In this article, you’ll find almost everything you need to know before booking a Maldives holiday package. Read about India-Maldives air bubble, the latest travel advice, how to get there, cost of Maldives holiday packages, what is the food like and which activities to do.
Very few things have been left unscathed with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One thing that the covid19 failed to change is – the love for the Maldives amongst luxury travellers. People might have postponed their dream trip to paradise, but they haven’t stopped dreaming about it. A recent global survey by Official-Esta.com reveals the Maldives as the second ‘Most Googled Destination’ for post-lockdown holidays. According to Google, “flights to Maldives” and “trips to Maldives” were among the most searched for topics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 15th July in an official statement on travel protocols, the Maldivian authorities announced that the Maldives is now open for tourism. But is it safe to visit?
Here is everything you need to know before planning a trip to Maldives along with specially curated tips to have an unforgettable post-lockdown holiday:
India-Maldives Air bubble
As close and friendly neighbours, India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial relations steeped in mutual respect. In this hour of crisis, the two countries decided to help each other and hence, set up an Air Bubble, which is first of its kind in South Asia that allows the citizens of both the countries to visit each other without undergoing quarantine. This arrangement is made primarily for two reasons – to boost tourism in the Maldives and to allow the medical tourists in India. Maldives economy is heavily dependent on tourism – 80% of Maldives GDP comes from Tourism – and India is the second-largest market for the island nation. So, it’s a win-win situation for both the countries to have this ‘Air Bubble’ arrangement.
Tip: With effect from 10th September, all tourists and short term visitors are required to carry a Negative PCR certificate on arrival in the Maldives. Rules keep changing with changing situation. So, check the latest travel advisory on ‘New Normal’ Measures for visiting the Maldives (for tourists).
Is Maldives dangerous to visit now?
No, Maldives is one of the safest countries in the world to visit post-lockdown and has earned the WTTC Safe Travels stamp for adopting health and hygiene global standardised protocols. So, you need not worry before booking a holiday to Maldives.
As per the official records, Maldives has only 1,346 active cases, and those too are restricted to the capital, Male. And, when you arrive in the Maldives as a tourist, you don’t spend much time at the capital. You are directly escorted from the Male Airport to your resort either through a speedboat or a seaplane. The Maldives has been able to restrict the transmission of the covid19 transmission because of its One Island One Resort philosophy. The island nation is geographically scattered and distanced, making the destination safest for a post-pandemic holiday, said Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
Also, Maldives has been very proactive when it comes to safety and hygiene. When I visited the country in February 2020, that time only they had initiated thermal scanning, health declaration form filling and social distancing practices. Now they are following even more stringent measures as per the international and local guidelines.
As per Badhiya Gunatilake, the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Adaaran Resorts, Maldives, it’s a normal holiday in Maldives where they welcome all guests. There is no quarantine requirement, but all the resorts have to follow strict safety guidelines. When guests go into a restaurant, their tables and chairs are thoroughly sanitised. There are in-house doctors and nurses along with an emergency response medical team. Moreover, every resort has isolation centers to isolate guests, in case of a suspected case. All the resorts have electrostatic spray machines, which cleans the island every six hours. To have contactless experience, they have also created QR codes, which allows the guests to have all the details regarding food and beverages menu, spa treatments, excursions on their phone.
Here is a detailed video of whether it is safe to visit Maldives or not
Tip: Download app Trace Ekee app (like our Aarogya Setu app) prescribed by the Maldives Ministry of tourism.
When is the best time to visit Maldives?
The island nation is warm and sunny year-round but consists of two main seasons – a dry season that’s best for visitors and a wet, rainy season that is usually a lean season. The best weather – and the best time to visit the Maldives – is between November and April. Usually, the peak season is between December and March and May to October is the monsoon season.
How much does a trip to the Maldives cost?
The Maldives is more affordable now. Perhaps it is the best time ever to book a trip to the island nation as the ongoing Maldives holiday packages are available at rock bottom prices. Resorts are offering as much as 50% discount on regular rates. Now 3N4D package (inclusive of return flight, accommodation, meals and activities) starts as low as INR 40,968 ($556) per person.
And, the best part is some of the hotels such as Adaaran Resorts are offering Maldives holiday packages with additional features such as Flexi cancellation which allows cancelling or rescheduling your booking up to 24 hours before your arrival. However, if you are taking a seaplane, make it 72 hours. Also, it is advisable to book an all-inclusive package that covers your accommodation, food, drinks and excursions. Works out to be a cheaper deal than booking separately.
Tip: check out deals on travel websites such as MakeMyTrip or any other aggregator website.
How to get to the Maldives
The Maldives is geographically well connected with Asia, Europe, Africa and America. And, it doesn’t take long to get to the Maldives from the Indian subcontinent. Earlier Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi were the main airports to board an India-Maldives flight. It takes around 7-11 hours to get to the Maldives depending on the layover. Now the situation has changed. Starting August Air India started flying a direct flight from India and other airlines such as indigo are soon to start flying again to Male. In India, you can currently fly from Kerala. But soon, like before you can fly from Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka as well. I flew via Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines in February.
Tip: If your resort is far away from Male, you’ll need to take a seaplane ride. So, keep the arrival and departure day free.
