What is life like in the Maldives

Updated 2018-12-13 08:10

Scattered across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are known as one of the most picturesque travel destinations in the world. White sandy beaches and clear blue waters create an idyllic atmosphere for getting away from it all but what are the Maldives really like underneath the gloss of luxury resorts and seafront villas? Learn about the country's culture, traditions, and local lifestyle in this article.


The Maldives is a Muslim country ' and this imposes a certain code of conduct not only on the local residents but also on the travellers visiting the country. In order to avoid uncomfortable situations, it's best to keep to certain rules, namely:

  • do not drink alcohol in public: the selling, purchase and consumption are illegal in the Maldives. Thus, if you are craving a drink, it's best to only do so on the territory of your resort or hotel.
  • do not wear revealing clothing or bikinis on public beaches outside the resort. While you can wear anything you want in the territory of your hotel, it's best to keep to the suggested dress code while outside.
  • public displays of affection are also frowned upon ' avoid hugging, kissing or holding hands in public outside the grounds of your resort.

Holidays and festivals

The following public holidays are observed in the Maldives:

  • Jan 1st ' New Year's Day
  • May 1st ' Labour Day
  • Eid ul Fitr, according to the Lunar calendar
  • Ramadan, according to the Lunar calendar
  • July 26th ' Independence Day
  • Muharram (Muharram/Islamic New Year), according to the Lunar calendar
  • November 3rd ' Victory Day
  • November 11th ' Republic Day
  • and a few others

The month of Ramadan is one of the most important holidays in the country and involves fasting from dawn to sunset. During this time, a lot of businesses may be closed during the day and open towards the night hours.

Local cuisine

Maldivian cuisine is a mix of Indian, African, Asian, Arabic, and other influences. With that, it's also delightfully simple and revolves around the use of several key ingredients: fish, coconut, starches, and a variety of spices. The country's most popular dishes include garudhiya (a fish broth with lime, chilli, and onions), mas huni (shredded smoked fish), samosas (curry puffs with various filling), and more.

Interesting features of the local cuisine are hedhikaa, or 'short eats'. These are typically served with afternoon tea and can include a variety of mini dishes like spicy fish cakes, deep fried fish rolls, pastries, and more.

Note that pork is not eaten in the Maldives and the consumption of alcohol is not allowed. However, these rules do not affect the restaurants and bars at hotels and resorts.


The official language of the Maldives is Divehi, which also has several dialects, namely: Malé, Huvadhu, Mulaku, Addu, Haddhunmathee, and Maliku.

However, because of the developed tourism industry and a large number of expats doing business in the country, English is also widely spoken and is the language of networking, finance, and commerce. You should, thus, have no trouble communicating on a daily basis and when handling administrative issues.

Useful links:

Public holidays in the Maldives
Visit Maldives

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