The Maldives with your family: practical guide

25 June 2020

Numerous small islands, turquoise water, beautiful sandy beaches. The perfect image for the ideal holiday. And why not staying in the Maldives? A postcard setting that will delight children and adults. Even though nearly 800 000 tourists arrive every year in the Maldives, it is the perfect destination to relax with your family, in a true Robinson Crusoe style. Get on board for paradise with our new Little Guest Hotels Collection guide.

A dad and his kids snorkelling

 

Table of contents

  1. The Maldives in brief
  2. What you need to know
  3. A postcard scenery
  4. Which hotels to chose for a family stay
  5. What to do with the children
  6. The 3 essentials to live with your family in the Maldives

 

1. The Maldives in brief

  • Capital: Malé
  • Population: 395,000 inhabitants
  • Area: 298 square kilometre
  • Currency: the rufiyaa, but everything will be charged in dollars, the common currency used for trade.
  • Time zone: UTC +5H
  • Political regime: Presidential Republic
  • Languages: Divehi, English

Religion: 99% Sunni Muslims (prohibition to wear distinctive signs of other religions)

 

2. What you need to know

When is the right time to go the Maldives?

If you can, avoid the high season, which is from December to February. There are still too many people in order to really enjoy the places, and also the prices are at their highest. The low season runs from May to November. You will get lower prices, however, the climate is not ideal for a family stay, with many storms and high heat. A good compromise is to choose a stay between March and April.

 

What budget should be planned?

On an average budget, count on a range between 150 and 400 euros for a night stay in a hotel. A room in a luxury hotel will cost you on average 750 to 800 euros. As for restaurants, count on about $20 per person (approximately 18 euros). If you add local taxes (12%) and other small fees, the daily bill can reach or even exceed $1,000 (approximately 900 euros) per day. You should know that almost everything is imported into the islands. But all in all the dreams and memories created in the Maldives for the children will certainly justify a budget that is worth it. As we say, when you love, you don’t count.

 

How to reach the Maldives?

The most romantic will embark on a white sailboat in a Robinson Crusoe style. The picture is beautiful and tempting, it is true. The others, who are in a hurry to reach their final destination, will probably prefer to travel by plane in order to enjoy precious moments with their family in this idyllic and luxurious environment. From Brussels, several airlines offer flights to the Maldives, including Brussels Airlines, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. The flights include stopovers via Paris, London or Frankfurt. The flight time to Malé International Airport is approximately 15 to 17 hours. On-site, shuttles are either by speedboat, yacht or seaplane and will take you directly to the doors of your palace.

If you are departing from France, Emirates Airlines or XL Airways serve the Maldives from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. If you are looking for your holiday destination on the map to show it to your children, you should know that the Maldives is about 373 miles south-west of Sri Lanka. A jewel embedded in the heart of the Indian Ocean that you will discover as if you were the Tex Avery’s wolf, his tongue unrolled like the red carpet. More than 1200 islets make up the Maldives, of which barely 200 islands are inhabited.

 

 

What administrative procedures/ steps do you need to take before the departure?

If you intend to stay less than 30 days, a valid passport for 6 months after the end of your stay will be required. It will entitle you to a 30-day visa. Do not exceed the validity date, otherwise, you will be prosecuted. As proof, you will need to show return tickets for you and your family. And to be able to show a visa for your stay and an address of an accommodation point if you are asked to do so when entering Maldivian territory.

 

What are the health and safety risks?

While there are no significant health risks in the Maldives, some vaccines are recommended which are those against Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Rabies, not to mention universal childhood vaccines. If you are travelling with babies, make sure you have everything you need for them, but most of the time, high-end hotels will have some first aid boxes. Also, you should make sure that you have everything you need for sun protection. Water, sand, the sun is the perfect combination to catch a sunstroke. Think about this kind of things when you are packing such as taking a maximum protection rating cream. If you are going with young children, cover them with a hat and T-shirt. And protect yourself too if you have light skin and get easily sunburned. Don’t miss our dedicated guides to the best UV protections, as well as the one dedicated to children’s sunglasses!

Concerning security on the island, it is best to leave your valuables in the hotel safe, photocopy your family’s passports, scan them and send them to your mailbox. It will be easier if you need them for any reason. In hotels, you will not often need cash, everything will be charged (in dollars) on the room bill. A practical solution that will also save you headaches when converting currencies.

