Alcohol in the Maldives: customs, rules, and availability of alcohol in the Maldives

Alcohol in the Maldives is a complex issue that requires a nuanced understanding of the country’s culture and laws. As you may already know, the Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, governed under the Sharia law, where the consumption of alcohol is prohibited by law. However, despite this ban, alcohol is still readily available in many tourist resorts and hotels, leading to a thriving environment for the tourism market of the country.

As a tourist, I have visited all types of islands in the Maldives: I’ve been on a small local island, on the big island of Hulhumale, and a resort island as well. And while I didn’t try to get alcohol while on the local islands, I did enjoy a glass of wine here and there on the resort island, so I can offer you both views.

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If you are planning to visit the Maldives, there are a few things you should know about the country’s relationship with alcohol. The Maldives is a Muslim country, and Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol. However, due to the country’s dependence on tourism, alcohol is available in resorts and liveaboards (boats used for diving trips) catering to foreigners.

If you are staying in a resort, you can enjoy alcohol anywhere on the island, but usually, you’ll do so in areas such as bars and restaurants, even though some of these bars are right next to the pool or even in some pools. As you can imagine, you cannot bring alcohol from outside the resort and consume it on the island. Additionally, it is illegal for locals to consume alcohol, and they are not allowed to enter resorts unless they are employed there.

The prices of alcohol in the Maldives are relatively high due to the country’s strict import laws. The government imposes high taxes on alcohol, making it an expensive commodity. Therefore, if you plan on drinking alcohol during your stay, you should budget accordingly.

It is essential to be mindful of the local culture and customs when consuming alcohol in the Maldives. While it is okay to drink in resorts, it is not appropriate to get drunk and behave inappropriately. The Maldives is a conservative society, and public displays of drunkenness are frowned upon.

The Customs and Regulations Regarding Alcohol in the Maldives

Alcohol is not available on local islands, as it is forbidden to import or sell alcohol in these areas. However, alcohol is available on resort islands and cruise ships that are designated as “tourist zones.” These areas are exempt from the alcohol ban and are allowed to sell and serve alcohol to tourists.

In addition to resort islands and cruise ships, there are also floating bars in the Maldives that serve alcohol. These bars are located in the middle of the ocean, away from local islands, and are a popular destination for tourists. You will need a private transfer to get to these bars from the local islands, so any drink you’d like to serve will become more expensive than you might think.

It is important to note that the consumption of alcohol is only permitted in designated areas on resort islands and cruise ships. Drinking alcohol in public places or on local islands is strictly prohibited and can result in fines or even imprisonment. If you wish to purchase alcohol to take home with you, duty-free shops are available at the airport. You can buy alcohol at these shops when leaving the country, but it is important to be aware of the customs regulations in your destination country regarding the import of alcohol.

Import Rules for Alcohol in the Maldives

If you plan to import alcohol into the Maldives, it’s important to be aware of the import rules and regulations. And no matter what helpful information you find online, including this blog post, always try to find the most recent information on the official sites. Here are some of the import rules for alcohol in the Maldives that you need to keep in mind:

  • You must be an approved importer to bring alcohol to the Maldives.
  • All alcohol found in your luggage will be confiscated.
  • If you bring alcohol that you bought in duty-free stores before landing in the Maldives, this will be confiscated as well.
  • Alcohol can only be imported by licensed importers and distributors in the Maldives. Importing alcohol without a license is illegal and can result in severe penalties.
  • There have been cases of people that managed to leave their alcohol at the customs office and took it back upon leaving the country. Contact the customs office to have more information about this.

It’s important to note that the import rules for alcohol in the Maldives are subject to change. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check with the Maldives Customs Service for the latest information before you plan to import alcohol. Check out the following pages for the latest information: import rules and export rules.

If you are caught importing prohibited items like alcohol into the Maldives, you could face severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. So even if it sounds like a good idea to bring your booze, just don’t, it’s not worth the risk.

Buying and Consuming Alcohol

If you’re starting to be worried about missing your cocktails on the beach, you’ll be happy to hear that alcohol is available in most resorts. You can buy alcoholic drinks at the resort bars, but the prices are generally higher than what you would pay in other countries. The resorts have a duty-free license, which allows them to import alcohol without paying taxes, but they pass on the cost to the customers. Also, since alcohol is under such prohibitive laws, it’s also highly taxed by the government, and this will make it expensive as well.

