Best Time to go: December – April (dry season).
Best For: Island relaxation, water-based activities.
The Maldives conjures up visions of luxury, romance and tropical bliss; a beautiful string of low -lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean, and a paradise for watersports enthusiasts and sun seekers alike. The past two decades have seen the islands develop as a fairly major tourist destination for the international, as well as the South African market.
Many resorts offer day trips to inhabited islands where you can usually visit local artisans in their workshops and buy some of the beautiful local arts and crafts. Malé, the capital, also has several markets of fresh and wholesome food produce for those wanting to sample local fare.
A fishing trip on a modern speedboat equipped for big game fishing is a great experience for any fisherman.
A sunset boat cruise aboard a dhoni, the wooden boat that is the Maldives` standard mode of transport, is a blissful way to end the day. You`ll cruise around uninhabited islands, where you`ll be served drinks and snacks while local musicians play their traditional bodu beru drums to attract dolphins.
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Capital: Male (MLE)
Currency: Rufiyaa (MVR)
Language: Dhivehi. English is widely spoken in resorts, along with German, French and Italian.
Native name of Maldives: Dhivehi Raajje
Dialling code from SA: + 960
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +5 hours (3 hours ahead of South Africa)
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round-pin plugs are used, although square-pin plugs are now becoming more common.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. A decompression chamber is available on Male. Visitors bringing medication into the country should have the accompanying doctor’s prescription.
Customs: As a predominately Islamic country, dress should always be conservative. Swimwear should be reserved for the tourist islands, and for the beach only. Respect to religious customs should also be shown during the month of Ramadan.
Local Offences / Laws: No alcohol may be brought into the country. A doctor’s prescription is required for all medication brought into the country. Homosexuality is illegal. The use and trafficking of illegal drugs carry severe penalties. Nudism and topless bathing is prohibited. Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Weekends are Fridays and Saturdays. Avoid public demonstrations.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into the Maldives over 16 years old without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco.
• Goods to the value of MRf2,000.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited imports include religious materials offensive to Islam, idols for worship, pornography, narcotics and live pigs. Restricted imports include alcohol, arms and ammunition, live pigs, pork, dogs and dangerous animals.
Prohibited Exports: Numerous fish and marine products are banned from export, including coral, black coral necklaces, turtle shell, mother of pearl, conch shell and lobster meat.