The Maldives is becoming one of the hottest luxury pandemic travel destinations for 2021. With no mandatory quarantine on arrival, no masks required and year-round temperatures of 30 degrees plus, it’s a total escape from the covid chaos you see in the news.
Since opening to tourism in summer of 2020, the Maldives has been a destination for safe travel during the covid 19 pandemic. Do the crowds in Tulum and Dubai make you uneasy? With very low covid cases and extremely low covid deaths, travelling to the Maldives should be on your radar if you are looking for a safe travel destination that avoids crowds!
If you are interested in a warm getaway to the Maldives for 2021 but want to know how to get there and what to expect firsthand from my personal travel experience, read on. I have also linked my personal Maldives travel vlogs below.
MALDIVES TRAVEL 2021 ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Negative PCR Test:
The Maldivian government requires all foreign travellers entering the country to present a negative PCR covid test (taken no more than 72 hours before entry departure). This test must be presented in person at the airport BEFORE you are permitted to board your Maldives flight.
Note that you can book an appointment with a private clinic to avoid waiting in long lines at public free-of-charge covid testing centres (it will cost between $150-$350), but the tests all get sent to the same labs. If your test is for the purpose of travel, the results do seem to come quick. Three travellers in my group received test results within 24 hours.
Tip: Ask the clinic you receive your results from to give you a paper copy of your test result. When I boarded my flight at the airport, all travellers had to present official paper transcripts of their results. This is likely because online results could be doctored, or your wifi at the airport could be poor quality and you may not be able to load your results in time.
**The IMUGA Traveller Health Declaration and QR Code:
I’ll be honest, figuring this out on my own was a huge pain in the ass. The online Maldives IMUGA Tourism Immigration Declaration Form MUST BE FILLED OUT 24 HOURS BEFORE YOU BOARD YOUR FIRST FLIGHT. I tried completing this form on my phone the day before our flight and it just would not send through. I thought this was because I was doing it too early. No, the website is faulty. We got to the check in counter at the airpot in Vancouver (I was planning on filling out the form on our layover Frankfurt) and they would not let us board the plane without the IMUGA QR code. We nearly missed out flight!!
This form is very simple to fill out but the website has so many bugs and even in the airport the form would not complete until we finally troubleshooted these steps:
HOW TO GET YOUR QR CODE:
- You must use a LAPTOP to send the form. We tried three different Iphones and the IMUGA form would not send, with no explanation, it just keep resetting the page when we pressed ‘send’.
2. You must upload neutral images of all travellers in a .jpeg file! For some reason, the image files on my phone converted into HEIC files that were not accepted by the website. The website kept rejecting my photo files until I converted them into .jpeg.
3. You need other basic information such as your return date, hotel and passport.
Another traveller joining us later had the same issues and her form still would not send after attempting the same procedure multiple times. Finally the immigration form sent through. You have to be patient and keep trying. Again, their website has some serious glitches. You will know your form has been sent successfully when the IMUGA website generates an immigration QR code.
Tip: Screenshot your QR code and send it to yourself so you can pull it up easily if you don’t have wifi.
Resort-Specific Covid Declaration Forms
Many resorts have their own covid declaration forms you will have to complete and email to the resort within 48 hours of your arrival. This is a simple form and took us 10 seconds to fill out.
DO YOU HAVE TO QUARANTINE AND WEAR MASKS IN THE MALDIVES?
No and no! Unless of course you show covid-19 symptoms after your travels and on arrival. There is no quarantine whatsoever when you arrive to the Maldives. Guests are also not required to wear masks at all. This is a godsend given the heat and humidity. Staff however are required to wear masks as a precaution and safety measure for guests.
DO YOU NEED A TOURIST VISA TO ENTER THE MALDIVES?
Well, yes you do but your hotel will arrange that behind the scenes. Your tourist visa is valid in the Maldives for 30 days, but if you wish to extend your trip, you can apply to extend it for an additional 60 days. We extended our stay and all we had to do was provide a new departure flight and passport-looking photos which we shot ourselves in the room. The lovely staff at our hotel took care of the rest. Our extension visa was completed with 3 days.
IS THE MALDIVES SAFE?
Yes! I can’t speak to what the main island Male is like, but the resort islands are very safe. I was initially apprehensive about safety as this is my first visit to the Maldives but there is nothing to worry about. The Maldives depends on tourism and safety of guests is paramount to their success. Villas and rooms are equipped with a lock box and the resorts have security on site. Also, since there is no travel between islands permitted, the only people you really need to worry about are the hotel guests. Ladies on the beach will leave their Dior Book Totes laying around just fine.
CAN YOU TRAVEL THROUGHOUT THE MALDIVES?
Yes and no. With a tourist visa, you must stay within your resort. Fortunately most resorts in the Maldives occupy an entire island or ‘atoll’, so you have plenty of space to do everything you like! Hence the high-ticket prices for many resorts in the Maldives.
Unfortunately due to covid, resorts are not allowing boat trips to other islands for lunch or a spa visits as they used to. BUT, if you wish to change resorts after a few weeks, some (but not all) resorts will welcome you to stay with them. Consider it a luxury quarantine. Many of the big name resorts such as the Four Seasons Maldives and Waldorf Astoria Maldives are allowing guests from other islands to transfer if they have been in the Maldives for 14 days.
Our butler informed us some resorts require us to leave the Maldives and fly back into the country before they would allow us in. This frankly is so inconvenient and ridiculous -not to mention airports are DIRTY. Therefore resorts that won’t let us transfer via boat are off the radar!
ARE THE RESORTS CROWDED?
