The Maldives is reopening: what to know and where to go

Not many destinations can match the barefoot luxury offered in the Maldives, which is why when the news came that the island is ready to begin welcoming tourists again, we couldn’t help but be excited. However, while the coronavirus pandemic lingers on it raises concerns about what’s allowed and where you can stay. So to help you stop dreaming and start planning, here’s everything you need to know plus a round-up of our favourite accommodation options. 

The Maldives government has announced the small island nation will gradually begin reopening to international tourists on 15 July. Phase one will see all resorts, liveaboards and hotels on uninhabited islands open again, however, all hotels and resorts on inhabited islands will have to wait until 1 August. 

The Maldives – made up of 1196 islands scattered across the Indian ocean – relies heavily on the tourism industry which is the biggest economic contributor in the country. Thus, the country is eager to make a holiday in the Maldives as smooth as possible under a new set of guidelines that take into account protective measures and the safety of tourists and residents.

Soneva Jani, Maldives
Image: Soneva Jani Maldives

Despite previous consideration, no new taxes or charges will be imposed on visitors arriving in the country. Nor will tourists be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result. They just need to fill out a health declaration card on arrival. Travellers that are deemed all clear will not be required to quarantine. However, anyone with visible symptoms or who has been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the last 14 days is advised not to travel to the country.

According to the new guidelines, tourists will be granted a 30-day visa on arrival, provided they have a confirmed booking in a single registered tourist accommodation. During the initial weeks, staying in multiple resorts and hotels will not be permitted unless it is for quarantine purposes. Tourists are also encouraged to install the contact tracing app ‘Trace Ekee’ upon or before arrival into the Maldives.

While in transit, travellers are also being warned to expect social distancing, thermal screening checks, mandatory face masks in certain areas, and random COVID-19 testing. 

As for where you should stay, here’s a round-up of some of our favourite accommodation options, all located on uninhabited islands:

LUX* South Ari Atoll

Maldives Image: LUX* South Ari Atoll
Image: LUX* South Ari Atoll

Located on the picture-perfect island of Dhidhoofinolhu, LUX* South Ari Atoll is everything you’d expect from a 5-star resort in the Maldives. This large resort, lined with palm trees and surrounded by waters of a shallow lagoon, feels almost like it’s own village. Free bicycles are supplied to get around, and a large golf buggy does a never-ending loop around the island to take you from one end to the other. There are 193 private villas, some of which are the dreamy overwater bungalows that come with their own infinity pools. The vibe here is a funky, yet relaxed with DJ tunes in the background. The dining options at LUX* are endless, much like the options for water sports. And if you choose to go snorkelling or scuba diving, be sure to keep an eye out for the atoll’s resident whale sharks. Read our full review here.

Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa

Image: Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives
Image: Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives

Less than 20 minutes away from Velana International Airport by speedboat, Centara Ras Fushi Resort awaits with its idyllic beaches, crystal clear lagoon and romantic setting. Located in North Malé Atoll, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives is an adults-only retreat that is ideal for couples and honeymooners. Accommodation is in beachside or overwater villas, with the white sand beach and blue lagoon a perfect playground for beach games, snorkelling and water sports. Some of the Maldives best dive sites are less than half an hour away, and some of the top surf breaks such as Chickens, Ninjas, Sultans, Honkys and Tombstones are also close by. The best time to surf is between May and November, with waves ranging from one to over two metres.

Club Med Finolhu Villas

Maldives Club Med Finolhu Villas
Image: Club Med Finolhu Villas Maldives

The days when Club Med resorts were for family fun only are long gone. Gasfinolhu Island is the private setting for Club Med’s eco-chic villas reserved for couples only. The focus is on eco-friendly luxury living, with tasteful modern interiors, large outdoor terraces and plunge pools. You’ll have the choice between overwater bungalows with direct access to the sea or a beach villa with its own private seafront. There is also an organic spa on site, along with several bars and restaurants, but if you’re looking for the more boisterous Club Med culture, they’ve got you covered too. Club Med Kani resort is just a five-minute speedboat ride away.

Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani Image: Burak Issevan

Luxury resort Soneva Jani was voted one of the ‘Decade’s Best New Luxury Hotel’ by LTI – Luxury Travel Intelligence, in 2019. Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of water villas and island sanctuaries. Set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, it is fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed in lush tropical greenery. The villas offer uninterrupted ocean views and a luxurious castaway experience thanks to the beautiful designs and ultimate privacy. While you’re there you can enjoy stargazing at the overwater Observatory, sunset dolphin cruises, movies on the beach, or a private breakfast prepared on the seashore.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Image: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Located in North Huvadhoo, one of the largest natural atolls in the world, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa offers guests a completely secluded resort experience. The unique location, away from the teeming atolls of the north, blesses its guests with a pure Maldivian experience with a natural white beach and azure lagoon housing a 360° house reef. The careful and seamless integration of environment, culture and modern design have earned the resort a certification for both design and construction by EarthCheck and a Gold Certification by Green Globe for its sustainability efforts. There are 50 private land and water villas to choose from, each designed with the utmost comfort in mind while featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that lead out to a private deck. Some are also fitted with a personal plunge pool and direct access to the beach. Spend your days partaking in the various water activities organised by the resort’s  5-star PADI Dive and Activity Centre or indulge in beauty and wellness offerings at The Vidhun Spa. Read our full review here.

Find out more: visitmaldives.com/en

Feature image: LUX* South Ari Atoll

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