WHEN TO GO
Rain rarely falls all day long, making the Maldives a desirable destination year-round; the driest days are between November and March. The equatorial Maldives are exposed to two distinct monsoon seasons. Historically the northeast monsoon, or dry season, extends from January to March, with rainier days during the southwest monsoon from May to October. However, changes in global weather patterns have affected the world's lowest-lying country and heavy thundershowers have been known to hit during the high season in December and January. Throughout the year, temperatures remain relatively steady, averaging 88° Fahrenheit in daytime and 73° overnight.
HOW TO GET THERE
Male International Airport (MLE), on an island adjacent to the capital city, is the country's one point of entry (960-333-8800; www.airports.com.mv). From the East Coast of the United States, most travelers will find it convenient to fly to Dubai, where Emirates runs flights daily, or through European hubs like London and Frankfurt, from which charter flights are plentiful during the high season. From the West Coast, Thai Airways flies direct to Bangkok, where travelers can transfer to Bangkok Airways's twice-weekly flights to Male. Singapore Airlines flies direct to Singapore then onward to Male daily. Free 30-day visas are available on arrival for all visitors.
Resort representatives meet arriving guests after they pass through immigration and collect their luggage. For most visitors, there will be no need to change money as resort activities are dollar-based and charged to credit cards. Those with accommodations in North or South Male atolls will board a resort craft for boat rides that are typically between 15 and 45 minutes, across usually calm waters. Guests heading to outer atolls will be directed by their resort representative to Maldivian Air Taxi (960-331-5201; www.maldivianairtaxi.com) or Trans Maldivian Airways (960-331-2444; www.transmaldivian.com), which both fly air taxi service during daylight hours between the resort islands. These are top-notch operations with excellent safety records. Travelers heading to the farthest north atolls will need to transfer to the domestic terminal for flights to Hanimadhoo; likewise, when new resorts such as Shangri-La and Alila open in late 2008, visitors will need to transfer to Gan airport in the farthest south Addu Atoll.
NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: Malé
Area: 116 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 960
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Nov 22, 2011:
1 China Yuan Renminbi = $0.16 US Calculate Other Amounts
Entry Requirements: The Maldives grants free 30-day visas provided visitors arrive with a valid passport, return ticket, and confirmed hotel stays.