Welcome to the sunny side of life…. The Maldives

This is a GUIDE to provide you with more information on the destination, passport, visa and health requirements as well as what to pack for Maldives. Please make sure that you have done your own research and have all your relevant paperwork and documents in place before departure.

DESTINATION – BASED ON THE SOUTHERN ADDU ATOLL

The Maldives is made up of a cluster of small islands in the Indian ocean, 90 of which have been developed as tourist resorts. The islands form a chain of 26 atolls, known for their beaches, blue lagoons, extensive reefs and lush underwater life including fish, sea turtles, manta’s, whales and dolphins.

The Maldives are a coveted vacation spot as the smallest country in Asia (regarding both size and population). This beautiful destination has historically been known under different names in the Sanskrit language, translated as “Necklace Islands,” “Garland of Islands,” and “Hundred Thousand Islands.

CUISINE

Traditional Maldivian cuisine is based on coconuts, fish, and starches. Skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna and wahoo are common in Maldivian cuisine. As well, a thick brown paste made from tuna, called Rihaakuru, is an essential part of many dishes. Maldivians don’t eat raw fish; however, their starches are typically rice, sweet potato, and cassava. As a tourist in the resorts, expect to find Indian and Maldivian options, but also food styles from around the world. The resorts understand many guests will want what is familiar to them.

Halaal guests are catered for.

WHAT ARE MALDIVIANS KNOWN FOR

The Maldives are known for their natural environment including the blue ocean, white beaches, and clean air. The climate of the Maldives is ideal for visitors to get involved in water sports such as swimming, fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling.

RELIGION

Islam is the official religion, all citizens must be Muslims, and the practice of a faith other than Islam is forbidden. Therefore, when touring the cities, women are required to show respect by covering their shoulders. However, this is not required when at the resorts.

ALCOHOL

It is also forbidden to bring alcohol into the country however alcohol is served at the resorts.

GETTING THERE

You will arrive on the island of Gan, at Gan International airport. Gan is the southernmost island of the atoll. Formerly an inhabited island, the local inhabitants were moved to neighboring islands after the British naval and airbase was built. You’ll most likely be escorted by a representative from your resort to the island where you are staying. You will either have to take a mini bus, slow boat or a speedboat to reach your destination.

From Gan, a short (10-15 minute speed boat trip) will take you across the either Canareef Resort on Herathera Island, South Palm Resort on Ismehela Hera Island or Shangri-La Resort & Spa on Villingili Island, depending on which resort you have booked to stay at.

Guests staying at the Equator will be transported for 8mins by mini bus.

All guests will be met at the airport by their respective resorts/hotel on arrival as they exit the airport.

PASSPORT INFORMATION

  • ALL passengers (including children and infants) travelling will require a valid passport. Passports MUST be valid for at least (6) six months after your departure from Maldives.
  • Please take note of the immigration Regulations when traveling with children under the age of 18. This may differ depending on whether the parents or legal guardians are travelling together, divorced or deceased. You may need an affidavit and an ID copy for example.
  • ATO tours is not responsible for ensuring that the travelers have all their necessary travel documents. The traveler must present the necessary Travel Documents for inspection as required on entering and exiting and Airport. ATO Tours may provide the traveler with guidelines only, and all passengers are to refer to the relevant Embassy/ Consulate to ensure that they have the most current information in relation to travel documentation required to enter Maldives.

GUIDELINES TO IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS WHEN TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18

Be aware that children under the age of 18 traveling in and out of South Africa will be required to carry an Unabridged Birth Certificate as well as a valid passport to be permitted to travel under new regulations aimed at improving the safety of children.

CHILDREN/ CHILD TRAVELLING WITH BOTH BIOLOGICAL PARENTS

In addition to the parents’ own passports, the parents are required to produce an Unabridged Birth Certificate and a valid passport at the check in counters for each child traveling to be permitted to travel.