 

The Maldives, a destination to avoid?

Long decried for its undemocratic domestic policy, the Maldives is now a better place and no longer justifies the call for a boycott that some had been calling for. The Maldives has made a political and religious shift that we explained in an article published in June 2019 and to be re-read here. The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website does not in any way advise against travelling to the Maldives, it is a destination considered safe, even for families.

The possible risks are those of petty crime, present everywhere, as well as those related to diving accidents. Which you will avoid with the right on-site supervision. The French Foreign Affairs provide excellent security advice, especially with regards to Malé’s visit. In the event of problems, Belgian and French tourists can contact their respective Honorary Consulates.

 

Why going to the Maldives with your family?

Apart from being a destination for unforgettable memories, choosing the Maldives for a family holiday is a wise choice. Why? Because you will be able to show your children the beauty of nature and the need to preserve it. A theme that is particularly important to the younger generations. By discovering the beauty of the lagoons, corals and animal species, your children will inevitably become aware of their fragility. It is up to you to successfully combine the playful and educational aspects during your stay.

Most importantly the Maldives is one of those areas that are at risk -in the long term- of being flooded which is one of a disastrous consequence of global warming. In terms of transportation, travels between atolls are safe by boat or seaplane.

 

Respect and culture.

As the dictum goes, “When in Rome do as the Romans”. Given that the population of the Maldives is predominantly Muslim, alcohol is not available on the islands, except in large hotels or airport bars. And please do not bring your own bottles, they will be confiscated at the airport. Drink water, but not tap water, which is generally not recommended for tourists. Another measure of respect is to dress appropriately when you are outside the hotels.

There is no excuse to stroll around the islands, especially in Malé, in a swimsuit, bikini or light clothing. Except in the case of an excursion to a desert island, where there is a little more tolerance allowed. Even if this applies to any other destination, you should also know that it is forbidden to pick up and leave the country with natural souvenirs, such as shells, sand, coral etc. Don’t risk trying. And spread the word to the children, who are often collectors.

 

 

3. A postcard scenery

Blue, green, white and yellow. The colour palette, the crystal water offered by the Maldives contrasts with the grey tones of the European sky. This can only be a dream come true for the family who sets foot for the first time on this island. And the feeling may well be the same on each of your trips to these atolls that everyone dreams of visiting. Don’t miss any human interaction with the Maldivians that are known to be very welcoming, low-stress and opened towards the tourists who comes to discover the country. If you appreciate solitude, you should know that of the 1200 islets of the archipelago, only 200 are inhabited. So, if you want some freedom it will be soon fulfilled. And even more so if you want to avoid the overcrowding of the high season. And as images are often better than words, a visit to the Maldivian Tourist Office website is a must.

 

4. Which hotels to choose for a family stay?

 

One&Only Reethi Rha*****

Located on the North Malé atoll, it offers rich treasures to seduce you and your family. With a private beach, an outdoor swimming pool, no less than five restaurants, a cinema, tennis courts, a hairdresser’s and fitness salon, a wine cellar (more than 700 wine vintages references ) and multiple activities to keep your children busy, whether they are young or teenagers. For accommodation, you have the choice, such as the Beach villa with direct access to the beach, or, our favourite, the Water villas built on stilts. And when it comes to gastronomy, the hotel offers five restaurants with a view of the lagoon and full of surprises on the plate.

A dreamy scenery that can be reached in a luxury ship or, if you want to play it in a Fantastic Island style, the cult soap opera of the 80s, it can be reached with a seaplane. There, for sure, the kids will keep an unforgettable memory of this spectacular arrival.

 

Soneva Fushi *****

Staying at Soneva Fushi, located on Kunfunadhoo, the largest islands of the Maldives means choosing among the 61 luxury beachfront villas that guarantee a total intimacy for your family. Large families will find their place and children will enjoy their own activities in the adapted clubs, the perfect solution to give you time to get back into shape, with yoga or fitness classes offered. A little piece of haven where you will discover the pleasure of freedom while enjoying the nature and some leisure including the fine sandy beach and the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean.

