12 things i learned in the 6 days i spent in the maldives

We spent 5 nights and 6 days at Mercure Kooddoo on Kooddoo Island, and about 1.5 days in Malé, the capital city. We had trouble picking an island at first because everything was ridiculously expensive. The deciding factor was that we found a TravelZoo deal for an overwater villa, with a private pool, mini bar, food/drinks included, one water activity, and free use of their snorkeling/paddleboard equipment. Here is what I learned from our stay in the Maldives:

1. The Maldives is made up of about 1200 small coral islands but only 200 are inhabited

Of those 200, 132 of them are resorts so each resort is pretty much its own island. To get here, it’s a bit of a trek. You have to first fly into Malé. From there, you would take a smaller flight to the resort, and sometimes another speedboat after the flight, depending on which island you are visiting. It’s difficult to island hop because you would need to get back to Malé as your jumping point. It’s best to pick a resort you like and just spend your time there. I can’t imagine each island being that much different. We stayed at Mercure Kooddoo, in an overwater villa, which was all inclusive via a Travel Zoo deal. 

Outside the Malé Airport
Small plane to get to our island
2. Rainy season is May to October and dry season is November to April

We visited the first week of December 2021 and it was nice, with the exception of 1.5 rainy days. Luckily the day with heavy rain was the day we were leaving

3. When tipping, they accept US dollars at the resort

We withdrew Maldivian currency at the airport just in case, but there wasn’t really a need for it. Plus, all the establishments we went to in Malé accepted credit cards

4. I highly recommend all-inclusive food and drinks

If you’re going to spend that much to go to the Maldives, you might as well splurge instead of worrying about how much additional $ you will be spending on food and drinks. Even though the food is not excellent, I would say it’s above average. I would say it’s definitely better than the all-inclusive in the Caribbean/Mexico, that are overrun with American tourists

5. If you’re going to do Maldives, spend the extra money for an overwater villa

It’s a part of the whole experience. The Maldives is going to be expensive either way and for us, it was a once in a lifetime trip. If you can, shell out the extra $ for a pool. We didn’t even lay on the beach at all – we just spent most of our time in our villa, taking in the views

6. You don’t need to spend extra for ‘adults only’

Our resort was not adults only (at the time we went, but it now is) so I was worried that our experience might be ruined by screaming children. Luckily, there were no kids there. Yes, the Maldives are ‘family-friendly’ but it’s more of a couple’s destination. I’m pretty sure the average family does not spend their vacation in the Maldives

7. The Maldives are perfect for star-gazing

I live in the city, where there is a lot of light pollution so it’s not very often that I get such a great view of the stars. You’re in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which sounds kind of scary, but it really is a sight to see

8. There was a good amount of jellyfish while we were snorkeling

Mostly tiny ones that’ll sting you but it’s more of an annoyance than anything dangerous (at least I don’t think so). It feels like a pinch. But I did see a few with tentacles that were about the size of a fist. Once we saw these, we noped out of the ocean and just hung out at the pool in our villa

9. This is ever-changing of course, but at the time we traveled, we needed to fill out the Maldives IMUGA health form, and a negative COVID test 76 hours prior

It’s very nerve-wracking any time you need to present a negative test – especially, since we were traveling around Dubai/Abu Dhabi prior. A constant worry of mine was catching COVID there and not being able to go to the Maldives. Another major worry was catching COVID in the Maldives and not being able to go back to the US – especially since they had JUST implemented the 24 hour rule the day before we were leaving. This mandate has been lifted as of June 12, 2021

10. The Maldives is 100% Muslim

In fact, there’s a law that states that non-Muslims cannot be a citizen of the Maldives

11. The capital city, Malé is pretty dirty

It’s a stark contrast to the beautiful islands. I wanted to try some local food but the hotel clerk recommended against it. The streets are dangerous in the sense that it is not a walkable city. There are no side walks and there are lots of motor bikes, who don’t yield to pedestrians. It’s definitely not a place to bring kids but we saw a good amount of strollers. We spent a total of 1.5 days here and honestly, there isn’t much to do. But we figured since we’d have to fly back to Malé from the islands, we might as well check it out. This was also right when the U.S. implemented the 24 hour COVID test mandate, so we had to pay about $200 per person for an expedited PCR test, on top of the COVID test we needed to pay for in order to leave the resort. It wasn’t worth it. Even if no COVID test was required, I’m not still not sure it’s worth a visit

Motor bikes everywhere. This was a major street, so there was a sidewalk but most of the side streets do not have one
12. There is no McDonald’s here

I love visiting McDonald’s in every country I visit but unfortunately, the chain has not made it to the Maldives. They did have Burger King and KFC though

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