CHILDREN/ CHILD TRAVELING WITH ONLY ONE OF THEIR BIOLOGICAL PARENTS

In addition to the parents’ own passport, the parent is required to produce an Unabridged Birth Certificate and valid passport and a court order / death certificate or affidavit confirming the absent parent has given permission for the child/ children to travel. You may need a certified copy of the absent parents’ ID.

CHILDREN/ CHILD TRAVELING WITH ONLY A GUARDIAN (GRANDPARENTS/ OTHER FAMILY/ FRIENDS)

In addition to the Guardians’ own passport, the guardian is required to produce and Unabridged Birth Certificate and valid passport and a court order/ death certificate or affidavit confirming that the absent parents have given permission for the child/ children to travel. You may need certified copies of the absent parents ID.

CHILDREN/ CHILD UNACCOMPANIED BY PARENTS OR GUARDIANS

Each child must produce their Unbridged Birth Certificate and a valid passport and an affidavit confirming permission to travel from both parents or legal guardians and a letter from the person who will receive the child, including their full contact details and certified copy of their passport or ID.

NB! Travel documentation remains the responsibility of the passenger, including unabridged Birth Certificates and other supporting documents required in terms of the Immigration act for children under the age of 18. Should you not be in possession of this documentation the Immigrations Official will not permit you to travel. Should the Immigrations Officials deny boarding due to incorrect travel documentation, ATO Tours regret that we are unable to offer a refund or to reschedule the trip.

For more information contact the Department of Home Affairs – Hotline toll free: 0800 60 11 90

VISA INFORMATION

Visas are not required by South African passport holders for travel to the Maldives.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is important to ensure that a Travel Insurance Policy appropriately covers you against any unforeseen events (including having to cancel your trip for any unforeseen reason or losing your luggage).

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

IMMUNIZATION

There are no immunization requirements for SA travelers to the Maldives.

MALARIA

Malaria prophylactics is not necessary for travel to the Maldives.

It is always advisable to travel with a small medical kit that includes any basic remedies you may need, such as antacids, painkillers, anti-histamines and cold remedies. It is also recommended that you pack this such as anti-diarrheal medication (like Imodium – adults only), oral rehydration sachets (like Rehydrate) especially if traveling with children. Also include first-aids items such as Band-aids, antiseptic and dressings.

CURRENCY

The currency for Maldives is the Rufiyaa (Rf), which is divided into 100 Larees. Notes come in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2, but the last two are uncommon. Coins are in denominations of 2 and 1 Rufiyaa and 50, 25 and 10 Larees.

Most resort and travel expenses will be billed in US Dollars. If you are staying in a resort, all expenses (including diving costs) will be billed to your room and you pay the day of your departure when checking out. You’ll need cash for meals outside the hotel, souvenirs and any other sundry expenses. Every resort takes major credit cards including Visa, Amex or Mastercard but it is advisable to carry some US Dollars.

ATM’S

There are ATM’s available on GAN island as well as the neighbouring local island to Canareef.

TIPPING

GENERAL TIPPING – is somewhat of a grey area in Maldives, where 10% to 12.5% service tax is added to nearly everything.

HOTELS – Should you wish, you can leave a tip for your room staff and in smarter resorts your Thakuru (butler). Give any tip to the staff personally and not the hotel cashier – US Dollar, Euros and local currency are equally acceptable.

RESTAURANTS – Tipping is not customary at independent restaurants or on local islands.

PAYMENTS

Payment can be made using a Master/Visa card as well as US Dollars. US Dollars can be exchanged at the hotel for local currency.

PLUG POINTS

The standard socket is the UK-style three-pin which also accommodates the South African 2-pin. There are some variations, so an international adaptor can be useful. The standand South African 3-pin will not work.

BICYCLES

Bicycles are available at the resort for adults and kids.

SNORKELING GEAR

If you enjoy snorkeling and own gear at home, bring it along as it can be pricey to hire daily. Refer to the excursion’s pricelist for costs.

