How to plan a trip to the Maldives – Maldives Travel Planning

The Maldives, with its stunning coral reefs, exotic wildlife, and luxurious resorts, is a destination everyone would like to see at least once in their lifetime. However, planning an adventure to this exotic destination may seem daunting, as this was, historically, a task for experienced travel agents. But don’t worry, this blog post is exactly the step-by-step guide you need to learn how to plan a trip to the Maldives.

Planning our Maldivian trip was actually one of the easiest things I have ever done. As we didn’t plan that many activities when we went, there was not that much to choose from after the crucial items: flights and accommodation. And while we weren’t actually on our honeymoon, we considered it our second one because, why not?

Yes, it’s true guys, there might be affiliate links in this awesome, free post. This means that if you decide to buy something that you find here, and you use one of my links to do so, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I plan to use this money on ice cream, chocolate, and to travel more so I can write these useful guides for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wondering what to pack for the Maldives? Well, you need to add a camera so you can photograph this gorgeous sunset

Step 1: Estimate and decide on a budget

Let’s dive deeper into selecting the perfect resort in the Maldives! The accommodation truly shapes your Maldivian holiday experience. Hence, it’s critical to align your choice with your preferences, desires, and, of course, your budget. 

Take some time to consider what’s most important to you. For some, it’s the cost, for others, it’s the accessibility or the quality of the nearby coral reefs. Don’t rush this, your choice of resort can make or break the vacation of your dreams. 

Do you love dining on a dime or would you rather enjoy a stress-free, all-inclusive package? If you’re more oriented to activities, adventures, and experiences, then you can have a more local experience and spend less. If you’d rather float in complete luxury for a week or so, then a resort with all-inclusive is what you need.

When doing these calculations, don’t forget to include everything, from flights to souvenirs and tips. Here’s a short list of what you should include on your list of travel needs:

  • Flights
  • Accommodation(s)
  • Transfer to island(s)
  • Meals
  • Activities
  • Gear
  • Shopping
  • Miscellaneous – eSIM, travel insurance, souvenirs, tips, unexpected expenses, etc.

In the end, choosing your budget will dictate a lot about how this trip will go for you. While I’m not here to tell you to go for the most expensive resort (while they do look dreamy) or for the absolute cheapest hostel (paying so much for the flights not to enjoy the stay would be a missed opportunity), I will tell you to focus on the things that matter most to you.

Are you overwhelmed by all the options? Discover your perfect island match below!

With this nifty tool, you’ll get from a list of 100+ resorts that look great and no idea where to start to a short list of islands that fit your wishes and desires. And yes, it also has the links for Booking and Agoda so you can book your stay straight away.

Check it out below!

Step 2: Decide on the best time to go

The Maldives is a tropical paradise that enjoys warm temperatures all year round. However, just like any other destination, it has its own off-peak and peak seasons, guided by factors like weather and tourist influx. Your experience could be a hit or miss depending on when you choose to go, so it’s essential to plan carefully. 

Let’s talk further about peak seasons. Between December and April, the Maldives experiences its highest influx of tourists. This period, known as the ‘high season,’ is characterized by great weather and better visibility for various water activities. Whether you wish to snorkel, dive, or simply relax on the beaches, this would be the ideal time. However, keep in mind that with popularity comes increased prices, as the demand for lodging, tours, and other travel services peaks. 

It’s not just about swimming and sunbathing, though. The Maldives offers a diverse range of unique, personalized experiences. Imagine fishing at sunset on a traditional Maldivian wooden boat, island hopping to explore the biodiversity of the nearby islands, or indulging in intimate escapes for couples on deserted beaches – there’s something for every type of traveler. 

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and snag better deals, planning your trip outside the high season could be your best bet. While you might have to contend with slightly more unpredictable weather, the Maldives is beautiful year-round, and the chance of a surprise shower or two shouldn’t deter you from considering this option. 

Ultimately, the best time to visit the Maldives depends on a balance of factors: your budget, your tolerance for crowds, and your personal preferences for weather and activities. As you weigh these considerations, you’ll be well on the path to planning a trip that suits you perfectly.

