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Best Time of Year to Visit the Maldives

Explore > Travel Planning Articles > Best Time of Year to Visit the Maldives

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Dock and thatched roof huts in the Maldives.
Photo courtesy Jon Haase.

Where are the Maldives?

The Maldives are a coveted vacation spot as the smallest country in Asia (regarding both size and population). This beautiful destination has historically been known under different names in the Sanskrit language, translated as "Necklace Islands," "Garland of Islands," and "Hundred Thousand Islands."

Dhoni-shaped wedding pavilion at Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru, Maldives
Wedding pavilion at Angsana Resort & Spa Ihuru. Photo courtesy the resort.

As a cluster of small islands in the Indian ocean, the Maldives are made up mostly of the water in between its 1,190 islands, about 90 of which are developed as tourist resorts. Their unique layout into a double chain of 26 atolls spread out over roughly 35,000 square miles. Each atoll adds to a variety of vibrant coral reefs teeming with lush underwater life including fish, sea turtles, whales, and dolphins.

Beach bungalows in the Maldives.
Maldivian beach villas. Photo courtesy Jon Haase.


Typical airfares from New York (JFK) to Male, Republic of the Maldives

See & compare all resorts in the Maldives atolls

If you're trying to decide where to stay on Ari Atoll, Lhaviyani Atoll, Male, North Male Atoll, North Baa Atoll, or South Male Atolls, we can help! For the 28 resorts there, we've got nearly 500 high-resolution photos, 7 videos, and 13 virtual tours to help you find your Maldivian dream resort. Click here to use our Visual Explorer to check out all of them.

Boat docked on the atoll in the Maldives.
Photo courtesy Jon Haase.

Best time of year to go to the Maldives

As a tropical monsoon climate, the Maldives have two dominating seasons: a dry season (associated with dry northeast winter monsoons) and a wet season (associated with moist southwest monsoons and strong winds and storms). The dry season has little rain and lower humidity; it lasts from December-April. The wet season is (you guessed it) wetter, characterized by stronger winds and rain; it lasts from May-November.

For divers, both the dry and wet seasons have their advantages: during the dry season, visibility is superb, due to currents beginning to flow in November from the northeast; the currents start to weaken in February. During the wet season, the water temperatures are a couple of degrees lower, and this seems to inspire larger numbers of hammerhead sharks and reef sharks to congregate, and to do so in shallower waters than in the dry season. Visibility isn't as good, however, as the currents are less.

Aerial view of Sheraton Full Moon resort, Maldives
Aerial view of Sheraton Full Moon Maldives. Photo courtesy the resort.

Average temperatures in the Maldives

The temperature remains fairly consistent year-round, ranging only from the low- to mid-80's (Fahrenheit). September-January tend to hover around the 80 degree mark, and February-August tend to reach a little higher around the mid-80's. Chances are any time you decide to visit, the Maldives will be pleasantly warm.

Storms in the Maldives

During the winter rainy season, afternoon showers occur with frequency. In the case of a tropical storm or cyclone, residents and travelers are relocated to safe areas. Fortunately, the Maldives are not as prone to cyclones as other islands; only 11 cyclones have affected the Maldives in over 128 years.

Overwater villas in the Maldives.
Overwater villas in the Maldives. Photo courtesy Jon Haase.

What's special about the Maldives?

Tourism is relatively recent here--really, it all started for the Maldives in 1972 with just 2 resorts. It's grown to over 80 resorts today. It's the lowest country in the world (yes, it's in the record books) with an average altitude of only about 5 feet above sea level. You're going to get fabulous lagoons protected by coral reefs and other atolls, and gorgeous beaches. But you won't get the knife-edge mountain backdrops you'd see somewhere like Bora Bora, or jungle hikes to waterfalls like you'd get in Hawaii, Fiji, or the Seychelles.

Infinity pool at the Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa, Maldives.
Infinity pool at the Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa. Photo courtesy the resort.

Certainly it's famous for fantastic snorkeling, scuba diving, and above-water sports too. Like the Seychelles, you're going to be a long ways from a major land mass, which means dense schools of fish, less pollution, and more privacy. The roughly 1200 islands are all quite small, with none of them larger than 5 miles across. Each atoll has on average about a half dozen inhabited islands, plus 20 to 60 that are uninhabited.

Underground wine cellar and chocolate cave at Gili Lankanfushi, North Male Atoll, Maldives
Underground wine cellar and chocolate cave at Gili Lankanfushi, North Male Atoll, Maldives. Photo courtesy the resort.

Traditional Maldivian cuisine is based on coconuts, fish, and starches. Skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna and wahoo are common in Maldivian cuisine. As well, a thick brown paste made from tuna, called Rihaakuru, is an essential part of many dishes. Maldivians don't eat raw fish, however (but that doesn't mean you won't ever find sushi in resort restaurants). Their starches are typically rice, taro (the root ingredient of Hawaii's poi), sweet potato, and cassava. You'll find a strong Indian influence--not surprising, given the proximity--and a plethora of different curries. As a tourist in the resorts, expect to find Indian and Maldivian options, but also food styles from around the world. The resorts are well aware that many guests will want to what what's familiar to them.

Check this video overview of the Maldives, courtesy Maldives Tourist Promotion Board (MTPB):


How we work with you to plan the perfect trip:

  • We'll talk with you to find out what you're looking for, what you like/don't like, etc.
  • We'll use our first-hand knowledge of the destination to pick out a handful of resorts we think you'd like
  • We'll create a custom mini website for you, with photos, videos, maps, etc. of the resorts we are recommending
  • We'll follow up with you to help you make your decision
  • We'll go to work with our suppliers to get you the best deal available on what you've decided on.


About the author, Michael Cottam

Founder of Visual Itineraries, Michael lives in Bend, Oregon. He's an avid traveler, scuba diver, photographer, and a private pilot. He's on Pinterest and Twitter.