If you’re planning a trip to the Maldives, you may be wondering about the safety of this beautiful island nation. While the Maldives is generally considered a safe destination, there are some safety concerns to be aware of. While the basic answer to the question “Are the Maldives safe?” is “mostly yes”, you still have to know a thing or two before packing your bags.
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When we went to three of the Maldivian islands, we felt safe everywhere. We were not very experienced travelers at that time, as it was only our second long trip after our honeymoon in Indonesia, but we still managed just fine to keep ourselves safe.
There are indeed a few risks if traveling here, but most of them can be avoided with a bit of planning and knowledge, and by practicing caution like you would in any other place. The few risks of being injured while practicing water sports or by exposing yourself to the strong tropical sun can be easily mitigated by some good planning from your side, and I see that you’re doing just this at the time.
Despite these concerns, the Maldives remains a popular destination for travelers seeking a tropical paradise. By taking some simple precautions, such as keeping your belongings safe and being aware of your surroundings, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to this stunning island nation.
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Safety Overview in the Maldives
When it comes to safety in the Maldives, there are a few things to keep in mind. While the Maldives is generally a safe destination, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions. Most importantly, always be aware of your surroundings, no matter where you travel to, and you’ll most probably be just fine anywhere you go.
Crime rates in the Maldives are relatively low, but petty theft and pickpocketing can occur in tourist areas. It’s important to keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and valuables with you, and follow all the other tips I have provided in this post about keeping your valuables safe while traveling.
The US Department of State has issued a travel advisory for the Maldives due to the risk of terrorism. Terrorist groups may target tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, and local government facilities. While the likelihood of an attack is low, it’s important to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. If traveling to local islands, especially in the Capital city of Male, try to stay away from big groups of people, protests, or similar events, just to be on the safe side.
The Maldives is pretty safe from this point of view, even though they were victims of a pretty bad tsunami in 2004. During the monsoon season that spans from May to October (you read more about the seasons in the Maldives in my detailed post), the water currents can become dangerous, and in some cases, boats won’t be able to take you to the next island or back to the airport.
In rare cases, even water planes don’t take off, so a small risk of having your vacation affected by the weather still stands. You shouldn’t be worried about these monsoons while on the islands though, as they just look like heavy rain, and you don’t have to worry about the string winds harming you in any way. Be sure to check weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
The Maldives has a relatively high standard of healthcare, but medical facilities outside of the capital city of Malé may be limited. It’s recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance that includes medical coverage. Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and chikungunya are present in the Maldives, so be sure to take necessary precautions such as using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants, and the other tips I covered in my guide about mosquitoes in the Maldives.
Overall, while the Maldives is generally a safe destination, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Risks when traveling to the Maldives
When traveling to the Maldives, there are several risks that you should be aware of. While the Maldives is generally a safe place to visit, it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety and well-being.
One of the biggest risks when traveling to the Maldives is associated with water sports. While activities like snorkeling and diving are popular, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with these activities. Make sure to only participate in water sports with a reputable and licensed operator, and always wear appropriate safety gear.
Another risk to be aware of in the Maldives is wildlife. While the Maldives is home to a wide range of marine life, including sharks and other predators, attacks on humans are rare, and most often it’s the result of humans not behaving respectfully with the animals. However, it is important to exercise caution and follow the guidance of local authorities and tour operators.
Climate-related risks are also a small concern in the Maldives. The country is vulnerable to natural disasters such as tsunamis. This risk is quite low though so don’t avoid the tropical archipelago due to it. More importantly, take care of yourself in the strong sun as this has a higher chance of affecting you than a tsunami.
Food and water safety is also a concern when traveling to the Maldives. Make sure to only drink bottled water and avoid consuming food from street vendors or that was not cooked very well. It is also important to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and washing fresh fruit and vegetables before eating.
Finally, crime is a risk in the Maldives, particularly in Male, the capital city. Petty theft and pickpocketing are common, so make sure to keep your valuables secure and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Being safe while practicing water sports
The Maldives is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. From snorkeling and diving to parasailing and jet skiing, the options for water sports are endless for those thrill-seekers venturing to the Maldives. However, it is essential to keep in mind the safety measures while indulging in these activities.
First and foremost, it is recommended to never dive or snorkel alone, no matter how experienced you are, because a piece of faulty equipment can put you in danger without you even realizing it. It is always better to have a partner or a guide with you while diving or snorkeling.
