While of course, you can expect to get a lot of sun and postcard-perfect views, surfing and diving make up the predominant reasons for visiting Maldives. With weather that oscillates between a dry monsoon and wet monsoon, here’s a definitive guide on how to make the most of your Maldivian holiday, and dive under the currents when the time is opportune.
Maldives - A country with two monsoons
The northeast and the southwest monsoons influence the weather of this tropical paradise. Within that, you have a dry season which is the northeast winter monsoon, and a wet season driven by strong winds and storms and a damp southwest monsoon. Most tourists pick the dry season to travel to the Maldives when the rain showers are lighter and the humidity in check. This could be loosely construed as the best season to visit Maldives, one that lasts from December through April. The wet season, on the other hand, lasts from May through November and bring infrequent showers that intensify in the afternoons and nights. Year-round the temperature hovers between 27 and 29 degree Celsius, with 29 as the average temperature in the wet season, and 27 as the average in the dry one. The Maldives are blessedly not prone to a cyclone or tropical storms as some of the other islands, and the last one to have ever struck it was over 128 years ago.
- Best time for Surfing in Maldives: July could be the best month to visit Maldives if you are a surfing enthusiast. With the best waves coming in from April through October, it is the ideal time for surfing in the archipelagic country. And within that expect the biggest swells - a surf typically ranges between 3 and 8 feet - to come by between June and September. The best known surfs are concentrated around the north and south Male atolls. For the avid surfer, however, the eastern reefs of the atoll where a bunch of resorts are concentrated could be a good pick. If you are exclusively travelling to Maldives to surf, you must hire a surf-charter vessel that can take you to areas that you would otherwise have limited access to, such as the outer atolls that are over 480 kilometres to the south. In this fragile zone, there are about a dozen world-class reef breaks that only a few know about and with the wind conditions turning in your favour, a small window opens up between February and April, and again between September and November, to give you your life’s best surfing experience.
Quick Tip: The best time to surf the North Male Atolls is between April and October, while for the Outer Atolls it is from February through April.
- Best time for Scuba Diving and Snorkelling in Maldives: For a diver, both dry and wet seasons have their own merits. For excellent visibility, choose the dry season (December to April) because the seasonal oceanic currents from the northeast flow in November and weaken in February, and the water is warm too. Also, flat seas present excellent opportunities for spotting white sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, parrotfish apart from tunas and barracudas. The wet season (May to November) lowers the water temperature by a few degrees and since there are hardly any currents, the water appears an opaque blue with limited visibility. Also, the water temperature in the wet season draws in schools of hammerhead and reef sharks to assemble around the shallows. Of the 2500 reefs in Maldives, about 900 are house reefs, the ones that surround an island resort. They offer terrific opportunities for spotting schools of exotic fish sometimes by simply wading in. Though, most islands have trained diving instructors to lead you into the waters and show you some truly rewarding sites along the reef. Spending a week on a liveaboard is the way hardcore divers prefer to holiday in the Maldives. From exploring multiple atolls, going on night dives to eating, sleeping and simply living on-board a ship’s deck is an experience diving enthusiast absolutely dig.
- Best time to get Hotel Deals in Maldives: When tourism first began in Maldives as recent as 1972, there were only two resorts. Their number today has grown to about a 100 which shows the upward trend in visitor footfalls. The resorts are primarily concentrated on Ari Atoll, Male, North Male Atoll, South Male Atoll and Lhaviyani Atoll among others. Typically a single resort spreads out over an island which is anyway no longer than 8 kilometres across. To make the most of the Maldives’ sunny weather, tourists prefer the dry season that extends from December to April when the rains are infrequent and the humidity under check. But visiting the Maldives in this season could mean burning a huge hole in your pocket. If you wish to see the island nation at least once in your lifetime and don’t care about the weather, pick the wet months between May and November when the rains intensify shooting up humidity levels. The hotel prices drop marginally in this season but don’t expect any phenomenal deals, and that is the best you can do.
Getting around the Maldives
The Male International Airport or Velana International Airport on the Hulhule island in the North Male Atoll is the main international airport in the Maldives. Make a dramatic landing with the Laccadive Sea stretching on both sides before you progress to your island resort. The airlines offering connectivity to Male, the Maldives capital, include Air France, Air India, Air Italy, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, GoAir, IndiGo among others. After arriving, you can either take a speedboat ride to your island or to Male nearby. But if your resort is on the farther atolls you will have to take a bus ride from the airport to the seaplane hangar nearby and take a seaplane ride to your island resort.
Best Time to Visit Maldives - FAQs
Q. Which month in the Maldives has the lowest humidity?
A: The Maldives has two monsoon seasons, a wet and dry one. And its location close to the equator subjects it to a tropical climate with substantial levels of humidity round the year. However, the dry season affected by the northeast winter monsoon can bring down the humidity because the heavy monsoon rains would have eased out by then.
Q. What is the best month to visit the Maldives?
A: December through April is the best month to visit the Maldives considering the heavy monsoon showers have petered out leaving a few occasional spells to come down at any time of the day. The sun is warm, not scorching and the temperature hovers between 27 and 29 degree Celsius. The waters are warm and perfect for a swim. The conditions are also ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving with the oceanic currents flowing in from the northeast making the waters gin-clear to spot rays and shoals of reef fish.
Q. What is the best season for diving in the Maldives?
A: Divers prefer the time between December and April as it is the dry season induced by the northeast winter monsoon when the waters are clearer with greater visibility. With the seasonal oceanic currents flowing in from the northeast in November, the waters turn into a playground for an entire ecosystem of marine life such as reef sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, parrotfish to name a few. Also, the monsoon showers weaken in this season and the water temperature remains pleasantly warm.
Q. What is the best time to get hotel discounts in the Maldives?
A: Frozen river trekking at Zanskar Valley, famous as the Chadar Trek is one of the most popular adventure activities in winters in Ladakh. People from across the world come to this place to experience this highly adventurous trek. However, winters in Ladakh can get extremely cold, reaching sub-zero temperatures. Most trekking routes are closed after November due to heavy snowfall. If you are planning to go for Chadar trek in Ladakh, then it is open from mid-January till mid-March.
Q. How can I get a visa to the Maldives?
A: The Maldives provides visa on arrival to tourists across nationalities. All you need to display at the immigration counter is your passport with at least six months validity, your hotel booking receipt, sufficient funds for your stay, confirmed return flight tickets, and completed disembarkation/embarkation card approved by the Maldives Immigration. You are granted a maximum of 30 days of stay.
Q. What kind of food is available in the Maldives?
A: The resorts in the Maldives serve a standard international fare with a smattering of Italian, South-East Asian, Mediterranean and Continental cuisine. But if you truly wish to discover the local flavours, try out a hearty Maldivian curry with rice. Starches such as rice, sweet potato and cassava recur in their cooking. But what truly stands out is the strong Indian and Sri Lankan influence in the use of spices and herbs aside from the Maldivian bias for coconut and fish such as yellowfin tuna, wahoo, skipjack tuna and frigate tuna.