisage attending a formal meeting or making a formal visit, do bring along light formal wear.
Health and Medical Facilities
All resorts have first aid facilities and on some you can get the services of a resident doctor and facilities for minor treatment. Some have clinics with separate observation rooms and small pharmacies. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and the ADK Hospital are the two major hospitals in Male’. In addition there are a number of smaller clinics where you may consult a doctor. In both the IGMH and ADK doctors are on duty 24 hours of the day. Both conduct surgery and offer a number of specialist services.
Personal Medical Requirements
If you suffer from a permanent disability or chronic illness it is advisable to inform your resort before arrival and find out whether they can cater for your specific requirements. Most resorts cater for special dietary requirements without additional charges. If you are dependent on any medications please bring along an ample supply, together with a valid prescription in case you are required to produce it at Customs.
Health and Diving
If you are planning to take up diving during your visit, it is a good idea to consult your physician and do a medical check-up to see if you are fit enough. For safety, when diving it is important to exercise caution; follow the right procedures, use proper equipment and most important follow the directives of your instructor or guide. This is important even if you are an experienced diver. As one would understand instructors and guides working here are well versed in the subtleties of the local conditions, be it currents or tides. A decompression chamber is available, in case of a diving emergency.
Be careful where you eat and drink when in the Maldives. Registered outlets are usually safe. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables from dubious sources or of unknown nature without consulting someone you can trust. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Use sun creams of a high factor especially during the first few days. A variety of sun creams and lotions are available in all resort shops and boutiques.
Arriving in the Maldives
The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you get off the plane at Male’ International Airport is that the airport is on an island all by itself. From the air it looks like a giant aircraft carrier, the runway occupying most of the island. Catch a glimpse if you can. In fact to build the airport two islands have been connected through reclamation. However it is a full fledged international airport that can cater to the largest of aircraft and is well equipped with modern facilities. Located just over a kilometre away from Male’ the capital, the airport is connected to the rest of the country by boats and seaplanes.
A number of international airlines connect the Maldives with the major cities of Europe and Asia. A few steps from your plane take you inside the arrival terminal. At Passport Control entry formalities are simple and casual. A 30-day holiday visa is granted free of charge on arrival. You may be asked where you are staying. Most arrive in the Maldives with a prior booking at one of the resorts. At Port Health, immediately after Passport Control, you may be required to produce a certificate of inoculation if you have recently passed through a country in which contagious diseases have been reported. If you need an extension of your visa you will have to apply to the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Male’.
At Customs as a rule all baggage is screened electronically. It will be convenient to have the keys to your luggage at hand, in case you are asked to open an item for inspection. It is prohibited by law to import alcoholic beverages, pornographic materials and idols of worship. Strict penalties apply to those attempting to import illegal drugs into the country. If you are bringing in a lot of photographic or diving equipment it is advisable to inform your resort of the details prior to your arrival or bring a list with details such as serial numbers of the equipment, to avoid delay at the airport upon arrival. You will be expected to take them back with you. Import duty is payable for any items left behind.
As you leave the Customs and out of the arrival terminal, you will be welcomed by a representative of the resort at which you have made your booking. The representative will guide you to the transport to your resort, which would have been arranged prior to your arrival. If you do not have a reservation, you may make a booking at a resort at any of the resort counters lined on both sides of the lounge just outside the arrivals terminal. You could also get help and advise at the airport information counter operated by the Ministry of Tourism. A number of representatives from travel agencies in Male’ would eagerly offer to help you. Make sure they represent genuine agencies. They are expected to display an identification tag. Touting is strictly prohibited and stiff penalties apply to reps who violate regulations.