Maldives truly makes for the ultimate relaxing getaway. We recently spent a week in Maldives to celebrate Vid’s birthday and got more questions about it than any other destination we have ever visited. Everyone wanted to know what it is like to travel to Maldives in 2021 right now. Perhaps this is because of the fact most of us were holed up in our houses during the pandemic and we are all craving an escape. And what better than a beach getaway to make those lockdown blues disappear am I right? Besides, Maldives is one of the safest places to travel to right now because of low infection numbers and the small population sizes on individual islands.
So we thought we would share all the information we could possibly share, so you can plan a fun and seamless getaway to Maldives right now.
The New Normal : Entering the Maldives
First things first, let’s talk about all the safety precautions. In order to enter the Maldives, you do not need any proof of vaccination. You only need negative RT-PCR reports. The test should be taken 96 hours or less before you flight and they often check the authenticity of the report, so make sure you get it from a reputed lab in your area. Before flying to Maldives, you should fill the form here.
Upon landing in Maldives, you are asked for test reports at immigration, after which you can exit the airport. The process is seamless. One things to note is that currently (September 2021) tourists can only travel to uninhabited islands i.e. private resorts on small islands. Staying on bigger islands such as Male is prohibited for tourists from most countries.
Our hotel, Heritance Aarah followed safety precautions to the tee. Staff was wearing masks, sanitisers were provided at entrance of every restaurant, and most of the residents were vaccinated. This made it possible for guests to do away with their masks upon arrival at the hotel, which was so liberating.
Finally, 72 hours before leaving Maldives, you need to get another RT-PCR test done (depending on your destination – for those returning to India, this RT PCR test needs to be done within 72 hours of the flight and results uploaded to Air Suvidha website). This test is available at the hotel itself, even though most hotels charge a premium for it. Expect to pay anywhere between USD 45-100 per person for the test, depending on where you are staying. That’s it – 1 test for entry and another one for exit (depending on the rules set out by the country you’re flying back to) is all you need to travel to Maldives in 2021.
Getting to the hotel from Male
If your hotel is a boat ride away from Male, we suggest staying for 3-4 nights. However if you have to take a connecting sea-plane ride or a domestic flight to get to the hotel, then we suggest staying for at least 4-5 nights as the first day goes in getting to the hotel.
This time we stayed at Heritance Aarah, which is a 40 minute sea-plane ride away from Male Airport. If you haven’t been on a sea plane before, then we promise this will be an experience in itself as it will give you a birds eye view of Maldives’ green and turquoise waters and its gorgeous islands. Truly stunning!
Flights are included in the hotel stay prices depending on the accommodation you choose and the duration for your stay.
Choosing a room for yourself
Heritance Aarah, like most hotels in Maldives, has a variety of rooms. Choosing one can get confusing. Rooms are spacious, well-equipped, and come with complimentary mini bars that are replenished every day. Bathrooms are gorgeous with stunning views of the blue waters and come equipped with luxurious toiletries.
We suggest splitting your stay between 2 kinds of rooms that suit your budget to experience 2 different stays. Here are the room categories you can choose from, with pros and cons
1. Over-water villa : these are iconic Ocean villas & provide the perfect Maldivian experience, unless you are with young children or elders. You can technically stay there even with kids but there are no railings etc so you’ll have to be extra careful. For this reason, most hotels make guests with kids sign a consent form for over-water villas
2. Beach-facing villas : These are ideal if you are with kids as you get the gorgeous scenery of Maldives right on your doorstep. These are also good for those of you on a budget as they tend to be the most affordable of the 4 categories
3. 2 bedroom villas : If you’re travelling in a group with your family or friends and want to stay together, then 2 bedroom villas are ideal for you. However these are fewer in number, so they get sold out first. So make sure you book in advance if you are keen on a two-bedroom villa for your family.
4. Ocean Suites – these are over-water-villas with a private infinity pool. They come with their own living area, bedroom, and bathroom with expansive ocean views. These are the best rooms and ideal if you are celebrating a special occasion or you’re there on your honeymoon.