Step 3: Research entry criteria

Setting foot in a dreamland like Maldives does require some homework. As always, the first step is understanding the entry criteria. Did you know, for instance, that the Maldives government provides a 30-day tourist visa on arrival? That’s right, but keep in mind that it’s subject to you having a valid passport, enough funds to cover your stay, and a confirmed booking at a hotel or resort. You can find out more info in my blog post about visa requirements for the Maldives and you can see what are the requirements and even book someone to help you from the widget below.

It’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations, especially around health and safety measures. While the Maldives is generally a safe country to visit, so much so that people even consider it boring at times, especially if you’re only going on a resort island, it’s better to know the laws. Don’t forget to check the travel advisories provided by your country’s international affairs ministry. 

Step 4: Book your flights

Ready to tick the Maldives off your bucket list? Let’s get those flights sorted. Booking your flights might seem like a daunting task, but with tools like Skyscanner, it’s a breeze. They allow you to compare prices from different airways and catch the best deals. And I can’t help myself not to share one of my super useful budget tips: always, always, book from the airline directly, even if you search with Skyscanner.

Keep in mind, advance booking has its perks. With a destination as popular as the Maldives, flights can quickly fill up, especially during peak season. Depending on where you’re coming from, check out Middle Eastern companies like Emirates or Qatar Airways as they usually have great prices or at least good value-for-money offers. Another great option is Singapore Airlines, and you get to spend a layover in the absolute best airport in the world (some people choose this route specifically to see the airport, if you can believe that!).

*** Ad break*** Did you know that I have created a few absolutely amazing products to help you plan your trip(s) with ease? In fact, I have an actual shop! Check out a few of them below!

Step 5: Decide what type of trip you want

The kind of trip you embark on to the Maldives can dramatically transform your experience. Are you drawn to the lush landscapes and want a fulfilling eco-tourism adventure? Maybe you’ve saved up for an ultra-luxe vacation? Or perhaps you’re on a tight budget but still want a taste of Maldivian paradise? Your trip type will influence decisions down the line, from accommodation to activities. 

If this is a long-awaited honeymoon, chances are you want romance, seclusion, and luxury all rolled into one. That’s great, as the Maldives is known as the perfect travel destination for honeymooners. In fact, I can recommend you choose an adults-only resort or indulge in a floating breakfast experience so you’ll relax the most.

Perhaps you’re planning a family vacation; in that case, your focus might be on resorts with family-friendly facilities and activities, like a kids club and at least an indoor playground. There are quite a few family friends resorts as well, you’ll just have to find what’s best for you.

Maybe you’re on a budget or even a backpacker kind of person. Then choose one or more of the local islands and enjoy a unique angle of this country. Especially if you’re going on one of the bigger islands, the transportation there could cost you as little as $3, as opposed to a few hundred to go to any resort island. This is just one of the ways to save money while planning your Maldives trip, and I’m sure you’ll find a great balance for you.

Step 6: Decide how long you’re going to stay

While this might not be your decision as the flights often “decide” for you, you should still have a rough idea of how many days you want to spend here. You itinerary might look very different if you decide to stay for 3-4 days, as opposed to two full weeks.

If your trip is 3-4 days, it’s best to stick to one resort and fully experience what it offers. As transfer costs in terms of money and time are quite high, island hopping is not really an option in such a short time, unless you go on a tour where everything is already taken care of. Check out the options below, or similar ones available online.

If you’re staying more than 10 days, consider splitting it between two resorts, spending about 4-5 nights in each, or between a local island and a resort. This way, you can savor a variety of experiences and environments. This is what we did when we were there and we’re absolutely delighted by our choice, and would probably do the same if we go again (when we go again. Who am I kidding, we’re definitely going back!). I even prepared a 10-day Maldives itinerary for you to use as is, or to tweak it as you see fit.

Step 6: Prepare your itinerary

Let’s get into the thick of it – it’s time to make your Maldives tour itinerary. This plan becomes your travel blueprint, helping you plot your dream vacation to perfection. Since Maldives is not just beach lounging and dune dinners (although doing a lot of that is perfectly fine!), it’s important to take into account the diverse experiences and activities you can partake in, depending on what speaks to your traveler’s soul. 

