We’ve recently come back from yet another trip to the Maldives, our second this year, so I thought I’d write some tips for anyone who’s considering going there on a holiday. This is not a sponsored post although I definitely wish it was 🙂
Some general information. Basically why we love going there!
- I love how one of the travel agents had the tagline for the Maldives – Closer than you think! It’s so true. Flights by SQ direct to Male are only 4.5 hours. You can’t even get to some parts of Malaysia in that length of time from Singapore. AND it’s SQ. One of my friends once took 10 hours to get back home from Tioman. If you have all the time in the world and enjoy an adventure that’s fine and dandy, but when you bring along your kids, I much prefer to get from Point A to Point B in a certain level of comfort in the shortest amount of time.
- For most part of the year, SQ operates TWO daily direct flights (they used to only operate one). We prefer the day flight going there because you arrive just before noon, and both flights back are pretty decent – one in the afternoon and one red eye which is pretty tiring, but it means the kids will sleep all the way and then nap some more the next day. Woohoo!
- From the airport you can be at your resort in as little as 15minutes by speedboat. Or, an hour away by seaplane. Do note that seaplanes don’t fly at night so if you take the night flight and need to take a seaplane you’ll have to find alternative accommodation for that night. And alternative accommodation doesn’t come cheap.
- At many “beach” destinations around the region, you can barely go into the water – Phuket, Bali, Krabi amongst them (unless you choose the more secluded resorts or those on outlying islands). In the Maldives, even the water at the airport jetty is crystal clear. The currents at certain parts of each island might be a little strong, but there will definitely be safe areas for swimming.
- We’re divers, so let me just tell you that some resorts have an amazingly impressive array of marine life – just at the resort’s jetty. Turtles, sharks, triggers, puffers (or box?), eels, rays.. Although it’s not every day that you’ll be able to see manta rays and whale sharks, it’s not an impossibility either.
- Travel agents can sometimes offer pretty good packages because they get good rates including resort transfers (which can go from USD$100 for speedboat and USD$500 for seaplane) and half or full board meals. Even with “special” Internet rates, once you add all these little costs in, it can come up to more than what a travel agent can offer.
- Off peak doesn’t mean bad weather – for 2 consecutive years we’ve been going in early May and the weather has been wonderful. And the rates are lower because it’s generally moving towards the monsoon season. Do your research and you might save a bundle!
For honeymooners or those looking for a couples retreat:
Unless you like company, we’d recommend going to a smaller resort, as opposed to one that has say 200 rooms. And look out for one that does not have a kids club. Smaller does not necessarily mean it’s more expensive but will probably mean it’s more exclusive. I personally would prefer not to fight with another hundred guests during mealtimes if I wanted some alone time with my significant other.
For those with kids:
- Unless they’re below 2, the least a kids club will offer is a playground and some toys. If they’re over 4 they might (or might not) be interested in the activities there.
- If you’re worried about meals for kids, do some research as to what the resort offers. From our recent expereince, the Anantara Dhigu has a very impressive kids menu with burgers, soups, fries, and even milkshakes that you can choose from – and kids eat free, and you can order whatever/however much you want! Whereas the Holiday Inn Kandooma doesn’t offer anything for kids at meals (except 2 out of 4 dinners, where they had only 2 dishes). Club Med Kani does not provide child menus but they do have very child friendly food, with pasta, pizza or burger options (with fries, which I loved!) at almost every meal.
- A kids club doesn’t mean everything, of course. We really liked the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, and although I think they had a kids menu (they might have shown it to us twice), Mittens was pretty ok with the food. It’s a lovely small resort, although the finishings are starting to look a little worn. There were a handful (maybe 3-5 other kids, at the very most), but you hardly see them around.
- We suspect that any resort that has locals living on an island nearby, is going to be more devoid of interesting fish at a jetty than other resorts that don’t. So at the last 2 resorts we stayed at, we were really disappointed because there was hardly any fish for the kids to see. This isn’t a problem if you don’t have kids or your kids are above 8, because you can go on the (usually complimentary) snorkelling trips, but when they’re not, it’s nice to have a busy area where they can be entertained and learn about marine life.
- Over-water villas will not accommodate children under 12 YO for safety reasons.
- Also do your research on the rooms with the best facing and location (on the island). Sometimes it’s worth to spend a little more each night for a room with breeze and beachfront, because muggy still air can be stifling, and lugging ALL your beach gear for everyone can be a bit of a pain.
- On any one island (which can be as small as just a few kilometres in length), some parts of the beach might have fine powdery sand, and other parts full of dead coral. Bring booties or swim shoes.
- If, like us, you are unfortunately regular donors of blood to mosquitoes, bring insect repellent.
- Some resorts, like , don’t offer any snorkelling equipment to borrow or even rent. You might need to bring your own, or get fleeced at the shop. Kani
- If you’re going to a resort which charges for drinks you might want to bring some of your own water. They’ll usually provide you a few bottles per day for each room, but we will usually bring a few 1L bottles, especially when you want to keep the kids hydrated or in use with their foruma, otherwise they’re around USD$5 per bottle.
- Most resorts have wi-fi, but really try to enjoy nature while you’re there!
Do lots of research online, e.g. on TripAdvisor – but after reading through so many reviews and visiting several resorts, let me tell you that almost all reviewers, especially if it’s their first time there, will call any resort “paradise”. Yes, it is extremely picturesque and lovely and all, but unfortunately the resort plays a very large part of your experience there because you can’t really hop over to another resort if you’re feeling bored. And sometimes with kids it can help to be in a resort that has everything you want. So read everything with a pinch of salt.
And I hope you enjoy the Maldives as much as we do 😀 Still on our checklist – a seaplane journey! Well maybe we’ll get to finally do that on our seventh time there 😛 (Eighth for the hubby!).