Going all-inclusive in Maldives
Due to the nature of hotels in Maldives, all the dining and sports opportunities of most islands are within the hotel itself. If you eat meals or rent sports equipment individually, the costs add up very quickly. So it makes sense to opt for an all-inclusive package. Typically the all-inclusive package at Heritance Aarah includes
- Accommodation and all amenities
- All meals at most of the restaurants on the island
- Unlimited alcohol
- Unlimited mini-bar
- Non motorised water activities such as kayaking, canoeing etc
- Equipment rental such as snorkelling gear
- Bicycle rental
- Butler service in the villa
These are the things included in your standard all-inclusive package. However a top tip is to look for packages which include a few extras such as floating breakfast or a special beach dinner when you book your holiday (go for Rosso Amore – a beautiful setup by the ocean). This depends on who you are booking with – we suggest comparing costs between an online portal such as MakeMyTrip, your local travel agent, and the hotel’s own website to see which is offering the best deal at the moment. Make sure you read the fine print and have a clear idea of what is included and what is excluded before you book. Educated customers are happy customers 🙂
Packing for Maldives
Now that you have booked the holiday and the excitement is building up, it’s time to think of the fun stuff such as packing. It’s not straightforward to pack for a holiday in Maldives, simply because you need more than just your beach clothes. After all, you won’t spend all your time in the water. There are many lounging, fine dining, and wine tasting opportunities too. So you need a combination of swimwear, resort wear for lunches and lounging, and dressier smart casuals for dinner.
Here’s a handy packing list for both men and women
Packing list for men
- 2 pairs of swim shorts
- A few t-shirts or bright beach-friendly shirts
- 1 denim shorts
- 1 pair of casual linen trousers
- 2 formal shorts or trousers for evenings
- 3-4 crisp shirts for dinners
- 1 pair of casual slippers or sliders
- 1-2 pairs of formal shoes
- Protective sunglasses
Packing list for women
- 3-4 swimsuits
- 2-3 casual dresses or kaftans
- 2 beach cover-ups – kimonos and shrugs work best
- 1-2 pair of shorts
- 2-3 casual tshirts or crop tops
- 3 dressy evening outfits
- A large beach bag
- A small clutch bag for evenings
- Lingerie & night-suits
- Statement accessories like headscarves and earrings. Gold jewellery looks beautiful against tan skin
- Protective sunglasses
- Makeup: I would suggest something light such as BB creams and lip tints for the day. Make sure you carry your favourite highlighters and lipsticks for evenings as they pop on golden beachy skin
As always, don’t forget to pack lots of sunscreen and have a good time 🙂
Must Do Experiences at Heritance Aarah
If you see our photos and videos and book yourself a holiday at Heritance Aarah, make sure you try the following experiences out for yourself
- Hammocks in the Indian Ocean – it’s hard to get into these hammocks next to Ginifati restaurant but once you do, lay there for a while. When else will you get a chance to read a book in the middle of the ocean?
- 8 course tasting menu at Ambula – there are 12 bars and restaurants at the hotel, so it is hard to try everything. But if there is one thing you need to try, it is the 8 course tasting menu at Ambula. It offers a curated selection of Sri Lankan and Maldivian flavours that is impossible to resist. The default menu is heavy on seafood, so do inform the restaurant a day in advance in case you want a vegetarian menu.
- We have been to many hotels in Maldives over the years and each has its pros and cons. But the dining at Heritance Araah is one of its definite pros. We really enjoyed our meals. While the view from each restaurant is special, make sure you reserve an ocean-facing table at Ralu for dinner one night. Try the salmon ceviche and get there before sunset for some incredible views
- Try a glass-bottomed canoe or go snorkelling from you over-water villa. If you are not comfortable swimming, you can also go on a boat ride to spot dolphins. In fact, we also spotted dolphins while having coffee in our balcony, so keep a lookout for them
- Try to catch movie night or a concert at Bandhi Bar
- Make sure you catch sunset over sundowners at the Sky Bar. It can get quite crowded, so go early to nab the best seats
- Enjoy a floating breakfast or a sunset swim at the hotel’s Infinity pool
And since so many of you have been visiting this property (and for those planning to), we reached out to the hotel and got a little something for Bruised Passports readers – use code BPUSD50 when making a booking at the hotel website (and add the code in Remarks section) to enjoy USD 50 F&B credit per day per room for bookings made till 20th November 2021 for trips up to 20th December 2021.
There you have it – everything you need to know to book a holiday to Maldives in 2021. Everything from the travel documents needed, package inclusions to room types and packing tips. Hope you found it useful
Want a beach holiday but on a budget? Check out 10 Things To Do In Mauritius here
Read all our articles on Maldives here