Where are the Maldives islands?
The Maldives is a small island nation in South Asia, scattered in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres from the Asian continent’s mainland. The Maldives is 99% water and only one per cent land. And, that’s why the archipelago nation is so blessed with postcard beauty of powdery white sand beaches lined with turquoise blue lagoons. Out of the 1,200 islands of the country, only 200 islands are inhabited. The reefs in the Maldives are extremely rich and constitute almost 5% of the world’s reef. The marine life here is so rich that you can find over a thousand species of fishes and over two hundred kinds of corals.
Tip: Seaplane ride is a great way to see the unique geography of the Maldives from above
How are the Maldives island hotels?
Maldives is synonymous to luxury. Imagine waking up to a perfectly laid out breakfast on your sundeck and then enjoying the water therapy of the Indian ocean. You swim with colourful baby sharks and manta rays as the waves gently cradle your ocean villa. And, when you are done with your swimming session, you take off with your personal butler in an electric car to enjoy the action on the island. What is more, you can experience the hospitality of garden and beach villas. The resort nation provides you with luxury, which you can only dream.
As far as accommodation is concerned, the options are many starting from an uber posh resort such as SONEVA JANI starting at Rs 912,503 ($12,403) to a local guesthouse coming at as low as $50 a night. But the charm of Maldives is in staying at its luxury resorts.
Tip: As per the Maldives Government you can only stay at one resort Have a mix of stay – water villa and beach villa
What is the food like in Maldives
Since Maldives is almost 99% sea, it is not surprising that fish (mainly tuna) is the crucial staple of the Maldivian diet. The local cuisine is a mix of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan and Oriental influences. But once you are in the resort you can have whatever cuisine you crave for – be it Continental, Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Arabic or any other food you are in the mood to have.
Each resort has five to seven restaurants and bars with speciality chefs, who can cook as per your liking, as per your taste. The cocktails are to die for in Maldives. Even after seven months, I can’t forget the taste of the wood-fired oven pizza I had at Lohi’s in Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi. One of the best pizzas I ever had and the icing on the cake was the setting sun on the wild surfing waves. All food and drinks were included in my all-inclusive package except for special dinner or breakfast at the beach.
Tip: Have one special meal at the beach or on a sand bar.
What activities can you do in Maldives
While Maldives is like a postcard to look from overland, the real magic lies under the waves. Therefore, it would be blasphemous to visit Maldives and not experience its marine life. When I went diving, I felt I was in a world of Nemo with 1000’s of fishes, corals, turtles, damselfish, baby sharks and many more of different colours, different varieties swimming all around me. It is an experience that you must have.
Besides scuba diving, there are many other activities you can do at the resort that are usually included in your package, such as snorkelling, paddleboarding, and non-motorised activities.
Plus, there is no shortage of land activities such as football, Tennis, Aerobic, Yoga and a lot more. If you want a massage then go to a spa where you can enjoy massages of different kinds like Balinese, Chinese, Indonesian or whatever you want, you can get it.
Tip: you could get seasick on the boat after scuba diving or during a sunset cruise, so carry medicine to avoid sea-sickness
Is Maldives an eco-friendly destination?
Being one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, Maldives grapples with sea storms, and sea swells several times a year. Maldives has already lost twenty islands in the last twenty years. The fear is increasing by the day. If we don’t bring our carbon emissions down, the whole of Maldives can be drowned in the next thirty to fifty years.
Therefore, the Maldivian government and the local resorts are putting a lot of efforts to make travel more sustainable for tourists by using ecotourism activities such as employing green and clean energy options, group transfers instead of individual transfers, no motorised vehicles on the island, installing solar energy panels, water recycling, growing vegetables and fruits, making islands plastic-free, beach cleaning, and coral restoration.
Travel requirements for Maldives
- VISA: Free visa on arrival like before by providing a confirmed hotel booking, sufficient funds and confirmed return ticket and Health Declaration Form x 2 (on arrival and before departure). Check the official website for details.
- Traveller Health Declaration Form: The Traveller Health Declaration form (THD) has to be submitted on http://imuga.immigration.gov.mv by all visitors twice – 24 hours before you fly into the Maldives and a second time before you depart from the Maldives.
- COVID test: All visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival at Velana International Airport. The test must be conducted within a maximum duration of 72 hours before departure from the country of origin.
- Quarantine: You are not required for any quarantine if you have a negative PCR test result certificate. But if your COVID-19 test result is positive, you have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at your own cost.
- Resorts COVID ready: All tourist facilities operating during this phase will have access to medical services, full PPE kits and a COVID-19 safety manager. Travel to other islands or the capital, Male’ City is not permitted during your entire stay.
I hope I have been able to answer all your queries regarding Maldives Travel. When are you going to experience the sunny side of life in Maldives?
Below links will provide you with the updated and correct information on the COVID-19 scenario in the Maldives.
- Latest COVID-19 updates: https://covid19.health.gov.mv/en/
- Maldives COVID-19 Dashboard: https://covid19.health.gov.mv/dashboard/
- Post covid19 travel: safest countries to visit in Asia
- Flooded Future: Can the sinking Maldives be saved?
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