With the introduction of Guest Houses on local islands it is making holidaying in the Maldives much more affordable and a local Cultural Experiences can be just as much fun as a resort island experiences but at a fraction of the price. However, there are some important differences between a holiday on a resort and a holiday on a local island to take into consideration:
With the Maldives being Muslim country you are strictly forbidden to bring any alcohol into the country, so do not waste money on buying this at duty free, as it will be taken off you by customs on arrival! Whilst alcohol is freely available on Tourist Resorts and Safari Boats, again it is strictly forbidden on local islands, the Capital Male and uninhabited islands, therefore you will not be able to purchase or bring in alcohol to the local island
It is important to respect the Muslim culture of the Maldives, especially when it comes to dress code, particularly if you are staying on a local island.
Within the grounds of the Guest House and private beach area (if applicable) allocated to the Guest House you are free to wear swim suites and casual summer clothing, however when walking around the local island modest clothing should be worn out of respect for the culture. Shoulders should be covered (no vests or sleeveless tops or dresses). Short sleeves are fine provided your shoulders are covered. Knees must be covered, so this means wearing dresses or skirts that come below the knees, cropped trousers. Men should also be respectful and keep shoulders covered and long shorts.
Transport to your chosen island will be one of the following:
Local Ferry – These are usually large wooden Dhoni’s and the way most locals travel and how supplies get to the island. This is the cheapest form of transport in the Maldives. Usually there are set days for the local ferry and for Atolls further afield the local ferry may only be once or twice per week. The journey can be anything from 1 hour to 24 hours depending on the Atoll.
Speedboat – Private companies operate speedboat transfers to some local islands and again these may be on fixed days, twice weekly. To hire a private speed launch can cost 1,000’s USD so it is better to work your days around the local schedules. The journey can be anything from 1 hour – 6 hours depending on the Atoll
Domestic Flight – There are approximately 8 domestic airports in the Maldives at this time, with more planned. Locals as well as tourist travel on the domestic flights and whilst more expensive than the local ferry, the schedules are more convenient and the journey a lot quicker.
Seaplane – The most unique experience you will have, but of course the most expensive as well. Seaplanes operate daily but schedules are not fixed as it depends on the arrivals and departures for that day and will usually land at a nearby resort, where you will be picked up by Dhoni. Seaplanes cannot operate at night therefore your international flight should land no later than 15.30hrs and must depart after 09.00hrs. Average costs of a seaplane transfer is anything from 175USD – 350USD per person one way.