When you say beach, you also say ice cream. Don’t look for your kids, they’ll be at the So Cool store. An address at the 1001 ice cream parlours. A good address that they will no doubt agree to share with you in a great burst of laughter. And don’t worry, you, parents will not be forgotten when it comes to the gastronomic offer that is as beautiful as the landscape. Little advice, come in August to discover the menus prepared by the starred Chefs present every year at this period.

 

LUX* North Malé Atoll*****

As soon as you arrived with your family on Olhahali Island, North Malé Atoll, it will only take you a few moments to reach the vast private lagoon and discover the beauty of its coral massif. A hotel that care about your comfort and your children, offering them a kids-club with multiple activities. Enough to leave you plenty of free time to enjoy with your significant other. That is what holidays are all about, being able to meet up with your lover. Are you planning to party at night? No problem, a babysitting service is at your disposal.

When it comes to gastronomy, you can choose between six restaurants. And if coffee is important for you in the morning, head to Café LUX*, which is said to serve the best coffees in the world. As for your children, they will be given adapted menus, including baby food. It is all set up for them.

 

 

5. What to do with the children?

As soon as you arrive on the Maldives, you will find that your children will soon forget their smartphones and other game consoles. A digital detox that will be more than welcome. You may not see them all day as they will be busy trying the many activities that are also designed for you, by the way. Hotels often provide high-quality clubs for children. An opportunity to discover other cultures in addition to the Maldives and its treasures.

  • Water sports. In the Maldives, your children will be at least certain of one thing: they won’t have to endure the long museum visits. As a matter of fact, there are very few of them. In the Maldives, you can sunbath and relax on the sandy beaches and do water sports to disconnect and recharge as a family. After all, you certainly came here for that. No doubt you won’t have to beg to your kids to accompany you on the sea or the beach. If your children can’t swim yet, there are small lagoons with crystal clear water and ideal temperature that will make excellent little pools for their first swims. The more adventurous of your family can also do some diving, windsurfing or water-skiing clubs. If you have the soul of an Ernest Hemingway, fishing trips can be also planned. Don’t miss our guide to the best diving spots in the world!
  • Discovery of wild animals. There are no aquariums in the Maldives. The most beautiful fish are found in their natural habitat: the sea. The children will be able to swim with the coral fishes that have a distinguished shimmering colour. A real ballet for the eyes. Discover from a boat the dolphins or whales bouncing in the water, a fantastic show. Unforgettable memories guaranteed for your little blonde heads.
  • Cruises. The ideal solution for a complete overview of the most beautiful atolls. Without getting tired with a cocktail in hand. A cruise offered on a luxury vessel can be combined with a diving safari.

Our favourite. A sailing trip with a local guide to discover a deserted island and enjoy a picnic with the family around a bond fire on the beach and be given the opportunity to act like Tom Hanks in the movie Alone in the World for few hours. A quietness that will enable you to rediscover the joy of being together, parents and children alike, and will strengthen family ties. You and your family will come back closer than ever from this trip.

  • The shuttles. Carried out from one island to another on board of the old dhoni and vedhi which are typical Maldivian boats. It is often the only possibility to meet the locals. Enough to imagine you as Henri de Monfreid.

 

 

6. The 3 essentials to live with your family in the Maldives

  • Visit Malé, the overpopulated capital of the Maldives. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the very colourful facades of the old Friday mosque, built in the 17th century and whose main feature is its facades decorated with carved coral as well as the tombstones.
  • Discover the atoll of Rasdhoo and its hammerhead sharks. A dive that will make you forget your fear of sharks due to the good supervision, you and your family will have no fear of moving close to the sharks. More peaceful and tranquil, the whale shark allows itself to be approached. You will probably meet the whale shark nearby Ari’s atoll. The biggest fish in the world will amaze your children with its dimensions which are 10 meters long!
  • Learn to dive and practice snorkelling. There are two activities for families all together. You will think that you are Commander Cousteau in the middle of a magical, colourful universe populated by creatures you won’t see again anytime soon. Like the Manta rays, very present in this small paradise for divers that is the bay of Hanifaru Huraa, a protected reserve. Each hotel has its own diving club and classes for beginners.

 

In short, the Maldives offers you what you are looking for when you are travelling with your family: luxury hotels with outstanding services, a truly idyllic setting and security for you and your loved ones.

Have a good trip!

 

Philippe, curious journalist and globetrotter, from Brussels, Belgium

 

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