Are you an eco-tourist looking to leave as little footprint as possible? If so, include visits to local islands and eco-friendly resorts. Are you the luxury traveler who wants to be pampered in ultra-luxe resorts every step of the way? Make sure to add spa excursions, private yacht tours, and other luxury experiences to your itinerary. 

If budget travel is your preference, don’t feel left out. The Maldives offers beautiful experiences regardless of budget, focusing on simple yet memorable moments like snorkeling in its vibrant coral reefs or indulging in local cuisine. You can even take cooking classes to learn a new skill and get to know the culture of this amazing place.

Don’t forget to add some buffer time to your schedule though. The Maldives operates on its leisurely ‘island time’ where the rush hour is unheard of. While this is one cool thing to know before you go there, you also have to plan for it, especially when thinking about your flight back and planning to be there in time. While I do recommend you embrace the slow pace and allow yourself to experience pure relaxation, you shouldn’t miss your flight because you were living on “beach time”, you know?

Be sure to share your itinerary with friends or family back home. It’s always a good idea to let people know your plans, especially when you’re traveling overseas. With your itinerary sorted out, you’re halfway through planning your Maldives trip. Pat yourself on the back!

Step 7: Choose your accommodation(s)

Now, we’re at an exciting part of your journey – selecting where you’re going to stay. As you’ve no doubt realized, the Maldives offer a plethora of accommodation options, ranging from the simple guesthouses on local islands, often the choice for budget travelers, to the ultra-glamorous overwater villas found on private islands. 

There are key considerations when deciding on a resort. The facilities it offers, the kind of atmosphere you prefer (whether bustling or sleepy), and its proximity to the international airport all play a major role. The size of the island and the quality of the ocean reef there might also influence your decision. 

Consider aspects like who you’re traveling with and what type of accommodation you prefer. Some resorts may be more family-friendly, while others may cater to couples, especially those on their honeymoon. The Maldives is highly popular as a honeymoon destination, so be sure to check out packages that may offer romantic extras! 

Also, think about what kind of traveler you are. The Maldives cater to eco-tourists who want to reduce their carbon footprint, ultra-luxe travelers who crave for unparalleled opulence, as well as budget travelers who desire the Maldivian experience without breaking the bank. 

And because there are quite a few options available, thus leading to decision fatigue and a high risk of FOMO, I have created a few dedicated blog posts to help you decide. I’m actually in the process of building a tool to help you decide, but bear with me please, it’s taking a while!

Step 8: Book your accommodation(s)

Booking your accommodations early in your planning process is a vital step. After careful consideration of everything mentioned until now, you’ll finally need to make a decision and book it already.

Use trusted booking resources like Booking.com or Agoda for general accommodations and Hostelworld for hostels. Numerous hotels offer great rates inclusive of food, drinks, and premium amenities. But please, for your bank account’s good, always cross-check prices on different platforms before making your final decision. 

If you’re looking to save time and cost on transfers, consider booking resorts that are closer to Male, but keep in mind that the closer you are to the airport, the less pristine the environment will be. If you desire unique experiences, different atolls may be worth the extra time and expense.

Don’t forget the allure of inclusive packages, as they can help you save significantly on food, drink, and import fees. But if you’re not the type that only thinks about food and drinks, you might find an all-inclusive package a bit too much. For example, we went half board and felt it was quite enough for our needs, so keep this in mind when booking your meal plan as well.

Step 9: Book your tour(s)

Take a deep breath because, oh boy, you’re in for a treat! The Maldives is much more than pristine beaches, transparent oceans, and luxurious resorts – it’s also a hub for a wide variety of exciting tours and excursions. So, let’s get to planning these amazing experiences, shall we? 

Popular tours often center around the country’s ample natural beauty and fascinating culture. Imagine visiting the remote local islands to get a sense of the vibrant Maldivian culture or a mesmerizing sunset cruise where you get the chance to spot playful dolphins or swim with whale sharks. Equally captivating is the spa experience, offering you rejuvenating treatments amidst the serene azure waters. 