You can find a variety of alcoholic drinks at the resorts, including wine, beer, and cocktails. Some resorts may also offer special deals on drinks during happy hours, and there are even a few that have private wine cellars and fine spirits available for tourists.

If you are looking to get around the law and buy alcohol outside of the resorts, it is not recommended. It is illegal to sell alcohol to locals, and the penalties for doing so are severe. The government has strict regulations on the sale and consumption of alcohol, and it is important to respect their laws and customs.

A personal note: not sure how reliable this information is, as I cannot remember where I found it back then, but I knew that even in first aid kits that any boat needs to have, there’s no sanitary alcohol, but vinegar instead. Now, this might seem far-fetched, but there are other ways to clean wounds than using alcohol so this is not impossible.

Alcohol in Resorts

If you are planning to visit the Maldives, you should know that alcohol is widely available in resort islands. It is included in all-inclusive packages, and you can find a selection of alcoholic drinks at pool bars and restaurants. If you usually have more than 1-2 drinks a day, then all-inclusive is the right option for you, as the price of the alcohol will be included in the daily expenses.

If you don’t intend to drink more than 1-2 drinks a day, every day, then it might not be worth it for you to get the all-inclusive package just for this. In this situation, you can get the full board and half board meal plan and buy each drink as a separate item. The food is always the same in the main restaurants, and the all-inclusive package usually brings just the alcoholic drinks on top of the food. Check it out for each resort though as some packages include meals at other restaurants on the island, so the difference might be in more than just drinks.

If you are staying on a resort island, you can enjoy a variety of alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and spirits. Some resorts even have their wine cellars, where you can try huge selections of wine from all over the world. While usually you’ll drink at bars and restaurants around the island, it’s not unusual for people to get cocktails at the pool as well.

Alcohol on Local Islands in the Maldives

Alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited for Maldivian citizens on local islands, including the capital city of Male. This is one of the items I would say it’s a challenge when visiting the Maldives. If you are a tourist visiting a local island, you should be aware that it is illegal to bring alcohol with you. If you are caught with alcohol, it will be confiscated, and you may face legal consequences.

In public places and stores on local islands, you will not find any alcohol for sale. Inhabited islands have banned the sale and consumption of alcohol, and it is important to respect the local population’s cultural and religious values. It is also important to dress modestly and behave respectfully while visiting local islands. Check out my post about mistakes to avoid in the Maldives to know more about their customs and rules.

How to Enjoy Alcohol in the Maldives from Local Islands

Planning to go to one of the local islands in the Maldives, but still want to enjoy some drinks from time to time? While alcohol is not widely available on local islands due to the country’s Islamic culture, there are still ways to enjoy a drink or two during your stay, while being completely on the legal side of things and respecting the local culture.

Floating Bars

One option is to use the floating bars that are available in some areas. These bars are located on boats that are anchored just off the coast of local islands. They offer a range of alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and cocktails. You can enjoy your drink while taking in the stunning views of the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches that the Maldives are famous for.

The major downfall here is that this can cost you quite a bit, as you also need a boat ride to get here. Since these boat rides are created and cater only to tourists, the prices they offer won’t be the smallest in the world. You can find out more from my post about traveling between islands in the Maldives.

Day Trips to Resort Islands

Another option is to take a day trip to one of the resort islands that are located nearby. These islands are designed for tourists and offer a range of amenities, including bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. You can spend the day exploring the island, lounging on the beach, and enjoying a drink or two at one of the bars.

What most resort islands are offering is what we can call day passes: you pay a fixed cost and you enjoy a day at the resort, using all of their amenities like you would spend the night there, but without the big price tag of an actual night on the island. This way, you can eat and drink like you’d spend a lot, but go back to your local island in the evening and spend less on accommodation.

Cost and Selection of Alcohol

Alcohol prices in the Maldives can be quite high due to the country’s strict alcohol regulations and the fact that it is a predominantly Muslim country. However, you can still find a good selection of alcoholic beverages in the Maldives, especially in the resorts and tourist areas.

