Is Maldives Safe? Travel Advice and Things to Know
Set amidst cyan blue water of the Indian Ocean lie 1200 coral islands forming the archipelago called the Maldives. The mystical setting of this country looks like it has come right out of a fairytale. Pearly white beaches encircled by vivid barrier reefs and deep blue lagoons form its landscape. And, at its heart lies the capital city Malé. Blessed with such phenomenal beauty and serenity, this island retreat has won the hearts of countless people around the globe. Thousands of tourists visit the Maldives every year. In fact, tourism is a significant contributor to Maldives' economy. Sunkissed mornings at the beach, afternoons spent braving the ocean tides, and day ending with the orange sun setting in the sky. What more can we dream of in a perfect tropical haven? So yes, Maldives is safe for travel!
It is not just the bewitching landscape and the luxurious overwater villas that attracts the lovebirds, families or the adventure lovers, it is the safety and harmony in the Maldives that completes the package. Despite being an Islamic country, the diverse national amazingly hosts many religions under a single roof. Its tourists are its responsibility, and the government has made numerous measures to ensure each individual's safety and well-being. However, before visiting the archipelagic country, a few facts need to be made abreast, so you do not just have a fun trip but a secure one too.
Health Risks in Maldives
First on the checklist is safety regarding health. Luckily, Maldives has an impressive record for an isolated island nation. Almost every resort has an on-site doctor or trained nurse to handle general medical issues. Health clinics and regional hospitals are present on all major atolls, most of them concentrated in the capital city of Malé.
There are no widespread diseases prevalent as such, but the country has a risk of Zika virus. Hence, pregnant women, or couples trying to have a child, should avoid travelling to the archipelago as this deadly virus is known to cause some congenital disabilities and pregnancy complications. Nonetheless, it is wise to carry a small medical kit and have valid health insurance for any emergency. Just keep in mind to have a proper prescription for any medicines you take. It is also recommended to get the routine vaccinations or those for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, cholera, etc. If a person is coming from a country at high risk of yellow fever, then the vaccination for yellow fever is mandatory and demanded by the concerned authorities.
Maldives is a nation that lies near the equator. So it gets plenty of sun shining directly at 90 degrees. The balmy weather, with short intermittent downpours and pleasant sea breezes, demands lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. However, make sure to avoid overexposure to the sun and cover your body. Apply plenty of sunscreens, water-resistant if heading towards the ocean. Take good care of your skin and hair. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids. Before plunging into the sea, make sure that you wear a pre-treated diving gear to prevent skin rashes or infections.
Mosquitos are a big nuisance on some of the islands. Hence, this is a place where mosquito repellants and sleeping nets will come in handy. Now, most of the resorts provide mosquito nets if their islands feast a lot of them, but do carry a personal one just in case.
Lastly, you must be aware that your body takes time to adjust to new environmental conditions, so, experiencing traveller's diarrhoea is pretty normal. Little precautions can be taken like drinking only from sealed bottles and cans or eating vegetables only after washing them or taking ice only if made from disinfected water.
Maldives Safety While Travelling
Next in line is safety during in-land travel. Well, good news. The Maldives is perfectly safe for travelling. Be it on the road or through the sea, each mode of transport runs on some ground rules to ensure the travellers a breezy and safe journey. Be it the capital city or the remote islands, you can explore all the places without any danger. Just keep yourself updated about the current situation and events of that place, and you are good to go.
This South Asian country lies a few kilometres off the southwest coast of Sri Lanka and can be reached via flights to the Malé International Airport and other airports in Maldives. Being an island nation makes sea transfers the dominating mode of transportation. Various seaplanes, locally called air taxis, operate in the archipelago to shuttle between the islands. From the airport, you can reach your resort via speedboats or motorized water taxis that operate at reasonable fairs. But to practice safety, all sea transfers stop about an hour before the sunset. So, in case you are arriving in the Maldives at night, you will be bound to spend the night at Malé in one of the hotels and then voyage to your destination resort during the day.
All boats and speedboats are well maintained and checked regularly for any sign of leakages. Safe routes are taken by the boat operators to ferry around the islands. Travelling to solitary non-resort islands in Maldives is safe as well but generally discouraged by the people. Reason being, they want those islands to remain untampered by human interference. Hence, you need advance approval and an authorized tour operator to guide you around the non-resort islands.
The roads in the Maldives are bricked and well maintained as well. Narrow roads on remote islands are maintained individually as well. Hence, driving will be a smooth experience. However, only a few islands have roads wide enough for automobiles. Cars are available for rent at Malé, but you need a Maldivian driving license to drive. Driving is done on the left side of the road, and speed limit at most places is about 25 km/h. Sadly, due to the lack of strict traffic rules, you will find your patience being tested when you hit the road as many people drive recklessly.
Taxis and Buses operate at fixed rates and as per their schedule. The local transportation is convenient and easily available. You can also traverse the island through the forest trails but avoid touching or petting or feed a wild animal and lookout for the poisonous insects. It is best to have a guided trek or you might lose your way.
Lastly, since the Maldives is an Islamic nation, carrying alcohol or wearing skimpy outfits is despised by the locals. Wherever you go make sure you abide by the local culture and customs in Maldives and not disrespect anyone's religious sentiments in any way.
Crime in Maldives: Is Maldives Safe?
