My latest article for Destination 42 was published this week, 42 Tips for a Maldives Honeymoon. The Maldives is an incredible place in the world; a paradise that tops many bucket lists. It is particularly special to me on a personal level – it is where I got engaged on New Year’s Day this year.
While the Maldives is often associated with honeymooners (and rightly so, it is one of the most romantic settings I’ve ever experienced), it’s not just for newlyweds. Whether you’re long-married, not-yet-married, with good friends, or enjoying your own company, it doesn’t matter – the Maldives is heaven on earth and everybody should get to experience its beauty. Here’s what you need to know…The Maldives (image)
1. The Maldives archipelago is located in the Indian ocean just south of India’s southern tip and spread across more than 1,000 coral islands, grouped into 26 atolls. As such, the Maldives is not a honeymoon destination where you’ll “see it all”… unless you plan on a year or two of island hopping.
2. The Maldives enjoys temperatures of 26C-30C (79F-86F) year-round. The best months to honeymoon are January to March, when you are all but guaranteed perfect weather. In November and early December there are often afternoon showers, but they don’t last long. May-October is low season, when the weather is less predictable.
3. Most resort islands are exclusively home to one hotel, so the choice of where to stay is primarily down to what you are looking for in your honeymoon accommodation as most of the islands offer the same spectacular views, azure waters and silky white sand.Gili Lankanfushi (image)
4. One consideration is distance from the capital island/city of Malé. Islands further away from Malé typically use seaplanes to transfer visitors to the resorts, while closer island resorts use private speedboats.
5. Malé airport is located on Hulhule Island, close to the capital city/island of Malé, in the North Male Atoll.
6. Be prepared for a very long flight, or rather, multiple long flights. Expect between 24 and 38 hours of total travel time from North America, with at least one connection likely in the Middle East or southeast Asia depending on where you depart.
7. Thirty-day tourist visas are issued on arrival to all visitors with a valid passport and a confirmed hotel reservation. These visas are free and there is no airport tax. You can extend this visa by a further 60 days by applying to the immigration department.Conrad Rangali (image)
8. The local currency is Maldivian Rufiya (MRF), which is worth about 6.5 cents to a US dollar. In the resorts, US dollars is the most common currency and most used for tipping and paying the bill.Euros and Pounds are also widely accepted.
9. Maldives is a Muslim country. Therefore, you should cover your shoulders and upper legs if you go outside of your resort.
10. You also cannot bring alcohol into the Maldives, including Duty Free purchases. These will be taken from you at the airport and returned upon your departure. This ban also includes narcotics, pornography, religious idols and pork.
11. Tap water is not considered suitable for drinking. Bottles or filtered water is provided in hotel rooms and replenished regularly.
12. Tipping is discouraged in the Maldives, as a 10 percent service charge is added to almost everything. However, hotel staff are regularly tipped $10-$20 per week, and porters $1 per bag – it’s at your discretion.Cheval Blanc Randheli (image)
13. If you are an experienced diver or wish to spend most of your time snorkeling in the coral reefs, know that some islands offer better underwater experiences than others. We’ll outline the best of each further down.
14. Backpackers and budget travelers are discouraged by Maldives tourism – the Maldives is all about luxury, and the prices reflect this. Hotel rooms cost considerably more than $100 USD per night at the very lowest end of the scale.W Retreat & Spa (image)
15. There are more than 100 resorts to choose from in the Maldives. The fierce competition ensures they go above and beyond to be the best, but it makes it hard to narrow down the choices! These are the crème de la crème…
16. Want the Robinson Crusoe experience and the luxury? Gili Lankanfushi has nailed barefoot luxe. Private villas are only reached by boat – the ultimate in privacy for a romantic holiday.
18. Cheval Blanc Randheli is literally fit for royalty. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were recent guests at this uber-exclusive French resort owned by LVMH. Here’s your opportunity to say that you honeymooned like Will and Kate.
