This is the last of the posts about the Maldives. Our trip was short but sweet: we visited a couple of local islands and visited a luxurious one, enjoyed delicious food (and fell in love with the Maldivian breakfast mas huni), saw sharks and mantas (among other underwater animals), and met some amazing people. If you were to ask me which we enjoyed better and what I would recommend for future tourists and travelers, here are some of the things you should consider when choosing between a local or resort island:
1. It’s all about the money
How much are you willing to spend for a night’s stay? In comparison, our accommodation in the local islands cost about 85 USD a night while a night at the resort cost us 512 USD for a night’s stay (116 USD more if we paid for the upgrade to an ocean villa). Some travel sites offer packages for long staying guests and is considerably cheaper than getting the published daily rates. Aside from the accommodation, also consider that not all activities in the resorts are free and rates for massages, food (also see point 5 below), island hopping, and diving cost two to three times more than in the local islands.
2. What else can I do?
Local island stays are meant to be budget accommodations, so expect little to no added amenities apart from your room, a restaurant, and free wifi (but at times it can be unreliable). Only a few local island stays have swimming pools (but who really needs one if you are in the Maldives) and may not even have sports equipment for kayaking or snorkeling or facilities for water activities like dive centers for diving. If you intend to stay in a local island hotel, check that they will have the amenities you are looking for to avoid being disappointed.
3. If you like pina coladas…
As a Muslim country, bringing alcohol into the Maldives is prohibited. Local islands don’t sell alcohol (even in the hotels). If drinking alcohol is a big deal for you, better stay in a resort island where the sale and consumption of it is allowed.
4. Life’s better in a bikini
As with alcohol, the Maldives does not allow the wearing bikinis in public because they are Muslim. There are designated bikini beaches though and, contrary to previous blogs I have read, the wearing shorts and short dresses are allowed if ever you decided to roam around the town. However, wearing bikinis all day and everywhere are allowed in the resort islands, except for some restaurants that require a minimal dress code (as our experience in the Centara).
5. And lastly, where and what do you intend to eat?
Hotels and resorts actually offer full board meals, but we did not take them. I think it was better to be able to choose the food we were getting versus eating whatever they had for the day, even at the Centara which had buffet lunches and dinners. However, just remember that a local island will have minimal offerings but will give you the experience of eating like the locals do (in Dhangethi) or giving you the options to eat what you want (in our case, we had yummy pizzas at a local Thulusdoo pizzeria). A resort island will not give you these options, however, I believe they will still have more food offerings than what a local island will. Consider this when you are booking your trip, too.
Pre-dinner aperitif at Al Khaimah
In the end, every island is still different: remember, we enjoyed our trips in both Dhangethi and the Centara Ras but were disappointed at how our trip to Thulusdhoo turned out. It’s all about making the most out of the experience, wherever you may be. But I do hope your trip to the Maldives turns out to be as unforgettable as ours!