The Maldives is a bucket-list destination for many. Those picture-perfect scenes you see in glossy magazines aren't photo-shopped - the country really is that perfect. Made up of around 1900 islands (the exact number depends on the tide) arranged into 26 atolls, you will see plenty of white sandy islands in the water, some with just a single solitary palm tree standing on them. Water temperatures average 29 C, so this is a very pleasant location to swim, snorkel or dive - in fact the snorkelling and diving are some of the best in the world with a huge range of fish (including sharks) and cetacea. One of our most memorable moments occurred when we were snorkelling on the house reef at Park Hyatt Maldives and suddenly noticed fins off in the distance - within minutes we were swimming with a pod of bottle-nose dolphins.
Naturally, this idyll of warm seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels does not come cheap. This is one destination where you can really appreciate the value of hotel loyalty schemes. If you are simply looking for rest, relaxation and luxury, we would probably recommend trying Fusion Maia in Vietnam where you could stay at a fraction of the cost. However, there is nothing quite like waking up in the morning, walking a couple of laps of your island paradise and snorkelling, surrounded by shoals of fish, a variety of shapes and colours. The Maldives is the perfect honeymoon destination and somewhere we would recommend everyone visit at least once.
One of most travellers' major concerns is the climate. For many, a trip to the Maldives will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and poor weather can spoil a trip when you've dreamed of sunny days.
The good news is that temperatures are pretty steady year round, averaging a balmy 30 C. Being so close to the equator, hours of daylight do not change much between the two seasons (wet and dry). During the dry season, from November to March, the weather is typically dry (the clue's in the name) and sunny. However, during the 'wet' season (from May to October) it doesn't rain all day or every day. In general, winds are stronger and there may be afternoon showers. Occasionally, violent storms may disturb these islands, which can make transfer to your resort impossible for a day or two. In these situations, the hotel will arrange alternative accommodation and flights, if required. The transitional month of April tends to offer clear, steady weather.
We have travelled to the Maldives in low season (June and August) and had perfect weather, whereas we know people who visited in the dry season and experienced terrible weather, so the rule isn't steadfast. One thing to note is that hotel prices are much higher during the dry season, so if your main aim is to relax, perhaps take the risk of travelling in May-September.
Although a Muslim country, the Maldives is easy going once you are in a resort (although nudity or skinny dipping is strictly prohibited). However, it is illegal to import some products into the country, including alcohol. This includes in hand or checked luggage - if you want to drink, you will have to pay the inflated hotel prices. There is no way around it.
Provided you have an onward flight out of the Maldives booked, all visitors are granted a thirty day fee-free visa on arrival. No pre-registration is required for any nationality.
The official currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa but everything is priced in US dollars. Having said that, it is likely that most if not all of your spend will be in-hotel, thus will be charged to the bill - you don't need much cash.