The Maldives is a celebrity destination that seems inaccessible to the average traveler. But the good news is that getting to the Maldives isn’t such a distant dream, even for world travelers on a budget.

Whether you’re backpacking Asia or jet-setting to all the exotic destinations you can think of for a touch of affordable luxury, the Maldives is an ideal stopover.

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to plan your trip, from when you should be to where you should stay and more.

Head to the Maldives for ocean breezes and beach days

Woman swimming with a manta ray
via Pinterest

Although you will undoubtedly find a lot of culture, excellent food and even shopping here, the highlight of the Maldives is the excellent climate and the magnificent beaches. After all, celebrities like Joe Jonas spend an enormous amount of time on the beach and on yachts in the Maldives, and their example is one to follow.

The other highlight of the island destination is the thriving marine life. You can spot beautiful coral islands, bustling lagoons, and plenty of water excursions like snorkeling and diving. You can also swim with manta rays!

Visit outside the monsoon season

Couple walking on a boardwalk over water in the Maldives
via Voyages Lalumi

Because the Maldives is an oceanic destination (although it doesn’t appear on every map in the world!), You can expect insane weather all year round. That said, CN traveler says the best weather and seasonal attractions are between November and April. The high season is from December to March, while the monsoon is from May to October. Skipping the monsoon season is good for us!

Focus your stay in Malé, the capital

View of Malé Maldives city from the water
via Air France

Because the Maldives is made up of 200 inhabited islands (plus 97 with tourist resorts and over a thousand other islands and coral atolls), it can be difficult to know where to stay. But a safe bet is the capital, Malé, which has a population of nearly 150,000 inhabitants.

You will find colorful buildings, many mosques, a lively market near the port, and more. Plus, Velana International Airport is in Male, which makes your trip from the airport to the hotel a bit easier (you can take a ferry to the mainland!).

Stay at the Somerset Hotel or the Novina Hotel in Male

Choosing a hotel near the north coast of Male is probably a safe bet. From there, you can explore the local fish and produce markets, board a ferry to further explore the area, and walk to local sights like Sultan Park and Republic Square.

Somerset Hotel, for example, is a four-star property located near local attractions such as the Masjidh Al-Sulthan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam Mosque. and Hukuru Miskiyy, the oldest mosque in the Maldives (circa 1656!). Hotel Novina is a more affordable 3-star hotel at around $ 50 a night, but still close to the main highlights of Male.

Try local dishes for the flavor of the Maldives

Like Visit the Maldives explains, Maldivian culture draws from many other Asian influences, both in terms of culture and food. But there are some Maldivian dishes that are island specialties, like Maskaashi, a dish that combines coconut meat, dried tuna, sour mango and spices.

Other exotic flavors include Theluli Bankbukeyo, which consists of fried breadfruit chips. Fish chips (or Kulhi Roshi) are also a common dish at teatime, Visit the Maldives Remarks.

Pick an island and walk everywhere

Distant view of Male Maldives and the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge
via Lonely Planet

The highlight of your stay in Male is that you can walk everywhere. Like US News Explains, the capital is around 2.2 square miles, which means your legs probably won’t even get tired of walking it end to end.

Island hopping is a bit more difficult because the ferry network is not very good, the post explains. But you could travel to other islands with a private charter, or try your luck (and your free time) with a ferry ride.

Visit the oldest mosque in Male and admire the sea

Masjidh Al-Sulthan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam mosque in Maldives
via Picpanzee

The historical monuments are great, of course, but the highlight of Male is the water. From kite surfing on the beach to seeing the thriving coral reefs up close, there is so much to see off the Maldives. You can swim with the mantas, of course, and also see the shipyard near Lhaviyani Atoll.

There are also reserves (like the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve) and Addu Nature Park, but you’ll need to plan carefully to make time for everything (and travel to and from the southernmost atoll. to see the sites).

Related: Things To Do In The Maldives (That Don’t Swim With Mantas)

Save your Rufiyaa for the tip

Two men in snorkeling gear posing by Murakabay Maldives
via Pikdo

The Maldives uses the Maldivian Rufiyaa, and you should be prepared to tip everyone from your dive instructor and waiter to your hotel bellboy. Planet alone explains that you will generally have the same staff for your stay, so tip at the end of each week is fine. Resorts, however, typically add a ten percent service charge, so keep an eye on that and budget accordingly.

Fly in March for the best savings

Aerial view of Male Maldives
via Pinterest

Flights aren’t the cheapest to the Maldives (which is understandable given its isolation), but Kayak says your plane ticket will be the most affordable in March. Tickets start at just over $ 700 this season, while the high (and expensive) season is summer from June through August.

Related: 15 Strict Rules Expats Must Follow To Work In The Maldives

Visit the beaches (but don’t just stay on the sand)

Woman walking on the beach dragging a palm leaf / Emily Ratajkowski sitting on her husband's shoulders in the water in the Maldives
via A Girl Who Blooms / Life & Style

In Male, there aren’t as many beaches as on the smaller (and more remote) islands. That said, you will find places like the man-made beach, a protected swimming cove ideal for travelers with children. There’s also Varunulaa Raalhugandu, a perfect surfing beach that has lots of rocks and places to sit and watch the ocean (and the China Maldives Friendship Bridge, which stretches out to the expanse of the island which houses the international airport).

Of course, lying on the beach is an essential part of your Maldives vacation. But don’t spend too much time sitting in the sand, there is so much more to explore just off the coast.

Next: 25 Reasons To Visit The Maldives (Other Than For Insane Water)

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