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Planning a trip to the Maldives? Here are some things to consider before setting sail on the ultimate beach vacay.

Flight

If you are coming from within Asia, flights to Maldives are pretty reasonable. But you will likely need another flight and perhaps even a boat once you arrive. Unless you plan on staying near the main island of Male, you will need to book a separate seaplane, which will cost at least a few hundred US dollars round-trip. For me, this was just about the amount I paid for my international flight, nearly doubling my total flight costs. There are of course very nice resorts within sailing distance from Male, but these resorts often have lots of seaplanes flying overhead throughout the day, making it perhaps not as tranquil as you had hoped. So there is a trade off; close and possibly busy or farther away and more expensive.

You should also plan your flight time carefully. Seaplanes do not operate after dark, so you will have to stay a night in Male if you arrive too late. And just from the bit of Male I did see on my trip, it’s safe to say that there is very little reason to stay in Male more than you have to.

The advantage to taking a seaplane is this view.

The advantage to taking a seaplane is this view.

Food

If presented with the option of getting an all-inclusive package, get it. Most islands have nothing but the resort on them. If you do not get an all-inclusive package you will be buying ala carte which can quickly add up and maybe even cost more in the long run. You can also try bringing in food, but ramen on a hot desert island gets old quick. If you are staying at a guest house there may be some dining options on the island, and even stores, but the options are very limited. Also, you should pay close attention to the small print. Some resorts offer all-inclusive options with special surcharges during holidays that you are forced to pay on top of the already ridiculous prices. In fact, pay attention to all small print. You may be surprised by how much of it there is.

Snacks

We packed lots of snacks just in case, but luckily they were not needed.

Drinking

I’m not a drinker, but this is one thing I was worried about. What if I want to relax with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day? I am on vacation after all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the prices were even more reasonable than at home. But I had to take a small boat to get to a big boat where drinking was allowed. I paid $6 for a beer and could have purchased a whole bottle of wine for $25. Not bad at all. I’ve heard others complain of the prices of alcohol in the Maldives, but I think the price is often based on the hotel itself. The fancier the hotel, the more expensive the drinks. If you plan on enjoying a drink or ten, make sure to figure out what the prices are like beforehand.

Drink List

Our hotel had limited drink options, but what they had was pretty cheap. There was a wine list as well.

Guesthouses Are An Option

You’ve seen the pictures of the over the water bungalows with their own private pools and glass floors so you can see the fish below you. Yeah, well they cost a small fortune. When I was searching for hotels I couldn’t find anything fitting that description, with food, for below $800 a night, plus flight. So I opted for a guesthouse. I didn’t know what to expect really, but was so pleasantly surprised. For exactly $1160 each, my boyfriend and I stayed at a guesthouse on the beach for 6 days with all meals included, two dives each, plus our seaplane and boat transfer.

Mathiveri Beach

The private beach of Casa Mia on Mathiveri Island.

Modesty

The Maldives is a Muslim country. When you see itsy bitsy bikini pictures on the beach this may not be the first thing to come to mind, but it is important to remember. If you are a woman, you should make sure to pack at least one sleeved shirt and a longer pair of shorts (to the knees). Guys must also cover up, but generally it’s less of an issue. While most people stay on the resort their entire trip, you should be modest when getting to and from the resort. I saw plenty of people disregarding this rule, but I had no interest in being “that girl”.

By considering these 5 things before booking, you are sure to find the perfect place for you. The planning is the hardest part. The rest is paradise.