Diving in particular should always be done with a certified instructor to be sure you’re covered at all times. Also, don’t forget to leave at least a day between your last dive and your flight, to be sure you won’t suffer from ear damage after. Of course, if you have any sinus infection, don’t dive at all, no matter how awful you feel about it.
When it comes to jet skiing, always wear a life jacket and follow the instructions provided by the staff. Make sure you are aware of the designated areas for jet skiing and avoid going beyond those boundaries. It is also essential to check the weather conditions before heading out for any water sports activity.
If you are windsurfing or kitesurfing, make sure you are familiar with the wind conditions and have the necessary skills to handle the equipment. It is also recommended to wear a helmet and a life jacket while indulging in these activities.
Lastly, it is essential to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen while indulging in any water sports activity. The sun can be harsh, and it is vital to protect yourself from sunburn and dehydration. Add different types of reef-safe sunscreen to your Maldives packing list as these can be very expensive on the island.
Wildlife related risks
The Maldives is home to a variety of wildlife, some of which can pose a risk to humans. It is essential to know how to behave around these animals to avoid any potential danger.
Sharks are commonly found in the waters surrounding the Maldives. While shark attacks are rare, it is important to be cautious when entering the water. Do not enter the water if sharks on your island practice shark feeding times (a practice that’s not very good anyway for ethical reasons, so maybe avoid these types of islands altogether?), and avoid wearing shiny jewelry or brightly colored clothing that may attract them. Never enter the water with open wounds that will release a large amount of blood in the nearby waters, as they will feel its smell from a very long distance.
There are also dangerous species of fish, such as lionfish and stonefish, which can be found in the Maldives. These fish are venomous and can cause serious injury or even death if touched. It is important to get to know these species and stay away from them.
Our personal experience with a triggerfish was not nice either, even though we tried to be as careful as possible with the environment. We allowed for plenty of space for this particular fish as it was guarding its eggs, but apparently, it was not enough so it attacked us. Luckily my husband managed to swim fast enough to leave it behind, but he was lucky enough to have fins that helped him. With only human force, I don’t think you can escape a pissed-off triggerfish, to be honest.
The most important tip? Never ever touch any marine life or coral in the Maldives. No matter how cute they look, don’t touch them, and allow plenty of space for any animal to not feel trapped. Their natural reaction is to avoid you, but if they feel trapped, they will fight back. This is just one of the mistakes to avoid in the Maldives, and I suggest you read all of them before you go.
Weather related risks
The Maldives is a tropical country with a warm and humid climate throughout the year. The temperature hovers around 30°C (86°F) and the humidity is high, which can make it feel hotter. The tropical climate exposes you to the risk of sunburns, heatstroke, and dehydration. Therefore, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and wearing reef-safe sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
While alcohol in the Maldives is widely available on resort islands, it is not advised to consume big amounts during the day. Alcohol dehydrates you so you increase the risk of sunstrokes, and practicing any type of water sports while inebriated is very dangerous.
The Maldives experiences two monsoon seasons – the southwest monsoon from May to October and the northeast monsoon from November to April. During the southwest monsoon, the weather can be unpredictable, with strong winds, heavy rains, and rough seas. This can result in flight cancellations and delays, as well as difficulties in traveling between islands. During the northeast monsoon, the weather is generally dry and sunny, with calm seas, making it an ideal time to visit the Maldives.
Mosquitoes in the Maldives
When planning a trip to the Maldives, it is important to be aware of the mosquito situation. The good news is that not all islands have a mosquito problem, but some do. Mosquitoes in the Maldives can be a nuisance, but they are not generally dangerous. However, there have been occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika virus. Therefore, it is important to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Most resorts provide mosquito nets if their islands have a lot of mosquitoes, but it is always a good idea to bring your personal mosquito repellent just in case. You can also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants during the evening to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
If you are concerned about mosquitoes, it is best to avoid visiting the Maldives during the rainy season, which is from May to November. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, which is more common during the rainy season. However, if you must visit during this time, be sure to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Read my very detailed post about mosquitoes in the Maldives to find out more about this.
Food and Water Safety
When traveling to the Maldives, it is important to be aware of food and water safety to avoid any potential health risks. While the tap water in the Maldives is generally safe for locals to drink, it is recommended that tourists drink only bottled water to avoid any potential health risks. This was confirmed even by locals we have stayed at, as they said they are used to the desalinized water, but tourists often feel sick because of it.
When it comes to food safety, it is important to eat in clean places to avoid any potential food poisoning. The Maldives is known for its fresh seafood, but it is important to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly before consumption to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses.