It is a fact that despite strict law enforcement, no country can ever get devoid of crime completely. Luckily, when it comes to the Maldives, this archipelagic country is deemed particularly safe for tourists. The crime rate and incarceration rates are pretty low. However, petty thefts and robberies have become commonplace in the last few years, especially in the capital city Malé. Hence, when travelling to public places like beaches, be vigilant about your personal belongings. Leaving them unattended is just making it easy baits for the thieves. Also, beware of the pickpockets in crowded areas. Refrain from flaunting expensive belongings that may catch unwanted eyes.
Talking about resorts, being situated on secluded islands makes the security of their guests a high priority for them. All of them have a well-laid security system. In the past, a few break-ins occurred in some of the posh resorts, and all were suspected to be carried out using an insider's assistance. Since then, the resorts have become more alert. Now, over the time, such mishappenings have reduced to almost zero. Nonetheless, it is advisable to lock your stuff in safe deposit boxes instead of lying unattended in your room while you leave to stroll outside your hotel.
Tips For Sea Safety in Maldives
After the comfortable abode of your luxurious overwater bungalows, the beach will be the second place where you will spend most of your time. Be it lying on the powdery sand and basking in the tropical sun, or adventuring the water world underneath through snorkelling in Maldives, the sea is an integral part of the island's itinerary. Snorkelling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, swimming- at the Maldives you will find yourself feasting the water in more than one way. However, before plunging into the sea, there are some facts to be kept in mind for a safer trip.
Except for the rough tidal currents that build during the monsoon spells, the sea and lagoons are usually calm and placid throughout the year, being perfectly safe for both amateurs and skilled swimmers alike. The months from January till mid-April have been voted as the ideal period to go water sporting. Before hitting the beach, update yourself with the daily weather forecast.
The presence of numerous coral reefs leads to tiny corals and seashells scattered all over the beach. So, wear reef shoes or flip-flops to prevent your feet from getting wounded. Do not feast the waters after sunset as sharks and eels lurk the water at night. Take utmost care of your skin and hair after a long swim. Apply plenty of water-resistant sunblocks.
As soon as you dive into the crystal water of the ocean, you will be greeted by the panoramic multicoloured marine world. The colossal coral reefs are the treasure chests, providing a home to a myriad of fishes. Diving is extremely safe and sound unless one tries to meddle more than what was instructed. The vivid corals are best when observed from a distance, but getting way to close can give you nasty cuts as many corals contain poison. Their stings are painful. And not just the anemones, but fishes like stingrays and sea urchins are dangerous too. The wounds they inflict are itchy, and small broken coral pieces get stuck in them sometimes. If you are unlucky enough to encounter such a situation, do not panic. Clean your wound properly, preferably with hot water. Use an antiseptic and then consult a doctor.
The beauty and tranquillity of the sea will make you want to not leave the water, but longer durations underwater can cause serious decompression. Try not to exceed more than an hour and don't go beyond the depth of 30m as it's not allowed by the law too. Do not descend too quickly into the water. Take three-minute safety stops after every 5m. The same is while travelling up towards the surface. And lastly, avoid diving when you have less than a day's time left to travel via air.
With these small tips in mind, you will be good to go unravelling the beauty of the ocean without any fears.
Laws and Customs of Maldives
One thing that must be clearly registered in your mind is the strictness and seriousness of the Maldivian law on some aspects. The country hosts its guests amicably but is not tolerant at all when it comes to misconduct. Violating any of the following rules or disrespecting any religious custom in public can not only invite heavy fine but imprisonment as well.
1. Possession or illegal import of ammunition, explosives or any kind of weapons is a punishable offence and is severely dealt with by the law.
2. The anti-drug laws have become stricter due to the growing drug addiction amongst its youth. Consumption or transportation of drugs, even soft drugs, can land you imprisonment for a lifetime.
3. Since its a core Islamic country, possession of other religious articles like texts, books, or idols of worship, are deemed illegal. For personal devotional purposes, tourists are allowed to carry one religious item, but any more than that might arouse suspicion.
4. It is illegal to practice non-Islamic traditions in public or indulging any Maldivian in your personal practice. Offending this law can call for serious actions against you. Do not hurt the religious sentiments of any person and take extra care during the month of Ramadan which is the most important Islamic festival for the Maldivians.
5. Alcohol is not allowed by the Islamic law. Even though some resorts serve licensed alcohol, do not reach out to a Maldivian and offer him your drink to be friendly. You may want to steer clear of carrying any alcohol outside your resort's premises 'cause the consequences are not good.
6. Indulging in public displays of affections like kissing or holding hands is resented by the locals. Getting cosy is your luxurious resorts is okay but frowned upon in non-resort areas.
7. The balmy weather of the island can only be tackled with loose fitting lightweight clothes but make sure that your outfit is not too revealing or skimpy or disrespectful to the local traditions.
8. Pork and pork products are banned in the country.
9. Homosexuality or same-sex marriages are illegal in the country although the law is not strictly applicable to the tourists visiting the archipelago. LGBT couples can enjoy their holiday normally in Maldives but steer clear of indulging in public displays of affection.
10. Lastly and importantly, no matter how bewitching the corals look, do not try to take one of them as souvenirs. Export of coral strands or tortoise shells is a punishable offence.
A list of all the important emergency contacts that you need to know.
Police Hotline: 332 2111
Family and Child Protection Department: 979 0163 Fire: 118
The enchanting islands of Maldives have all reasons to satisfy your wanderlust. But unfortunately, the rising sea levels due to the increasing temperatures have darkened its future. In a few years from now, this tropical gem of the Indian Ocean will get submerged in the sea. So without ado, pack your bags, board your plane, and head towards this paradisiacal beauty. And, do not let the excitement catch you off guard. Enjoy the moment but stay vigilant. Always remember that safety begins with you!