EXCURSIONS

Refer to the excursions

HAIR DRYERS IN THE ROOMS/VILLAS

Available at all 3 resorts/hotels

SHOPPING

Equator has the village.

Canareef resort takes up the entire island of Herethera. The resort gift shop is available for items such as sundry supplies, tanning lotions, snacks, local handmade handicraft, beachwear, footwear and souvenirs. However, should you want to explore further, there is a bridge in the North of the island which one could cross over onto a nearby island where the locals live for some local shopping. Banks, pharmacies and coffee shops can be found here.

Shangri-La Resort covers the entire Vilingili island. The only shopping that can be had is at the curio shop.

KIDS CLUB

Please refer to your specific resort for information on the Kids Club. Canareef and Shangri-La have a kids club however Equator does not and South Palm has a kids park.

RESORTS – PACKING GUIDE:

Maldives enjoy a tropical climate throughout most of the year, so casual lightweight, comfortable beachwear is best during the day. Long pants and sleeved shirts for men or dresses for the ladies in the evening. Summer footwear (slips-ons for the beach and occasional closed shoes for the evenings are suggested depending on the resort).

A small back-pack is ideal for carrying cameras, travel documents and basic everyday items. Be warned that the tropical sun is strong and burns quickly. Wide-brimmed hats are preferable to baseball caps for sure protection, and both sun-glasses and a good sun-screen and lip balm (SPF15 or higher) are essential. A quality insect repellent is also a must. It is important to note the Maldives is predominantly a Muslim country and so conservative dress is required when outside of the beach resort. Beach Towels are provided by the resorts.

IDEAS FOR 3* EQUATOR VILLAGE HOTEL: –

Equator is as casual or formal as you want them to be. There is no one style fits all. For those wanting to dress up a bit, you’ll have the opportunity every night at dinner otherwise smart, casual attire is acceptable. Please no beach wear at dinner.  Women should consider bringing at a few comfortable light dresses while men should have a casual outfit to wear out such as shorts and a golf or T-shirt.

A note to female travelers when walking around the village/town: It is expected to keep your shoulders covered (nothing more revealing than a t-shirt – please leave vest tops, cami-tops and strappy tops for inside the resort or on the beach) and wear trousers, skirt or dress that covers your knees.

Don’t forget to pack:

Sunglasses, sunblock, flip flops, bathing suits, sun hat, beach bag, beach cover-up and mosquito repellant

Fins/Mask/Snorkel Gear is available to hire however, pack your own from home if you have as it can get expensive to hire each day

IDEAS FOR  4* CANAREEF & SOUTH PALM RESORT:-

Canareef & South Palm dress code is also as formal or casual as you would like it to be. Casual beach wear during the day however you may want to get slightly more dressed up for sundowners, dinner and a party in the bar area in the evenings. Standard beach wear during the day however covering up for meals. Please do not wear only a bathing suit at meals.

Don’t forget to pack:

Sunglasses, sunblock, flip flops, bathing suits, sun hat, beach bag, beach cover-up and mosquito repellant
Fins/Mask/Snorkel Gear is available to hire however, pack your own from home if you have as it can get expensive to hire each day

 IDEAS FOR 5* SHANGRI-LA RESORT:-

Shangri-La is casual during the day and semi-formal during the evenings. For those wanting to dress up, dinner is your perfect opportunity. It all depends where you choose to dine as the ladies would be required to wear something along the lines of a light long dress, cocktail dress or semi smart pants and top to certain restaurants. Men are expected to dress semi smart – long pants and a collared shirt with smart shoes.

Don’t forget to pack:

Sunglasses, sunblock, flip flops, bathing suits, sun hat, beach bag, beach cover-up. Mosquito repellant is often available in each villa. Fins/Mask/Snorkel Gear is available to hire however, pack your own from home if you have as it can get expensive to hire each day