It is also recommended that you avoid consuming food from street vendors, as their hygiene standards may not be up to what you’re used to. Instead, opt for restaurants and cafes that are popular with both locals and tourists, as they are more likely to have higher hygiene standards.
In addition to being cautious about what you eat and drink, it is also important to practice good hygiene habits. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer to kill any potential germs. Wash fruit and vegetables before eating them or peel the ones that cannot be washed and avoid ice in your drinks as it’s often not made from purified water.
Still, while you will be offered bottled water everywhere you go, try to use a reusable bottle like a Chilly’s, as the plastic footprint of this water consumption is very bad for the environment. This particular country is not doing very well with garbage disposal and recycling so keeping the plastic production to a minimum is of huge help for them.
Natural Disasters Potential
The Maldives is a low-lying island nation that is vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly those related to climate change. The country is at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as storms and cyclones. According to UNICEF, natural hazards have increased the incidence of water-borne diseases, including Dengue Fever and diarrhea.
The Maldives has also been affected by a tsunami in 2004, which caused significant damage to the country’s infrastructure and claimed many lives. However, the risk of a tsunami in the Maldives is currently considered to be medium, as the country is not in an earthquake-prone area.
The Maldives government has taken measures to prepare for and mitigate the impact of natural disasters. The Disaster Management Reference Handbook for the Maldives outlines the country’s disaster management framework, including early warning systems, evacuation plans, and emergency response protocols.
Despite these efforts, the Maldives remains vulnerable to natural disasters, and the potential impact of climate change on the country’s environment and economy is a significant concern. Due to climate change, the water levels are continuously increasing, and if we don’t do anything to change this, the country might disappear in as little as 50 years.
The Maldives has had a tumultuous political history, with frequent changes in leadership and a history of political unrest. However, in recent years, the country has made significant strides towards political stability.
According to the World Bank’s Political Stability Index, the Maldives scored 0.5 in 2021, indicating a moderate level of political stability. This is a significant improvement from the country’s score of -0.7 in 2018, so things are improving.
Despite these positive developments, there are still concerns about political stability in the Maldives. The country’s political landscape is dominated by a few powerful individuals, which could lead to instability in the event of a power struggle. Additionally, there are concerns about the influence of Islamic extremism in the country, which could pose a threat to political stability.
Crime Rate and Personal Safety
The Maldives is generally a safe destination for tourists. Violent crime is rare, and the country’s tourism industry is well-regulated. However, like any other destination, there are still some safety concerns that visitors should be aware of.
One of the most common crimes in the Maldives is theft. Pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur in crowded areas, so it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive items. It’s also advisable to use the hotel safe to store your valuables.
Another concern is terrorism. The US Department of State warns that terrorist groups may conduct attacks in the Maldives, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, and local government facilities. Visitors should remain vigilant and avoid crowded areas, especially during times of political unrest.
In addition, visitors should be aware of the country’s cultural norms and customs. The Maldives is an Islamic country, and visitors should dress modestly and respect local customs. Alcohol is also prohibited outside of resorts and tourist areas. Check out the dos and don’ts in the Maldives before you leave so you know what to expect.
Cultural and Social Etiquette
When visiting the Maldives, it is important to be aware of the cultural and social etiquette of the country. The Maldives is a Muslim country, and visitors should respect Islamic customs and traditions. Here are some tips to help you navigate the cultural and social norms of the Maldives:
- Dress modestly: When in public areas, it is important to dress modestly. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts or shorts. Men should also avoid wearing shorts in public areas.
- Remove shoes: When entering a mosque or a local’s home, it is customary to remove your shoes.
- Respect Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Visitors should be respectful of this tradition and avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public areas during daylight hours.
- Avoid public displays of affection: Public displays of affection are not common in the Maldives and are considered inappropriate.
By following these cultural and social norms, you can show respect for the local culture and have a more enjoyable and safe trip to the Maldives.
Health and medical services
The Maldivian healthcare system is primarily public-funded, offering universal healthcare coverage to all citizens and expatriate workers. The government has made significant investments in infrastructure development, facilities, and equipment in recent years.
Primary healthcare centers are spread across different islands within the Maldives archipelago. These centers provide general medical consultations, vaccinations, maternal care services, family planning advice, basic emergency care facilities along health education programs.
