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Time in the Maldives
December to April, the ‘dry season’, is the best and most popular time to visit the Maldives – and the tourist high season. In this period the northeast monsoon arrives, bringing glorious, stable weather. There are direct flights from London with British Airways during this time, making it easy to visit, and you can enjoy steady temperatures of 26-30°C, with daily highs of about 32°C. There is a chance of more unsettled weather during the transitional seasons of November and May – some rain, some cloud – which can also impact visibility for divers and snorkellers. Water temperatures remain at a balmy 27°C.
May to November is considered the Maldives’ low season. As the southwest monsoon arrives there is a higher chance of cloudy days and short rain showers. However, with temperatures sticking in between 26-30°C, most days are just as nice as in high season – but with better rates. Water temperatures continue to sit around 27°C in the low season so you can dive and snorkel all year around. However, late April to May can be unsettled, as can November. There’s not much to do on rainy days, so you may want to avoid these shoulder season periods – unless you have a particularly good book to read.
British travellers do not need to apply for a visa prior to arriving in the Maldives. When you arrive at Malé airport you'll be granted a tourist visa for your stay, which is valid for up to 30 days. You may need to show proof that you have an outbound flight booked, and that you have enough money for your stay. Find out more about visa requirements.
Lovely Twin Otter sea planes transfer guests to the more remote resorts. If you’re travelling to the extremities of the Maldives, a seaplane can turn a three-hour boat ride into a 30-minute flight. Once you arrive into Malé airport, you’ll be transferred to the nearby seaplane terminal by bus or private car. Some resorts even have their own lounges, offering free massages and drinks. Make sure you book your transfer in advance because there is no option to hop on a plane without a reservation. Unlike some other companies, most British Airways Maldives holiday prices include the cost of a transfer.
For islands close to Malé, a speedboat transfer is the fastest way to get to your resort. It couldn’t be easier to cross the road from the airport and climb aboard a little boat with a big engine. As you track across the ocean, keep your eyes out for the first glimpse of your island – or for pods of dolphins, who might catch up with you en-route to welcome you to the Maldives. You’ll need to book your speedboat transfer in advance, or make sure the resort has done so for you. Most British Airways holiday prices include the cost of a transfer to your Maldives resort.
Once you’re at your resort – relax! There aren’t any cars, there are barely any roads. If you want to explore your castaway paradise under your own steam, then the best way may just be by bike. Many resorts have hire bikes available, which are perfect for exploring the limits of the island, finding the perfect beach and looking out for hummingbirds.
A ferry chugs from the Malé airport on Hulhule island to Malé every 30 minutes or less until late at night. The journey takes only ten minutes and will cost a couple of US dollars. If you’ve come to the Maldives as a budget backpacker, then you could use other ferries to move between inhabited islands like a local. Make sure you dress modestly if you opt for this way of travelling, to respect conservative local laws. Note that ferry services are extremely limited; there is perhaps one service a day to some places, and locals might be surprised to see you. Not only this, but you can’t use the ferry to get to private resort islands, only seaplane or speedboat.
The world has lost half of its coral in the last thirty years, and the Maldives hasn’t been left unscathed. Island communities and resorts alike are fighting to restore their reefs – 90% of which were devastated by El Nino in 1998 due to changes in the sea temperature, which lead to ‘coral bleaching’.
Not only this, but rising sea levels could submerge the Maldivian atolls within a generation. These islands, barely scraping 1.5m above sea level, have found themselves on the frontline of the battle against Global Warning. The Maldivians are fighting back, so you might notice sandbagging along the beaches.
Happily, the coral has been growing back, and many resorts have ecological initiatives. You may find yourself championing your temporary home on your holiday. If you do, there are plenty of eco-activities available. Embark on a coral planting excursion, attend conservation talks, and ask the on-site biologists your tricky questions about turtles.
Call 119 for police, 118 for fire and 102 for ambulance services when on Malé.