19. Cocoa Island By COMO stands out for its design, with 33 over-water villas inspired in style by Maldivian dhoni fishing boats. It’s not just the aesthetics we love: the serene COMO Shambhala Spa will ease you into island life, and the healthy Shambhala menu option will ensure the bikini body you worked hard for remains that way throughout the holiday.Cocoa Island by COMO (image)
20. A sunset soak in your very own hot tub? Yes please. Conrad Rangali was voted in the Top 10 Best Beach Hotels in the World in 2013. ‘Nuff said.
21. Soak in your private infinity plunge pool, and then cook your catch of the day on your own BBQ.Island life is at it’s finest at W Retreat & Spa. The Whatever/Whenever service will ensure your every need is catered for, and as it’s the W, you know there’ll be a good party if you’re in the mood.
22. A massage in the world’s first underwater spa is a must-do at Huvafen Fushi. The resort’s Ocean Pavillions feature infinity pools that start from the living room and extend out to the sea. Dreamy.Hufaven Fushi (image)
23. Velaa Private Island can boast that it is the most expensive resort in the Maldives. The Private Residences will set you back a staggering $19,000 per night. Good news though, the base-rate for a beach pool villa on the island is just $1,900 per night – pocket change, really!
24. There are very few all-inclusive resorts in the Maldives. The best among them is the Cristal All-Inclusive Package at Constance Moofushi resort.
25. All-inclusive LUX* Maldives has also won praise for including a la carte restaurants, premium spirits, water sports and excursions in their all-inclusive package.
26. Fish is the most abundant food in Maldives, with tuna the most commonly eaten.
27.Given the Maldives’ proximity to India, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that curries are a staple, along with various coconut and rice dishes. Be prepared to eat very well.
28. The resorts cater to their International guests though, offering a range of cuisines. Besides Indian, Thai cuisine is particularly popular, as well as grilled meats.
29. Pork and alcohol are illegal in the Maldives, and you are not allowed to bring them in to the country. However, they are available in the resorts.
30. The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives is often voted the most beautiful restaurant in the world.Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Rangali (image)
SEE & DO
31. Each resort offers a range of water sports and activities, but before you try out those, simply swim in the clear blue sea. Float in the still shallow water surrounding your island, and marvel at the incredible beauty.
32. Head below the surface to snorkel in the coral reefs. Every resort provides snorkels, masks and flippers to explore the underwater wonderland. You will see angelfish, parrotfish, giant barracuda and triggerfish, to name a few.Snorkelling (image)
33. All islands in the Maldives have reefs, but some are better than others. Islands that have been widely voted as having the best house reefs include Kandoludhoo, Angsana Ihuru Resort, Eriyadu and Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo islands.
34. Want to see more? Many resorts offer snorkeling excursions to neighboring lagoons for those wishing to explore farther afield.
35.The Maldives has some of the best scuba diving opportunities in the world. The vast majority of resorts have diving centers on the island offering instruction courses and excursions.
36. There are plenty of wreck sites to explore for experienced divers. Maldives Victory Wreck in Hulhule House Reef, Fesdhoo Wreck in Ari Atoll, and The British Loyalty Wreck in Addu Atoll are among the most popular wreck diving sites.
37. Some resorts offer other water activities. Kayaking, dolphin watching, jet skiing, water-skiing, and sailing can be done in the Maldives, depending on your hotel’s facilities.
38. Dotted between the coral islands, there are many isolated sandbars that appear and disappear with tide. Day trips to these islands for picnics are an idyllic experience.
39. … They are also an incredibly romantic place, and therefore a popular proposal spot. My fiancé proposed to me on such a sandbar – we were dropped off in a speedboat, left with just ourselves, our snorkels and a bucket of champagne.Sandbar (my own photo)
40. Speaking of romance, a candlelit dinner for two on the beach, or a private dinner made by the chef in your villa are almost always available by prior arrangement. With such a high number of wedding and honeymoon guests, all resorts cater for special occasions – at a hefty surcharge!
41. Ease your way into your honeymoon with a spa treatment. A massage on the sand to the sound of waves – what could be more relaxing?
42. With all those activities on offer, you’ll need to find time in your day for the most basic of holiday tasks: Lie in your deckchair, let the sun soak into your skin, and simply enjoy being in paradise.
This article originally appeared on Destination42.com