Due to the geography of this place though, access to medical care can be significantly delayed, especially if you’re going to an atoll that’s further away from the capital city of Male. Each atoll has a bigger medical facility on the main island and most small islands, local or resorts, have some sort of medical care available, don’t count on this.
To be on the safe side, it would be better if you didn’t travel to these remote islands if you’re chronically ill and often require medical attention or if you’re pregnant (especially high-risk pregnancies). In any case, always have travel insurance to cover medical expenses and emergency evacuation if needed. I use SafetyWing as my main travel insurance and have written a detailed review for them, check it out if you’d like to know more.
Emergency contacts and services
In case of any emergencies during your stay in the Maldives, keep these numbers handy:
a) Police: Dial 119
b) Fire & Rescue Service: Dial 118
c) Ambulance & Medical Emergencies: Dial 102
The Maldivian police force has a dedicated branch called “Tourist Police” specifically trained to assist and support tourists. They are your go-to resource for any non-emergency concerns, including lost documents or general assistance.
- Phone number: +960 717-0400
Of course, as in any other country, always have the contact information of your embassy saved in your phone and/or in an easily accessible place. Share your itinerary with someone you trust whenever you travel, so they can help the authorities in case of emergency.
Do you need travel insurance for the Maldives?
As with all the other destinations, travel insurance is a must for any trip. I used to not have travel insurance and have come to realize just recently how very bad that habit was. Now I get it every time, no matter where I go, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to listen to me (and a few people who don’t but have fallen victim to my rambling).
How to stay safe in the Maldives – travel safety tips
While I have already provided a few ideas on how to keep yourself safe while in the Maldives, let’s gather a few tips here, just to have them in one place.
- Don’t touch the marine life
- Keep yourself hydrated and safe from the sun
- Respect the safety measures when doing water sports
- Don’t drink tap water and avoid ice in drinks
- Have travel insurance
- Respect the local culture
- Stay away from public gatherings
- Protect yourself from mosquitos
- Keep your valuables safe
FAQ about safety in the Maldives
What safety measures are in place for tourists in the Maldives?
On resort islands, there’s virtually no crime, as these islands cater to tourists and the access is very well controlled. even if something were to happen here, it would be easy to find the person so petty crime is easily discouraged by this.
What is the crime rate like in the Maldives?
There has been a slight increase in the crime rate in the Maldives during the last few years, but these are mostly small crimes like pickpocketing or petty theft. Violent crime rarely happens in the Maldives and it most usually happens in the crowded city of Male.
What are the rules and regulations for tourists visiting the Maldives?
If you’re following the cultural and etiquette rules of the country, no special care should be taken as a woman in the Maldives. Use the same protective rules you use at home (avoid being alone outside after dark or going in cars with people you don’t know) and dress modestly and everything should be alright.
What are some of the potential drawbacks to visiting the Maldives?
None when it comes to safety, but some people might find it boring to just lay on a beach for days. If you’re one of the people who are always on the move, maybe this is not the best destination for you.
Is Maldives safe to visit by couples?
Absolutely! It’s a very highly recommended destination for honeymooners. Plenty of resorts cater to heterosexual couples on their honeymoon and not only, so rest assured that you’re safe here as a couple.
Are the Maldives safe from pirates?
Yes! Even if you stay on a boat in the Maldives, you are usually never in actual open waters so pirates don’t have that much of a chance of approaching your boat.
Are American tourists safe in the Maldives?
Yes! Your nationality is highly unlikely to affect your safety in the Maldives, as they get tourists from all around the world anyway. This country’s major income stream is tourism so they work hard to keep it safe for everyone.
Are the Maldives safe from terrorism?
Most probably yes. While there was some political unrest in the last years that has made the news, nothing major happened lately that would affect tourists. Just practice common sense and you’ll be safe from any terrorist attacks in the Maldives.
Are the Maldives safe from tsunamis?
Moderately yes. While the island nation is not located in an area with a high risk of underwater earthquakes (the root cause of tsunamis), the low elevation offers almost no protection in case this happens, so the risk can be considered as low to medium.
Safety Tips for Traveling to the Maldives – The takeaway
In conclusion, the Maldives is undeniably a safe and captivating destination for travelers seeking a slice of paradise. While safety concerns may arise due to its geographical location and vulnerability to climate change, the government and tourism industry have implemented various measures to ensure the well-being of visitors.
With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, vibrant marine life, and luxurious resorts, this tropical haven offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit. So pack your bags with confidence and embark on an adventure in the Maldives – a truly enchanting destination that promises relaxation, adventure, and endless natural beauty.