Expat Travels: The Maldives, Solo

Sunday, January 07, 2018

...or, places I said I'd never go solo.

But, I survived The Maldives solo and single! Hallelujer!

After having my whole heart broken when my trip back to Bali was canceled, I was given the option of re-routing. There was a $44 difference to reroute into MLE so I went for it, albeit with great apprehension.

There are a few places that I've vowed not to go for one reason or another; The Maldives is one of them. Maldives is known as lovers paradise and as a single, solo traveler it just wasn't on my radar. Beyond that, I still haven't learned to swim, and besides romance, water sports are all there really is to do in Maldives.

My flight was canceled 5 days before my trip. I spent hours researching which atoll I'd be most comfortable and most vibrant in. I was elated to find a ton of information from other single and/or solo travelers about Maldives.

Quick Facts:

  • Each atoll in Maldives has its own time zone;  most are :30 behind Sri Lankan time (odd)
  • Maldives is a Muslim country. Therefore, modesty and appropriate dress is important and  respectful. So unless you will spend all of your time on a private resort you need to dress smartly, that means shoulders and knees covered.
  • Some atolls will have a separate bikini beach for people to wear, bikinis. This type of attire isn't allowed on the public beaches.
  • Alcohol is not served outside of the private resorts; public drunkenness is illegal.
  • Maldives is billed as a honeymoon destination and it is. If you're not comfy around families and couples galore, don't bother.
  • This is a very conservative island. Outside of romance and water sports, there is nooooothing to do there. There is no nightlife and no semblance of turn-up. You need to be okay with finding your own fun without breaking Sharia law. Consider this when deciding how long to stay.
  • Transportation can be really expensive and inconsistent. I strongly recommend choosing lodging that will sort this for you. I paid $60 for a roundtrip (airport-lodging-airport) speed boat ride. Some options could cost up to $200 PER PERSON if you don't plan accordingly.

Things to do:

  • Water activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and parasailing are popular and readily available. 
  • Beach bumming :)
  • Day trips to private resorts
  • Sailing-you can charter a private yacht and atoll-hop for the duration of your trip
  • Sunset fishing- your hotel will cook what you catch
  • Massage and spa time. I recommend the Triton Beach Spa, very affordable services.
Prevalent Maldives activities

Some of the day trip options for the resorts

I chose Maafushi atoll, and it was a good move. It's affordable, easy to access, had the most restaurants and a variety of lodging options compared to the other atolls. Now, Maafushi is not for everyone. A lot of locals live on this atoll, and it is very overdeveloped. It reminded me of a tinier Boracay if that's even possible, which is sad, but whatever. Basically, it's not representative of what you see of Maldives on Instagram.

The Maldives you won't see on IG
Not for the uber bougie

It's not completely downtrodden, either. Maafushi is the most popular atoll for good reason.

Sunset on Maasfushi

Maafushi mural art

I stayed at Velana Blu Hotel, and I absolutely recommend it. Despite booking last minute, I got a really good deal on an oceanfront room since they're brand new

via Velana Blu

Reminders about modesty

View from my room

To get to the Instagrammable places from Maafushi, you can easily book a day trip through your hotel to one of the private resorts for a quick stunt. I chose the Adaraan Prestige Vadoo. A day trip there cost $100, and was all-inclusive of transportation, food and unlimited beverages (alcohol included). You have access to the sun beds, towels, on-site water activities, the main beach and their pools for about 8 hours.

Christmas in paradise

Views from the main beach at Adaraan Prestige Vadoo

I saved hundreds of dollars by going the day trip route. I would have done another to a different resort but I was advised by a couple that when you see one you've seen 'em all, plus I didn't desire any alcohol and that was the main draw. A night at the resorts can run you a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000 per night depending on the atoll and amenities.

Food in Maldives is basically seafood. They're surrounded by water, so that's what you get. Tuna seemed to be a staple. It was included in my breakfast, and a group at my hotel raved over the flank as a main course. There are also various curries, fried breads and fried rice like you'd find in India and Malaysia. Of course they cater to westerners by serving other delicacies like basic Italian, chicken tenders and fries, and the like.

Breakfast: smoked tuna and roshi with pancake
Fried rice in Pineapple

Good ole coconut :)

Just about every restaurant had a similar menu

I spent my time in Maldives eating, relaxing, reading, biking, or beach bumming it. It is usually a rainy place but most days were sunny or partly cloudy.

Cute and covered on Maafushi beach

Biking Maafushi, which can be done in 30 minutes.
The dress was strapless, had to use my scarf to cover up.

I was initially dreading 5 days in such a place but it wasn't bad at all. In fact, I would love to return solo for some prime relaxation. My personality does allow me to be content with boredom and doing nothing, though. It's also the perfect place to lay up with "bae", but if either of you are adventurers, you're going to have a hard time in Maldives.

I agree with others that have noted that there are other, equally beautiful and less expensive islands to venture to. I've been all over the world and I'm still partial to the Caribbean and the Yucatan Peninsula. If you can get to Turks & Caicos or Cozumel then you'd probably be alright missing Maldives. Vibe wise, Maldives is very similar to Aruba, but more conservative. The over-the-water bungalows give Maldives the "wow" factor but there's not much else beyond this that makes it standout in my opinion.

In any event I'm happy to have checked another country off. Maldives is worth a visit.

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  1. Pretty island, and great tips! Also love that purple lipstick!

  2. As always great info! Very practical and useful tips. The way you did it definitely seems budget friendly. What’s funny is one of the reasons I haven’t had it on my “baecation” list is because of what you mentioned. It’s seems like a very very far place to travel for a nice beach. The bungalows do seem neat but they have those in a lot of places now. I also can’t swim and after 3 days of relaxing I would need stuff to do! Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Wow, great post!! How much was your flight out there?

    1. I rerouted a canceled flight so I only paid the $44 fare difference. I flew in from Colombo, so I still wouldn't have paid nearly as much as a flight from the states.