Booking these tours couldn’t be easier. Use trusted platforms such as Get Your Guide or Viator for a hassle-free booking experience. If you’re staying on a resort island though, you’ll only be able to book tours offered by them. If you know for sure you’ll want one experience or another, ask them upon booking if they do have it and the expected price, so you can plan ahead.

One pro tip: Just remember to book these tours in advance to secure your spot. The Maldives is a popular destination during peak times, and tours can fill up. You don’t want to miss out on this, promise!

Step 10: Prepare and order your internet / eSIM

Connectivity matters, even when you’re going to be in paradise. This is the part where you prepare for your Maldivian e-connection. While most resorts will have WiFi available everywhere, you might still want another way to connect to the internet nonetheless.

First, see if your phone is eSIM compatible. If it is, research the various internet and eSIM providers that are readily available in the Maldives. Check their rates, reliability, and coverage, and decide on one that fits with your needs and budget. Once you are certain, proceed to order the eSIM online and follow the steps provided by the provider to activate it when you arrive.

If you want a starting point for your search, I can recommend AirAlo. While we haven’t used it in The Maldives as this was not a thing back then (unfortunately), we have used it in other places since then (Dubai, USA, and The Dominican Republic) and it always worked well for us. You can see if their offer suits you in the widget below.

Step 11: Buy travel insurance

It’s crucial, no, it’s imperative to buy travel insurance for your trip to the Maldives. Now, travel insurance may sound like an unnecessary expense but believe me when I say, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Unforeseen circumstances can arise when you’re in another country and you do not want to be left stranded without a backup plan. 

Travel insurance typically covers lost or stolen belongings, medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and delays, plus so much more. With travel insurance, you purchase peace of mind, and there’s nothing in this world worth more than you mental health and peace of mind.

One reliable option for travel insurance is SafetyWing. Not only do they offer comprehensive coverage, but their plans are also flexible and accessible even after your trip has started, and kids under 12 are even insured for free if traveling with their parents. Always remember to read and understand the terms and conditions of the insurance plan before purchasing it. Make sure it matches your needs and expectations. You can ask for a quote in the widget below.

Finally, once you have purchased your insurance, make sure to keep a copy of your insurance details handy, either digitally or physically, throughout your trip. This is an often-overlooked step that can make a big difference in how smoothly things run if anything unforeseen were to happen.

Step 12: Manage your finances

One of the most crucial steps in planning your trip to the Maldives is figuring out how to manage your finances. This step is not just about the initial budgeting; it’s about carefully tracking your expenses and ensuring your money will safely last throughout the trip. It’s easy to get carried away with the luxurious offerings of this paradise, but a good rule of thumb is to always live within your means—even when you’re on vacation. 

Before setting off, it’s worthwhile to find out which payment methods are popular in the Maldives and plan accordingly. Most hotels and restaurants do accept credit cards (like Revolut or Wise), but it’s always a good idea to carry some local currency for smaller expenses and tips. 

A gorgeous beach in the Maldives, on a local island. Part of how to plan a trip to the Maldives is deciding what type of island you'd like to visit.

Consider investing in all-inclusive packages, as they offer excellent value for money. These include not just accommodation, but also meals, drinks, and some recreational activities. This can help take away the worry of overspending on your trip, as many of your expenses are prepaid. However, it’s important to note that certain costs may not be included, like private dining, certain excursions, tipping the staff, and shopping expenses. Make sure to look into these details when choosing your package. 

Always have a backup plan in case of unforeseen expenses. This could be an emergency fund or a credit card with a sufficient limit. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Keep any receipts in case you need to validate claims with your travel insurance provider. 

No posts

Step 13: Things to know before you go

 While this is not precisely the place where I would tell you all the random facts about the Maldives that I know, I think you should still be prepared with some information.

For example, one of the things you should know is that the country is 100% Muslim, which may impose some restrictions on you while you’re on local islands (including Male, the Capital city). For example, you should choose what you wear quite carefully when in public on local islands, you should refrain from acts of public display of affection and you are not allowed to bring in any alcohol in the country.

A potentially bad thing about the Maldives, depending on a series of factors, is that you might find mosquitoes here. Even though most resorts make intensive efforts to get rid of them, there’s not much they can do, so you’ll just have to be prepared.

