"If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you bring?" - Who hasn't heard that and even answered that question before? Well, think hard about your answers because this is about as close to that situation as it gets without actually being stranded on a deserted island.
You are essentially confining yourself to a tiny spit of land (the one we were on took about 30 minutes to walk around at a very leisurely pace) with limited entertainment and access to things we usually take for granted.
Therefore think long and hard about who you are, what you enjoy and what you can put up with. I learned, for example, that I can't spend the entire day sunbathing, there's only so much relaxation I can take, and I need more than 3 meals a day to function normally.
This point is quite strongly connected to Tip 2.
TIP 2: CHOOSE YOUR RESORT WISELY
The resort you choose will really make or break your trip. When you have figured out what your priorities and desires are, look into resorts. Make sure you read the details carefully and don't hesitate to contact the resort before making a booking if you can't find the information you are looking for. Key things to check are:
- ACTIVITIES: What activities are provided and at what price. Think about this with a realistic budget in mind. If water sports are what you are interested in, then consider the month carefully too (check out the factsheet for a quick run down)
- MEALS: Are meals included or not? Which meals are included and what meal plans do they offer?
- AIRPORT TRANSFER: How far is the resort located from Male Airport? How long does it take to get there and how? Is this transfer included or not and how much does it cost?
TIP 3: SET YOURSELF A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
While we're on the topic of budgets: if you've done your research you should be able to calculate how much you will spend on your trip. Most things will be included, or the prices will be clearly marked (for example, water sports and spa treatments). Give yourself a margin to cover unexpected meals, drinks or snacks and keep track of prices and how much you spend.
** Prices are marked without tax or service charge, so add another 18%**
TIP 4: BRING FOOD (& DRINKS)
If you find that a meal plan is not worth it for you, you always have the option of bringing some food with you. If you stop over in Male before going on towards your resort, you can even buy some relatively fresh food to bring with you. Actually, regardless of whether or not you get a meal plan, consider bringing your favorite snacks or foods for any dietary requirements you may have. Again, there are no stores where you can buy gum, candy or chocolates and the ones sold at the hotel are limited and overpriced.
When it comes to drinks, the hotel will likely provide complimentary water, but consider bringing other drinks if you can't go without them. Bringing alcohol to the Maldives is technically prohibited - I will not encourage or dissuade you from doing so.
TIP 5: BRING US$ OR €
Don't bother getting any Ruffiah unless you plan to stay or shop in Male - hotels take US$ or €.
TIP 6: WATCH OUT FOR HIDDEN COSTS
I can't stress enough how important it is to check what is included and not and if there are any compulsory events that you have to attend.
We went over Christmas and were forced to attend a Christmas Day and Christmas Eve gala - each costing US$150/person. Was it worth it? You can read about it soon when I review the resort.
TIP 7: CHECK THE LIMITS ON YOUR CREDIT CARD
The bill at the end of your stay might be a hefty one - especially if you don't track your expenses. The guy next to us at check out had that bad experience - I'm not sure how he solved the problem...
TIP 8: BRING MOTION SICKNESS MEDS
Enough about the money and more about practicalities. Regardless of where you are staying, you'll be traveling out of Male airport again - either by motorboat or by hydroplane. If you plan to go diving - which I definitely recommend - you'll likely be going to the dive site by boat. And, the seas might be quite rough at times (like when we arrived). There's nothing quite like being sick basically on arrival and knowing that there's another 30 minutes to go before you even get to your resort.
TIP 9: TRY TO BREAK UP YOUR FLIGHT
If possible, try to break up your flight evenly. It is not crucial, nor limited only to the Maldives. Often, you will find flights transiting through Colombo, apparently it's better to transit through Bangkok or the such.
TIP 10: BRING A WATERPROOF CASE FOR YOUR CAMERA
The Maldives are marketed as a paradise on Earth, but it's more of a paradise underwater. This is the time to get a waterproof casing for your camera because you'll be spending plenty of time in and around the water.