I’m Cyrielle, a French traveller living out my passion to explore the world creating photography content. Welcome to my Maldives travel guide.
I grew up in Paris and stayed for my entire childhood. I was raised in the same house which my parents still own. It was at the age of 10 when I got my first taste of travel. We would follow my aunt and cousin around the world. We were lucky to experience remote places and new cultures.
Since that time, I made a conscious decision to set a challenge for myself. I wanted to explore the world as much as possible. Remote island chains like the Maldives were always going to be high on my bucket list.
Inspiration to Visit the Beautiful Maldives
Before visiting the Maldives we travelled to a lot of desert destinations especially in the Middle East and Africa (Namibia specifically). The way we work – my husband who is my partner in life and at work – is that we create the concepts of colours we want to share with our audience.
On this occasion, we strived to work on turquoise shades. As we live in Johannesburg, South Africa we were looking for the ideal destination to recreate that tropical vibe. However, the Indian Ocean at that time of year can be quite stormy so we gave up on the close by tropical destinations.
The Maldives ended up being the perfect choice for the time of year we wanted to go. So we read a Maldives travel guide or two, booked our tickets and stayed for 10 days in this beautiful island paradise. What a trip it was!
10 Days in Paradise – Bodu Hithi & Villingili
The Maldives are surprisingly massive. You have more than 1,000 islands in this country scattered around 20 atolls. We spent 10 days in the Maldives and decided to visit two different islands to have two types of adventures.
First of all, we visited Bodu Hithi Island in North Malé Atoll. It was convenient for us to visit this destination first as we had 20 hours of travel time to reach the atoll. This was an ideal starting point to enjoy the Maldives without adding more travel time between the islands.
We spent three days in Bodu Hithi and what we loved most was how incredible the waters were. There are so many different species of sharks swimming under the Piers and a lot of fish to see when snorkelling.
After three days here we moved to the very south of the Maldives. Villingili in the Addu Atoll is located on the other side of the equator and you need to take a plane for an hour to reach this stunning destination.
There we discovered a different side of the Maldives which was more untouched with less construction around the island. It felt like our hotel was creating employment for the people living in the surrounding islands. We saw less marine life here but the beaches were incredibly beautiful.
I recommend both Bodu Hithi and Villingili for any Maldives travel guide.
Maldives Travel Guide – My Favourite Destination
I think my favourite place in the Maldives is the main beach of the Shangri-La hotel on Villingili Island. That place has a special place in my heart because it sums up all the things that make me want to visit the Maldives in one spot.
You have the insanely beautiful white sand beach with its crystal-clear water. The palm trees are swaying on the beach which gives so much character to this place. In the background, you can see the traditional huts and the tropical architecture of the Maldives. It’s just paradise!
Maldives Travel Guide: Top 10 Experiences
For travellers who want to experience the best of the Maldives I recommend the following 10 experiences. Whether it’s your first visit or your tenth trip these activities will simply blow you away every time.
- Watch the sunrise/sunset from your Water Bungalow and experience the beauty of a colourful Maldives dawn/dusk.
- Have a floating breakfast with tropical fruits and juices. Not a bad way to start the day that’s for sure!
- Take a cruise from midday to sunset to see the marine life. Seeing the sunset from an ocean perspective is pretty special in the Maldives.
- Enjoy a traditional massage and relax. It doesn’t get better than that.
- Taste the Maldivian food and enjoy their awesome cuisine.
- Take off and land on the Seaplane. We didn’t have the option to do this activity but next time I go to the Maldives I would love to do it.
- Do some paddle-boarding over the reef to see the turtles in the coral gardens.
- Help with the coral conservation that many hotels offer. They have projects to restore and protect the reefs for future generations.
- Snorkel as much as possible. This one is a no-brainer as the waters in the Maldives are just waiting for you to go swimming and exploring.
- Dine underwater in some of the unique restaurants in the Maldives where you can have dinner under the ocean. It’s definitely on my bucket list for the next visit. What an experience it would be.
History, Culture & People of the Maldives
We didn’t get the chance to learn much about the history of the Maldives on our 10 day visit. However, I do know that the country experienced some turbulent times during periods of colonisation from the Western World.
Everyone we met was proud to be from the Maldives. They were happy that we visited their country as tourists. Although with that being said, you don’t visit many places in the Maldives outside of the tourist intended spots.
The Maldives is more of a luxury beach/island destination so visitors don’t tend to explore the culture as such. On your visit you will mainly have access to the pristine tropical beaches and paradise-like environment.
Most of your experience will be based around the hotel/resort. It’s quite hard to explore the other islands and you still get to meet local Maldivians in your hotel. In my experience, they were incredibly kind.
I absolutely love the fact that they say hello/goodbye by placing their right hand on their heart. I kept the habit of doing this and I love how it shows affection for people. Maldivians were always smiling, friendly and proud.
Maldives Travel Guide: Flamboyant Food Scene
The food scene of the Maldives is influenced by Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. There is a lot of fresh fish on offer which is often cooked in curries with rice as a side serving. It’s super healthy and 100% delicious.
My husband loved eating the Catch of the Day. They would cook the fish marinated with spices. As a vegetarian, I mainly stuck to the curries and fresh coconuts that were plucked from the coconut trees.
Cherished Memories of the Maldives
One of my favorite memories was hanging out on the hammocks from our bungalow. My husband and I would look at the stars at night and listen to the peaceful lapping of water beneath us as we gazed up at the Milky Way.
Shooting wise I think my favourite experience was when we used the drone. *Note you need to have permission to use a drone in the Maldives. My favourite time was when we were floating in the water and let ourselves go with the current. We were shooting the blue shades of the water.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
The first thing to know is that the Maldives has a Muslim culture. They don’t see as much drug, alcohol or sexual displays as we do in the West. With that in mind, you should dress appropriately when you are not at the hotel.
If you’re into shooting drone content make sure you register your drone with the appropriate authorities. The last thing you want to be doing is getting in unnecessary trouble when you’re meant to be enjoying yourself.
Book your accommodation well in advance to get those nice ocean views. These rooms can get snapped up pretty quick in peak tourist season. When you arrive at your hotel/resort you can always rely on the staff to find out the best snorkelling spots with sharks, turtles and a variety of fish.
Last but not least – take a reef friendly sunscreen to stop the corals from dying. Bathing with a regular sunscreen can spread chemicals in the ocean. If you take this sunscreen you can be more respectful to marine life.
And that’s it from me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Maldives travel guide. Make sure you enjoy every moment of your time here because like all great holiday destinations time goes by so fast. Enjoy!