No posts

Step 14: Create your packing list

Packing for the Maldives is mostly about preparing for paradise. But there are a few key items you don’t want to forget. Starting with your clothes, you want light, breathable pieces given the tropical climate. Swimwear is a must, and don’t forget your cover-ups for when you’re out and about. Sun hats and sunglasses will protect you against the powerful Maldivian sun. 

As for other necessities, sunscreen is critical. Opt for coral-safe brands to help preserve the delicate sea life. Pack insect repellent to protect against potential mosquito bites. An underwater camera could capture magical moments when you’re snorkeling or diving. 

In addition, it’s crucial to remember your necessary travel documents like passport, tickets, hotel reservation details, as well as copies of personal documents. Given the Maldives’ remote location, having all required papers on hand can prevent unnecessary stress. 

While the Maldives has almost everything you need for a great vacation, some personal want-to-haves may not be available, or at least not at reasonable prices. So, consider packing those special items, which would make your trip more comfortable and rewarding. 

And if you’re already panicking when thinking about this, what do you know, I have a printable FREE PDF packing list just for you below!

Step 15: Things to buy before traveling to the Maldives

Heading to paradise, you’ll want to ensure your bag is packed with all the essentials to make the most of your trip to the Maldives. Thoughtful pre-travel shopping can make a significant difference to your experience. After you prepared your packing list, you might realize there are a few items you need to buy.

Reusable Water Bottle 

Staying hydrated is essential in the Maldives’ tropical climate. Choose a reusable, insulated water bottle, and a water filter like SteriPEN, even though drinking water is usually safe to drink on resort islands.

Travel Plug Adapter

Depending on where you’re coming from and the devices you’re bringing in with you, there’s a possibility that you’ll need a power plug adapter. Check out my dedicated post about this to find out if you need a power plug adapter for the Maldives, and why a universal one is better than a 1:1 convertor.

Water Shoes

While no one intends to get themselves injured while on a trip to Paradise, accidents can happen, especially when entering the water without wondering if you’re stepping on a stingray or not (they’re way harder to spot than you think). For this reason, I fully recommend packing water shoes for your trip, and I give you all the reasons why in this dedicated blog post.

How much will it cost to go on a trip to Maldives?

This will depend on a few factors: if you’re going in high or low season, if you’re going on a local or resort island, the duration of your stay, the meal plan you choose and if you’re planning to stay in a luxury resort or a budget-friendly guest house.

What is the best time of year to visit the Maldives?

If you’re seeking pleasant weather and optimal conditions for aquatic activities, planning your trip to the Maldives between October and April is most advisable. Clearer waters, lower humidity, and minimal rainfall during this period create an ideal environment for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. However, keep in mind, this is also peak tourist season, which may influence resort pricing.

How many days are enough for the Maldives?

Considering the long flights there and the added time spent on the island transfer, I would suggest you spend at least 5 days in the Maldives so you can feel you enjoyed it a bit. Usually 7-10 days is a good value to aim to, and two weeks would be an amount of time that will allow you to comfortably visit more than one island.

Can I plan my Maldives trip on my own?

Definitely! As it rarely requires organizing a lot of logistics, I would say the Maldives is one of the easiest trips to DIY. You just need to book your flights, book a hotel/resort and let them know when you’re coming, and you’re 90% done already. Yes, just like that!

Which are the top resorts to stay at in the Maldives?

This will depend greatly on your type of trip. For an intimate escape in an untouched part of the Maldives, Hideaway in Haa Alifu atoll is a top-notch choice. Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa, a luxurious Marriott property in the Lhaviyani Atoll, is another option with exclusive beachfront cafes, desirable overwater villas, and mid-century Maldivian design. If you’re after a family friendly place, then The Standard Huruvalhi is a great choice for you and your kids.

How can I plan a budget-friendly trip to the Maldives?

To plan a budget-friendly trip to the Maldives, choose resorts near Male for cost-effective boat transfers and consider staying at water villas for only one or two nights to reduce expenses. Opt to travel in shoulder seasons like May or October for bargain prices, and plan your activities ahead of time.

