10 Things You Need to Know About Maldives Before Booking A Flight.
Today Maldives has become an affordable and accessible place to travel, especially when AirAsia started to pave its route to the little bits of heaven known as ‘always natural’. Now not only everyone can fly, everyone can also visit Maldives. Since more and more people are going there, here’s what I think you should know beforehand.
1. Always take the PUBLIC ferry. Never take the PRIVATE ferry.
Malé airport is established on an island, so you HAVE to take a ferry to leave it unless you want to swim in the Indian Ocean. A ride to Malé only takes 15 minutes and the public ferry costs 1 USD per person, so I think it doesn’t make sense to take a speed boat unless Leonardo diCaprio is your sugar daddy.
Where to find the public ferry?
Once you exit the airport, turn LEFT and you will see a blue “i”, the information center. Ask them questions. You can also use their phone to make any local phone calls for free.
Exit the airport and find a hut that says ‘Ferry to Malé’ located at a space that looks like a jetty, shown in the picture above. Make sure you have rufiyaa or small change in USD. There might be many people trying to get you onboard their private boats, so just focus on the booth and sway not!
We felt like Syrian refugees crossing sea borders in the absolutely pitch dark, rocky piece of boat that was our transportation for the night. However, if you arrive during the day, I’m positive that it’d be a totally sunnier scene.
2. Malé is proper shit.
Despite being the capital of Maldives, unlike other countries, don’t be mistaken that you have to make the most out of your trip by staying in the city. Select one out of the hundred islands developed for tourists and make your way there as soon as you can.
Despite Lonely Planet’s attempt to write a good paragraph about the heart of the country, there are only 3 points of interest here, which is a museum, old mosque and fish market (a dangerous downgrade from Tsukiji in Tokyo).
It was late at night when we arrived Malé, dragging our luggages across beaten roads to look for our hotel, which reminds me of Sri Lanka. The streets were filled with men; hardly any women could be seen. Admittedly, I picked a
basic lousy accommodation with good location (judged based on its proximity to the jetty for the next day) so that we can depart to our chosen island with ease first thing in the morning.
The old, creepy hotel, Kaani Lodge, turned out to be one of the worst stays I ever had, second to Kathmandu’s. Despite its basic and clean photos on Booking.com, we were horrified with what we found:
We were welcomed by being told upfront that because we’re only ‘transiting’, we will be given a unit on the 5th floor instead of our initial room, which means we had to climb up and down the crazy flight of stairs every time we needed wifi, because the lobby is the only place that has it. With every floor that we ascend, our smell sensory system was triggered by odd, foul smells that worsen with height; from cheap detergent to food takeaways and a mix of both, wafting at our floor and into our bedroom. The paint peeled above our heads and our blankets were as thin as paper.
Later, Yvonne was trapped in a cold shower because the heater didn’t work. So I had to climb the goddamn stairs for the third and fourth time to lodge a complain, which I learned after a good fight that they KNEW about the matter all the while, and STILL gave us the room because we’re only ‘transiting’.
3. Every hotel requires you to pay tax, transfer fee (per person) and service charge (per stay).
Whether it is a nice hotel with good service or a lousy one that makes you climb stairs with your own suitcases, don’t be surprised if the amount required for you to pay, differs from what you reserved from booking sites online.
If you look closely at your reservation emails, most of them will state in small fonts what is excluded from the biggest fonts, which is the price to make it look a lot cheaper. Tricky, tricky.
4. It is cheaper to use Maldivian rufiyaa than USD, but be sure to use them up WITHIN the islands.
Guess what – even the local airport refuses to exchange rifuyaa into USD, so be sure NOT to exchange too much local money. This happened to Yvonne, which we find extremely unfair, especially when it is their own shitty currency. I wouldn’t want this to happen to you because otherwise, good luck trying to find a country that would accept rufiyaa!
5. Go big, go home, or keep your expectations low.
From my research, W Maldives Hotel is probably the most amazing hotel within the archipelago. If you ask me, now that I’ve been there and back, if you don’t have the budget to splurge like they used to do in Maldives, it is going to look pretty much just like another island vacation anywhere around the world, but with cleaner, clearer water (plus some ridiculous rules you’ll read about later). If you don’t mind that and just want to tick Maldives off your travel list like I did, then keep your expectations flat, if not low.
6. You can ONLY wear your bikini / swimsuit at a given area of the beach.
Anyone with the right mind would think that it is natural to wear their swimming trunks after traveling all the way for a beach vacation, but not in Maldives. Tourists are given a small area throughout the entire Maafushi island to exist in their bathing suits.
“But I look like I just came out of a shower, wrapped in a towel like this. It’s even worse; I look naked!”, was my argument.
All I got was a disapproving Indian nod from the hotelier and that was the end of the story.
7. Men has more ego than hospitality.
An old Maldivian man in his 70s cut our queue when we were buying ferry tickets. To us, it was damn rude. To everyone else, men all around, it was no big deal.
Whether the person is a hotel manager or waiter, despite being in the industry of tourism and hospitality, from all the talks I had with the Maldivian men gathered, ‘men are always right’; even if you’re a paying customer. If they have to admit that you, a woman is right, you can see the word ‘ego’ written all over their face. And I’ve lost count of how many “FTS” I’ve said to myself after every chat.
8. No-alcohol policy is serious to the extend of RIDICULOUS.
Just like the bikini truth in #6, one might think she could sip a refreshing cocktail by the beach, but no. I spent my beach days humming “If you like piña colada” more than actually sipping piña colada.
In Maldives, or Maafushi at least, if you want to drink alcohol, you have to get out of the island and drink in the middle of the sea on a rocking boat (pictured above) till you feel seasick. I didn’t know one could fuck up a simple martini so much – I promise I’m not exaggerating. Think about it; a bartender who never drinks is just like a fireman who is afraid of fire. Again, FTS.
9. Anywhere you go, it is gonna have to be by boat.
Just in case we have readers here who tend to get seasick easily, if you’re one of them, Maldives is probably not the friendliest island for you. Not that it was at the first place in any way in my opinion.
Though I don’t fall into the seasick category, me and another lady from Boston was so ‘sick’ the other day we just couldn’t take another swim to save our lives! Yvonne was rocking it though; on the surfboard or without the safety jacket.
10. Be prepared for electricity to go off at night.
I almost got caught in a soapy, blinding shower or celebrate my birthday dinner in the dark. Lucky they happened the day before, or having to pick fish bones with the help of candles and moonlight would be quite depressingly memorable, if you ask me.
I am sorry if this post seems to err more towards the negative side of things. Maldivian men may keep me down but opinions are my own.
Knowing all this, would Maldives still be your go-to vacation? Let me know in the comments below.