When it comes to beer, Heineken and Carlsberg are two of the most popular brands in the Maldives. In resorts, expect to pay around $7-8 for a bottle of beer, while a glass of wine can cost up to $10-15. If you don’t have an all-inclusive package, don’t forget to include the service tax when you estimate your expenses.

Cocktails are also available in most resorts and bars, with prices averaging around $15-18 per drink. However, if you’re on a budget, it’s best to stick to beer or wine, as cocktails can quickly add up.

It’s important to note that there is a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all alcohol in the Maldives, which can significantly increase the cost of your drinks. Some resorts may also charge a service charge on top of the GST, so be sure to check before ordering. Two very helpful pieces of information you’ll find out in my “Tipping culture in the Maldives” and “How to spend less in the Maldives” blog posts.

While alcohol prices in the Maldives may be higher than in other countries, you can still find a good selection of beverages to enjoy during your stay. Just be prepared to pay a premium for your drinks.

Alcohol at the Airport

Similar to other countries, the Maldives has a duty-free zone at the airport where you can buy alcohol. However, you need to keep in mind that alcohol is not allowed in the country, and if you are caught with it, it will be confiscated. So, if you are planning to buy alcohol at the airport, buy it when you’re leaving, not when you’re arriving.

And even if you’re going on a resort island after you land, the airport island is a local one. So when you leave the customs area, you are already on a local island, and you know by now you’re not allowed to bring any alcohol here. Also, no resort island will allow you to bring your booze here, as you usually cannot bring drinks when you go to a bar, you know?

Non-Alcoholic Options

If you are looking for non-alcoholic options in the Maldives, you will find plenty of choices. This is especially important if you are Muslim or abstinent for any reason, as you’d want to be sure you are abiding by the beliefs you choose. Keep in mind that on the resort island alcohol is widely available, so ask before ordering if you are unsure of what a mocktail contains.

One popular non-alcoholic drink in the Maldives is tea. You can find a variety of teas, including black tea, green tea, and herbal tea. Tea is often served with sugar and milk, but you can also enjoy it plain. Sai is another popular drink in the Maldives. This refreshing drink is made with lime, sugar, and water. And yes, tap water is safe to drink in the Maldives, especially if it’s boiled as well as it is when preparing tea.

If you are looking for something more refreshing, you can try lime juice. This drink is made with fresh lime juice, sugar, and water. It is a great option if you are looking for something light and refreshing.

Non-alcoholic beer is also available in the Maldives. This is a great option if you want to enjoy the taste of beer without alcohol. You can find a variety of non-alcoholic beers, including local and international brands.

In addition to these options, you can also find a variety of fruit juices in the Maldives. These juices are made with fresh fruit and are a great option if you are looking for something sweet and refreshing. Some popular fruit juices include mango, pineapple, and passionfruit.

Overall, there are many non-alcoholic options available in the Maldives. Whether you prefer tea, sai, lime juice, non-alcoholic beer, or fruit juices, you can find something to suit your taste.

Other Restricted Items

In addition to alcohol, there are other restricted items that you should be aware of when visiting the Maldives. These items include pork and pork products, pornographic materials, and items that can be offensive to the Islamic beliefs of the population. Check out the detailed list on the official website for more information.

Pork and pork products are strictly prohibited in the Maldives due to the country’s predominantly Muslim population. This means that you will not find any pork dishes on the menu of most restaurants or pork products in supermarkets. If you are a pork lover, you may need to adjust your diet while in the Maldives.

On some resorts there is the possibility of enjoying pork dishes, as they’re not cooked by local people, but by immigrant chefs. Not all of them will offer this option though so if this is a majorly important aspect to you, ask before booking.

Cigarettes, cigars, and tobacco products are legal in the Maldives, but smoking is prohibited in public places. This includes restaurants, bars, and beaches. If you are a smoker, be sure to check with your hotel to see if they have designated smoking areas.

It is also worth noting that the Maldives has strict regulations on the import and export of tobacco products. If you plan to bring cigarettes or cigars with you, make sure you are within the limits set by the Maldives Customs Service.

The import of religious items related to other religions than Muslim is prohibited, as well as any pornographic materials, including sex toys and similar items. So if you’ve bought a Buddha statue from Sri Lanka on the way here, plan to leave it at the customs office and get it back before leaving the country.