What is the process for booking a trip to the Maldives?

1. Begin by deciding on a budget and the best time to travel.
2. Research entry criteria, book flights and decide on the type of trip before preparing your itinerary.
3. Choose and book your accommodation and tours, order internet/eSIM, buy insurance and manage finances.
4. Before departure, compile a packing list and buy necessary items.
5. Enjoy!

Are there any safety concerns for travelers in the Maldives?

Generally, the Maldives poses few major safety concerns for visitors. It’s considered a low-risk destination concerning petty crimes. However, just like anywhere, it’s still wise to exercise normal precautionary measures. Solo female travelers should pay attention to their surroundings, particularly at night, and ensure to keep an eye on their drinks exactly like they do at home. Scams are relatively rare, but staying informed about common travel scams is a smart move.

What is the best way to travel around in the Maldives?

Traveling around in the Maldives can be a blend of affordability and thrill. Opt for public ferries for a cost-effective mode of transportation within the Maldives. If you’re going to a close-by resort, a speedboat can be a more time-efficient option, but it will cost more. For reaching more distant atolls, seaplanes serve as an exciting option offering incredible sightseeing opportunities during transfers.

What are some popular activities to do in the Maldives?

For thrill-seekers, the Maldives offers an array of activities such as deep-sea fishing, sailing, kite-surfing, and diving with big water creatures like whale sharks and manta rays. For a true Maldivian experience, engage in sunset fishing on a traditional wooden boat, or embark on island hopping excursions. For the romantically inclined, intimate escapes on deserted beaches are a must.

What should I pack for a trip to the Maldives?

For your Maldives trip, pack lightweight, breathable clothes, a swimsuit, sun protection items like hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Don’t forget flip-flops for the beach, water shoes for snorkeling, and a reusable water bottle. Formal attire isn’t typically required. Instead, aim for casual beachwear even in the evenings. Travel documents and personal necessities should also be safely packed.

What are the visa requirements for traveling to the Maldives?

Travelers to the Maldives, regardless of their nationality, do not require a pre-arranged visa. Upon arrival, visitors are issued a 30-day visa, free of charge. However, remember to have a valid passport, an onward to return ticket to your homeland or another destination outside the Maldives, and proof of sufficient funds or a confirmed hotel reservation. And of course, always read the latest information from the immigration department.

Do I need any vaccinations before traveling to the Maldives?

No specific vaccines are required for traveling to the Maldives, unless you come from a country affected by Yellow fever, in which case you have to show proof of vaccination. It’s highly recommended to be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot. Depending on the activities you plan, we may suggest Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations as well.

Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of in the Maldives?

Indeed, cultural respect is crucial in the Maldives, a predominantly Muslim country. Dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees particularly when outside your resort. Alcohol consumption is only permitted within resort areas. Always be respectful towards the people you meet and the environment they offer you as a gift when visiting.

Can I rent a private villa in the Maldives?

Absolutely! In the Maldives, you can rent a private villa, including the highly sought-after overwater options. Many of these are located on standalone islands and form part of luxury resorts.

What is the best way to book flights to the Maldives?

Use trusted services like Skyscanner to find your flights to the Maldives, but always book straight fro the airline. When booking your resort though, check the transfer price as well, as it can sometimes cost you more than the intercontinental flight.

How to plan a trip to the Maldives – The Takeaway

All set? Well, it seems you’re now equipped and ready to kick-start planning your dream trip to the magical Maldives. But always remember, every journey like this isn’t just about the destination, it’s also about the planning process.

These careful considerations, vital steps, and sound advice we’ve mapped out for you are keys to ensure a memorable and seamless experience in this remote paradise. Whether you’re a couple seeking a romantic retreat, a family in need of a perfect holiday, or a solo traveler looking for a unique adventure, the Maldives is sure to satiate your wanderlust. 

From estimating your budget and selecting the perfect resorts to polishing your itinerary and securing all the necessary documents and preparations, now you have all you need to know. And if there’s something else you need to know before your trip, check out the blog posts below! I’m sure the answer to your question is right here!

No posts

Share the love:

Leave a Comment