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A practical guide to the Maldives

National holidays and celebrations

A deeply religious and devoted Muslim nation, the Maldives embraces a range of Islamic and patriotic holidays. The following dates are observed as holidays across all the islands and atolls so it's always recommended to bear these in mind before booking.

Ask one of our travel experts if you're not sure when it's best to travel.

Non-religious festivals

  • New Year's Day: 1st January
  • National Day: Usually celebrated between January and February on the 1st of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar.
  • Independence Day: 26th July
  • Victory Day: 3rd November
  • Republic Day: 11th November

Religious festivals

  • Birth of the Prophet (Mawlid al-Nabi): Usually in January or February, according to the Islamic calendar.
  • The Day the Maldives Embraced Islam: Usually in February or March, according to the Islamic calendar.
  • Start of Ramadan: Celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, this 30-day long fasting period can also affect government office hours.
  • End of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr): Celebrates the end of 30 days' fasting.
  • Hajj Day: Celebrating the pilgrimage to Mecca, the exact date changes according to the Islamic calendar.
  • Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha): Lasts four days and starts one day after Hajj Day.
  • Islamic New Year: Varies according to the Islamic calendar.

Money and currency

The national currency in the Maldives is the rufiyaa (Rf) but the value of this is pegged firmly to the US dollar, so the exchange rate between these currencies rarely ever changes.

While many resorts do accept euros and British pounds, we recommend changing your currency into US dollars as this is more widely accepted throughout the country. Most major resorts and large shopping centres will also accept major credit cards and travellers' cheques but in smaller stores or markets you will need to pay in cash.

Of course, if you stay in an all inclusive resort, the chances are you probably won't need much cash. Although a few $1 bills may come in handy for tipping purposes.

Eating out

Surrounded by the Indian ocean it comes as no surprise that the seafood is exquisite across the Maldives, particularly tuna. Because of its relative proximity, Maldivian cuisine is also heavily influenced by Indian and Sri Lankan food.

A typical Maldivian meal will be hot, spicy and heavily flavoured with coconut (a tropical favourite). For a real taste of the islands, try the traditional dish "garudhiya", consisting of a clear fish broth with sides of lime, onions and chilli. Savoury snacks include deep fried fish called "hedhikaa".

Curries are also popular but usually served with roshi (a flat bread similar to Indian roti) or papdhu (like the more familiar poppadoms). We also recommend trying fihunu mas (grilled fish with chilli), thelui mas (fried fish with chilli and garlic) and bajiya (pastry filled with fish). There are plenty of places to sample the local cuisine across the islands and in the capital, Male.

Most resorts will also have an ample menu consisting of more familiar international dishes, so don't worry if you're not in the mood for experimenting.

Local customs

The Maldives is a traditional and devoted Muslim country so you will need to respect the local customs and regulations. Even though tourists are warmly welcomed and sun bathing encouraged, it is strictly forbidden to get naked or topless on any of the islands or atolls, no matter how secluded they might be.

Climate

Radiant sunshine, cobalt blue waters and all-year-round temperatures of around 30°C make the Maldives the perfect tropical destination for any time of year. With cool winds coming in off the Indian ocean, the climate remains beautiful and pleasant perfect for escaping the winter blues.

  • The two distinct seasons are the northeast monsoon from January to April (dry season) and the southwest monsoon from May to December (rainy season).
  • The lowest lying country in the world, the Maldives is unaffected by relief weather patterns. Its position close to the Equator also means that the temperatures stay fairly consistent all-year-round.
  • Low levels of rainfall and low humidity during the dry season make February to April the best months to visit.
  • Weather in the Maldives is generally stunning. However, during the rainy season and even at other times of the year, storms can hit. Don't let this spoil your holiday, just sit back and enjoy the experience as they tend to be short and dramatic. It really won't be long before the sun is shining again.

Meterological information

J F M A M J J A S O N D
Average °C 282929293030292929292828
Minimum °C 262727272828272727272626
Maximum °C 303131313231313131303030
Sunshine (hours) 7910998777786
Rain (cm) 100012112132

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