NO. The Maldives is a luxury beach paradise designed with privacy in mind. Most resorts have only 50-100 villas/rooms with multiple restaurants and pools to enjoy. The restaurant tables are nicely spaced apart and even in peak times it never feels crowded. In over one month in the Maldives, not once have I felt like I’m in the middle of a Miami club or as if I’m being sardined with other guests at small tables.
Check out my Maldives Travel Vlog here to see a glimpse of the Maldives luxury resort amenities and activities: https://youtu.be/wNLIvipIUqw
IS THERE A CITY IN THE MALDIVES?
The main island, Male is not as glamorous as the resort islands although it does have some hotels and resorts. There you would find the main ‘city’ of the Maldives. It’s a small country with 400,000 or so people across hundreds of small islands. We preferred to stay on a resort island so we could roam around and do our thing, without being confined to a hotel room on the main island.
If you are a budget traveller, there are tourist islands with smaller hotels and resorts to enjoy. Don’t think you need to be able to afford a luxury water villa to visit the Maldives.
SHOPPING IS LIMITED
One thing to remember regarding the Maldives- it is a nation made up of tiny islands. Don’t expect to find luxury shopping malls besides the small boutique of your resort. Shopping is not what the Maldives is about. For personal essentials, the nicer hotels will stock amenities such as shampoo, cotton rounds, lotion, toothpaste, nail files and the likes as there is no drugstore to visit.
If there is a specific product you need, the hotel staff can possibly search for it in Male and bring it by boat within a day. We had this request once and our butler sent us photos of similar products from Male, as the brands are different. However if you use specific skincare products or supplements, make sure to pack those ahead of time. You can of course splurge for high-end skincare products they sell in the spas, but this isn’t ideal.
IS IT TRUE ALCOHOL AND SUNBATHING IS ILLEGAL?
Technically yes. The Maldives is an Islamic country, however within tourist resorts you can sunbathe and drink pina coladas until you fall over. So don’t fret, you can walk around your resort in a bikini with a drink in hand. For the European and more liberated tourists- naked and topless suntanning is prohibited. Smoking is also allowed and the hotels sell cigarettes.
THE SUN IS STRONG AND SUNSCREEN IS EXPENSIVE
As you will be on an island and likely in a resort, basics such as sunscreen are VERY expensive. The sunscreen at our resort is $46US per bottle for example. If you are trying to be economical, buy several from home and pack lots! The sun in the Maldives is very strong- the UV index is at 11 most days we’ve had in December and January. In our first week here, we went through three bottles of sunscreen between two of us! Now that we’re tanned, we typically use one bottle per week.
IS THE MALDIVES VERY REMOTE?
Yes and I think that’s the allure for most people. The Maldives for most tourists is very remote and will require at least two flights to get to. It will be well worth it! I’m from Canada and it took us two flights and 30 hours of travel time to arrive here. The lengthy travel time is also due to less flights because of covid, therefore you will likely have a long layover somewhere. It seems most flights from Canada connect through Frankfurt, Paris or Dubai. Frankfurt and Dubai thankfully have in-airport layover hotels you can rent by the hour so you can shower and sleep for a few hours in comfort.
IS THE MALDIVES EXPENSIVE?
Yes. This is in part due to the long flight – it was about 13,000km from Canada for example. There is also a 12% tax on everything and 10% service charge in resorts. So add 22% to everything. The hotels are also quite expensive as most people go to the Maldives for the water villa/bungalow experience. Private beach villas are popular as well. The Maldives resorts are most famous for the luxury overwater villas.
We’ve stayed at Lux North Male in an overwater villa and it has been a complete dream! The rooms are modern and well-appointed. Prices differ between hotels but if you want the full lavish experience, expect at about $1,000US per night for an over-water villa and about $500US for a normal room in a nice hotel. If you want a resort with an overwater villa with a pool, prices will be higher and start at about $1400US. Keep your eyes out for sales as well as many hotels are offering deals to entice travel to the Maldives.
WHAT ARE THE BEST HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES?
I’ve done a lot of research whilst here, spoken to other guests and hotel staff. Currently I’m at Lux North Male and it is fantastic, modern and service is exceptional – we even have a private butler. Other highly recommended resorts are One & Only, Sonava Jani and Soneva Fushi (famous for the huge water villas with waterslides), and OZEN which has the famous underwater restaurant M6M. I’ve also heard excellent reviews about the Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria Maldives, Joali and St. Regis Maldives.
Check out my Maldives Luxury Water Villa Tour video here: https://youtu.be/EAExZzTcTGI
DO YOU NEED TO BRING CASH TO THE MALDIVES?
No. Everything gets charged to the room. There isn’t even at ATM on our island. If you prefer to personally tip staff in cash, bring some along with you. We tipped housekeeping a few times in cash and now add extra tips to our bill in the restaurant, spa, etc. US dollars are accepted and all prices at our resort are in USD.
THE TAKEAWAY FOR MALDIVES TRAVEL
Once we had our negative covid tests in order and got through the annoyance of the online tourist immigration forms, travelling to the Maldives was easy. Yes, it took a long time to get here but it was completely worth it! If your budget allows and you want a safe getaway for 2021, I would 1000% recommend the Maldives.
MALDIVES TRAVEL VLOG CONTENT ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL:
Interested in more Maldives content and want to see my resort, activities and scuba diving? Check out my Maldives travel vlog on my Youtube channel here: https://youtu.be/wNLIvipIUqw
Check out my second Maldives travel vlog on my Youtube channel here: https://youtu.be/XHtz2IHUl8w
Interested in what a modern Maldives water villa at Lux North Male looks like? Check out my Maldives Luxury Water Villa Tour here: https://youtu.be/EAExZzTcTGI
I hope you enjoyed reading this Maldives travel post!