Alcohol and Activities

When it comes to activities, you can participate in various water sports, such as snorkeling, diving, and surfing. Most resorts offer these activities, and you can enjoy them while sipping a cocktail or a beer. However, keep in mind that some activities, such as scuba diving, have restrictions on alcohol consumption due to safety reasons.

Of course, you can enjoy a cocktail at the pool or a glass of wine at various activities, but this will rarely apply on boats, especially for safety reasons. One piece of advice is to limit alcohol consumption if you spend a lot of time on the beach, under the strong sun, as this will increase the risk of sunstroke and dehydration, and drink water instead. Of course, it’s your body and you take the best care of it, I just wanted to let you know the conditions you’ll be under.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is alcohol banned in the Maldives?

No, alcohol is not banned in the Maldives. However, it is only allowed to be consumed on resort islands and liveaboard boats that are licensed to serve alcohol.

Can I bring alcohol to the Maldives?

No, it is illegal to bring alcohol into the Maldives. All alcohol must be purchased from a licensed resort or liveaboard boat.

Can you drink alcohol in the Maldives?

Yes, you can drink alcohol on licensed resort islands and liveaboard boats. From local islands, there are two ways of getting to enjoy alcohol: going to a floating bar or doing a day trip on a resort island.

Where can you drink alcohol in the Maldives?

You can only drink alcohol on licensed resort islands and liveaboard boats. You cannot, however, have alcohol on local islands.

Can I purchase alcohol from the Maldives airport duty-free and carry it to the private villa?

No, it is illegal to bring alcohol into the Maldives. All alcohol must be purchased from a licensed importer and seller.

Is alcohol expensive in the Maldives?

Yes, alcohol is generally expensive in the Maldives due to the high taxes and import duties. As with any limited merchandise, the taxes will add up throughout your trip.

Can you sneak alcohol into the Maldives?

No, it is illegal to bring alcohol into the Maldives. If you try to do so, the alcohol will be confiscated and you can be fined or even face jail time.

Will they serve alcohol to a Muslim in the Maldives?

This is a bit of a stretch, as servers cannot always know your religion when they’re serving you. As an abstinent, it is your job to let them know you cannot drink any alcohol, so do so at the very beginning of your trip.

What are the rules for tourists bringing alcohol to the Maldives?

Tourists are not allowed to bring alcohol into the Maldives. All alcohol must be purchased from a licensed importer like a resort.

What are the laws regarding alcohol consumption in the Maldives?

Alcohol can only be consumed on licensed resort islands and liveaboard boats. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places or outside of licensed areas.

What is the alcohol policy in Hulhumale?

Hulhumale is a residential island and alcohol is not allowed to be consumed in public places. Even if you’re a tourist, you won’t find bars and restaurants serving alcohol on this island.

What are the best resort islands in the Maldives for alcohol consumption?

Many resort islands in the Maldives are licensed to serve alcohol. It is recommended to research and choose a resort based on personal preferences and needs.

What is the limit for alcohol allowed in the Maldives?

There is no limit for alcohol allowed in the Maldives. However, it is recommended to drink responsibly and follow the rules and regulations of the licensed establishments.

Are there liquor stores in the Maldives?

No, there are no liquor stores in the Maldives. All alcohol must be purchased from a licensed resort or liveaboard boat.

What drinks are available in the Maldives?

A variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available in the Maldives, including beer, wine, cocktails, and fresh juices.

Is alcohol allowed in the Maldives?

Yes, alcohol is allowed in the Maldives but only on licensed resort islands and liveaboard boats. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places or outside of licensed areas.

Alcohol in the Maldives – The takeaway

In conclusion, the Maldives presents a unique case when it comes to alcohol consumption. While the country adheres to strict Islamic customs and regulations that prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol by its Muslim citizens, it has adopted a more relaxed approach to cater to its growing tourism industry.

You can find alcohol in the Maldives at licensed resorts and hotels, but you must respect the local customs and refrain from consuming or carrying alcohol outside of these designated areas. There are a few ways to enjoy a drink even if visiting the local islands, but you’ll have to check these options before you decide on your island.

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